Monday, May 31, 2010

The value of a games back catalogue

Movie studios and music publishers have long realised that a back catalogue of good titles is a valuable asset that if well managed can continue to generate strong revenues for many decades. It is not at all obvious that game publishers care as much about the value of their older games. Everything is focussed on achieving maximum revenues in the first few weeks after release. If a game is lucky it will get tossed over the wall to one of the budget labels who will extend the availability of the game for a few years but even then the obscene haste with which the original publishers wash their hands of a title is remarkable.
 
On a positive note the advent of digital distribution is a major positive step and has made a major impact on the availability of older titles. I have noticed that online sales of an older game on Steam for example do spark a minor flurry of interest on forums and websites relating to the game.

Newer drm schemes which require online connection even for single player games are a worrying development however. Once the servers shut down (and they will) the game dies forever. I guess far sighted developer will include some form of bypass switch which disable that drm once the game shuts down but I would not have confidence that this will always happen. Generally once a game is dropped it is dropped like a stone and even once more patch is seen as a bridge too far.

Can you still qualify as a serious gamer if ...

... you don't keep up with all the new releases?

As a gamer in my mid 40's I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I am getting to the point where the number of excellent older games that I haven't gotten around to playing exceeds the quantity of living hours remaining to me to play them in.  While this reflection on my own mortality might be depressing it is also wonderfully liberating. I find that I am less and less incensed at the future direction of gaming because even if the whole gaming industry collapses tomorrow morning then I can continue to enjoy many years worth of engrossing virtual entertainment by playing existing titles.

This fun cartoon from xkcd highlights some advantages and disadvantages of being a retro gamer. Writing about five year old games is certainly not going to do much for the popularity of my blog but I guess I can live with that although I will admit is is nice sometimes to be part of the buzz that surrounds the latest greatest thing.



Games played last week: Rome Total War (release date 2004), Call of Juarez (released 2007)

A quick thought about surveys

In a moment of idleness this morning I found myself taking an online survey which claims to detect one's level of empathy. Sadly all the questions were completely obvious, asking "Do you care about other peoples feelings"over and over again. One questions even goes so far as to ask directly "Are you empathetic". I actually gave up before I got to the end of the survey because I find it impossible to answer questions like this without trying to game the survey - choosing those answers which fit in with my preconceived notion of the outcome of the survey.

My favourite type of survey subjects you to a battery of apparently unrelated questions before astonishing you with an outrageously astute deduction based on the answers.:

Q1. Polar bears are more attractive than ice cream:
Strong Agree (x),  Agree ( ),   Neutral ( ),  Disagree ( ),  Strongly Disagree ( )
.
.
.
.
.
Q20 Which of the following numbers is the most significant:
Zero,  My Paycheck ( ),  Pi( ),   42 (x),  Absolute Zero( )


Congratulations we have assessed you answers and determined that you are  exactly 11 lb overweight.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rome Total War: I miss my Hastati

This is Scipii Campaign part 1
Scipii Campaign Part 2
Scipii Campaign part 3
Scipii Campaign Part 4
Scipii Campaign Part 5 (Final Part)

Over a week since my last post so this is just a quick update to note that due to real life pressures my gaming has been fairly limited. I have rediscovered the joys of Rome Total War however. I find that after a long long day an hour's campaigning is the perfect de-stresser before heading off to bed.

I am playing as Scipii whose focus is on the South East of the Map. The empire of Carthage has already fallen to my legions and Spain and Numidia will soon to follow them to the scrapheap of history. Upgrading one of my towns to large city status has just triggered the Marius event which represents the transformation of the Roman army into a permanent professional fighting force following the reforms of Gaius Marius. For the most part this is a good thing - finally giving me access to the awesomely powerful late game Roman legions, but one disappointing aspect is the loss of my beloved Hastati. Hastati are Rome's basic infantry pre-Marius that can be trained from the first level of barracks. They are very useful because they can hold their own against the lower level infantries of every other faction and also because they are very cheap. The fact that they are available from the first level of barracks is very handy on a campaign because almost every one horse town you capture has such a barracks making it easy to replace losses as you go.  The post Marian replacement is the spear wielding Auxillia who is less powerful and generally less useful. Pity.

This is Scipii Campaign part 1
Scipii Campaign Part 2
Scipii Campaign part 3
Scipii Campaign Part 4
Scipii Campaign Part 5 (Final Part)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Iron Grip Warlord on STEAM

I think I can safely say that there has never been a better time to buy Iron Grip Warlord the innovative RTS, FPS,  Tower defence game hybrid from Isotyx.

The game has just been released on Steam for the very reasonable price of €7 but this week you can get a further 20% off making it a complete bargain.

Iron Grip Warlord plays best as an on-line co-op game and is unusual in that single player mode is far harder than multi-player. Happily the influx of new players from Steam has made it much easier to get a party going so now is most definitely the time to get this great little game.

Masochistic Gaming

Playing games that I am bad at is a strange experience. Normally I game for relaxation, for the gentle hit of endorphins that I get from minor successes in game. Needless to say I amn't getting many endorphins from gaming this week. Yet I feel that I should persevere a bit longer for my own good. I just wish I felt that I was getting a bit better.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Month of Using Opera

About a month ago I announce my intention to move from Firefox to Opera as my standard browser on Desktop, Laptop and mobile phone. Here are some quick thoughts based on one months usage:


"Games are too hard, they're too long, and they provide way too much stuff."

The title is a quote attributed to game designers in an intriguing article by John Davison of Game Pro. The article itself has some interesting points to make about the future of game design and is well worth a read but some of the things I took out of it are: The fact that game designers are now measuring players actions in game with embedded tools. The fact that the results of these measurements is that only a small minority of hard core players (less than 5% is suggested) play a game as intended through to completion. More than 90% of players just play for four or five hours and prefer to just "dick around" rather than follow the prescribed structure of the game.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bad Company 2 Multiplayer: Noob Friendly

Despite the glaring omission of a multi-player tutorial Battlefield bad company 2 does take a number of steps to make less experienced players feel welcome in multi-player. The almost automatic squad system is one example as is the generous allocation of points for support activities. Perhaps my favourite little touch however is that the game does not display the number of times you get killed in squad death-match games.