HEY IM BACK!

Hey Guys, been a while but I am back.

Have been playing many different games over the last few years since my last post but suffice to say that I have much to say.

Before I digress, I need to discuss something about my gaming and my steam profile.

I have over 100 games and I still cannot choose one to play. How is this even possible? I have over a 100 games, plenty of choice and yet I still cannot find a bloody game to play.

Well I honestly should just go paint some warhammer 40k models, I have three armies at this stage, one hlaf painted….

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Filed under Games, Miniature gaming

the end?…………………………………………… hell no :D

It has been a long time since I posted.

In that time a lot has happened in my life. My life has changed quite a lot, in ways I never thought it would.

Well just to give you a idea, I am a Irish guy in a Irish non existant economy and as such my focus has gone from writing to … well having a job.

Stress and strain aside, I still have opinions. Many opinions. Especially on the state of gaming…. which quite frankly is the same as ever (quite annoyingly so).

Still I am alive after all and if people will listen I will tell.

Stay tuned, I may have something which may or may not in anyway, be improtant to say.

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The Steam Summer Sale

Wow, I really need to update my blog more….. it also seems that my posts are getting shorter.

Don’t worry readers, I have a big update in the pipes for my war gaming section so stay tuned.

If that does not float your boat, Valve, in an effort to control all male breeding in the free world, are currently having the annual Steam summer sale.

Aside from many old favourites at a fraction of the cost, some big indie titles/bundles are getting a chance to shine. So don’t miss out.

Also, this sale will be used as an excuse for my slow pace/lack of future posts.

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Filed under Cheap sales pitch, Games

Found this Gem

At the beginning of the year a great little indie game called Magicka was released.

And people liked it, they liked it a lot.

Several download content updates later, Paradox interactive are now releasing a new update which allows PVP mode.

For more info on this great game go here :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magicka

Also, here is the preview video of said PVP update, lets watch:

Sold.

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Filed under Cheap sales pitch, Games, Indie gaming

Breaking the Price Barrier

Another week  and another new post about games, although thanks to the release of Portal 2, this update very nearly did not happen.

For the last several days, I have been glued to my computer enjoying Valve’s masterpiece. When I had my fill of Portal, I then decided to try to write a blog post. Sadly, I bought and played Left4Dead 2 instead.

It was quick work to find a copy of the game through Valve’s digital distribution service, Steam, but suffice it to say I  quickly became enthralled by what I found on the Steam Network while my download finished.

What I found…amazed me, so much so that it made me rethink how I played games.

It was not the fact that via this program called Steam I could download games at the touch of a button, nor how I could  play these games as soon as my connection permitted. No, it was the fact that many games there … were on sale.

This concept amazed me.  I had previously heard of the famous Steam Summer and Winter Sales, but this was my first time actually seeing the potential offers on hand.

My credit card rumbled in my pocket as I viewed the list of discounted titles. Suffice it to say it took all of my gaming might to resist purchasing.

After what felt like a titanic struggle I mused about the changes to gaming retail, how it had changed so much since I had begun my humble gaming experience on the Atari ST.

Growing up through the differing generations of consoles/personal computers, there has always been the games store.

Consoles changed, games evolved, and the industry got bigger.  All through this retailers have always been there in some shape or form. Be it a small in-store department or large corporate chain, retail outlets dominated.

Sadly, coupled with the ever present games retailers was the ever present expense.

If you have been playing games for as long as I have, you know that retailers usually ask for $60 for each title. Back then, the only way to get a better deal was to wait until the price dropped with time.

Sadly this is no longer the case, as most retailers seem to think that they can offer a significant mark up on titles, even if they are second hand or from a previous generation of console. In short, retailers have stopped the average gamer from being able to get discounted titles.

These retail chains seem to have grown accustomed to their monopoly, and, trying to take advantage of the rapid growth of the games industry, they decided to squeeze as much as they could from their customers through excessive mark-ups.

As someone who had to pay these prices,  it is with great pleasure that I see that the online retailers such as Steam and the X-box 360 Market have been very successful.

Looking at the market, it makes so much sense why these online retailers can offer such sales in the first place.

Many in business know that one of the best ways to expand a business is to try to reduce the costs of production.

A perfect example of how to do this is by cutting out the middle man, which apparently came as a natural step for companies like Valve and Microsoft.

These companies both saw the obvious fact presented to them, that technological advances had made the games retail chains obsolete.

As nostalgic as a person can be, I must admit that neither my wallet or I will not miss these retailers.

So if gaming stores are to go, what are the benefits of online markets ?

Well firstly, the reduction in physical packaging, storage devices, and the retail agent’s commissio,n now allows developers and online retailers to provide a product at half the cost.

The games industry has always and is currently growing and evolving as a medium, so much so that it comes as no surprise that the old method of retail is starting to fade away.

For more information on some of these new deals, check out the link below:

http://www.reddit.com/r/steamdeals/

You will be happy with what you find.

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Filed under Cheap sales pitch, Games, Indie gaming

The Age of Indie



Earlier in the week I sat down on my couch and switched on my Xbox, I was tired and bored from a day of drudgery and hard work and wanted to unwind with a old fashioned gaming session.

The game of choice,  the new Call of Duty game: Black Ops which my flat mate and I had played every waking hour since I forked over the pennies to buy it.

About to begin playing… I stopped and had an odd but now all too familiar feeling. I was bored with COD7.

Now, not to say that I am bored with such a successful franchise as Call of duty, as I am new to the series (Starting with Call of Duty Modern warfare 2, purists of the series forgive me) …. Its just … that modern games bore me.

I know right? I hear your surprise and annoyance, “ron, how can you be bored with games like Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops two excellent titles with great reviews ??”.

My answer is that, well I just am, hence this odd feeling.


So I am sitting there, realising that I am bored of this multi million dollar title and I am stumped.

What do I play then?

It was at this time I noticed a demo of Castle Crashers, an indie game by the creator of the well know flash game site, Newgrounds, which I had downloaded from the Xbox live arcade months earlier,

Seeing that I decided, what the hell, it would kill a few minutes while I decided what to play.

After buying the full game and all the download content associated with it several minutes later, I did not utter a word for another 5 hours, until my flat mate arrived back, I simply stated “.. I’m hooked”.

A simple scrolling beat ‘em up/RPG, the premise is to play one of four knights whom must save the princesses and if they have the time, the day.

The graphics are a simple yet quirky style that is iconic of the lead designer Tom Phulp and complemented by the HD nature of the Xbox 360. But what truly makes this game is its game play and multiplayer aspect.

Now I can go into exact details of the excellent levelling and combat system or vast amount of unlock able content in this game or the unique and additive multiplayer aspect which works quite seamlessly with offline play or the surprise I felt in finding this gem.

No, what I want to talk about is the fact I had bought such a great Indie title for a fraction of the cost which I had paid for Black Ops and yet, received the same amount of content with, if I dare say it, better gameplay.

Thinking further I found that as fun as Black Ops was…. It lacked the originality and gameplay that I expected from such major titles, where as Castle crashers had only needed solid game play and a catchy theme tune to hook me.

So I began to ask myself, do Indie developers have a better idea what gamers want?

Looking at another game I seemed to spend my time playing is the infamous Minecraft, a building/survival sandbox game by the Majhong specifications, which has had a fairy tale run of success shocking and surprising the gaming industry.

You see it does the unthinkable and sacrifices big budget action and graphics to provide a excellent core game play experience while actually doing something which even the most popular games have failed to do as of late, it is unique.

So I asked myself, is indie gaming the way forward??

Many different arguments rage about the unoriginal style of games coming from the gaming industry at the moment .

An industry where developers aim to pander to the casual gaming market by dumbing down gaming elements (Cover systems, regenerating health and quick time events I’m staring at you) and focusing on graphics and plot over gamplay.

Yet Indie games like both Castle Crashers and Minecraft seem to have done the opposite tapping into the very core of what I am looking for when I play a game, which is of course, quality gameplay.

So in a casual gamer orientated industry, is Indie gaming the beginning of a gaming renaissance in stagnated market of similar and unoriginal games?

I didn’t have time to answer my own question , as my flat mate then arrive home and kicked me off the Xbox in favour of Call to duty.  What I do know is I still wanted to play Castle Crashers…..


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Squaresoft, My Lost Friend: Part 2

Love Lost: The decline of my interest in Square-Enix games.

Recently I managed to get a copy of an old favourite, Vagrant Story.  Released several years before the Square – Enix merger, it was based on the PS1 and released after the financial success of the Final Fantasy series on the platform.

With its beautiful graphics, intriguing plot, and unique battle system, this game quickly stole my heart. Suffice it to say I was very happy to play it again after so many long years.

Seeing as one of my last articles was based on how I fell in love with what Square soft used to be, it was quite nostalgic to play Vagrant Story again after so many years. Sadly though, another odd thing happened.. I became a little depressed.

It became apparent to me that this game for all its quality, style and overall brilliance was a thing of the past. I knew then that, sadly, the golden age of the Square RPG had passed me by.

Several years later (and several spin offs and sequels/prequels/remakes), it has become quite apparent that Square-Enix is now a company more focused on “Brands” and “Target markets” than creativity and design.

So why is this a bad thing?  To explain, by tailoring and targeting a game at a specific group, you limit its design creativity. Complementing my point, a example of this would be the first person survival horror game “Nanashi No Game” .

Rather than releasing this title to western countries based on its involving plot, unique gameplay, or its success in Japan, Square put it to a single focus group….who rejected it. Thusly the game was never released in the west.

(The full depressing story can be found here : http://www.siliconera.com/2011/03/28/nanashi-no-game-was-considered-for-north-america-focus-groups-killed-it/.)

It is true that focus groups are useful in making sure that a product/service finds the right “target market”, and they can be a vital part of the marketing process in making sure said product is a commercial success.

But with a medium such as Gaming, that relies on gameplay experiences and design as a selling tool, this process is not really necessary.

Therefore it is safe to say that when a company like Square-Enix, which had previously built up a massive fan base from the success of its titles based on these aspects, abruptly changes its selling tactics to make sales or even publish a game…. something has gone very wrong.

You really have to ask yourself where is the business sense in alienating an established fan base/target market?  Squaresoft became famous from the idea of moving forward and not backward, that games should be innovative and unique to capture the hearts and minds of players and buyers alike.  So where is the sense in changing direction so suddenly?

Who really knows? What we have seen from this change is the release of many weak/generic titles and a deluge of mediocre spin-off games, each paling in comparison to what true Square fans had been used to.

It is no surprise then that, of the original fan base/market, there is now only the die-hard fans and JRPG fanatics who remain.

Still, even though it depresses me I do not mourn them anymore.

Back in their prime Square released many great games, games which no amount of sequels or spin-offs can tarnish. The old Squaresoft is gone, and it will never come back, others as well as myself have made their peace with this fact.

We have moved on.

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