False advertising . . .

I’ve written several times in my blog about playing video games – and even a few online games.

I’ve also been rather candid about the fact that I’m picky about what I play.  I like role-playing games with good stories, and even when they are online I like to have lots of content that I can play solo (at least until I get to know enough other players that I feel comfortable grouping with them).

Last week, because there was a themed sale in the Playstation Store (Halloween) I was looking at the games they featured in the sale.  There was one game that looked interesting, so I bought it.

The game was DEAD ISLAND.  I don’t want to get into a lot of spoilers – but there was one MAJOR aspect of the game that was not advertised in any of the descriptions on the Playstation Store – this game has NO solo mode at all.  You pick one of 4 (or was it 5?) premade characters, get to do no customizing at all, and then you’re tossed into the game environment where you’re being told to assemble your team before you can leave the hotel room.

IMHO that is false advertising.  I needed to know about that condition to know I wasn’t going to like this game.  It was less than $10 USD, but I still feel that I wasted money.  No, I was cheated out of it.

Oh, and then there is this:  The online edition of The Atlantic recently reported that 59% of the tuna sold in America isn’t really tuna.


the last few days . . .

I’ve been really busy the last few days, though someone outside the house might not think so.  Last Monday a good friend who’s been out-of-touch for a few years called me up and asked about renewing our friendship.  One thing we both have in common is playing video games, so when he suggested we get our respective copies of The Elder Scrolls Online updated (and he had a TON of mods to share with me – I’ve never tried modding an MMO before) we worked out how he would share the mods with me and I started checking out which ones I wanted to use.  Two days later – the game no longer looks familiar!  Not that I played it all that much anyhow – I don’t like MMO’s unless I’m sharing them with someone I already know IRL, AND know their game-play style works with mine.

Anyhow, now I have to sort out which mods I want and don’t, based on how the game experience changes as I play using them.  The first thing I need to do is get rid of a huge dwemer-style clock that is sitting smack-dab in the middle of my screen.  LOL!

For the video gamers . . .

Normally, I would put this on my LiveJournal blog, but there seems to be a technical problem keeping me from logging in – every time I try to pull up the site it crashes my browser.

Still – this is something exciting (at least for me, and like-minded gamers) that bears sharing.

Bethesda has released the first 3 games of The Elder Scrolls game series through the DRM-free distribution site GOG.com.  What makes this exciting is that the first 2 games in the series were not designed to be played on the PC – and emulators have struggled (mostly in vain, in my experience) to make them playable.  GOG has it’s own launch interface that seems to flawlessly make those games playable on my PC.  Right now, they have a bundle-sale going on where you can get all 3 – PLUS 2 spin-off parallel games related to the series – for a hair over $21 USD.  It IS worth a look!

The Last Straw…

483px-SR-cover-Skyrim_Box_ArtOk, I knew when I bought The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for my PC last year that it was supposed to need some sort of authentication cycle with the online company called STEAM.  I had hoped (in vain, as it turns out) that I could at least install the game on the PC, even without some features.  Nope, it wouldn’t even complete the installation without me signing into a STEAM account that I didn’t have.  So, I took the disc out of my PC and put it on a shelf.

Now, boredom has overtaken me to a huge degree, and so I thought I’d give it another shot.  I was fully prepared to have to create a STEAM account just for the one action of authenticating my disc – that is how bored I am lately.  I even have Skyrim on my PS3 – I’m wanting it on the PC so I can use some mods that friends have shared with me.  Sony won’t allow you to install mods on PS3 games.

So, I put the disc into my NEW PC, and ………. nothing.  The computer treats it like a bad disc.  Just to make sure it wasn’t the drive, I installed The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion from another disc I had on the shelf.  It installed perfectly on the first try.  The only guess I have is that when I aborted the install on the old computer – somehow Bethesda had a kill-switch built into the software that ruined the disc so it can’t be used ever again.  I don’t even know how they would do that, but I haven’t any other ideas as to why that game won’t install on a brand new computer.

Now I’m so upset with Bethesda I am willing to boycott them.  I love the games they made in the past that I’ve played – but I will never play another of their games if they don’t trash the protectionist attitude BS.  They can afford to lose money on 2% of the games in circulation – I don’t enjoy wasting $65 on a game that I bought from a legal retail outlet.


How to kill a video game franchise . . .

I don’t talk very much about gaming on this blog, because I have a LiveJournal account where that is most of what I do.  However, because I posted my open letter to the gaming industry here, I did think that it might be appropriate to look at what the industry can do wrong.  Mostly because when they do it wrong, they go big on the error.

My case study for this is the 3rd installment of the franchise Dragon Age.

This one is called Dragon Age: Inquisition.  Both of the previous installments became “Game of the Year” award winners, and I loved the games.  So my hopes were high.

First up – the controls.  Every game in this series has had a different map to the controls.  Frustration levels run exceptionally high when you are in combat situations and instinctively try to attack with the previous habit motions, but your character dies because that button/trigger now does something totally different.  DA:I takes this to a new extreme.  Where the previous games started with very simple controls, and slowly opened up new commands over the course of the game, DA:I is more complex at the start than the others were at the end.

Secondly, let’s look at in-game story continuity.  In the first game of the series, you could play as any of 4 different basic character types, with up to 10 different back stories (plus the option of playing each as male/female), and your decisions both at character generation and throughout the game had real in-game impacts on how events unfolded and how NPC’s reacted to you.  In the second game, you’re only allowed one race choice, thus only warrior/rogue/mage types, and male/female.  However, you were allowed to import your save file from the first game to fill in the back story to adjust how the NPC’s behave in the game – a first in my gaming experience, and it was awesome!  DA:I adds one new race as a playable character (Qunari), but does not support importing save files from previous games.

On to trophies.  We all want to be acknowledged for our hard work – the same is true in gaming.  So imagine the disappointment average people will feel in finding out that no matter how many times they play the entire game, they will never be able to earn a “Platinum” trophy (or Achievement on the Xbox systems).  This is because there are two trophies that absolutely require you to play the entire game on “Hard” or “Nightmare” difficulty settings, and most people who play these games won’t be able to do that.

Next up is the User Interface.  There is a HUD-type map that appears on the screen to help you navigate to objectives.  Or at least that is what it is supposed to do.  It fails completely because the compass freely spins as you change directions, resulting in you never being certain where you are or how to get to your chosen destination.

Now on to character leveling – the process of improving your character as you progress through the game.  The previous two installments of this series handled this fairly well, and with good planning it was possible to keep your character’s build ahead of the demands of the game.  Not so with DA:I – which now has a “power” stat that is the measure of the influence of the Inquisition.  The power stat goes up rather independently of the XP that you need to raise level, but is directly tied into the level of the opponents you face.  It shouldn’t be hard to imagine the pain and frustration of having a level 6 character who is suddenly facing level 10 demons!  Oh, and I’ve also had the “pleasure” of having my level 4 character run into a DRAGON.  FYI – one fireball from the dragon wiped out my entire party.

I could continue – but suffice it to say that everything my “open letter” said the video game should do differently has been done wrong by BioWare and EA in the third game of the Dragon Age series.  I don’t think I’ll be interested in a 4th game of this series.  These companies don’t care about your business or mine – they cater to the elite “top 3%” of all gamers, and this game proves it in spades.