Apologies if anyone was actually reading this updates; gets busy where I’m currently living. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pound out more game stories, as there are a lot of games I haven’t touched on yet.
This week’s episode is on a Free-To-Play game I found while trying to Google “League of Legends Steam”. That somehow wound up with FreeFall Tournament’s Greenlight page, but I decided to bite my curiosity and find out what this game was like.
First of all, the game has most of its assets on Kongregate. They have things, like tutorials. On Kongregate. No way of knowing that if you just wander onto the game’s website. Heck, I can’t seem to get a straight answer on what upgrades do, exactly, because that could be a slight edge useful in battle. And yes, they balanced the gameplay so that upgrades don’t do a lot; you can push being F2P. You can hold your own being F2P. But the game’s only a year old. Wait, a year old? Perhaps upgrades are a new update, but I would have thought someone would have written about the new update and how it changed all the classes. Oh well.
Onto the basics! Now, when you start off, you’ll be thrown into the middle of a match; hopefully, you’re not in a match with less than four people, because then you’ll have to wait for four people to join before you can being. I would have loved to play 2v1s, but alas. Anyway, you’ll be plopped inside of your team’s spawn, and if it isn’t Team Deathmatch, you should be relatively safe. Now, normally I’d be all “PUSH CAP GOGOGO!” but at this point, you probably wouldn’t be able to find any caps. So practice jumping and walking around. You can use the right mouse button to auto-aim your weapons, and left mouse button to fire. WASD movement, space to jump and hold to use your jetpack, and shift to slide.
Also, 1 and 2 to switch weapons. Please remember this: I once had a Blazer (equivalent of Firebug and Pyro in other games) who was shooting at me with the flamethrower when I was halfway across the map. Heck, I remember a shocker doing the same bloody thing: remember! Weapons have range, so don’t shoot targets that are out of range! Although, to be honest, I’m doing too much medic-ing to do much shooting. Here, let me show you when to shoot when it isn’t bloody obvious.
Say you’re sitting on cap. First of all, please start dancing around in a circle; it stops snipers from pulling a headshot on you. But, oh, you notice a giant laser blaze past you like a Sniper using the Machina. WHOA! That came from a direction! You should probably find that direction and open hell in said direction. It’s a lot easier to notice things as a Shocker, as you can tell which direction enemies are firing on your shield, but please, your medics shouldn’t be shooting your enemies for you.
Right. Just… blow some steam, and back on track.
There are a few different types of gameplay, and each type of gameplay has its own map (save for CPS, but I’ll de-acronym that in a second). Let’s begin with a simple map: Training Facility, where you can play Team DeathMatch. It’s pretty straight-forward: shoot the other team, and don’t die. I’m pretty bad at that “don’t die” part, so I usually try to find my other teammates and tag along with them. Like a support should. Anyway, as you can imagine from your typical space marine game post-Halo, health doesn’t regenerate but shields do. What happens if you’re low on health, and there’s no friendly Engineer erectin’ a dispenser–I mean, healing you? Well, you can find these giant red pluses (e.g.: + ); if you run into them, you get health back! Yay! Now, Training Facility has a lot of jump pads and gravity reversal, so do take some time learning the ins and outs of the map. I should say that about every map: learning layout is important.
Next, you have King Of The Hill, or KOTH on the server select screen. The map for this game type is Shuttle Bay, and the idea’s simple: stand on the cap to change it to your team’s colour, and then defend it so the other team can’t do the same. I’ll bold that: Stand on the cap to change it. This isn’t TF2 where you have a nice big hitbox to bounce around in; if you’re not standing on the cap, it won’t change. More people on the cap means the cap will change faster. You can tell the cap is changing when you see the little bar going up on your Heads-Up Display. It’s really important to hold the cap because, unlike Team DeathMatch where you get 10 points per kill, each kill is only worth one (1) point whereas holding the cap is worth eight (8) points every five seconds. Highest I’ve ever seen anyone kill in one of these matches is around 70 kills, so the cap will be more worthwhile for you to hold.
More on King Of The Hill, there are various ways to enter, (virtually every direction except from below), which also means there are various ways for your enemies to approach. But what can change battles is the little orange gun-symbol below the cap: this’ll increase the damage output of whoever has it, so it’ll be really important if you’re a DPS kind of person. I once had a Blazer rush through repeatedly, wiping the floor with my entire team because they picked up that damage buff. It really changes the tide of battle. I should also mention that the little area below has a lip to it, so you will need your jetpack to get out of it: Tanks use their jetpacks for jumping, but most other classes I’ve tried can hop on lips, using less of their jetpacks to propell themselves upwards. So you can surf out and hold space, and if you aim for some boxes, you’ll get about two jumps extra out of it as you take that damage buff to the cap.
Lastly, there’s Capture Point Scramble. This mode is a twist on the Domination game type from Unreal Tournament. (The one for the Dreamcast? Anyone remember that console?) Each round starts with one cap: the Center one. After that is 10 seconds of no cap, and then the next cap will open up somewhere around the map. The caps will randomize until the game ends. Each kill is around 1 point; each cap is two hundred! (200) Capping is vital in this game mode, for if you don’t push the caps, you will lose. However, you can see where the current cap is by a little grey marker, so once you learn the layout of each map, you can find these points with ease. I should mention that the CPS game type is on two maps: MoonBase and Training Facility.
Now that I’ve finished detailing each game type, let me point out some random tid-bits I’ve been finding while playing the game. For instance: in all CPS games, the center cap will be the first one to unlock; for any TF2 fans out there, that means rolling out of your spawn on these maps is very important. That doesn’t make KOTH any less important to rollout with, but CPS games tend to go faster, so it’s more noticeable to me.
Now, mobility: how does that work? Well, I’ve found out that jumping will cause your character to accelerate a little, and if you hold shift, you can slide and keep some of the momentum. This allows you to move faster out of your spawn than just walking out; however, there’s a little gate that has a timer at the start. This brings up two points to the game’s physics: you can slide to bounce off walls and reverse your momentum. Also, you can jump into walls while sliding and you’ll keep your momentum. Add these together, and you can have your character bolt out right when the gate opens. Instant speeding off to the center cap!
I should point out that this is different for Team DeathMatch; there’s only one gate and it is at the front of the spawn, but there aren’t any others, so you could rush out from any direction you’d want. Also allows for spawn-camping, which can be irritating, but I have no idea if that’s a feature or not; Shockers can stun the heck out of spawncampers and distract them, so it’s a nice counter.
I mentioned earlier that you can jetpack up to a lip and use the lip to jump up and save some fuel for your jetpack. There’s another trick you can use combining your jetpack and lauch pads. Launch pads are these little coloured areas with coloured arrows above them pointing in directions; I think the only place that doesn’t have coloured areas is the MoonBase. So, they work like a scripted section of a Sonic the Hedgehog game: hit them, and they’ll push you up to your destination while giving you a little push down so you’ll make it there faster. You can add your jump and your jetpack to this: hit a boost and hold space, and you’ll go higher than before! The game will try to keep you along the scripted path, but you can push your way out of this, and this can be a great way to slide straight out of spawn to go for any high-up caps that need capping. Cappity. HATS.
Ahem. So there’s that. And for a free-to-play Unreal Tournament clone with surfing, I’ve enjoyed my time with it. You get around 90-120 in-game currency for winning and 25 in-game currency for losing, and about 2-5 experience for losing/winning, so no need to rage-quit: you make progress no matter what! ^^ I do like that about the game. There are fancy pay-to-play skins and you can buy a class for 10k in-game munny. I haven’t been able to hit that point yet, but at least the game has always left me with a free support to play, so I’ve never had to feel like I was forced to take a DPS role.
One bug I’ve noticed that has been unnerving: suicides count as an assist. For you. So, as a Shocker, I’ll toss down a bunch of mines, and enemies will trip them and cause me to die from it. Problem is that the game will record both a death and an assist. Since assists are all-important for supports to tell if they’re doing their job well or not, it’s unnerving knowing that a portion of my assists are derived from suicides. Confusing and slightly depressing of whatever ego I have.
Would I suggest this game? You bet I will! It’s Free-To-Play, which is a plus in my book, as I don’t actually have any money to work with. The gameplay can get repetitive, but for people who like these kind of small arena shooters, it’ll definitely be fun.
So Faux decided that one of the other employees of NoExtraLives needed an upgrade. I mean, how do you expect someone at a video game company to game if they have a potato for a gaming laptop? I mean, my answer would be “Stab your virtual enemies in their virtual faces (or torsos, more likely) and shout ‘I KILLED YOU AT 3 FPS IN ALL CAPS! end quote’ and then die horribly” but that is why I’m not allowed to do PR stunts. Faux is. So Faux decided to upgrade my Lappy 486 to an Alienware Lappy 486. Now, for any of those people out there with animation farms, this computer has eight (8) RAM. Just take a second to laugh.
Now that that’s over, and you animators out there can bask in the pride of your animation farms with googles of RAM, I should be able to mention that this thing has an nVidia graphics card. This is clearly an improvement over my old Intel integrated graphics (which I’ve heard has had quite an improvement over the years), but I was aching for a really pretty walk in the park. Because actually going outside my house is really cold and could potentially involve human interaction, I decided to install PlanetSide 2 again on my bad laptop and go “You. Me. Walk in 3 FPS eternal darkness.” I was completely ready for this completely devastating experience as long as I could walk in an open world that was said to look pretty, but I just happened to log on at the same time that SOE was having some fun with acronyms. So what does this mean for my Intel integrated graphics laptop?
I logged on, and I could see light! The afternoon sun spilled in from outside as players glitched across the initial spawn. Giant mechanical birds chirped overhead, and the faint outline of mountains in the distance beckoned me to approach them.
And Stanley was happy.
Now I mention players glitching around because I still had roughly 5-8 FPS (I didn’t have FRAPs open to check). Even though I felt the game was smoother when I was at the initial spawn point, the lag I hit when joining in a giant battlefield was still the 3 FPS disaster I recall having; walking up stairs is a trial in and of itself, and screw even trying to point a gun at people. Yet, this was a 3 FPS disaster with lighting. That’s clearly an improvement since the last time I played. Good job, Sony Online Entertainment, for getting a graphics-intensive game to render lighting on a laptop that can’t run your game. Nevertheless, I could still do things like drop ammo crates, so I wasn’t a complete liability to my side. Just a big one.
Now, I mentioned earlier in this article that I got a shiny new laptop. It’s really shiny, and I’m trying my best to not interject as many smilies as I can to describe it. In any case, I thought PlanetSide 2 would have been the perfect game to test out a gaming laptop, so I booted it up and went to capping things.
And cap I did. Or did not. Really, it was up to the quality of my teammates as, again, I have the mindset of a support. I could shoot, or I could heal this person, revive that person, and support, support, support! Now, however, the option of taking a gun out and shooting people is actually viable, and it’s a nice idea as I can do some rather silly things, like air-drop in the middle of a lost cause and gun down three people in their backs before dying a horrible death. Also, having a high frame rate allows me to look around for places I could platform to, as 3 FPS has the downfall of having hardly any control over your character. Jumping around in circles while healing, although an absolutely silly idea on a battlefield, could stop a stray sniper from instantly killing me while reviving someone they killed but two seconds before. I’m a lot into platforming, so I do lots of that. I’m not sure how useful “take an alternate route to flank” is, but it’s another idea for supporting my fellow teammates.
Anyway, I’ve rambled enough about my initial impressions to returning to PlanetSide 2. Perhaps next time I’ll have a more experience-oriented post next time, but I’ve delayed this one long enough.
I apologize for the late blog post: both going on vacation and NaNoWriMo. Still have a ways to go on being disciplined.
Anyways, back on topic: I would just like to highlight how excruciatingly sharp Dungeon Defenders’ difficulty curve is, especially with its DLC. I’d also like to point out that I have quite an aversion to interacting with human beings, mostly because humans have such varied requirements for interaction that I’m left in perpetual fear of my abilities not lining up with their requirements. This isn’t even me being a moral human being; just the fact that I don’t know the community’s metagame is enough for me to not want to interact with other humans.
This leaves me having to solo everything in the main game; with DLC, this leaves me with about one other friend to play with. So bear in mind that I’m not even playing the game as the game is clearly designed to be played: with four-to-max players per level. I’m also rather stubborn who I play as; for instance, the first player I reached for in Borderlands was the Tank. This was because I didn’t know the Soldier was the equivalent of a medic in Borderlands, so I thought the most utility-friendly character would have been the Tank. Aggro enemies for your teammates so they don’t have to. Easy setup, no?
But my support-centered playstyle had me choose the Monk right up off the bat. I’m pretty sure the only decision in making this choice was “Healing Aura? HELL YEAHZ!” The only deciding factor at the time, but I’ve found out that the Monk is still my favourite when it comes to support (and yes, I don’t have all the DLC, so the Summoner might be down my alley). Why is that? Because Tower Boost repairs nearby towers, and Hero Boost heals nearby heroes. I can tap two buttons, sit under about 4 auras, and tank some ogres without having to worry about my auras imploding or my health draining too quickly. Heck, that’s the best thing about auras: a good Strength Drain and Healing Aura combo allow for lengthy fights to occur, even on a Tower Build character.
So, highlighting the difficulty curve of Dungeon Defenders. First thing’s first: the game doesn’t ever directly tell you how it’s supposed to be played. Maybe it’s because I haven’t touched the tutorial since a year ago, but I don’t recall seeing anywhere “You should aggro Ogres so they don’t just walk up to the crystal” except at random times during a loading screen. I’m not even sure how I learned that I should aggro Ogres; maybe Faux was aggroing one and I went “Oh, that’s smart: I should do that, too!” So once I learned that little trick of not-dying-horribly-when-an-Ogre-ignores-all-auras, I was able to get past the second level on Easy. The second level. On Easy. I know, I’m using a character that says that you need to be a “Master” to use it, but that just seems an oversight.
Oh, another thing I figured out when jumping back to Dungeon Defenders: Strength Drain is key, with its resistance-removing debuff, to my soloing strategy as a Monk. Otherwise, lightning-resistant mobs can just walk straight to the crystal, as adding Enrage auras are a little costly for increases in choke points. In time-limit levels where I have to push everything as fast as I can, getting a solid defence ready is key for my Monk solos. Also key is something I read in the wiki: that there’s an option to make a Hybrid character by pushing the Hero DPS onto the character’s weapon. That’s been helping out so far, really, having a tower Monk with a nice weapon and DPS pet to cover Ogres.
So, yay, I can does the core game! Yes, the core game has a bit of a difficulty ramp in bosses when going from Hard to Insane, but overall I can handle such soloing. Simply. Efficiently. I don’t feel quite as silly about it.
Then Nightmare difficulty, which itself is a DLC. Just, let me encompass what the difficulty curve looks like for this portion of the game.
New enemies that cheat. Health is scaled for everything; damage is nerfed for your characters. Ogres come in earlier and in higher numbers. New enemies that cheat. Fuck, NEW ENEMIES THAT CHEAT! And mana is always on low when you think to go just one click higher from Insane.
It’s really that Djinn that gets me. I can handle an army of ogres. I can’t handle an army of tower-destroying jerks while having to handle rocket launchers and Ogres at the same time. No, just no. Why do I need to poke a flying, tower eating, enemy buffing puff of air to stop him from chilling outside my defences and destroying them? That’s really, really cheap, and the game doesn’t tell you how to face them. The wiki does, but not the game.
I mean, I guess this critique could easily encompass Minecraft, but Minecraft allows you to just chillax in Peaceful mode and take your time. Dungeon Defenders does not. Why? Because its DLC is the same as its concept behind Nightmare Mode.
So I read the wiki and saw that Uber Monster Fests allowed for players to get mythical equipment without doing all the hours in survival. Try it out? HECK NO. Ogres consistently spawn with millions of health on lower difficulties. I think we may have been able to defeat it on Easy. On Easy. I’m pretty sure when I played DFO that it didn’t have these kinds of difficulty problems, although I can’t go back to DFO and check to see if I’m wrong. DFO was awesome. Kinda like how Dungeon Defenders is awesome, save for that post-game difficulty curve.
Because the DLC has its own difficulty curve from the core game. Which is? Well, you need mythical equipment to do anything sane with them.
We couldn’t do the Eternia Shards On Easy. On bloody Easy. Because Djinns and Goblin Copters. Not because of the dropping ogres, because the Goblin Copters are their own enemy type with jerk abilities. And Djinn can destroy an aura without being in it, obliterating Tower Buff Beams and leaving you to scramble about from defence to defence. Oh, did I mention that the last level in the Eternia Shards DLC is bloody multiple maps in one? You find an idea as the timer ticks down, and then you bloody have to do it over and over again. And we didn’t even get to reach the boss (who would have been a pushover).
u-u Seriously. When your DLC is improbable on Easy… why? Why? Some games I like to sit down and play casually before I do anything stupidly insane, or at least get the choice not to do the stupidly insane things. Dungeon Defenders? Well… the core game isn’t stupidly insane. Maybe. Just everything afterwards is.
That’s a big problem, as I’m looking forward to the (hopefully) Free-To-Play sequel. I love F2P games, as I’ve had no money to do anything pay-to-play for a while; at least I can run around like a n00b while pros win. Have fun. easy in it that also don’t explicitly say “You need to be x level to play this map” (because the creators like being transparent. For… all the other DLC?) to actually be easy enough for me not to stare at problems and go “I just can’t do this. I can’t.” Not by myself.
And maybe, with Dungeon Defenders requiring money to play it, I won’t have a community that’s absolutely asinine to its other players when they decide to be human beings. Just… when the sequel hits, will I be able to play the game off the bat, or will I have to throw my hands in defeat when the tutorial doesn’t tell me the basics of the very next level?
(As an aside, I also have to worry about my computer even being able to play the game, as I’m amazed my computer can play Dungeon Defenders without crashing. My laptop is about as gameworthy as the name of a player I once played TF2 with that said “I’m recording this on a potato.”)
I’ll admit that even though I’ve been playing PC games for at least 2-3 years, the mindset people have for them still feels foreign to me. With console games, I can at least enjoy the game a bit before it decides to beat me up. PC games don’t give you that nice cushy feeling. I can’t look at my list of games I have and go “Which one of these is family friendly?” TF2 and Dungeon Defenders are about the closest I can find, and TF2 is rated M for Mature.
That says a lot about me, doesn’t it? Maybe I should go back to the idea that Mabinogi is a family-friendly game.
I decided to write this week’s article on a game we rented. I hardly got anywhere through the game, but I do have a few things I can say about the game and my experience of it.
To start off, I was expecting to sit down with another game like Heavy Rain, and for my experience, it doesn’t disappoint. You control the characters of Jodie and Aiden, one being a human being and the other one being some sort of linked entity. Jodie plays like she’s a character straight from Heavy Rain: press buttons to interact with stuff, and walk about with the left stick. When the game asks you to hold down buttons, you do so. Flashing buttons you rapidly tap (and I’m rather bad at rapidly tapping, it seems), and arrows above buttons are for holding that button down. When I played, I chose the difficulty that was the equivalent of saying “Please go easy on me.” Not that the game somehow isn’t hard after choosing that option; however, I at least noticed a HUD difference at times. For instance, the game added visible sections where time slows and you have to input a direction to get a positive result. On the “I don’t play games (often)” difficulty, there’s a giant white arrow; however, when I played by myself, this arrow was absent. Perhaps I did the CIA section too quickly.
Now, let me expand on what I didn’t expect from this game: the little word in the title that says “Beyond”. When my sister told me “This is another Beyond game,” I became afraid. Memories from a prior game I played, Echo Night: Beyond, came back. Memories of being a frail human being trapped within a stuffy space suit and an interactive horror game, where you had to avoid ghosts and help them return to the beyond or die from a heart attack. To be honest, I couldn’t get far in that game because I’m absolutely frightened of horror games unless they guide me by the hand and hold me close. I’m not even sure if such game mechanics exist and I’m not making criteria up, but Beyond: Two Souls does an awfully good job of being an engaging horror game by doing two things. One, the game feels more like an interactive movie than it does a horror game; two, you get your own paranormal spirit to help stop the bad things. It’s a little more comforting to know that you can hit triangle and make your own otherworldly friend make the bad things just poof away. Yes, watching a body just climb up as you walk past it is really creepy, but it feels safer when you have an advantage.
I mentioned a bit about playing by myself, and I didn’t get to any horror elements on my own. The game is co-op, so I was able to play Aiden while my dad played Jodie. The game doesn’t get any less scary, as I wanted to switch control over to Aiden whenever anything spooky happened; in contrast, my dad switched control only once after getting through a chapter and a half of scary events. The co-op doesn’t feel tacked on, either; it’s quite like watching a Let’s Play until control is changed. To be honest, I find watching people play video games easy, and the idea of splitting a single player game that has two characters between two controllers seems a lot like a “tacked on” idea, but it works splendidly.
There are some parts of the game that are quite well done. There’s a cartoon that’s playing at the start of the game, and it felt rather fitting to what I saw of the game so far; it’s called Fur, and I advise watching it just because it’s a stellar animation (not because I’m a furry or anything like that. Bias. There. Right there). You have the option to idle in conversations, being forced to take passive options if you take too long.
There’s also a weird scene where your mother asks you to go get oil from the garage. The bottle looks like it’s motor oil. Do people actually cook with motor oil?
To wrap this post up, let me paraphrase some Famous Last Words:
“Unlock this door! The spirits can phase through matter!”
“Sorry, but that’s too big of a risk to take.”
I’ve been playing more Dungeon Defenders with Faux for the past week. As it turns out, level grinding on Insane difficulty is a really easy way to level grind. :3 Well, up to level 70 at least. Looking at this experience table for the game, it seems that getting to level 70 takes only a few million experience. Getting to 100 takes a billion experience. A billion experience. I mean, the game’s fun and all, but… a billion experience? I mean, we can beat the game on easy now, but… a billion experience? @-@ It reminds me of Nippon Ichi games where you can level grind to 9999, but I never had the time nor the patience to get past level 100. Or beat the game.
So, as I face this hurdle once again, I decided to check out how other people level grind, and I get some multiple-character strategies and some solos. But no monks, which is the only character I have at level 70. Oh well. I’ve done stuff that’s been improbable before. Might as well try again.
And I’m probably not going to try randomly playing with people online to try and level grind. u-u Not worth the risk of finding anyone arrogant online.
So, Faux decided to reintroduce me to Dungeon Defenders again. There’s something about playing with a friend that makes video gaming more enjoyable; I’m sure there was one article that backed that assumption, but I’m too lazy to look for it at the moment. (I mean, I could be playing Dungeon Defenders! ^^; ) He hooked up both of our controllers to his godlike laptop and we played a bunch of levels, which, given that Faux was using a higher-leveled character and there were two people, things went better than could be expected. Maybe. But this whole experience makes me think into the past a bit to when I first picked up the game.
To be honest, I didn’t play it a lot back then. The game has a bit of an online bias, and I always have this feeling of having to be competent whenever I play a game online. I mean, I have an entire team which I’m a part of; if I do a lackluster job, everyone else suffers for it. I also favoured the Monk when I first looked at the characters, mostly because of all the flashy “support” and “healing aura” tags the character comes with; however, as the monsters don’t target the auras, it leaves them with no delay on going from start to finish. As I was new to the game, this left me with both floundering about and not being able to do the second level. Not the game’s fault that I chose a difficult class, but it does focus a lot on multiplayer.
Another old thought I had towards Dungeon Defenders was “Wow, this looks great for an indie game.” Looking back, I find this a bit of a troubling attitude to have thought. (I had a lot of those “troubling attitudes”
back then.) It kind of sounds like a back-handed insult; sure, having a smaller team makes development take more time and have a smaller scope, but it still seems belittling. As if they hadn’t made a real video game. And I don’t even know if it’s an “indie game”; my assumption was based on the flashy “made with the Unreal Development Kit” splash at the start, and I know from college that the UDK is a professional tool. I’m a bit unsure why I’m not using UDK right now.
Since I was playing on Faux’s machine, he had all the unlockable DLC ready to use; we tried one. It ended poorly. Um. With 4 ogres on the map and 2 of them pounding on a single crystal. And archers getting stuck in trees which also happened to be a vantage point to shoot the crystal with. Yeah. It was, um, kinda hectic. I apparently have that DLC and a few others (heck if I remember downloading them), but it makes me think on the whole idea of downloadable content. It happens every now and then with games we buy; sometimes the game will flash “DLC for achievement!” and then we’ll spend even more money on a game we had just bought not an hour before. But I don’t quite enter games with the thought that I’ll pick up the DLC; that’s quite an expensive option, and I normally don’t have money to toss about in the first place. Even then, will I play this game to the point of even reaching the DLC that I bought? Seeing as I’ve returned to Dungeon Defenders, it may have been a smart idea, but some games don’t have the same “friends also enjoy this game” allure that it does.
Hello, and welcome to this new section called “Super’s Thoughts On,” where I write about the one thing that I casually talk about anyway: Video Games.
As you can tell by reading the title, this post is going to be about “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.” But before I get into the title, let me give a preview of what goes on in my brain. You see, I have a little problem with myself and open world games. It’s not really open world games as it is with my own attention span. For instance, when I sat down a long time ago and tried to play Fallout 3, I was like “Whoa, this is cool! I can go anywhere I want!” And normally I just pop open a map and point at a location on it and go “That-a-way!” If there’s no map, I’ll just point at some piece of scenery and then say “That-a-way!” But at some point, I’d just stop playing the game. Not sure why I did it with Fallout 3, but I’m pretty certain why I did it with the original Assassin’s Creed. It’s because I realized I was just going from one point to another, in order to kill a bunch of people, in order to kill a person. Then the game would chastise me, take me out of the game, chastise me again, and then send me to kill more people. At that point, I just gave up wanting to be someone’s hitman while trying to not get frustrated with all the Templars running about trying to chase me down. Now, Assassin’s Creed 2 was nicer to me about this. Assassin’s Creed 2 gave me a bunch of little activities to do on the side while giving me a little more freedom to not be someone’s hitman all the time. However, I have an inkling why I stopped playing Assassin’s Creed 2, and it’s for the reason why I’m playing Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.
My dad is also an avid gamer, and he usually discusses with me his thoughts on politics or video games or his job. One of the things he’s been bringing up recently is his current list of games he’s been playing, and “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” was one of those. I thought that, as I’ve either finished or gave up on the other two games on his list, I could try and play Brotherhood with him, so that I wouldn’t be flailing up walls whenever he needed help. Turns out that playing a video game with another human being is a large impetus for me playing video games at all, and so I’ve spent a decent amount of time playing Brotherhood.
Now, this paragraph was going to be about how I found killing people online rather iffy. Not my type of thing, because there’s a lot of mentally putting yourself out there when it comes to online games, and my ego is rather fragile. Nevertheless, I decided mid-paragaraph “No, I’ll sit down and lose, and then I can write about it,” and booted up Brotherhood. I spent a lot of it walking around the place, having zero score at the end, and wondering exactly how hitting the O button was supposed to not have people kill me. Was funny randomly stepping out and assassinating someone as they fled from their own assassination. Also funny watching pursuers just run past me as I blend into a conversation; to be honest, that match had a bunch of newbies like me playing, so it was silly seeing three people try to hide in the same mound of petals. All in all, it was fun, even though the best rank I got was 3rd, so I can safely say “I suck at this game.”
Onto single player, which I’ve spent most of my time playing. As games talk about story, might as well open single player with that. It’s a good story. I dunno, I like story, and Ezio is a decent protagonist to follow around. I still can’t help but feel like I’m in the middle or just ending the tutorials of the game, so I’m left with feeling that the plot has been handing me tutorials more than actually being about an assassin stopping some Templars. I’m okay with that. Life isn’t all action from one moment to the next, and the story’s been picking up, too. Desmond’s kind of a jerk sometimes, though: one conversation had Rebecca shouting “That’s racist!” with Desmond shouting “You’re racist!” I’m still confused how that conversation began (if anyone can clear that one up with me, thanks for going out of your way), but I am playing a white male protagonist in the 21st century. Seeing that the whole assassin group is just hiding and trying to make progress, it’s nice to have actual conversations with Desmond’s other team-mates. Helps the whole “Desmond, you’re having a bleeding effect: slap some reality in there to stop you from going insane” plot point feel more realistic.
Now, openings are spectacular and such, but when I start up Brotherhood, I’m just thrown into the middle of a city. Best place to start about gameplay: whenever I do go back to being Ezio, there’s usually a thief or some person running around town. Usually away from me. Not sure how the blip goes from “I appear!” to “I stole your stuff!” but all these thieves seem to enjoy running straight to rooftops. That leaves me either going “Meh, screw following that guy,” or scrambling onto a rooftop to try and even start following the guy. Rooftops also happen to be dotted with guards who’ll instantly be suspicious, and they also have a keen ability to shoot the thieves you’re running after. Bit irritating when the game wants me to tackle them (and I’m a bit against, you know, killing them), and there’s either guards shooting at me or my target. Helps that I can send an assassin later in the game on the guard, but it’s still a scramble across a city when you have other goals in mind. These officials are important because they seem to be the only inexhaustible way to get items so far, so I’m left a bit troubled if I don’t track most of them down.
After those random events, the game decides to cook a huge amount of things for you to do. Yeah, in the last games I’d have little scenarios on the map, and then main memories to go through, but this game just keeps piling it on and on! I like that, actually. I’ve been thinking while typing this “Another game that has a lot of tutorials through the plot is Final Fantasy XIII,” but this game has tutorials for things that start up after the missions you learn about them in. That’s kinda like how XIII-2 already had the fighting system for XIII in it, but then added a bunch of stuff onto it. (XIII-2 is also a game I haven’t finished playing, but that’s beside the point.) I can look at the map, look at all the things I could do and go “what part do I want to do next?” One of the things you can do is make the game easier for yourself! That just blows my mind! I can stop doing full sync missions, blow up a Borgia Tower, and then there’s half the soldiers that there were before! Cool!
Upon mentioning full syncronization, I cringe. Why? Well, some of the full syncs are timed missions. I’m really bad at timed missions. If you’ve seen my “Rayman Origins in some amount of seconds,” you can see a non-verbal way of how I react to situations where I need perfect timing, and I don’t have it. Poorly. I get frustrated and such, kinda like how I get frustrated when playing online games because I need to be better than I actually am. One mission that was timed involved getting an antidote to someone. Problem was I’d run all the way there, stealthily grab the antidote (full sync was don’t kill the person), and I wouldn’t have enough time to run back. My solution? Steal someone’s horse, run over guards, steal the antidote in the person’s face, jump back on the horse, jump off the horse when it got stuck on a slight elevation, and bolt back. Might I mention horses are intelligent when it comes to you trying to jump off a cliff, but they aren’t intelligent when they get stuck on a slight rock shelf? It’s as if they think “Whoa! Down?! I can’t do down! Or up! Oh were those stairs I went up? Ahahah. Hah.” Yeah.
Another problem I have with getting places is how the game navigates itself. Yes, it’s totally awesome you can go on everything and anything. No, I don’t want to flail going up a wall that’s easily climbable. No, I don’t want to jump back towards my pursuers. No, I didn’t want to short-hop that. No, I didn’t want to jump on that guy from above. No, I want to shoot that guy with my crossbow. That one. Yes, the one who can seem me from over there. HOW CAN HE SEE ME BUT I CAN’T SEE HIM WITH MY CROSSBOW?!
I will give Ubisoft credit that they can stop you from going places they don’t want you to go. Apparently the Castel is barred entry to at some point in the game, and I remembered that I needed to get Subject 16′s thingy there. So I searched the entire currently-accessible area in front of the Castel. There was one spot where I could use the climbing glove to grab onto while being physically above the fence, but I couldn’t jump over it or climb any higher. Usually I don’t see games being beta-tested that well. Again, good job for making a single/multiplayer game long and entertaining and beta-tested.
I think I’ll end on that note: This game is long, entertaining, and clearly beta-tested.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to enjoy tossing money in the streets of Rome about every time the cooldown ends.
I’ve had a thought in my head for a while, mainly one that sounds like “I should probably do some game reviews.” Churning out content for people to read seems like a pretty good idea, and as game development (at least, game development of some quality) takes time, I thought we could divert some time to writing out lengthy articles about video games. From my own experience, I spend a hell-of-a-lot of time playing video games, and I can ramble on about them at length. Lengthy length. Like, “Atlas Shrugged” length, maybe. That kind of length would be an achievement.
In any case, I don’t want to review games by going “Well, this is an X out of Y rating,” because I’d need some landmarks for arbitrary mathematics to make any correlation to reality. If I were to work out an arbitrary system based on numbers or letters, what point would you have to read it? There are thousands of other articles written by people with more expertise inn writing than I; what could you get from my writings that you couldn’t get from others?
That’s what I’d have to market to people: Why read what I or Faux write? What could you get from our reviews that you couldn’t get from other, more popular websites?
So, what I’d have to do is argue my view point, and why anyone outside of my own mind would find it valuable. That seems challenging to me, as I’ve heard stories of air-brained people who can’t even imagine being in someone else’s shoes. I might be overreaching that someone may want to sit down and listen to yet another gamer’s opinion on a topic.
What I’d have to argue, then, is why my point of view is different from others’ points of view. I’d have to convince people that my point of view is valuable information; that people could use my point of view. I think a big obstacle I’ll either have to tackle or ignore is: “Why am I not useless?” Pretty easy to see myself as useless, so I’ll just put that aside until Faux writes a comment similar to: “Dear Super: Please stop it. You’re an embarrassment to yourself and this company.”
What IS my point of view? Well, using an easy scan from feminism class, I can write “White, Male, First-World Citizen, High-School Graduate w/ Some College, Heterosexual.” Okay. Those are all really boring and creepy. Except maybe utilizing intelligence from a Google search, I want to avoid those, as that has fuck all to do with video games (sans the whole shaming-minorities thing that happens on online games. -_- Eugh). So what experiences COULD I use that won’t come off as haughty and arrogant (or possibly triggering)?
First off, I came from a low-middle-class family. Every day we have to think about how much money we have to spend. Things break down almost on a weekly basis. My dad had a point where he didn’t have a job for years, and my mom has to work in medical transcription despite having carpel tunnel, because there’s nowhere else for money to come from. (I have thought about e-begging before, but that would involve an audience that would be willing to spend money. I’m supposed to be an artist, yet I’ve never had a single commission in my life.) This also makes me think of reusability of objects, as sometimes painting on some thrown-out cardboard is the only option you have. Starting with $0 is a bit of a challenge, but what options do I have? Thankfully more than my privileged mind can comprehend; my sister has a collection of every game we’ve owned, so I can simply grab stuff and play in little-to-no time at all.
Secondly, I game a lot. I think about games a lot. I think about how to do things in games a lot. (I also do this with other aspects of my life, but those are a tad more depressing to relive.) I can sit and game for quite a while, too, as level grinding is just “repeat for hours on end.” This also has me looking for shortcuts: ways to move the game pad a little faster or hit buttons a little more accurately to speed up dull interactions. At the same time, I have to admit that I’m really bad at video games. It’s depressing to know the one hobby I’m best at is something I’m only mediocre at; how can I compare with all the pros wave-shining across stages in Smash Brothers when my hands can’t move that fast and my brain can’t comprehend that quickly? Maybe I’ll improve over time in other sections, or maybe I’ll just repeat the section until I get the right frames to get through it. I should move on.
Thirdly, I attempt video games in a slightly different way than others do. This has a bit to do with the 2nd point I made (in the previous paragraph), but it involves being able to look at a game and decide what I want to do, not just what the game hands to me. I keep reading what I say as “I’m pretending the same thing is actually different,” but I’m still clinging on a little to the idea that it may, in the long run, be an important difference.
Let me use an example: Team Fortress 2 Jump Maps. To explain: Team Fortress 2 is an First Person Shooter that you can get on your computer for free, as long as you have Steam installed. (One of many options, but I digress.) Some servers have a modification to the game called “Jump Mod,” which will allow your character to navigate maps akin to a platforming game. Normally, there are about 4 characters that can jump more than once, and since most of these Jump Maps revolve around explosions, only 3 of these characters are actually feasible. However, there are additional modifications Jump Servers add, so you can effectively platform with all 9 classes in Team Fortress 2.
Now, most players will default to playing as Soldier whenever they join the server, or whenever the server changes its map. I am unsure why this is; however, this tendency results in people shaming others for using any other class. This includes the Demoman, whose Sticky Jumper (an in-game item that does no damage and allows to practice jumping) recently had a nerf that makes it more realistic to jumping (AKA, you can’t throw down 4-8 stickies and blast yourself really fast. Only 2, which won’t kill you in actual gameplay with full health and the stock sticky launcher). There are Demoman courses to practice the advanced techniques that the Demoman has, yet people will still complain about people playing Demoman.
The previous paragraph only mentioned 2 of the 9 classes that you can play in Team Fortress 2. I usually play as Scout, which normally only has a double jump; however, there are differences within Jump Mod for the Scout. For instance, the Scout can throw grenades that’ll launch him, similar to how the Demoman’s stickies or grenades act. (More like the grenades, as the Scout’s grenades roll instead of stick.) I have to use different rules to play the Scout than I do the Demoman or Soldier, and there are some rules that carry over for all classes. Like playing Smash Brothers and having to learn the feel of each character, I have to do the same thing with each class in Jump Maps. And most of the time, if I speak up, people on the server wont take me seriously. If I have a question like “How do I complete this jump with Sniper?”, I’ll hear “Switch to Soldier,” or some variant. Sometimes, I’ll be playing with people who are there, too, just to complete maps; rarely I even jump alongside other Concussion Grenade players. But I always have to play knowing that the majority doesn’t care about whatever I bring up. That I even have the idea to speak my opinion on video games seems ludicrous: who would care?
Well, I have no extra lives, but I’m not dead yet. Might as well try.
TL;DR: I’M A POOR GAMER WHO DOES STUFF DIFFERENTLY SOMETIMES. I WANNA WRITE GAME REVIEWS.
Okay, so I have my point of view down, while, um, trying to focus on games and not aspects of myself both spoken and unspoken. Well, I also shouldn’t be a jerk. I don’t like being a jerk. I also don’t like being in pain.
Anyway, so, there. That. ^ Is what I plan to do. The issue is: writing a bland game review and giving it a rating, well, is what everyone else does. I’m already writing this in an informal manner, so why toss that aside? Why not point out experiences in games and give detail to those? I mean, it’s like a Let’s Play or the previous anecdote I gave on TF2Jump, but in written format. I can write things!
The other problem I have is what criteria to use. One such criteria, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, is how to cover the game. Perhaps I could give an overview of the game, but that doesn’t give an intimate or detailed view of the game. I want to show how I experienced it as a gamer, and for others reading to comprehend that. I have a similar sentiment to reading Walkthroughs: if someone writes “This level is easy: just do it,” I find it to be poor writing. I came to that walkthrough to find help, and if the walkthrough doesn’t touch on the area that I needed help on, it’s useless. I want to be comprehensive in some portions of the review, as if I were trying to play out the entire ordeal in my head.
Well, actually, that’s a gripe I have about walkthroughs, but here’s some criteria that I use for what should be in a game: Music, Story, Art, and Gameplay. To be honest, you could make a game with just [Art,Gameplay] or [Music,Gameplay] or [Art,Music,Gameplay] or even [Story,Gameplay]. Story can be implemented in different ways: one such way is the story of the player playing the game. As long as the player can play the game (and doesn’t get too bored of it and instantly quit), the act of navigating a game can be enough story to progress. It is for me, but some people may need things like “goals” or something. Heck, you can even put a plot in a manual, but for actually making a game, it isn’t necessary. Better, but not necessary.
Gameplay, however, is the difference between a game and not-a-game. That’s the vital part in making a game: interacting with the user. Otherwise, it’s a song, a movie, or literature. If they can’t alter anything, it’s not a game. Well, maybe: I can turn the pages of the book, and if I make a rule where the world within the book is only active on the page I’m on (rather than being pre-written text by an author), if I flip back pages, I turn back time. I guess that could be gameplay, but I’m not certain.
So, given that random briefing on my idea of criteria, I could give people a view that I’ll touch on Art, Music, and Story, but I’ll be giving an in-depth look to a game’s Gameplay, as I do spend a lot of time mashing buttons. For instance, I was randomly spending time in Kirby: Return to Dreamland checking how fast I could dash repeatedly or how fast I could puff out air and jump afterwards. It’s just something I put on my mind every now and then: how can I do things effectively? How far can I explore this map?
Granted, waves of zombies are a bit of a deterrent, but getting stuck in geometry isn’t. ^^;
I’d also like to finish with some questions:
What do you think about me writing about games I’ve played?
What do you think of the criteria I’ve come up with so far?
Can you think of any ways to improve my writing (or how I can not be a jerk)?
When should I make updates for such a series?
All in all, I hope this’ll make your experiences with Lx0 a bit more entertaining. ^^;
We started an official Facebook page so that it’s easier to connect with our audience and deliver content. We originally started this blog as a means to try and log our development progress every week, but we realized pretty quick that it wasn’t all that feasible. We’re indie. Like, super indie. We haven’t made a cent off of any of our work yet. I make my own hours, and by that, I mean that once a month or so, I’ll lock myself indoors for three days and binge on caffeine while writing code or making charts. And then I won’t make any progress for three weeks because they made a new Animal Crossing game and do you know what homes cost in today’s virtual economy?! Alright, so keeping a schedule isn’t exactly my strong suit. We’ve established that. But I’ve been trying to update more regularly, and we’re working on doing more Let’s Play videos, we’ve considered starting a podcast, and, of course, somewhere on the back burner, we’re actually creating games. Anyway, the point of this post is that we want to branch out. We’re working out all the legal stuff to become a real live company. We want to make things you want and then sell them to people like you who want them. We want to be connected to our audience, and sites like Facebook make that a lot easier than running a blog like this where nobody ever visits us. We’re not shutting down the website or anything, but we’ll probably move most of our updates to other media and save this blog for news and announcements.
Anyway, this post was meant to go up a few weeks ago, but I’ve been really busy getting ready to move. We’re going to have a lot more workspace, and keeping with our goal to get a game out by the end of the year, we’re shelving Send More Wizards! until January, at least. We want to make Send More Wizards! everything it can be, and the timeframe we were aiming for just isn’t looking good. We’re not cancelling it, but we’re going to delay it until we have a different product out the door and are allowed the financial pitfall of developing something really, really good. In the meantime we’re going to keep posting our New Super Mario Bros. U series (expect a new episode later today!), and we’re shifting our development focus to a board game. The new place is going to give us the space to start seriously prototyping it, so stay tuned and we’ll give you guys an update on the game sometime in late August. I can’t make any promises, but I’m going to try to keep posting a new video once every couple of days if I’m able to get online. I don’t want to monopolize the whole front page here, so you can ‘Like’ us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on our progress toward saving Mushroom Kingdom, or make suggestions on what we should play next! I still want to try my shaky hand at Surgeon Simulator 2013.
We’re still working on putting together a workable demo of Send More Wizards!, but before we release it, I wanted to familiarize myself with publishing an app on Google Play. So, I decided to write a simple game called NOIR. You can download it for free from the Google Play store.