Steam Summer Sale Melts My Face

You know, I actually intend to use this blog as more than a soapbox for my thoughts about video games. Lately, I’m reading The Maze of Mormonism, listening to Snow Crash, studying CCNP certification materials, and getting into Big Brother Season 14. Yet, games have definitely got of my attention more than anything else.  Then the Steam Summer Sale started this afternoon. Since I’m compelled to write what I’m excited about, this is as good a topic as any.

The best discounts I’ve seen today have been the big Pack deals that generally go for $50 and includes 4 to 20 games. The 2k Collection is small, but includes a $45 game that was just released 3 weeks ago (Spec Ops: The Line) as well as 6 other hits from this year (Darkness II) back to 2009 (Borderlands).  The THQ Collection includes 14 games without a single one that goes for less than $10 normally. I also already own Darksiders and Space Marine, so the set loses a little value. The only game left that I was craving, Saint’s Row: The Third, will be on sale for $12.50 until 2:30am cst (7/13/12). So, yeah, I own that now.

There’s a whole lot of temptation in this candy store. I think tomorrow’s payday as well. Yet, I will try keep my purchases limited to items on my wishlist. The Bethesda Collection has 3 games (Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas, Brink) on my list that I could check off in quick fashion if I only let my wild lust for game acquisition wash over me. Perhaps Steam sales are a game all by themselves and I’m really lucky that the difficulty level is easy. With the exception of the Flash Deals and Community Choices, I don’t have stay up late or get up early to catch something that I might miss. I don’t have to worry that the initial discount on a $59 game is not the deepest discount that’ll be offered and that I’ll be screwed by waiting. All the initial deals are good for the duration of the sale ending on 7/23/12; so I can just wait until the end.

Games I want to see severely discounted from my wishlist (that I haven’t mentioned yet):

-Casualslacks

Character Assessment 4: Fallen Earth

¡Cuidado!

Fallen Earth was first released in 2009. Originally a subscription-based game from Reloaded Productions, but is now managed as free-to-play by GamerFirst. It is a first- or third-person MMORPG in which a variety of firearms are you primary weapons. It brings to mind Borderlands and Fallout, but as one might expect from an MMO, not as visually-appealing as either. I tried this game out because I like shooting people. I thought I would also like shooting them while leveling up a character. Instead, I have been playing a lot more Blacklight: Retribution because that game is fast, furious, and fun. Nevertheless and as usual, I am not going to review Fallen Earth gameplay, only the game’s character creation tools.

Here we have another game where the developers either lack the resources or the desire to allow the player control over how their character’s bodies look. Granted, this game gives the player more options concerning faces than Star War: The Old Republic, a triple-A pay-to-play game, but that is not saying much. It would be one thing if the bodies in the game were reasonably interesting to look at as they are in SW:TOR, but they are not. The initial clothing lineup, as should be expected, is a choice between short, long, and no-sleeve nondescript tops of three colors, straight-leg blue jeans, and a selection of low-profile sneakers.

Where He’s Going, Only The Faces Need to Be Camoflagued

Configuring a face involves picking one out of a line-up. That is not awesome. Playing with presets is about as fun as drawing over comic books with a set of color pencils. Below is a rundown of the options.

  • 25 faces
  • 3 complexions
  • 15 skin tones
  • 4 ages
  • 12 eye colors
  • 26 hair styles
  • 34 piercings
  • 5 facial hair (male)
  • 5 lip sticks (female)
  • 5 eye shadows (female)
  • 8 sneakers
  • 4 leg tatoos
  • 8 arm tatoos
  • 4 body piercings
  • 16 shirts
  • 45 face tatoos
  • 25 face paints
Objectively (and sarcastically) I could says that there are so many combinations, the choices stagger the imagination. Practically, there is probably enough variety in the preset faces to have at least one to suit every player. Thus, it is incredibly fortunate that players only get one character slot for free. It all works out.

Score One Point For Including An “Urban” Hairstyle That is Neither Dreadlock Nor Afro

Once a player picks a preset face, skin tone, and complexion, all the rest of character creation is accessorizing. Piercings, tattoos, and crazy hair do little to interest me in real life and they do so little to differentiate player characters in MMOs that having the options bore me. Devs, until there is impact on the player character’s silhouette in your character creator, please do not bother me with nose studs. I will probably have a mask, helmet, or some other gear on when I run into other players and I will only see my character from behind most of the time I play.

I included the above video just to point out that here is a group of guys having a good time, but one cannot be told from the other except their dance moves. That wouldn’t be okay even if Fallen Earth were a single-player RPG, like Elder’s Scrolls. In an Elder’s Scrolls game, the player is developing a character of distinction and renown. Those games all begin with the player defining who their character is in terms of stats and appearance. The emphasis in Fallen Earth seems to be to get the players into the game quickly without giving a second thought about who each character will be among the thousands the producers hope log on. There are no classes in Fallen Earth. There are no combat roles, but there is an AP point distribution system where the player can put together their build which affected how well they can do what they do. But I don’t really want to do anything because I haven’t created a character that I really want to play.

Character Assessment Grade: D

Ain’t No Dang Crows Gonna Get At This Corn. Not On My Watch.

In CA#3, I gave Global Agenda a B. These two games have a some elements in common being MMORPG shooters. I wonder how much playing the game affected my view of the character creator. Firstly, Global Agenda has a far superior character creator where the preset faces serve as a launchpad into a deeper system. If I had time to play it, I would find that I like gameplay in Fallen Earth more because of the optional FPS-style interface and effects (there are bullets, not lasers, and recoil). Instead, the lazily implemented character creator and barely interesting tutorial turned me off from the get-go. Global Agenda gives a much better first impression while Fallen Earth was apparently snacking on cloves of garlic before our date.

-CasualSlacks

This Game Needs to Exist: The Repopulation Update

The Repopulation Kickstarter is three days away from completion. Contributors blew away Above and Beyond Technologies original $25K goal by the middle of the campaign, but backing has slowed down since then. From all indications, there’s no doubt that this sandbox, sci-fi MMORPG will go live some time in the next year. It is only a matter of how much more ambitious the initial offering can be at launch. Looking over their stretch goals, I see they want to improve character customization (little things, but huge to me), enhanced gameplay and UI options, and a whole new zone. The team behind the game needs to cash do it all and polish the hell out of it. Looking at their very first alpha-build trailer, I’d say they’re on their way:

 

The developers are all creating this game as a side project without the influence of any major publisher or financier. It will be a free-to-play game, but do not let that distract you. It will free-to-play because it is independent and full of the innovation and vision that bigger production houses can not risk.  The game will survive or fail based on how much value the players give it. Thus far, I am impressed by the ideas they want to implement to make The Repopulation uniquely awesome (crafting as primary gameplay option, player-built structures, dynamic quest generation, etc) . So, I encourage all MMORPG fans to at least check out what these guys are doing.

-CasualSlacks

Character Assessment #1: Dungeons & Dragons Online

Character creation is single biggest determining factor in determining whether I will enjoy playing an RPG. I can play any game for at least the beginning levels, no matter how god awful it is, if I have an investment in the unique character that I have made to play in it. Continue reading

Thoughts on Current MMORPGs

In light of the news about Zenimax Online officially announcing that they are preparing Elder’s Scroll Online for a 2013 release, I got to thinking about my current feelings towards massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Conventional gameplay in the genre has grown quite stale and I am getting bored. Continue reading