Monthly Archives: April 2016

Thoughts on an “Easy Mode” in Dark Souls

The argument between adding a lower difficulty setting in Souls games can basically be boiled down to accessibility vs. the “Git Gud” mentality. These videos address both sides.

Accessibility

“Git Gud”

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Video Game from Playing to Watching Part 3: eSports!

“If you are watching ESPN2 right now and actually taking it seriously, you are the biggest virgin ever”  – Craig Cochran (Some moron on twitter)

On April 10th, 2016 Heroes of the Dorm was broadcasted on ESPN2 for the second time. The final series between Arizona State University and UT Arlington aired on the same day as Kobe Bryant’s last game before retirement. When asked what he thought Bryant said that he didn’t care.

This choice though disappointing to sports fans like Craig, makes a major statement to gamers everywhere. There is more money in broadcasting ten college students playing a video game than there is in Kobe Bryant’s last game. This is a big deal!

In my previous installment of this series I embedded an image that depicted the share of live video streaming traffic by volume. Twitch.tv had an overwhelming share of 43.6%

How do they pull so much traffic? Twitch isn’t just about connecting with the various personalities that stream on a daily basis. It also broadcasts various tournaments and events from all around the world. During the League of Legends 2013 World Championship over 32 million different people turned in to watch the event. 8.5 million of them watched at the same time. Needless to say Twitch’s chat box was moving too fast to read. It had more livestream viewers than the Superbowl.

Why is eSports gaining in popularity? That question has a deceptively simple answer in that it is the exact same reason games like Football and Basketball are popular. People simply want to watch people play their favorite game at the highest level of play. Just like in any other sport players have big personalities and the scene is packed with rivalries and controversy.

The Smash Bros. eSports scene has popular personalities like PPMD, M2K, and Mang0, controversial tweeters like Westballz and Wobbles, and players that people just love to hate like TSM Leffen. When commenting on what made the Smash Bros. community so great, YouTuber Omni said “We’re home to the best heroes, the best villains, the best commentators, the best content creators,  the best streamers, hell the best fans!”

Although the eSports scene is still young, it has come far in such a short time. It is extremely popular with a young male demographic, but does lack the mass appeal that traditional sports does. The gaming community has done its best to make up for that with their love of competition and desire to push eSports into the mainstream. Although video games only appear on TV occasionally in America, Korea has channels dedicated to video game competitions for games like Starcraft 2 and League of Legends.

Plenty of people were upset by ESPN hosting Heroes of the Dorm. Here are some of the best angry tweets.

A collection of my favorite Heroes of the Dorm tweets

 

 

Licensed but, Good? One Piece: Treasure Cruise

It’s time for another Mobile Game Monday!

Not too long ago I released a post about licensed games and their tendency to be mediocre at best. So I thought it would be fitting for me to play a licensed game for this week.

Keep in mind that I’ve seen about 75 or so episodes of the anime I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of the series. That being said true One Piece fans will love this game!

The combat is surprisingly fun for how simple it is. Yeah it’s just timed tapping the screen so that your characters attack in the proper order for maximum damage, but it’s engaging enough. I also like that the game doesn’t play itself. There are plenty of mobile games that do. The game’s art style encompasses the tone of the show. It’s exaggerated, bright, and detailed.

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The game’s best feature is the crew building aspect. You can form a crew of up to six characters from nameless grumps to the show’s main characters, heroes, and villains. The game features a power-up system where you sacrifice characters and materials to level up your favorite crew members. You can then evolve them, kind of like Pokemon, so that they look and fight like true terrors of the sea.

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Don’t let the charming art style fool you though. This game is for hardcore fans of the series, because the difficulty spikes are sporadic and intense. It’s an absolute grindfest which can be a nightmare, especially when you have a limited Action Point bar. When it runs out you’re done until it fills back up (at a rate of 1 point every 5 minutes.)

Even if you don’t know a thing about the anime or the manga, the game fills you in with “cutscenes” which are mostly just still drawings with text, but it’s a nice touch. Although the game is rife with microtransactions it’s a fun little time waster and a darn good way to spend a Sunday Afternoon.

 

The Lost Vikings from Then to Now

This post is a response to The Well-Red Mages review of The Lost Vikings. If you love old school Blizzard games or have respect for that classic SNES then feel free to read the review here! I’m sure it’ll be worth your time.

On the day that my mother found out that she was pregnant she bought my dad a Super Nintendo and put it in the spare room that would eventually be converted into my bedroom. Needless to say that system holds a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of classic games like Super MetroidA Link to the Past, and Super Castlevania IV.

I even enjoyed the more obscure mascot platformers like Alfred Chicken and Aero the Acro-Bat, but I had never heard of The Lost Vikings until around this time last year when I got Beta access to Blizzard’s MOBA Heroes of the Storm.

The three vikings work together as a single hero, but can be controlled separately just like in their game. Baleog typically goes mid-lane and is the primary damage dealer of the group. He throws an endless amount of swords. Erik is still the speed demon of the group boasting the fastest mobility. He attacks with a slingshot. Olaf being the largest and tankiest viking has the highest health pool.

As they progress in levels they can learn an escape move where they jump into the air and float a short distance. They are temporarily immune from damage. The vikings can also do a spin move that temporarily stuns an enemy. When the three group up they can perform a “Longboat Raid” where they hop into their floating boat and fire a barrage of explosives at the enemy.

After playing as these characters a bit I became curious about their original game which inevitably lead me to your review. After reading it I feel that this game is definitely worth my time.

Video Games from Playing to Watching Part 2: Livestreaming

“There’s nothing more boring than watching someone else play an RPG.” – Kazuto Kirigaya (SAO)

Apparently the main protagonist of popular anime Sword Art Online has never heard of Twitch.tv and the fact that it was purchased by Amazon for $970 Million.

Last time I covered YouTube’s part in making video games more viewer friendly in the form of fan created content and eventually Let’s Plays. In the middle I briefly mentioned why Let’s Plays are so successful both in terms of production and fan consumption. They provide the viewer an experience. The ability to watch someone else play and react to a game at a fixed point in time. If it’s boring then the viewer can just click away, but if something scary or funny happens then the viewer is hooked. What if instead of a video, the viewers were watching a live broadcast?

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Enter Twitch.tv “The worlds leading video platform and community for gamers.” Their words not mine. What Twitch allows for is a longer, more community driven experience that happens in real time. YouTube does not allow for a community driven environment because interaction is call and response. Video and comment. Twitch provides a live broadcast with a live chatbox where viewers can communicate with each other and the person streaming. They can have conversations, ask questions, and post emotes exclusive to the site like Kappa, PogChamp, and FrankerZ.

Another one of Twitch’s strengths is authenticity. A YouTube video is edited down and can be scripted or forced. You can play up your reactions for more views. Twitch is live and most streams last for hours. Full-time streamer Lobosjr said in an interview “I’m much more vulgar on stream but when it comes down to it, that’s pretty much who I am in real life, minus the obscenities.”

Twitch’s biggest asset however is also its greatest weakness. If something isn’t happening then people will click away. If a streamer takes a bathroom break or leaves to get food from their kitchen then hundreds of people click away. To avoid this problem charity livestreams like the bi-annual Zeldathon rotate out their streamers constantly so a game is always being played and something is always happening on camera.

Recently YouTube has developed its own gaming platform not-so-cleverly-named YouTube Gaming. It functions similarly to Twitch, but with the option to save the broadcast directly to your YouTube channel. It also functions as a mobile app allowing for people to stream games from their phone. A few years ago this would have been innovative and certainly would have driven traffic to the platform, but with so many communities developed around Twitch it looks like YouTube Gaming will have to settle for second best.

Did you miss the first part of this multi-form post? Read it here!

Video Games from Playing to Watching Part 1: YouTube’s Gaming Debut  

Clash Royale! Clash of Clans Meets Tower Defense Meets Card Games!

Everyone knows about the pay-to-progress faster waiting simulator known as Clash of Clans. It’s a game that brings in so much money that they got Liam Neeson for their Superbowl commercial. It makes  $5,000,000 a day!

Clash Royale is what many consider developer Supercell’s first attempt at an actual game in their almost six years of being a company and since its global release in March in has received a lot of support. It has had a couple of balance patches and a lot of marketing behind it. The game even had a tournament in Helsinki with a cash prize of 10,000€ last week.

This game however is fundamentally broken. The more you win the better cards you’ll unlock through in-game chests. These chests take a minimum of 3 hours to open and a maximum of 24 depending on its rarity. What’s so bad about that? Well you only have 4 chest slots and once they are all full then you won’t get another chest until you have an open one. This is only the first of many ways that the game limits your progression.

Each card has a level so the more you collect the stronger it can become if you combine them using in game gold. Eventually the number of cards becomes astronomically high and the gold cost is just as inflated. So how do you cope with this slow progression? Well it’s simple spend money. For the low price of $11,000 you too can make it to the top 50 of the leaderboards in about a month. The game’s global release was a month ago and its already projected to make a billion dollars this year.

Finally the game will match you against better players if you win consistently enough. I do not say better as in “higher skill or trophy rank.” I say better as in they are a higher level which means that their defensive crown towers do more damage and have more health. The game also does not factor card levels into the matchmaking at all so you could be matched against someone with a level 8 musketeer while yours is level 5.

Don’t even get me started on the games balancing. Not all cards are created equally. Prince is the most objectively overpowered card in the entire game and you only get it randomly unless you spend 2000 gold while it’s available in the shop. While Skeleton Army, another epic card is one of the worst cards in the game. Guess which one I got at the start? I’ll give ya a hint. It’s the garbage one.

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Despite all of these glaring flaws I find myself enjoying the game immensely. Yeah it’s a broken pay-to-win extravaganza. Yeah prince is overpowered. Yeah Hog Rider Freeze decks exist. Yeah the game’s community is cancerous and the game works against you at every possible turn to stop your win streak or limit your progress, but it’s fun. Winning against these odds is oh so satisfying and if you’re a fan of Clash of Clans then you’re already playing it.

Want to suggest a game? Then leave it in the comments!

Wanna join my clan? Here it is!

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Bad Design or Shameless Cash Grab? Licensed Games

The Video Game industry has garnered a lot of respect due to its marketing successes. Triple A titles have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The industry also lacks quality control at all levels of entry so it is no surprise that someone looking to make a quick buck would release a sub-par or poorly made game to the masses.

According to an article on TV Tropes titled The Problem with Licensed Games, licensed games are marketed in two different ways. The first and most obvious being the quality of the game, and the second being the reputation or recognition of the game’s title. It also cites that even if a licensed game is made with good intentions, most of the production money goes into purchasing the license which leads to budget issues down the line.

Another article by Jared Cornelius of bleedingcool.com A History of Vileness: The Problem With Licensed Video Games provides a similar insight into licensed games, but takes a much more direct approach. The writer directly blames licensed video games like the infamous E.T. for the video game crash of 1983 that almost ruined the industry.

With so many terrible experiences and broken promises surrounding them, it’s no wonder there is such a stigma surrounding licensed games. YouTube reviewer SomecallmeJohnny reviewed Cory in the House for the nintendo DS. A game based on the kind of sort of popular Disney Channel sequel to That’s So Raven. In his video he mocks the game’s lazy mechanics and barely cohesive story. It is obvious that the game was only made to turn a quick buck and that the developers had absolutely no respect for the fans or the consumers whatsoever.

Although all games should be skeptical of licensed games, there are several examples of successful ones. The Batman Arkham franchise has been heralded as “The Best Super Hero games on the market.” by YouTuber Angry Joe. He has released reviews for every game in the franchise and they have all been fairly positive. The Lego games franchise has drawn in fans of Star Wars, Indiana Jones Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings with its charming art style and unique game mechanics.

YouTube personalities like the Angry Video Game Nerd and PewDiePie have their own respective licensed games like AVGN Adventures and its recently released sequel AVGN Adventures 2: ASSimilation while Pewds has Legends of the Brofist. These games serve as love letters to the fans and are full of references to their own content. I personally await Jim Sterling‘s Licensed Game Adventure!