Year End 2014

In most Steam sales, I have a fairly strict cut-off point of avoiding anything unless it is under $10. Over the past year or so, I’ve rarely found anything meeting that criteria that I don’t already have, so I was a bit surprised to find myself buying nine games in this Winter Steam Sale, including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, The Walking Dead Season 2, Murdered: Soul Suspect, Democracy 3, Contagion, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Dominions 4, Thief, and Transistor. All less than $10.

Not to mention the fact that Origin had its own Winter Sale so I picked up Mass Effect 3 for a single-digit price, too.

Of course it will probably be years before I ever play any of those games, if ever. (I looked at Dominions 4 briefly but it was a bit confusing so I put it away again after about 15 minutes.)

I intended to finish Dragon Age II and then head into Dragon Age: Inquisition, but I stalled out after the second act. I was getting antsy for an ending so I could move on to something else, and then I went and bought Elite: Dangerous.

Elite: Dangerous came along at a great time because I was getting tired of story-driven gaming in general, and there were a bunch of Netflix shows I was falling behind on. For me, it’s rather difficult to watch television and cut scenes at the same time. But Netflix and Elite: Dangerous make the perfect combination.

Someday I’ll write more about Elite: Dangerous but in a nutshell I enjoy it. I have a hard time seeing it as an MMO though, because I’m playing it entirely in the “Solo” mode, and it doesn’t feel like I’m missing anything without other people. Space flight is an inherently lonely sort of activity, so it seems natural to me that there aren’t other people around. In real life I would only expect to see other people in the same ship that I was in, or after I landed on planets.

I don’t have much to say about the year 2014 in MMO gaming. I’m not much into trends. ESO and WildStar weren’t bad games in my opinion, but I didn’t get enough out of them to pay for a continuous subscription. I’d happily jump back into them again though. ArcheAge was a bit of a disappointment, although I could still see myself going back to it from time to time if–and only if–my progress were not destroyed by losing my property, which will eventually happen when my Patron status runs out.

As for 2015, one day I want to write a blog post about this, but I am going to call it now and say that EQ:Next is going to be a terrible game that will shatter the hopes of many people. There is an abundance of evidence for this conclusion in what we can already see in Landmark.

Steam’s Fall and Winter 2013 Sales

Remember the good old days when you could buy tons of awesome AAA games from Steam for ridiculously low prices? Yeah, I think those days are over.

I was pretty disappointed in the Fall and Winter Steam Sales this time around. Almost all of the AAA games I saw on deep discount sales ($10 or less) were ones that I had already bought in earlier sales. (I still haven’t played 90% of them.) Most of the "new" sales were on indie or half-finished games, and only about 1 in 100 of those looks interesting to me. (Another 8-bit platformer? Really?) Not to mention the fact that I’ve already bought most of the indie games that interest me because they’re pretty cheap even when they aren’t on sale.

It’s probably lame and shallow of me to admit this, but I’m not a big fan of how Steam’s AAA games have been buried beneath an avalanche of half-finished indie games. It’s hard to find anything good on there anymore. And it seems like more and more big releases are not even there. (Eg. Battlefield 4.)

So in total I think I bought 3 games in the Winter sale and maybe 5 in the Fall sale. None of them were "omg I’ve got to have that!" kind of games, either. They were just "oh I heard somebody talking about that once" kind of games.

The only current Steam game that I actively want is Assassin’s Creed IV, and from what I’ve heard it’s mostly a game of pirate ships, which isn’t interesting enough for me to buy it at only 25% off. (Plus I don’t like how they’ve all but abandoned the meta-story, as I talked about in another post.)

Stanley’s Parable

One night I didn’t feel like playing an MMO. It happened to be a night where there was a Steam sale on Stanley’s Parable, a game I’ve heard a lot about, so I got that and played it.

First of all, it’s not a game. There needs to be another category for this kind of thing. Something like Interactive Art Project or Interactive Entertainment. (It’s similar to Gone Home in that regard.) Stanley’s Parable is like a point-and-click Adventure game I suppose, but it’s not quite the same because there aren’t really any puzzles to solve. It’s something you are just supposed to view and experience, not "play."

Anyway, I give it two thumbs up. It’s witty and fun and I laughed a lot.

The Walking Dead Game Episode 3

Finished The Walking Dead (game) Episode 3. This one seemed considerably longer and to drag a bit more than the previous two. There were times when I just wanted it to move forward without having to go through the adventure-style puzzle solving. In those times I would say that the gameplay was getting in the way of the story.

I’m thinking in particular of a time on the train toward the end of the episode, when you had to get a map, but someone was in the way and wouldn’t move, so you had to find a way to get him to move on his own, but I didn’t really realize that’s what I was supposed to be doing, and the way you had to do it was pretty convoluted and strange.

Two more episodes to go! What will they find in Savannah??

The Walking Dead Game Bites

The Walking Dead on Steam

Ha ha! Wasn’t that hilarious? Anyway I’m currently bored to death with all existing MMOs, so I’ve turned to my Steam library to find a game that will hold my attention for more than a few hours.

I tried Rogue Legacy, which the GWJ people raved about. I can see why they liked it, but it’s basically a side-scrolling platformer and I’ve never liked platformers. It would take me a long time to get the hang of the controls, and at least in the first hour of play, I didn’t see where there’s any reward for spending the time to learn the controls.

I tried Torchlight II because I liked the first one, but it’s basically the same game, and it’s still that Diablo-style isometric view that I dislike in general (because the view of your surroundings is so limited).

Then I checked out The Walking Dead, which was recently on sale. This game is riveting and good. Well, let me amend that: The *story* is riveting and good. The game itself is not all that interactive; basically, you occasionally get to pick the direction that the story goes (usually in the form of picking who to help). Depending on your actions, the story will unfold differently, or different people will become friends or enemies.

I found that TWD works best with a controller. I say that mainly because you cannot change the default WASD movement keys and I did not want to use those. The only things you can really do to interact with the game is move your guy (sometimes), select a dialog option, or mouse over objects on the screen and interact with them, sort of Myst-style. It’s a bit awkward to mouse-over things with the controller, but still easily doable.

My First Look at Skyrim

I finally got Skyrim in a Steam sale. I’m not sure exactly what I expected but I kind of thought it would be something a bit more … well, different from Oblivion. All of the same annoying things from Oblivion are still there in Skyrim.

The most annoying of which is when five people walk up to you and start talking at the same time. While you’re already talking to someone else. Not to mention the laggy, unresponsive sort of feel to the interface, which is particularly annoying considering you’re supposed to play it like an FPS. I’ve played FPSs, Skyrim, and you, sir, are no FPS.

The story’s cool though. I guess. I don’t really know what it is. I just wander around trying to complete objectives, while simultaneously starting new objectives.