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Showing posts from July, 2011

I took a walk on the dark side

Just finished Darksiders and really enjoyed it. You play War, horseman of the Apocalypse, looking for vengeance after he has been framed for the premature roll out of Armageddon. With great post apocalyptic artwork, hordes of demons to slay, loot to collect, monstrous bosses to overcome and puzzles aplenty to solve this game has something for everyone. Some critics have accused the game of being a rip off combination of Zelda and God of War but not being a seasoned action adventure gamer it was fresh and new to me and I thought it was great (even though I did spot some borrowings from Guild Wars and also from Portal). Third person action adventure games often don't transfer well to the PC because of the control scheme but I am pleased to report that the mouse and keyboard controls are very good in this case. Half way through the game I invested in an Xbox 360 controller so I managed to compare both control schemes. Movement is definitely easier with the controller but aiming is f

Why I am watching Harry Potter films every night this week.

A dozen or so years ago I picked up a copy of the first Harry Potter book to read on a plane. I knew it was a children's book but the J.K. Rowling phenomenon had already begun and I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. I finished the book during the transatlantic flight home, satisfied that I had seen enough of Potter to know what it was about but not feeling the need to follow up on the rest of the series. Curious fact: Since I was travelling home from the USA the American imprint of the book I acquired had the title changed because the word "Philosopher" was deemed to be unacceptable to a US audience at that time so it was replaced with the word "Sorcerer". Anyway that would have been the end of my flirtation with Harry Potter had not my own daughter caught a severe case of Harry Potteritus more than a decade later. It took her less than a month to read all of the novels and watch all of the films to date. Needless to say the recent release of th

Dead Space 2 Finished

Very Enjoyable Sci Fi Shooter. Very faithful sequel to the first game. Strong on storyline and action. Very gory but not offensive I thought. A few scares but most of the time the fighting is too intense to feel really creepy. Great selection of weapons and upgrade system allows customisation..  One thing I noticed for the better from the first game is that the PC controls feel a lot more responsive. The control scheme is the same so they must just have tweaked a few timings. Overall it makes the game more enjoyable to play. My Favorite Weapons: Early Game - Pulse Rifle  /  End Game - Ripper (spinning blade) Favourite Chapter: 14 ( The penultimate chapter) - a flood of tough enemies gives no time for a breather as you try to fight your way through to the key objective. Exciting stuff.

Steam's Version of Dead Space 2 Broken By DLC

A magic vending machine at the start of Dead Space 2 spews out the best equipment in the game for nothing.   In the original Dead Space you had to collect cash and other loot from corpses in order to exchange for increasingly better weapons and armour which gradually became available from vending machines as you progressed through the game. Dead Space 2 (bought recently in Steam Sale) appears to use the same mechanic so I was quite surprised to find that that the very first vending machine I came across seemed to be surprisingly well stocked. Not only did it contain upgraded versions of all of the game's weapons and armour but it was giving them all away for free! My first thought was that this was some kind of tutorial mode. I have seen similar things in other games where your character starts out with all his powers but a triggered event at the end of the tutorial strips them all away until you earn them back through the course of the game. This is not the case here however.

Steam's 2011 Summer Sale Not So Sizzling. Is it the end of an era?

Zoso blogged that unusually for him he hasn't bought anything yet in Steam's Summer sale. I noticed a similar lack of enthusiasm myself and when I asked in Twitter quite a few respondents commented that they had yet to be tempted by the bargains on offer. From my own perspective neither the games nor the pricing has been all that tempting although I have picked up one game so far: Darksiders. Significantly none of the triple A games seem to have the sort of spectacular discounts that I remember from previous sales . In fact none of the bargains has surprised me. Everything I have seen so far has already been on sale already at some time and probably will be again so I don't feel any need to take a plunge. Perhaps there is juicier fare to come later or perhaps we are just jaded with too many sales. On the other hand could it be that maybe the era of give away sales is drawing to  a close and the time of game pricing madness is coming to an end?

Single Player Gaming Update: Crysis 2 and Medal of Honor (2010)

I played the single player campaign of Crysis 2 a couple of weeks ago. I found the single player campaign to be short and enjoyable. This game adds the ability to upgrade your nano suit which allows for a limited amount of variety which is nice. The New York location makes for a nice change from the tropical island setting of the previous games as well. Overall this game did not seem to be be as "big" a game as the previous two episodes. That isn't just a matter of length, it seems to me that Crysis 2 has less variety of scenarios and enemies than the previous games and is more on rails. One simple example is that you can no longer just jump into any vehicle you see and use it. There are a few vehicular segments but they run pretty much on rails. Still good though, just not as good. Crytek brought out a super duper DX11 graphics patch the day after I finished the game. I installed it and replayed a couple of levels but to be honest I didn't really notice the differenc

Is free to play really the best business model? (part 3)

In part 1 I reflected on how successful free to play is as a business model. In part 2 I looked at a flaw in that business model that could leave it open to competition. Now I want to ask what business model might be better for online games in the long run? The common flaw that I see in both the traditional subscription model and the free to play model is that customers are not paying for the costs they incur. In a subscription game casuals pay too much and committed players pay too little. In a free to play game casuals pay too little and committed players pay too much. To date "lock in" has tended to distort the market and prevent real price competition which would expose this inefficiency but if some smart competitor starts offering "equal status transfers " where you can carry all of  your accumulated standing from one game to a new one then that lock in could quickly become irrelevant. The best protection against this form of competition is to charge custo

Is free to play really the best business model? (part 2)

The biggest flaw I can see with current realisations of the free to play model is that a company relies on relatively small set of committed players to generate almost all of their revenue while a much larger number are enjoying some of the benefits of the game while paying little or nothing. Case in point: Tobold, a committed player,  has spent €250 and has enjoyed 2,500 tank battles (if I am reading him correctly). I, a more casual player, have spent €10 and have enjoyed 400 tank battles. Of course direct comparison of tank battles is not the full story and it is entirely possible that Tobold has gotten great enjoyment out of acquiring and using high level tanks while I have wallowed in the low end. Nevertheless I can say I have enjoyed my time and I am certain that Tobold did not get 25 times more entertainment from the game than I did despite having spent 25 times as much. So in a free to play game committed players are subsidising the more casual. Cross subsidy

Is free to play really the best business model? (part 1)

World of Tanks has a very successful business model. They have an entertaining game which has attracted millions of players and a lot of those players are spending significant  amounts of money on the game. A recent post from Tobold suggests that he has already spent €250 on the game and can see himself continuing to spend €100 per month in the future. Perhaps the most significant feature of all this is that those players who have spent money on the game seem very content to have done so. The most common comment is "It was worth it". You cannot argue with success and this is clearly a successful business:  Customers who are willingly spending money and who are happy with what they are getting for it. The success of World of Tanks marks another milestone for so called "free to play" games. Adding this success to previous reports of increased profits from companies who switched their games from subscription only to free to play has left very little room for tho

New insights into tankophobia

Following my confessional post yesterday about my fear of losing battles in World of Tanks I spent some time playing the game to try and get a better handle on what is going on. I hadn't played for a while so I quite enjoyed the session. I even made a conscious effort to play more creatively and stop being constrained by second hand strategies. So far so good but my dislike of losing battles remains and now I have a better insight into the reason for it: It all boils down to the daily double experience bonus that you get for the first winning battle of the day on every tank. A handy icon on the tank portrait reminds you which tanks have not yet claimed this experience windfall for the day. While the double XP bonus is a boon it also becomes a daily chore. I log on and see the tanks in my stable all demanding to be played until they achieve a win.Without consciously realising it I had slipped into a pattern of keeping playing until every tank had gotten its bonus. Only then w