HD Upgrades. Are We Being Mugs?

TLOUR_FINAL_KEY_ART_1402331674 HD Upgrades of classic and favourite games are a good thing right? But sometimes I can’t help feeling mugged off and thinking those that buy into blindly have an element of turd about them. You’ve heard it all before from windbags like myself, but when I see a game that’s been out for 6 months re-released at full price, with merely a lick of paint, I can’t help but look at those buying it for a second time at full price and thinking “You arse-wipe” Of course, my ranting is inspired by the recently released HD ‘Re-Master’ of The Last of Us. If you haven’t played this game, it is a fantastic game. It’s a huge step up in what we consider ‘grown up’ gaming – not by its violence (which is extreme), but in the way it treats its audience as an adult in terms of storytelling and narrative. When I pay full price for game I’m happy to. I’m happy knowing that I’m paying a large team, a team that have been working on a game for a long time- with a lot of blood, sweat and tears and in some cases for years. This is reflected in the price of games and on the whole, I don’t grumble. But then for a lick of paint 6 months down the line to see the same game to be re-packaged. RE4_PC_PACKSHOT_PEGI_1390216278 I’m a hypocrite. I’ve bought many HD updates in the past few years, but I feel this gives me a platform to slag them off a bit. There have been some good ones, updated with a clear passion and love for their source material that the end product shines. When I vented my annoyance at this I was greeted with some hostility. “But it included all the DLC” they cried. Is this the same sort of DLC nearly all of us bemoaned about at the beginning of the last generation? The DLC that these same people said would lead to us being ripped off and should have been included in the game and price on release. Is that the DLC we’re talking of? Because I’m a touch stupid and easily get confused. I smell turd……….. A triple AAA game that does well can actually keep a studio going for years. Yes! The market has changed and it’s a lot more expensive to develop than it’s ever been to develop, with HD being at the very core of that and why we’re seeing the rise of the indies and will be seeing a lot more from them. But in this day and age there are still huge profits being made by the big-boys Minecraft, more free shit came from that game than the International Scat Convention in Berlin. Terraria gave us a complete overhaul for free, FTL recently had a massive free update. Away from the indies- Burnout Paradise gave us a lot of free shit, recently Plants versus Zombies (both EA, oh my). Unreal Tournament, Sonic Lost World, Killzone Shadow Fall. AND ladies and gentlemen, may I nudge your attention to all Valve’s PC catalogue. Masses and masses of free Left 4 Dead content anyone? I’m sure most of you can think of other games that have been generous with updates without charging and arm and a leg. strangers-wrath-hd-demo-1 There has been good HD upgrades and non HD updates. The Metal Gear Solid HD collection, as I touched upon above. The work that Bluepoint Games did on this was done with care and love. It shows in every pixel the care that was taken. The same with JAW’s work on Oddworld Strangers Wrath and more recently on Oddword New ‘n’ Tasty. The 3DS update of Ocarina of Time. Glorious work, glorious updates. Silent Hill HD………. I smell turd. Shadow of the Colossus…….. Oh fuck Ducktails…. even Resident Evil 4……. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary The turd is strong. Some may berate me for my choice of the bad above, but these are classic games. Classic games have a piece of us, they have our hearts, our memories our feeling and our love entwined in their pixels. They deserve to be treated in kind. Not a lick of paint and a foreman nodding his head “yer, that will do”, despite being left with ugly and sloppy work. The Halo game – a decent job on the graphics, the coding, complete shite. Unplayable online co-op. The game deserves better, we deserve better (and by the looks of it we’re getting something a lot better in Halo Master Chief Collection). I don’t mean to call you names, I don’t mean to call good games turds and I don’t like to call people mugs. But we’re being mugged. halo-the-master-chief-collection-logo-onblack-rgb-jpg TLoU is seemingly lazy upgrade insofar it just does seem to be a lick of paint. It’s not there to show off what great game this is, it’s there to quickly fill a hunger for games and I can’t see it being good for gamers in the long run. It’s there to fill holes, one in a games drought and another in some greedy bastards’ pocket. Look at the videos for the forthcoming Halo MC Collection see what some passion can do with an upgrade.

In a period when 1080p/60fps is bounded about like a badge of honour, it’s easy to blind and daze us to true artistry in favour of some numbers and marketing blurb that most of really don’t care about, we’re being told to care about.

Dazed people are easy to mug.

Gaming Headsets – Why I Swear By Them

all_products_header_final_1I remember when multiplayer gaming was a console, BYOC (bring your own controller), a cartridge and split screening with friends (Goldeneye, anyone?). Nowadays it’s all online and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as your friends can no longer screen watch to figure out where you are.

I remember back when I got my first gaming headset, it was my first EUROGAMER EXPO and I was overwhelmed with everything on offer to see, play and buy.  That’s when I clocked my first gaming headset on the Turtle Beach stand. I couldn’t afford to splash out on an expensive headset at this point so I bought a pair of the X12’s -which to be fair were quite expensive back then for me. Knowing very little at this point about gaming peripherals, I wasn’t aware of how much difference they could make to how immersive the game felt and give you an edge in multiplayer games such as Call Of Duty.

HP_USB_Tx_2014It’s safe to say as soon as I got the headset home and started playing with them it felt like playing the game without them was pointless, it was as if the TV may as well have been muted. The spectrum of sounds I was able to pick up on with my new investment was amazing to me. I found myself only using the headset, it was a necessity not only for multiplayer, but for any game I played. The difference truly was phenomenal. If I was playing without a headset it felt like I was trying to eat soup without a spoon. I still play with a headset to this very day, on any game.

Although now, I have upgraded my headset (albeit I should really upgrade them again) to the XP500 MW3 Edition, these beast’s had it all, the Bluetooth chat adapter (which is pretty standard nowadays) customizable chat and game volume controls and customizable pre-sets for your favourite games! It was, and still is an amazing headset. With these I find it easy to get lost in any game for hours, everything is crystal clear and sounds boom beautifully that you wouldn’t be able to hear from standard TV sound.

audio-main-1Where Gaming Headset’s really shine though, is Multiplayer. You will find there is so much more depth to the games audio then you ever could possibly comprehend when you start using a headset. Sound cues that you would miss- such as a claymore going off, a silenced gun being shot in the distance, an enemy scattering just around the corner from your position, someone casting a plasmid trap in the next room in Bioshock 2 multiplayer…… All become accentuated and pinpointed, which massively gives you the upper hand over non headset users and allows for you to react accordingly.
In conclusion I swear by gaming headsets for all aspects of gaming, I will honestly say you haven’t truly experienced Skyrim until you have had the epic battle music drummed into you skull in 5.1 surround whilst battling a dragon to the death using magic – it makes you feel like a God.

You’ll End Up with the Companies You Deserve: The Minecraft Meltdown

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You’ll End Up with the Companies You Deserve

Apparently, some cretins have accused Mojang of being ‘literally worse than EA’ in recent times due to a perceived change in their stance over how servers for Minecraft can be monetised.

Let’s take a look at this:

  • Mojang made a game called Minecraft.
  • Millions of people bought the game, either in its final version or in one of its Alpha/Beta iterations.
  • Mojang allowed people to make content for the game – indeed, it was designed in such a way as people could run servers by themselves.
  • In the Licensing Agreement for the Minecraft it’s made clear you may not make money from Mojang’s products.
  • A de-facto partnership was formed with the community as Mojang agreed that people could monetise video content about the game. A great many people profited from this – including Mojang who gained thousands of hours worth of free publicity for their title.
  • Mojang recognised the costs of running servers for the game and allowed for charging players for access by those who operated the servers.
  • As is the way of things, monetisation spread out from simply paying for access to include paying for cosmetic items and in-game upgrades and boosts.
  • Mojang were incredibly busy continuing to develop their flagship title in addition to other games.
  • Disgruntled people contacted Mojang asking for refunds for “their hundred dollars back their kid spent on an item pack on a server we have no control over.”
  • Mojang’s recognised people were being asked to pay for gameplay on these servers and decided to end this practice by enforcing the already existing EULA.
  • Predictably, the internet lost it’s shit.

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Mojang responded by releasing a statement clarifying what you were allowed to do with respect to monetising your Minecraft server. Edited highlights below:

You are allowed to charge players to access your server
So long as the fee is the same for all players, you are allowed to charge for access to your server. You are not allowed to split your playerbase into paying, and non-paying users, nor can you restrict gameplay elements to different tiers of player.
You are allowed to accept donations
You are allowed to accept donations from players. You are not allowed to restrict gameplay features in an attempt to make money.
You are allowed to provide in-game advertising or sponsorship opportunities
You are allowed to put adverts in your Minecraft worlds to help with costs.
You are allowed to sell in-game items so long as they don’t affect gameplay
We don’t mind you selling items in game, but they must be purely cosmetic. We want all players to be presented with the same gameplay features, whether they decide to pay or not.
You cannot charge real-world cash for in-game currency

Provide your customers with loads of info
If you do decide to monetise your server, you must clearly state that the purchase is not associated with Mojang.

These rules are making attempts to prevent Minecraft servers becoming “pay-to-win.”

Those running the servers have, in some cases, taken to running petitions and trying to gather support on reddit in order to make their case. They evidently disagree with the ‘changes’ that have been made and want to continue to bilk the players on their servers.

Let’s face it, profiteering on the back of someone else’s video game was always going to be a short-term prospect. Of course you’re butthurt, you were making a considerable amount of money and now Mojang are cutting off some of that revenue stream. The problem is, they’re being pretty damn decent about the whole thing.

Minecraft creator, Notch, has made it difficult for you by having the temerity to be a game designer first and a money grubber distant last.

“Mojang does not exist to make as much money as possible for the owners… at the end of the day we choose to do what either makes the most sense for our products, or the things that seem like fun for us.”

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If you seek to make money on the back of someone else’s creative endeavour, you need to be clear of the ground upon which you stand – and how it might shift at moments notice. After shipping 50 million units on various platforms, you’d better believe there’s some serious legal clout behind the Minecraft name. To all intents and purposes, Mojang have ‘made their money’ on this game. Whine about the server community being destroyed all you want, but Mojang can do what they like; beholden to no-one but themselves, it’s fortunate for you that the company didn’t want a cut of your takings in the first place. All they seem to want to do is protect the quality of the experience for the player base. If only most developers and publishers saw things the same way.

The sense of entitlement from those running effected servers is staggering. Causing headaches for those developers who try and do a good turn for everyone by sharing within the community is going to push them to less open in the future.

Persistent bleating is likely to cause even nice guys like Notch to go the Goodfellas rout of, “Fuck you, pay me.”

Sources

Notch’s personal blog – http://notch.net/2014/06/literally-worse-than-ea/

Mojang website – ‘Let’s Talk Server Monetisation’ – https://mojang.com/2014/06/lets-talk-server-monetisation/

Bjarn Bronsveld’s Petition – Change your EULA – https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/mojang-change-your-eula

reddit.com discussion – http://www.reddit.com/r/admincraft/comments/27dy0q/1710_forces_you_to_accept_the_eula_before_you_can/

Everything Wrong With Titanfall

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First things first- I absolutely love this game, so before you get the wrong idea and call me a fanboy you should bear that in mind.

This game is another that came with high expectations, with people blowing bubbles up its arse left, right and centre. Being dubbed “the CoD killer”, it really had to give an experience of fresh air to the FPS genre. For the most part it delivers, and what it does deliver on it does perfectly. But, to me, there are aspects of the game which feel rushed, disappointing and lacking in the variety department.

The campaign-which is just a collection of multiplayer matches with a bit of extra dialogue, feels like a last minute addition that to me felt less than a half-arsed attempt. The small dialogue sections are entirely pointless, ultimately you’re just playing a collection of Attrition and Hardpoint Domination. The teams are locked in so if your team are entirely new to the experience and absolutely useless, expect to lose every game in the entire “campaign”.

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The distinct lack of Titan variety, considering that titans are a massive part of what makes this game so fresh. They have really skimped in this department, with only three to choose from, two of which are unlocked by playing both sides of the (collection of matches) “campaign”. The only real choice is the Ogre Titan, with the highest defence. Whilst three is a good number in terms of variety, I think with this game three is just not enough. The addition of future Titans is something that has been ruled out as “too much work to undertake”. With how much this game relies on Titans to sit worlds apart from usual FPS games, I think this is a department they shouldn’t have skimped on.

The lack of variety in terms of create-a-class. Out of all of the weapons there is only one or two maybe worth using, all others are useless at range or due to the sheer speed of pilots. In fact I find each category and the choices inside are actually underwhelming. With a game so solely based on multiplayer I can’t understand why it feels so bare in this area.

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Generation challenges are a shocking idea. You reach level 50 and then if you haven’t already, you’re asked to deviate out of your comfort zone to use some of the worst weapons and more horrible equipment of the game to get a particular amount of kills. This is awful, as it means if you get to rank 50 and haven’t touched any of the equipment challenges required to access the next generation, you will left sitting at 50 until you complete the challenges. For instance get 250 kills with the EVA-8 shotgun, why would you do that?! The maps are pretty huge and a shotgun is probably the least useful weapon to use!

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All-in-all I love this game and its clearly focused on user experience and fluidity over features, which makes for an undeniably AAA feeling game.  But with a title so focused on multiplayer and with literally no single player at all, could the things mentioned really be so overlooked? I believe the game could have been something so much more, the game is wonderful as it is- but it would be so much better if it were the same game with more customizability. I expect that more weapons and maps will become available through DLC, we may even see some titan weapons. Sure thing is we won’t be seeing anymore titans.