Archive for February, 2013

I’m not one to take much notice of critics when it comes to opinions on games, especially when it’s a series that I’ve played from the beginning. Critics by their very nature, are critical of a lot of aspects of various products but when it comes to Critics of games, it really grates on me when they chirp up with really uninformed opinions and rant about a game and Its story because it’s quite obvious they have never played any of the games which came before and just did a few hours research without investing a lot of time into the characters and story arcs as us gamers do.

Same can be said for gaming websites which are supposedly “Run by gamers” when they are quite obviously working to an agenda and bigging up products by companies whom they are not wishing to anger or even show to be giving negative feedback due to some advertisement or mentions on the companies website, demonstrating some sort of business like relationship with the games sites. I pretty much don’t take peoples opinions and advice on if I should play a game from anyone other than myself, as most people do.

This reason alone is why I ignored the prevailing cries from the gaming public about EA, A company who do have a shady reputation from within the gaming community. Personally I don’t quite get why this bad reputation, which could be seen as hatred by a lot of people, actually exists. I’ve bought a whole host of games from EA in the last few years (Dragon Age franchise, Mass Effect franchise, Battlefield 3, to name but a few) and I can’t report any of the issues that people are having with the products or with EA customer services. As far as I’m concerned, EA are an outstanding company with good products. I’m sure if I had the same problems as everyone else seems to be having then my opinion would be vastly different.

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Recently I bought the third instalment of the Dead Space franchise and being a huge fan of the previous outings, I was vastly excited to play it. In fact let me be honest with you on this subject. I had been looking forward to this game since I heard about it way back in August of last year and had it pre-ordered since December. Anyway, Dead Space is a series of games which have done something that a lot of other ones have failed to do in recent times, and that is grip me with the story. The games have changed since the original game but one thing that hasn’t is the sheer depth of the story and the characters within.

Other huge games which seem to have millions of fans have failed for me due to the lack and depth of story. Skyrim for example. Absolutely beautiful looking game but it really lacked any type of depth or story and after just a few hours of game play I found myself repeating the same old linear crap. Travel to a town/city, Pick up quest, go to and complete dungeon, hand in quest, move on to next town. No amount of beautiful scenery can make up for the lack of a good story and that’s why Skyrim was a huge failure for me.

Dead Space started out as being a survival horror set in space. Like a combination of the first Resident Evil and System Shock 2. It then progressed onto a more action orientated game for the second instalment, ala Resident Evil 4. Now with the third instalment it’s progressed backwards a little, heading more towards the survival horror genre again but retaining the action orientated sequences of the second game. One thing and the most important thing in the games that hasn’t changed though is the story. It’s the reason I play the game series. The characters are so fantastically complex and the story is so deep that it triumphs over the change in game play. It’s also so incredibly well written, giving nods throughout the series to classic science-fiction movies of the past. The incident on the USG Ishimura reminding me of the Nostromo from Alien. The Sprawl and huge volumes of Necromorphs being a tip of the hat to Hadleys Hope on LV426 from Aliens. Tau Volantis reminding me of the setting for John Carpenters “The Thing”. Isaacs paranoia, hallucinations and flash-backs being a big nod to Paul W.S. Andersons “Event Horizon“.

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Before I picked up my copy of the game I read a few reviews, hoping to raise my excitement level for the game but all I read was negative feedback on both the game play and the story. I’ve now played Dead Space 3 for almost twenty-hours and while I cannot say anything about the game play negativity by the reviewers, their understanding of the storyline of Dead Space and sheer lack of understanding of the Isaac character is genuinely worrying. It looks as if they have never played any of the previous games. They look at the character is such a one dimensional way that it doesn’t even make sense what they have written about the game, thus not exactly showing the game in a good light. All they seem to be focusing on is the shininess of things.

It just looks to me like the most important thing these days seems to be how pretty something looks and not the storyline. I guess this is just a recent thing to happen. maybe todays gamers don’t wish for substance any more and just want the same old same old, which I can see being the case with the success of the Call of Duty series of games. Basically the same old crap with each game, yet people snap it up on release.

So what I wish to do right now is say a big Thank You to Visceral Games and EA for not destroying one of, if not the best games franchise of the last 10 years by succumbing to the public mediocrity and continuing with producing games which have some substance behind all the pretty graphics.

John Gibson

Just a small entry for this evening but a few days ago I applied to have my blog join a whole host of other blogs on The Gaming Blog Nexus. I just thought I would let you guys know of this and give it a little advertisement.

“The Gaming Blog Nexus was created as a direct result of the Newbie Blogger Initiative. It seemed common sense to have a blog aggregation service that collates all the latest posts from the best gaming blogs on the internet. At present the site is still “work in progress” with a great deal of fine tuning to be done. However, the basics are in place and working. Things will simply improve over time.”

So if you want a lot more opinions on the latest and best gaming issues and even some posts, reminiscing over past times then head on over to Gaming Blog Nexus and you can easily catch up on the thoughts and opinions of people like me, who just want to be heard.

So, Special thanks goes out to Roger Edwards who runs the site (And also an awesome bloging and podcast site called Contains Moderate Peril) for including me on the feed and lets hope that The Gaming Blog Nexus lives a long and prosperous life online.

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Television out of America has recently become very stagnant and pretty much the same, old same old. From the 15 million different versions of CSI, to the long running series like Law and Order which are constantly recycling the same old ideas, we seem to have recently hit a dry spot. I didn’t think I would find another good and more importantly fresh television series until I recently started watching Homeland.

Now this series is actually really good, but just a small word of warning it is pretty hard to get in too. Well it was for me. It all starts with a CIA agent Carrie Mathieson in Baghdad who is about to be recalled for angering the Iraqi government. She hears information that an American POW has been turned, which she ignores because as far as she is concerned there is no POW’s.

Ten months later she hears word that American forces have found Marine Sniper Nicholas Brody in Afghanistan who has been missing for eight years. She begins to think that this is the turned American POW though everyone around her feels like she is overreacting. You begin to look at Brody, the things he went through and you just feel empathy towards him. But is he a traitor or is this all just bad intel?

With twists and turns and even more you begin to second guess yourself. It really is very well worked out by the writers as I can usually see the plot ending a mile away (the Kaiser Soze thing in the Usual Suspects was obvious to me) and even I was stumped.

This show really should be watched by everyone. I enjoyed it really much, especially trying to uncover the whole puzzle. I also look forward to watching season two. But as I said at the start it is really hard to get in to but stick with it a soldier on because it IS worth it.

Written by Emma McHugh

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So I’ve been researching Nintendo as a company for one of my classes at university. It really struck me how this company has evolved in the past hundred years, and is setting the bar for others to follow.

The company history goes back to 1889 when a man named Mr Yamauchi began manufacturing playing cards. Looking at this got me thinking how a small idea can grow into something massive. I bet you Mr Yamauchi never imagined that 124 years later Nintendo would be where it is today, being such a innovative company within the world of gaming. They have done many innovating things in the past years, but I am going to look at after 2007 and what it meant for us gamers now.

What do I mean by this? Well back when Sony was just making the Playstation 3 look better, and when Microsoft where hot on its heels with the Xbox 360, Nintendo where trying to make gaming a much better experience for us all. It wasn’t all about shiny graphics, but about getting kids and adults alike off the couch and exercising about the living room.

When the Wii launched the PS3 (which was launched 2 days before hand) could just watch as it became thee console to have. Yes, the graphics weren’t the best and there was no blu-ray but it still grabbed the attention of not just parents wanting their kids to stop sitting about the living room but the kids themselves who wanted to be the controller.

Then came the Nintendo 3DS, 3D without the glasses. I mean what person doesn’t want that? Yes, 3D usually hurts my eyes but that’s because I can’t wear 3D glasses over my own without them falling off all the time, this saves me the embarrassment of looking stupid. I am also concerned how many television companies seem to also be lagging behind Nintendo. When I saw the Nintendo 3DS my exact words where, “Oh maybe now TV’s will come out without needing the glasses.” Oh how wrong I was. I can’t even think of a TV which has this technology yet. Can you please comment if you can think of any.

The Wii U is now taking gaming by storm, with the PS4 also copying (might be the wrong word choice) the handheld controller. With added touch screen technology and the fact that you can take it with you into other rooms so you can play without using the household TV. It also can be used in any way that you like so you can use this controller as a scope in a FPS, using the main TV screen for the background.

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The Wii U also has went for great graphics, so no more developers moaning and groaning as they need to rehash the game in order for it to be compatible to Nintendo’s system. It has also done something that the PS4 isn’t going to do. It is going to be able to run games which were intended for the Wii, meaning that you don’t need to buy another version of your favourite games. It is also compatible with the Wii controller. 

It’s just not all about graphics now, the gaming industry has changed and Nintendo is setting the bar. Could you imagine if Nintendo weren’t around anymore? Do you think that without Nintendo we would be where we are at the moment with console games? Or are you like me and think it would just be the same gaming experience but with better graphics?

Written by Emma McHugh

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Since my days of playing World of Warcraft, through to my five year stint in LOTRO, I was an avid subscriber to the mmos I chose to play. I purchased the boxed, installed the games and month after month stumped up the required asking price for a subscription because I thought that the games would benefit from my financial support, plus the fact that f2p was never an option at that point as a valid business model for the games companies. These days however, almost every major mmo has a f2p option with others going f2p soon or already in the process of transitioning from a pure subscription business model to a hybrid of the two. A few mmos that are on the horizon are even going pure f2p, which you could have never imagined two or even three years ago. Creating a game in this way would have been seen as suicidal and just looking to fail. Not now.

When LOTRO moved from subscription to a hybrid, offering f2p to people who wanted to experience the world of middle earth and grind points to make purchases, or even buy points using real money, a lot of people thought it would spell the end of the mmo when in fact, Turbines revenue increased drastically. SWTOR moved from sub to hybrid model less than a year after it’s release due to a huge drop in subscriber numbers. I’ve never seen the game so busy now. Even Tera has recently moved to a f2p hybrid model and reports are that player base and income has almost doubled.

This beggers the question.. would a new, pure subscription model game be profitable and last?

There is a whole host of games out there, Triple A titles at that and a lot of them run a hybrid model where a vast number of the player base don’t necessarily play as f2p, but play as the hybrid where they spend money every so often and buy points, which they can spend on items or unlocks which are specific to their characters or play styles. I would say this is more considerate for people who don’t have extra income to expend every month of a game subscription and can buy parts of the game as and when they need them. There is also a section of the player base who just hate being tied into a contract, which is what subscribing is. Yes, it’s only a month to month rolling contract but it’s still a contract and that just doesn’t sit well with some people. Some games offer a lifetime pass, lotro being a good example of this. When the game was released they offered a lifetime subscription for £150, which basically means that you never pay a subscription again. All you pay for is any expansions that are released. GREAT DEAL!! you may say but not for the game company who has now switched to a hybrid model and no longer makes money from those players except once a year when they release an expansion. Turbine don’t like these people, lets at least be honest about it. Yeah sure, they give lifetime members 500 turbine points a month to spend in the store but they contribute nothing in terms of value to Turbine and lotro. People who still subscribe also receive those 500 points but contribute monthly to the running costs of the game and it’s upkeep. The people who spend real money on points are the cash earners for the company. 

But getting back to my point, With games on the market that offer f2p and hybrid models, which seem to be attracting the largest volumes of players due to these facts, I don’t think a game with a pure subscription base would get anywhere near enough revenue to be able to sustain this model, or even enough players to make it worth while.

What do you think?

As a little something extra,I’m going to list a few games which have changed from Subscription only to hybrid models so you can see the vast scope of this change of gaming business models.

LOTRO / Star Trek Online / SWTOR / Rift / Aion / Age of Conan / DDO / Tera / Final Fantasy XIV / The Secret World / DoTA 2 / League of Legends / Dust 514 / MechWarrior Online / Neverwinter (Yet to be released) / Planetside 2 / World of Tanks

These are just the BIG games, which could be described as A, AA or AAA titles. There is a further 4000+ games out there that are f2p.

Why would anyone pay a subscription anymore?

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Now I’ve never been one for showing my feminine side to others, so when it was suggested I write a review about this show I did have my reservations. But I did like it and felt that others who may have needed an extra nudge to watch it would benefit from reading this.

It starts when a boy Henry ventures from his town of Storybrooke to Boston to find his biological mother called Emma Swan, who he finds her alone in her apartment on her 28th birthday. He begins to tell her the story of Snow White and Prince Charming which is in his book ‘Once Upon A Time.’ He tells her that everyone in his town is a character within this book and they are all trapped being miserable due to the Evil Queen’s curse (Who is actually Henry’s adopted mother).

He then tries to convince Emma (who was abandoned as a baby) that she is the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, and was sent through a magic wardrobe to this realm as she is the only person who can break the curse. Of course if some ten year old kid came to your door saying he was your son and fairy tales are actually real then you’d probably do what she did i.e. take him back to where he came from.

But when she got to Storybrooke everything seemed too changed. She met the evil Queen who in Storybrooke is Mayor Regina, and she began to feel dread for Henry. So she stuck around with a little help from various sources. With twists and tails and even more twists you begin to wonder if it is all actually real and not just all a story made up by a kid who was abandoned by his mum.

It really is rather intriguing as it tells a different yet similar story to the ones we already know. It also made me want to slap a character more than I ever have wanted to slap one in my life. Madam Mayor is indeed thee most retched of them all. She will stop at nothing to get her way, and she feels no remorse for those whom she steps on. It goes into depth about every character, and they all seem to fall into place.

Then you begin to question who knows that they are trapped, if evil will win over good, and is evil actually as bad as we once perceived it to be. With great performances, a story that draws you in from the first time you meet Madam Mayor, and some great action (especially at showing that girls can actually do the saving). It truly is a great story, especially for those of us who would read as children and always used to wonder what happened after happily ever after.

Written by Emma McHugh

The Great Repairs Debate

Posted: February 19, 2013 in posts by John, Swtor
Tags: , ,

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So, remember that I posted a little while back about the latest bug fix in SWTOR that is causing such an uproar with the player base due to costing more credits in repair bills?

Well I have been watching the forums with great interest, particularly this thread which has reached 1058 posts at the time of writing this blog entry. It’s a thread of crying, moaning, threatening by players to unsub to the game and people defending bioware about the change that patch 1.7 brought to the game. I’m not going to bore people by repeating the reasons for this change since it’s in an earlier post so I’ll just skip to my point of this post.

As a result of the changes, people are reporting ridiculous repair costs on the forums,  ranging from what I consider to be normal to downright stupid values, and saying that it has to stop or they will leave the game. Before I get into discussing that, I’ll share something that I did earlier to test out the prices.

I took three of my level cap toons, each wearing various levels of gear. I repaired before leaving the base then went and died on each of them, recording the prices of the repair bills.

Gear Progression in SWTOR runs as follows:

Green – Blue – Purple – Tionese – Columi – Rakata – Black Hole – Campaign

– Dread Guard

The only exception to this flow is Orange customisable gear, which you can add ANY modifications to, effectively increasing it’s potency to any of the above levels.

Here are my results.

Daemridu / Sith Inquisitor / Full Columi with Rakata implants and earpiece = 10,143 credits

Zubra / Bounty Hunter / Full Tionese, including implants and earpiece = 6,117 credits

Bleadwyn / Marauder / Full Orange (level 50 blue mods) with Blue level 50 implants and earpiece = 2,808 credits

Unsurprisingly the higher spec gear costs more to repair, even though it is only light armour. What did surprise me though was just how little it cost me to repair on Bleadwyn, considering she’s not that far off the spec of Zubra. Obviously other people have opinions on repair costs but I don’t mind paying 10k per death on my main character considering I can easily make 600,000 credits in about two hours running daily quests.

Anyway, now I’ve said that I want to get to the real reason for this post. How people are reacting. I see a lot of people threatening to quit and un-subscribing over this matter (at least I think they are, forums are not the best place for truth after all) which just smacks of entitlement to me. They are really thinking that unsubscribing over a matter of in game money, which is not hard to come by, is going to make Bioware take action any faster that what they are? Do they not realise that when a game goes f2p, subscribers are the least of their worries because they pay a fixed rate each month. The real bread and butter of the game is the f2p and preferred players who will buy cartel coins on a regular basis, quite often spending more than they would for a subscription each month.

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If they do in fact unsub, they are not doing the game any good by doing so. The less players in the game, the less likely the bugs and issues will be addressed so by protesting in this manner, they are in fact harming the game than making it better. I’ve heard all the talk of “I’m a casual player and don’t have time to grind for credits” but that doesn’t wash with me. Killing a group of four enemies at level 50 will often result in gains of over 3k credits. This can occur just during general game play and doesn’t require grinding and you’ll make a significant amount of money. Crafting also generates money as does playing warzones and doing space missions. From looking at the thread above, it just seems to be the people who do nothing but end game raids that are complaining, yet the people who actually play everything the game offers are having no problems making up for the increase that this fix has brought to us.

Well I guess playing through a few space missions a day isn’t hardcore enough for some people.