Saturday, January 11, 2014

December 2013 Game Haul

Games bought in online sales during December 2013
Steam: Number of games 6, Total Expenditure €31.84
Amazon: Number of games 4, Total Expenditure €11.64
Others: Number of games 30, Total Expenditure €24.87
 Grand Totals: 40 games, €68.35 spent

(Others include Green Man, Gamers Gate, Get Games, Uplay, Humble and Bundle Stars. None of these got more than €10 from me but there are three bundles included which explains the large number of games. )

Notable purchases include "Brothers a tale of two sons", "Crysis 3", "Far Cry Blood Dragon", "Sleeping Dogs", "Metro Last Light", "Fallout New Vegas" and "Xcom Enemy Within" all of which have been on my wish list for some time. A lot of the rest were impulse purchases which I may or may not get around to playing.

Surprisingly the game of Christmas for me was definitely: "Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition" picked up for $5 from Amazon. This is despite the fact that I had already spent well over a hundred hours playing Dragon Age origins when it was released a few years back and I have even played the sequel Dragon Age 2. This ultimate edition contains all the DLC for the game which includes one full campaign and several mini chapters that I have not played before easily adding up to more than 50 hours of additional content on top of the base game. Dragon age is my favourite RPG of modern times and replaying it again after several years has confirmed that for me. I love the party control mechanics and I love the tactics system which allows you to get inside the AI of your party members. The system does have serious limitations and in any challenging battle you still need to micromanage your party but it is still far beyond anything I have seen in any other game.

Also noteworthy is the fact that while Steam is clearly dominant it gets less than 50% of my gaming euros. I love Steam but I am happy to see money spread around to ensure a bit of healthy competition in the marketplace.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Dark Souls snippets from 2012

Was clearing out some old files on my computer and I found these Dark Souls snippets that I never uploaded for some reason. They capture the impact the game had on me so I think they are worth preserving and I am posting them now more than a year late.

From December 2012
*Dark Souls has engulfed me like very few games have ever and yet I find it difficult to write about. It is not that there aren't stories it is just that they are all intensely personal stories about how I tried and failed and failed and failed again until eventually learned something and overcame some in game hurdle. In the absence  therefore of any coherent narrative let me share some random thoughts about the game.

*Last night  the game went into a loop when trying to access my save file. The message flashing repeatedly on the screen said something like "Verifying save game. Do not quit the game or turn off your computer". I waited at least twenty minutes before hitting CTL ALT DEL and rebooting. As I waited for the game to restart I was fully expecting to have lost my save games and more than 80 hours of accumulated game progress. I knew I would not be able to go back and start all over again. Yet I felt an inner calm. So be it, I felt. If this is how the game ends for me so be it. I would still remember the game fondly. I would still recommend it to anyone even if it decided to end our relationship in such an unexpected fashion. (Aside - my saves were not lost but I can still remember the the inner calm, almost relief I felt at thinking I had lost the game )

*Why does "humanity" (an important consumable in game) drop from Rats?

*Bonfires serve the function of checkpoints in game. Resting at a bonfire replenishes your health and spells while refilling your health potions (Estus Flasks). When you die you respawn at the last bonfire you rested at. Yet bonfires are a two edged sword because resting at a bonfire causes all the normal enemies to respawn. It is always a bitter sweet moment when you reach a new bonfire  nearly dead and with all your consumables exhausted. You know that resting at this bonfire will fit you up for battle once again and solidify your progress by granting you a new spawn point but you also realise that resting there means you must fight your way back through all the enemies once again.

*I have become far better at the game over the few weeks I have been playing it but I am not sure how much of this is due to higher stats, how much due to better equipment and how much s due to me learning how the game works. Probably an equal combination of all three.

*It took me a while to realise that the most important stat to raise for my melee warrior was endurance. Endurance and not strength determines the weight of equipment you can carry. It would be more correct to say that endurance determines how quickly you can move with a given weight of equipment. I try to keep my total load below 50% of my actual limit in order to allow me move relatively freely. Others strive to keep below 25%. Endurance also plays a vital role in combat because it determines your stamina. Stamina allows you to make hits but it also determines how many hits you can take because blocking with a shield knocks a good chunk off your stamina and if you run out of stamina your blocking will fail.