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December 16, 2012

New Sorta Regular Gaming Post

Another quite week in news:

GOG's Christmas sale started last week

Cliffy B decided to start a new studio instead of working for someone else

On Friday, Sony will be having a triple bonus on station cash bought or cards redeemed that day (Wal-Mart has the best deal with a $15 card giving you an extra $5)

The fun arena mech shooter Hawken is finally in open beta. Fun little F2P game that does a pretty good job in aping Yokoyama's Maschinen Krieger universe


Bought The Secret World on Amazon for $15 since they moved to a B2P business model. I figure if nothing else, I should be able to get my money worth out of it. I know servers really don't matter as you can group with anyone as long as they're on your friend list but what faction did everyone go?

And speaking of Amazon, they started their Christmas sale on PC downloads.

more below the fold

A couple new games came out on the iOS that I would like to shine a bit of spotlight on. First is Playdek doing an outstanding job with adapting the zany card game Fluxx. Game is perfect as can be on a handheld but it suffers from the fact that you miss how zany it is with shouting and laughing while playing it with others. That being said, it's a good game for playing it online but I'd rather play it IRL. Could do worse for $2.99. And speaking of Playdek, their awesome adaptation of Ascension is currently free and awesome. Nothing to lose by checking it out.

The other is Shenandoah Studio's Battle of The Bulge. Great game from a stable of big name board gamers as they tackle this famous battle. Been a bit too busy to play it much but I dig what I've played even though I think they streamlined it a bit too much, not being able to control artillery and air support is a bit disappointing which in turn makes it into a damage modifier is a little disappointing. But other than that, I'm really loving it though I would be remiss to realize people might be disappointed in being charged $10 for a single scenario especially in this day and age

Wishing Zakn didn't waste this last week but here are my favorite games of 2012. They're not in any order (I really hate doing that as my opinions are never set in stone).

Hotline Miami (PC) - Sure, it's still a little buggy for some people and frankly, the game is too short but man is it fun. It's an interesting concept of a hyper-violent puzzle game where there are really only about two viable routes to go through a level with a standard high-score system where it pushes you to keep going faster and cause more mayhem (which somewhat helps the 4-5 hour playtime). And this is all accompanied by an interesting chiptune soundtrack that is quite hypnotic and fits like a glove. Wish it sold better though and not as pirated as much as it has been.

Inquisitor (PC) - This may be a bit of a stretch as it originally came out in 09 in Czechoslovakia/Russia but this year we finally got the English release that they had been talking about for a couple of years. It's one half Diablo (gameplay wise but with more focus on magic), one half Infinity Engine games (story and quest wise) and 100% Oldschool cRPG. You can tell that though it took them 10 years to make, it was a labor of love (which happened to win tons of awards over the years) where they nail almost everything you could hope for in a game of this type. It's a dark but enjoyable romp through alternate history of a "what if" scenario of the Inquistion being real with giving you just enough dialog choices of letting you shape your character in a asshole or a kind man trying to figure out wtf is going on. Only real downsides of the game is that though they're synonymous with the genre, the first five hours are slow and it gets HARD fast if you don't pay attention to how your building your character. Plus a lot of people were turned off because they couldn't get beyond the story as it does sugarcoat the Inquistion a bit. But if you can get beyond that, for $15 MSRP, you get tons and tons of game.

Dragon's Dogma (360/PS3) - After seeing the success that Bethseda has had with Elder Scrolls series and FROM with it's Souls series, Capcom decided to get in on the act by throwing everyone they had onto this game in a big budget bonanza with some sprinklings of their own Monster Hunter series. Game isn't perfect by any means as it's FPS can get to Blight Town levels and the story is a head scratcher but man, this game is a hell of a lot of fun. The mechanics are are almost perfect (taking on some of the bigger monsters, the controls can screw ya), the world is beautiful and the pawn system (you hire other people's toons to have a ally) is a good wrinkle.

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (3DS/PSVita) - In all honesty, if you haven't played 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors on the DS yet (and why haven't you? It's not an expensive game especially after it's reprint), you can kinda skip this game as a lot of the enjoyment out of this visual novel is because of it's ties to the first game IMO. That being said, it's a nice expansion of Chunsoft's take on the prisoner dilemma with having the story take place in a warehouse instead of the Titanic replica of the first game. Throw in some improved puzzles compared to 999 and you have a very enjoyable romp.

Gravity Rush (PSVita) - May have taken four years and a hardware change (was supposed to be on the PS3) but this game is pure bliss to me. There was a game called Malacious on the Japanese PSN (from a different dev) that came out a few years ago with great combat but the actual game part was lacking a bit but this game takes it and amps it up with better combo system and the inclusion of controlling gravity was a blessing. Game is beautiful on the Vita's OLED screen and in the darkness of Vita game releases, it's a shining example in what the system can do in the palm of your hands.

Legend of Grimrock (PC) - Story is mostly absent and what is there is instantly forgettable but it's a great first person dungeon crawler with outstanding graphics and well thought out puzzles. Been awhile since we've had one of these release that was good so this release warmed my cockles quite nicely
FTL (PC) - May not be the hardest Roguelike you can play but it's one of the funnest I've played in quite awhile. The mechanics are pretty good with only an artificial wall forcing you to keep moving forward but there is the asteroid belts that slows down your pursuers so it is workable. And the game gives you just enough to unlock to not wear out it's welcome.

Fallen Enchantress (PC)- Stardock released a game in 2010 under the name of Elemental: War of Magic that was under-cooked and lacked a real sense of direction. And akin to Frank Miller and his The Spirit movie, this lead to most people to take one huge dump on Brad Wardell and his company. But he vowed to go back to the drawing board on it and promised to make up for it by giving the game away to the people who didn't ask for a refund for War of Magic. And came back he did by releasing a game with the polish and vision that the 4X genre needs. It truly is a modern version of Master of Magic with it's tight gameplay.

The Last Story (Wii)- Where Lost Odyssey harkened back to the older style of JRPGs (and a damn fine game), The Last Story is of the new school JRPGs with a it's battle system being more actiony and fresh (even though it reminded me of FFXII a bit) compared to the tried and true turn based system. Frankly, it's one of the more perfect JRPGs to come out in a very long ass time. Rich story and world and is home of one of Uematsu's best scores in almost a decade. That being said, it being on the Wii hurts it as the fidelity of the Wii hurts the lush visuals and production (play it through Dolphin on your PC and it's night and day). Still flabbergasted in Nintendo's reluctance to let this out of Japan when it's such a great ball of yarn to play with.

Xenoblade Chronicles - Another game of Project Rainfall that took some serious begging to get Nintendo to release here in the States (though this one they released themselves). After 10 years of trying to get a Xeno series game to not suck, Tetsuya Takahashi and his crew at Monolith Soft finally knocked out this one out of the park. The battles don't drag on, the story/lore is actually coherent-ish without it being complex just for the sake of it being complex. It does share the same problem with The Last Story in that it's a beautiful game that is hampered by the Wii hardware but play it through Dolphin and the game is a real stunner (though I give that edge to The Last Story).

I wish you peace, love and SOUL!

Thanks Dude! Zakn here for a bit of Eve stuff.

Snowball and Snowball Launchers are back! Apologies in advance for the Dubstep.

I heard about a MASSIVE Snowball fight in Jita (The main trade hub that has thousands of players)

Last week I brought up the massive fight in WH space last week. So I want to bring in something Octaviana (@ZachfromKCMO) Wrote for ya'll

Greetings Emperyans!

EVE is not a game, that even at its easiest, encourages so-so involvement. Getting to the top of the level ladder in almost any other game will be a finite process (i.e. it takes x number of experience points which can be earned at an average rate of so many per hour etc etc) and will take you down a defined set of level up unlocks for your whatever (Jedi, Ranger, Necromancer, Sniper or whatever game you are progressing through). EVE however is much more fluid than this. In exchange for liberating players from the need to follow some game devs idea of the "correct" way to progress through skills, The downside is, of course, finding an answer to the deeply existential questions about any MMO "Why Am I Here?". EVE provides plenty of mechanisms for pilots to answer those questions for themselves but along the way they will likely need to be swept up into one of the centers of player gravity that exist in the game. Large scale alliance activity has been covered extensively here and I have little to add to that. Mining and Industry in EVE bears a lot of similarity to real life except that there is really no invention and improvement of existing hardware (Moore's Law is on hold in EVE). Piracy just makes you a black hat and a vandal who preys on the weak (I'm not knocking it per se because they do give day to day life some drama that is totally lacking in all other MMO's). I am here today to talk about my favorite way to generate purpose in EVE, the Wormholes.

Most star systems in the public empire space sections of ever EVE are like public buildings on a street. They have addresses, rules of conduct posted in the lobby, and generally some function they are useful for. Im pushing the analogy here a little but stay with me. You can find these buildings on your GPS and get directions to a public library in Point Barrow, Alaska from a dive bar in Key West, FL (thanks Google Maps, if you have Apple Maps you might wind up in Calgary or a ditch by accident but I digress).

The null sec regions of regular space are a bit like public buildings in a very dodgy part of town where you don't go messing around down in there unless you have a very clear idea of what you are doing. It is a little bit like trying to taking a casual drive around parts of Sicily that the natives think of as a bit mobbed up and dicey. Sure it says it is a public library on the sign over the door but there is where the similarity ends. You might be able to do anything you can think but you will incur lots of risks that could be avoided by going somewhere else. Once again there is a little strain on the analogy here but Im within limits.

Wormholes are starsystems added to the game several years ago that break many of the conventional rules of almost any other MMO. Wormhole systems have no proper names but only locus ID numbers assigned by the game at the time of creation. They are no connected to each other via star gates. There are zero stations allowed anywhere in any wormhole space system so players are forced to live in POS structures exclusively. The typical things to do in an EVE session (run some missions, shoot some rats, go slay some pirates) are all complicated by the extreme isolation of each wormhole system and the difficulty of the PVE combat that does exist is some of the hardest in the game (Sleepers do Omni Damage and have very high Omni Tank). You might think that this all sounds a little different but not too bad compared to getting to the deeper bits of null sec but the most unique feature of wormholes is also the thing that is the most fun. The routes in and out of a wormhole system are always on the move

Take your house (or trailer home, windowless van/hobo hunting blind or mansion on the hill, it doesn't matter), enlarge it in your mind until it is the size of a hangar used for storing the Goodyear blimp when it is not in flight and think about the doors leading into and out of your house. Every 24 hours, almost without exception, the doors would all change their position so that the way you get in and out of your house on Tuesday inst the same as Thursday. Further the doors are extremely well camouflaged and cant be found without a few minutes of dedicated effort and special scanning equipment. Without your scanner you are totally trapped and doomed to float around, unable to leave, until you convince someone to help you find your way out (or die, there is always that).

The situation is a thousand times worse for you trying to get to your house from the outside. Every day the address that anyone has for where you live becomes useless. The door to your house has disappeared and might be somewhere else in the country but by no means can it be predicted. The only way you can find it is to have someone who is inside stick their head out the front door, look at where they are and then tell you. You might be waiting for a phone call in Chicago and then be told that the your houses front door is now in Alabama and you have to hurry since it will destabilize back into the quantum ether in twelve hours. This is what living in a wormhole is like.

The advantage? When you move in (and I could do post after post about hole hunting and housekeeping) you are on your own in a way that World of Warcraft and their ilk can not even come close to touching. The systems are totally and utterly cut off from the rest of k-space (regular, stargate connected, do anything you like systems) and the security is non-existent. Policing your own system is a job for dscan, probes and a small cadre of people on patrol. The resources in wormholes are useful for constructiing the powerful line of t3 cruisers and their related subsystems. You could, if you were manic, move in with nothing but an tower and begin making your own t3 ships from scratch. The financial rewards are huge but the disadvantages are what drives up the rewards. You are totally isolated from the rest of space and getting back to a market system, like Jita, involves scanning out connecting wormholes and getting one that leads from your wormhole back to k-space. That sounds easy except the more rich and rewarding your wormhole, the deeper into the chaos it is, with the best quality wormholes only having regular connections to Null sec and other very dangerous wormholes. You might find yourself having to scan out three or four wormholes just to make one trip from your c6 (the most dangerous, most rewarding) to a high sec system. Every system you scan in could be occupies by cranky, crotchety loners who are protective and zealous about hunting outsiders and could ambush you at any point along your route. Then you have to make the return trip through those same wormholes since the traditional methods (jump clones, auto piloting) dont work in wormholes. Every separate system is a world unto itself and when you live there, you are truely alone in your own corner of the sky.

I have touched the surface here, not even scratched it. I could go on for thousands of words about even the smallest dimensions of wormhole life (fun fact, connection wormholes are limited to a set amount of mass that they can handle for they implode and melt away into the ether and you will never know what that maximum is exactly, you will have to make some guesses) but I wont. I am dropping this little post as a criminally brief intro and I now turn it over to you, the community. If you want to know more you can hit up Octaviana in the Ace of Spades EVE channel and I will answer your questions there or hit back at the gaming thread and if there is interest I will publish little posts about PVP in wormholes (fun fact: It is nasty, brutish and many times short) or any other topic that interest seems to be going in.

WSpace systems are the most unique element in any MMORPG anywhere and the ability to enjoy some of the benefits of sovereignty over space (even if it isnt quite the same as kspace null sec) is really exciting. The barriers to entry are low (many W Space system have no native residents) and the sense of community that comes from caring for a small parcel of space are amazing. Capital ships dont fit through the vast majority of wormholes so the combat tends to focus on battleships and smaller exclusively. Wormhole groups must learn to rely on themselves and each other to get through the challenges. When you are always cut off from the easy sources of EVE content you learn to always make your own, and then you come to a place where the only thing you need from the game devs is stable servers and crack downs on cheaters. You can keep all your time dilation problems and sov grinds, standing grinding or what have you.

I am a wormhole resident and I can handle the rest.

Wormholes are a really neat aspect of Eve. One that I haven't really experienced beyond using them to go across the universe to fuck with random people.

I told my Twitter buddy Bronya Boga (@DrVerikan ) That I would pimp his podcast a bit. It starts with one of the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) members (It's the players rep to the Developers) that lives in Wormholes talking about the Conference that happened this week. The Second half features pretty much all of the sides from that big fight. You can get it/listen to it here.

Podcasts are a great way to stay in touch with the meta game of Eve, even if you are a Hisec Carebear and just want to hear about what is going on.. I listen to Podside, Crossing Zebras, Lost in Eve, Voices from the Void, and Down the Pipe. There are two great ways to find these: One is the The Eve Pod Pack which is maintained by @Arydanika of Voices from the Void. She's a very nice Lady who also runs the Austin Eve Meetup, so If you live close to there, look it up. The other place is Evepodcasts. which is maintained by S8's Cyph3r. The S8 site also has back episodes of ISK, which should be required listening for Pod Pilots interested in the Industry/Trading side of Eve.

Fanfest tickets and Iceland Air deals are live. I'll be booking mine shortly. If you want to party in Iceland with this nerd (and many many more nerds) come on up!

Now for a write up by everyone's favorite: Buzzion!

Review of Telltale’s The Walking Dead:

The basic review is that if you like the television series you’ll probably enjoy the game. If you prefer your zombie video games to be more run and shoot with as many different guns as you can handle its probably not for you. It is split up into 5 episodes and while I never timed any of them you can probably finish each episode in around 2-3 hours. The game is its own unique story so you’re not following the characters in the comic or the series. There are a few cameos of characters from the comic book before they actually entered that storyline. For instance you will meet Glenn before he winds up heading to Atlanta.

The character you play is a man named Lee, on your way to prison the day everything goes to hell. You meet up with a child named Clementine who was at home with a babysitter and you wind up becoming her caretaker through the game. You get to choose dialogue options throughout the game affecting how some events play out and the way other characters treat you. The game play is pretty simple: Look around and click on objects to use or inspect them and progress the storyline. There will be times in the game where you have to choose on whom you will try to save or which other person you support and you will have to live with your actions, and the others will remember them too. Some of your companions will die.

One interesting aspect of the game is that at the end of each episode there is a set of graphs showing 5-6 of the options you made and how you compare to others that have also played the game. And even though the game claims that it will adapt to the choices you make the storyline does seem to be fairly linear, and the final episode is a bit predictable. Still I think the game is pretty good and has some replayability. The first time you play through can just be to make the choices you think would be best to do, which is what I did. I plan to play through it again at some point and make choices to do “right” with the characters Lee will be with throughout most of the game. And then of course there is the choice to go through and be complete dick to those exact same people.

So the game is certainly worth picking up for some people, especially if its on sale sometime on Steam.

I talked about it last week, the whole GOTY discussion, but I didn't tell you what my choice was. My 2012 Game of the Year is: Telltale's The Walking Dead. I played it on the PC, so if I wanted to play it and could avoid spoilers. Wait till the Steam Sale before/after Christmas. If you want to play it on a console or Ipad, go ahead and pick it up.

If you want you can hit me up, you can do it on On Twitter. If you have a write-up of a game you'd like to see posted/discussed here, send it to aoshqgaming at gmail dot com

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posted by Gang of Gaming Morons! at 02:46 PM

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