Showing posts from April, 2010

StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: Be Aggressive

Newbies in StarCraft 2 are often gun shy.  I was guilty of it myself when I played the original StarCraft.  The temptation is strong to wait for just one more unit, one more upgrade, one new building to be better than your opponent.  Unfortunately, this is a good way to lose. Your opponent has just as much time as you do to upgrade and pump out units.  You aren't getting ahead, you are simply delaying conflict. When a player only defends it is called turtle-ing.  You can not win if you only defend.  The winning condition for StarCraft 2 is to destroy all of your opponent's buildings.  It won't ever get accomplished if you don't leave your base. There are two main advantages to staying aggressive with your units. Battle Control   With a constant stream of attacks you decide when to battle and where to battle.  You can be a constant thorn in the enemy's side.  It keeps your opponent off balance.  They constantly have to react to you because you have c

Guild Wars 2 Won Me Over With a Post

The Guild Wars 2 design team from ArenaNet just released their manifesto on game design .  One phrase in particular caught my eye: "Our games aren’t about preparing to have fun, or about grinding for a future fun reward. Our games are designed to be fun from moment to moment . " That got my attention.  Now I'm interested in their game.  My number one complaint with MMOs currently on the market is that there is too much emphasis on grind and getting to the point where I can have fun.  I want fun from the beginning.  With those two sentences Guild Wars 2 just jumped way up my list of anticipated games. In Guild Wars 2 they are sticking with the philosophy that MMOs shouldn't have subscription fees .  They trust in the quality of their game and expansion packs to sell boxes.  This is a ballsy move, but it worked for Guild Wars and they earned my respect with it. They are trying to put an emphasis on the story of each individual character.  Most MMOs try to make

What Keeps You Coming Back in MMOs?

I'm totally burned out on MMOs at the moment. So, I have a question for all of you out there currently playing MMOs.  What keeps you coming back day after day?  What makes you excited to play your MMO of choice? I need to hear some positive things about MMOs to get back into the mood.  Every time I think about them all I can think of is the grind and it's a complete turn-off from the genre. Let me know, what do you love about your current MMO?

Split/Second Demo Impressions

First off, Split/Second is not bad.  The problem is its proximity to the recent Blur demo in release date.  This invites comparison.  It does not go in Split/Second's favor. Split/Second is designed around the idea of a destructable race track.  Every spot on the track is rigged with explosives that can be triggered if you have enough power.  This is the only form of offense available to the player.  When you manage to save up a lot of power you can also trigger larger explosions. Power is gained by drafting behind cars, jumping through the air, and drifting around corners. I liked the Split/Second demo for the big explosions.  The game looked very pretty on screen.  I had some "oh shit!" moments when huge set pieces are triggered and destroyed mid-race.  At one point a plane tried to land on my car, which was fucking sweet when I managed to dodge it.  The game sets out to have a destructable environment and create action movie looking races.  In this it succeeds

PSA: Xbox 360 Accessories Discounted

Peripherals for the Xbox 360 are on sale through the first of May over at Amazon.  If you've been holding off on buying something, now is the time to do it.  I think I might pick up an HDMI cable....

MMO Pricing Options

MMO subscription options are lacking at the moment.  There is usually only one option per game.  Of all the games on the market there are basically only two models; either pay $15 per month or play for "free" but buy items in a virtual store for real world money.  These aren't necessarily bad options, but there could be better ones out there. EverQuest 2 apparently feels the same way since they just released a new pricing option.  Returning players can pay $5 for 3 days of consecutive play time. That is stupid.  It's limiting because it only targets old players who return and the three days of play time have to be consecutive.  Having an option to pay more money per hour but for less overall days isn't bad, only the restrictions on it are. Instead, why not do a daily rate and let it be an option for all players? I would revisit many of my old MMOs if I could pay per day instead of per month.  There a bunch of MMOs that I might play once a week if a daily

Sunday Reading: Leaving the World of Warcraft

There is a very well written post by Muqq of Ensidia about why he is leaving the World of Warcraft.  Ensidia is considered one of the very top guilds in the entire game and his post is not a rant, which are two reasons the post is so noteworthy.  I really related to the post because it spells out many of my current problems with WoW. I also want to point you toward a feature on my brother's blog.  He has started posting what he feels are the best replays for StarCraft 2.  Since watching replays is a huge part of learning the game I find his posts very helpful.  It's like having someone sort through all the crappy replays for you!  All that's left are the good ones .

StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: Replays

I wrote earlier that I would share tips as I learn more about StarCraft 2.  Last time I wrote about only playing one race until you master it and about plugging the ramp to your base.  In an off-handed way I mentioned replays in my last post on newbie tips.  It's time to expand on that. Watching StarCraft 2 replays is critical to getting better.  I didn't realize it at first, but it's of the utmost importance.  To get better at anything you need to learn from someone or something with more knowledge and experience than you currently have.  If someone beats you in a game, they did something better than you did and you can learn from them.  This is where replays come in.  Reading StarCraft 2 tips, tricks, and guides is a great place to start.  They're like a StarCraft 2 101 course.  Replays are the advanced courses. There are two main types of replays worth watching.  Your own games and players at the highest level . I like to watch my own games right after I fi

New Phase of StarCraft 2 Beta?

I think StarCraft 2 is getting ready to move into a new phase of beta.  Hopefully this will allow more people to get involved and really test the new system.  Let me tell you my reasoning. The home page of the beta client has listed an upcoming reset of the servers for about a week now. This server reset is to simulate the live release of StarCraft 2.  To do this I think they need more people than the current 10k-15k usually online at any given time. Out of nowhere Gamestop is suddenly giving away keys to people who pre-order StarCraft 2 through them.  This makes it much closer to an open beta since anyone can pay $5 to get in.  It isn't a fully open beta, but it is creeping away from an exclusive access closed beta. Blizzard is releasing the StarCraft 2 map editor this week .  My thinking is that they are expanding features as they expand the beta. There was a very recent wave of bans for people cheating in WarCraft 3 and Diablo 2.  They banned ov

Splinter Cell Conviction Co-Op Review

I spent 7 solid hours with the Splinter Cell Conviction Co-op mode just now.  I wanted to write a post right away even though it is 3:45am and I should sleep instead.  I'm shooting from the hip with my thoughts, but here it goes. This game is fun!  The Splinter Cell Conviction Co-op campaign is worth your time if you are interested in playing a co-op stealth game.  The campaign is only 6-8 hours but it is entirely separate from the single player campaign, which adds value in my mind.  I played the entire campaign without taking a break and I was never once bored.  From me, that is huge praise.  I get bored of games quickly when I feel like they have nothing new to offer.  Splinter Cell Conviction delivers. Part of the reason I liked it so much may be that I could never really get into the other Splinter Cell games.  I struggled with the controls and generally got frustrated/bored.  I am coming to Splinter Cell as completely new experience for me.  I've read that Conviction

In Tilt to Live you Tilt to Live

 Tilt to Live is an iphone and ipod touch game by one man left.  Its snarky loading screens, 60 second gaming qualities, and Tarintinoesque music have drawn me in as of late. I've been reading a lot of books lately and mainly sticking with StarCraft 2 during my gaming time , but if you know me you know that I am always up for a new 60 second game .  Tilt to Live is one I stumbled on and quickly came to love. In Tilt to Live the player is given a ship and tilts the ipod to move the ship around the screen.  The ship has to avoid all the red dots on screen while picking up power-ups to destroy the dots.  Dots are sometimes static, but often chase the player or create interesting shapes on screen.  It falls somewhere between Geometry Wars 2 pacifism mode, a dual stick shooter, and a game with motion controls.  It is a simple but addictive game. The sense of dodging, weaving, bobbing, and making insane escapes is intense and fun.  I'm getting good at luring packs of red dot

StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: Starter Tips

Zealots defending like pros I've been playing the StarCraft 2 beta more than anything else recently.  The game is slowly making more sense in my mind.  There are so many levels of complexity that are hard to grasp, but I love the challenge of trying. I played the original StarCraft when it came out, but that doesn't necessarily put me at an advantage.  It was released in 1998 which means I was 11 years old at the time.  I didn't have a grasp of complex strategies.  I was never very good at StarCraft, but I thought it was fun and I played it with friends. This time around I'm trying to learn strategies.  I'm watching replays .  I'm talking to people who understand the game.  I played a bunch of games with my brother sitting over my shoulder verbally managing me until I got better.  All of my efforts are helping. As long as I play StarCraft 2 I'll try to post my insights on this blog.  Consider this the start of my StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: By a Newbi

Sunday Viewing: Games Make a Better World

There is an amazing TED talk by Jane McGonigal about the power of games.  In it she talks about how much time people are currently investing in online gaming, what this means for our culture, and where it can lead us.  Here are a few statistics she presents: 3 Billion hours each week playing online games 5.93 Million years playing World of Warcraft so far. Average gamer spends 10,000 hours playing online by age 21. Compare this to 10,080 hours a child in the U.S. will spend in school from 5th grade to high school graduation with perfect attendance. Watch the full TED talk below.

StarCraft 2 Beta So Far

I'm enjoying the StarCraft 2 beta, but have run into a few problems.  The most immediate is I'm not very good at SC2.  I'll keep putting in the time and effort - and phone calls to my brother - and hopefully I'll improve as time goes on. My other roadblock is that I'm borrowing the beta account from a friend.  The person using the account before me was really good at SC2.  Because of this, the account is in the platinum league for 1v1 games.  Every time I play a 1v1 I go up against the best of the best and end up losing.  It makes for some very insightful replays, but it isn't much fun to lose every time.  I'm looking forward to Blizzard resetting the ladders soon. As a result I have been playing a lot of 2v2 games.  They are really fun when I get paired with a decent teammate.  Even if we lose it is still a great experience working with someone and not just against them.  One map in particular has teammates essentially sharing a double sized base, i

Underwhelmed by Bioshock 2

Bioshock was a great game.  The mood and tone evoked was something magical the first time I experienced it.  I uncovered the city of Rapture slowly and discovered it's mysteries.  One of the most powerful scenes I have encountered in gaming was the meeting with Andrew Ryan in the original Bioshock.  Bioshock was new, innovative, and did all sorts of interesting things in engine without taking away player control. The problem with Bioshock 2 is probably that I have already played Bioshock.  I know Rapture and its secrets.  I have killed these enemies and seen these sights.  Bioshock provided a comprehensive story arc with a solid ending but going back again seems like a ploy to milk the game for more money.  It evokes the same tone and feelings as the original, but I have already felt them and they are much less interesting the second time around. Bioshock 2 is more of the same.  The same game engine.  The same enemies.  The same powers.  The same guns.  The same tactics.  The

FFXIII Isn't All Bad

I did not hate Final Fantasy XIII.  My final impressions were how I felt upon completion of the game.  Although I don't think the game is worth the 45 hour commitment, there were still a few things I enjoyed about it. The best part of the game took place when the whole crew - 6 characters - were divided up into teams of 2 in separate areas.  There are 6 total jobs that the characters can have and they can only equip one at a time.  For this part of the game each character was limited to 3 jobs total and each team had overlap in their jobs.  This meant that in every team there was a job or two completely missing and only 2 jobs could be used at any given time. Why was this my favorite part of the game?  Because I had to think.   Unlike my overpowered set-ups of 3 people with the perfect jobs in the late game I had to make sacrifices and make do with what the game gave me.  It was much more challenging and involved juggling jobs and set-ups to find something that would work.

More FFXIII Bashing

Apparently it is rip on Final Fantasy XIII day.  Penny-Arcade has a new comic up that you should take a look at.

PSA: RIP Original Xbox Live

Today is the last full day to play original Xbox games on Xbox Live.  On Thursday the 15th the servers are being shut down.  Respect should be paid to a great service that paved the way for what we have now. Xbox Live in it's current state (on the 360) and PSN (on PS3) wouldn't be around in their current form if not for the original Xbox Live.  If you have any itch to play an old Xbox Live game, now is the time to do it.

Yahtzee Feels My Pain

I will get away from embedding videos next post, I promise.  But, I was just catching up with Zero Punctuation and watched Yahtzee's review of FFXIII.  He feels my pain and is hilarious in doing so.  I played the whole game while he only managed to make it through the first 5 hours.  Enjoy his rant, I know I did.

Final Fantasy XIII and Leona Lewis

The first emotion that I felt toward the characters in FFXIII was at the very end of the game.  It was entirely because of the music during the last cutscene and it's been stuck in my head for a few days now.  I looked it up and it is My Hands by Leona Lewis, an emotion piece of vocal work.  Listen to it if you have a few minutes.

Final Impressions: Final Fantasy XIII

Ugh.  Man.  Final Fantasy XIII had so much potential when I started playing it.  What went wrong?  I really don't know where to start.  Oh, yes I do. Don't buy this game if you aren't a Final Fantasy diehard.  You won't like it. Ok, that's a good start.  There is no way I would have finished this game if the Final Fantasy name wasn't attached.  I've beaten Final Fantasy 7 through 12 with a handful of others thrown in for good measure.  So, I finished 13, but won't be picking it up again ever.  I come to this conclusion after investing 44 hours of my time in the game. Besides little annoyances, the things that I hated the most about this game were the characters, situations, and battles.  They all had potential, but it wasn't realized. Let's start with the characters.  They are one dimensional.  Where are the character flaws?  Where are the little things that make them feel human?  Where is the character growth and development?  Not in thi

Gaming Limbo: FieldRunners

I'm in gaming limbo right now.  I still haven't finished FFXIII , haven't started Bioshock 2, am still loving the Blur beta , and haven't played enough StarCraft2 Beta to write about it yet.  So, what am I going to write about tonight?  Fieldrunners. When I'm in gaming limbo - or just don't have much time to play games - I like to play quick games on my ipod touch.  I do a lot of 60 second games , but I have a few others that take more time that I really like.  One of them is Fieldrunners. Fieldrunners is a simple tower defense game that is executed very well.  The creeps try to get from the entrance of the level to the exit of the level while the player places and upgrades towers to kill them.  If they exit the level you lose a life and when all lives are gone you lose the game.  Pretty standard fare. I'm a sucker for tower defense games, but the thing about Fieldrunners is that it's formatted well for the ipod touch.  When I pick up a tower it

Sunday Reading: Proud Gaming and Pixels

Tobold had one of the most interesting posts I've seen in months.  He asked his readers if they were a "loud and proud" gamer.  The question centers around how often people talk about their gaming hobby with those around them on a daily basis, be it friends or colleagues. Also, some Sunday viewing.  Enjoy this pixel Armageddon. PIXELS by PATRICK JEAN. Uploaded by onemoreprod . - Independent web videos.

An Influx of Games

Suddenly I have games to play!  After complaining about being in a gaming lull the other day I have since come into a wealth of entertainment. I wrote about how much I like Blur.  I'm still playing it frequently.  I convinced my brother to play it too and we've been having nightly Blur sessions for a few days. My friend wasn't using his StarCraft2 Beta account, so he's letting me use it.  SC2 is great!  I'm still trying to learn the new units and everything, but I'm having a fun time figuring it out.  I'll write up some impressions once I've played it more. I'm so close to beating FFXIII that I just want to finish .  At this point I wouldn't recommend the game to anyone who isn't a hardcore Final Fantasy fan, but at 40 hours into the game I do want to complete it.  I'm far into chapter 12 - out of 13 - in the storyline for FFXIII.  I hope to get a final impressions written once I'm done. My first Gamefly rental is sitting

Nintendo and the Dominance of Mario

I don't know the last time I touched my Nintendo Wii.  Good games aren't released for it that often.  Almost every game I want to play ends up being for the Xbox 360 or the PC.  I wonder why? I think one of the main problems is the lack of solid third party games on Nintendo systems.  Nintendo itself always releases good games, but third party developers take a look at their systems and decide to develop for one of the other consoles or PC.  On top of this there is so much shovelware on the Wii that it is often hard to find a game that is even remotely decent. The first party games that Nintendo creates and releases are great in comparison!  This results in the dominance of Mario on the system.  I only own one non-Nintendo created game - Boom Blox - for the Wii.  Of all the Wii games I have 75% of them have Mario as a character. The benefit that comes out of this for Nintendo is that they have little competition on their own system, so they can dominate the market.  In

Blur = Mario Kart - Cartoonish + MW2 Xp System

An equation to help sell you on Blur!  It's so fun!  A day after complaining about not having anything interesting to play, I found something interesting to play.  Funny how that works. Blur is like a grown up Mario Kart on Xbox Live.  They also stole the experience and advancement system from Modern Warfare 2.  I love that advancement system, so I think it's a great thing.  I especially like all the challenges that give bonus experience upon completion.  I don't normally like driving games, but I'm making an exception for Blur. Every level has power-ups to pick up on the track.  These are weapons, shields, and turbo boosts.  There is a weapon called the barge that makes me feel like a badass every time I activate it.  It's a huge concussive blast that radiates out from your car.  Perfect for shoving people off cliffs and into walls. As I leveled up I unlocked different cars, modes, and mods.  Cars and modes are exactly what you think they are.  Mods are like

A Gaming Lull

I've noticed that we're at the point in the year where gaming has a lull.  In the thick of winter games release so they are out before the holiday season.  In the middle of summer there tends to be a stoppage of game releases.  That is coming up quick.  There are a few games coming out in May and June that I'm interested in.  After that there is a long gap until Sept/Nov when games start coming out for the holiday season. Maybe I shouldn't complain since there are games coming in the next few months that I want to try.  But, for right now, I am bored.  The last game I bought was Final Fantasy XIII, but I am not enjoying it as much as I hoped I would.  So, the last game that was worth buying for me was Mass Effect 2.  ME2 came out on January 26th.  That was a while ago. The Blur multiplayer beta comes out tomorrow for the public, but a beta isn't a game.  StarCraft 2 has a closed beta going right now, but again that is a beta. I tried a free trial for Everques

PSA: Geometry Wars 2 on the Cheap

Geometry Wars 2 is one of the absolute best Xbox Live Arcade games that has come out, ever.  If you don't own it then now is the time to grab a copy.  It is only $5 to buy it this week.  Next week it will hit normal price again.  Go! Buy! Enjoy! Become Addicted! Other things as well!

Games to Play With Girls

I have already suggested that Rock Band is the best game to start with when you want to get a girl to play video games.  After she adjusts to the idea of playing on a console you will want to play more games with her.  The question becomes, what games will girls play? The trick to getting a girlfriend to play video games with you is to pick your games carefully.  Girls are much more discerning with games and will reject them fast if they aren't having fun.  The key is to choose games that are easy to pick up and play.  Pick something that is easy to understand and control.  The worst possible thing to do is to put a console FPS in front of a new gamer. You want them to become familiarized with the controller before adding games with complex control schemes.  Mario Kart is a great place to start.  It has some layers of complexity but at the same time it isn't hard to understand.  The controls come pretty naturally. Another good game is Plants vs Zombies.  It starts simply

Sunday Reading: On Escapism

There were two great posts by Syp this week.  The first discussed escapism .  He slants his post towards Lord of the Rings and LOTRO but I think the same concepts apply to all gaming.  Very worthy of your time. At the very least, take a look at his arguments for investing in a fantasy world.  It will give you some ammunition next time someone says playing video games is a waste of time. The other post is about explaining a MMO to a non-gamer .  Syp's mom asked him to explain what he does with blogging, which in turn led to an explanation of MMO gaming in general. Spinks had a rant which turned into a really interesting analysis of where social gaming is taking us .  Spinks' posts tend to be longer, but they usually have a unique take on a given situation. There you go, some Sunday reading for this week.

How Do I Get My Girlfriend to Play Video Games?

The answer, my friends, is Rock Band.  If you want to know how to game with girls there is something you should know.  Rock Band is a gateway game.  It opens girls up to the possibility that the video game consoles may actually hold something of interest for them. The key here is that all girls sing.  Whether they sing at parties, in the shower, or top-of-their-lungs in the car, they most definitely sing.  Give that girl a microphone and she's ready to go.  No need to explain the scrolling notes, star power, song ratings, or anything really.  The girl just wants to sing.  Let her. Next step, wait.  Something magical may happen.  After seeing you play guitar and drums in her peripheral vision she may - one day - ask to try it.  This is when you know you have won.  The gateway is open. Now it is time to add more games to the mix.  I'll write more about that soon.


I decided to re-subscribe today.  I am not re-subbing for an MMO, I am reactivating my Gamefly account. I canceled my Gamefly account last September when I had literally played all the games I wanted to try.  Now I have a little bit of a backlog to catch up on.  I'm excited about a bunch of games releasing in the next 3 months that I want to play but don't think are worth $60 to keep forever. Gamefly reactivation is about $10 for the first month and $15 each month after.  That is around the same cost as most MMO subscriptions.  It's a good deal since I get to play 3-4 games per month and not have to spend $60 on each one.  That is a savings of $225 each month if I play 4 games through Gamefly. Here are the games I won't buy, but am excited to try: Bioshock 2 Just Cause 2 Darksiders Bayonetta Splinter Cell: Conviction Red Dead Redemption Blur Singularity Split/Second Nier Lego Harry Potter Super Mario Galaxy 2 Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands Crackd

April Fools Day

Keep your eyes on the news carefully today.  Gaming websites love to throw out fake game news on April 1st every year.  It is always interesting to see what they come up with and if people actually buy it. Sometimes good game ideas end up coming from fake announcements on April Fools Day.  We'll see what happens this year.