Pretty boring month, I’d say. At least for gaming, for me. Only two posts the entire month!
What did I even do?
Murkmire event in ESO. In anticipation, I got my newest character (a Nord nightblade) all the way through the faction story, up to the point where the faction stories merged. I’m not doing Coldharbor again. But did the event enough to get the slime pet. Murkmire is an interesting zone, but very small and short, with not a lot going for it. And the event itself is bloody boring. I actually haven’t logged on in a couple days, it’s that boring.
Started playing Fallout Shelter again. I mean, it’s not like there’s a lot to do there, so no real time commitment there. I played it when it first came out, and stuff has changed. I was inspired by MATN’s playthrough; I’d otherwise completely forgotten it exists.
Princess Connect had its anniversary event. Well, not so much “event” as “free stuff!”. Which is fine; I don’t even know Japanese, so all the events are pretty much the same for me. But I did get the units I was shooting for, so that’s nice I guess.
Granblue Fantasy also started its anniversary event. I know a lot of people were disappointed in it, but that’s mostly a failure of expectations: they were expecting something EPIC!, but we got just a normal event. Fine by me: every character (except maybe the main character) acted exactly as they always do, the setup is something that isn’t out of place, the events flow as they should, and it actually resolves one of the plotlines that should have been taken care of a long time ago.
In Star Trek news, Picard continues to be bad, perhaps even getting worse! I haven’t written any reviews (or even put mini-reviews on twitter) because I really don’t care anymore. It remains watchable to me, but that’s a rather low bar: I only drop a show like this if it actively makes me not want to watch, even if it’s otherwise a good show (and Picard isn’t). While the end of ep 5 did quite annoy me, it was just emblematic of nuTrek, so I couldn’t say I was surprised.
As for next month, I actually have a goal! I’m going to finish one game off my backlog. I don’t know if I’ll go full-in on #MabyeInMarch, since I haven’t been feeling like playing a game where I need to follow a guide to not miss a bunch of stuff, which is very possible in Radiata Stories; also, the gameplay is really clunky in that game. And, I can’t really play next to my computer, which is a turnoff. But I’ll try to clear some game out of my backlog, for sure! Mabye…
But just how big is big? Well, I just don’t know! Or rather, I didn’t know up through last night. As I mentioned I was going to do, yesterday, I went through Steam and organized what I had – this being the first time that I’ve organized anything in my Steam library. Then I went through GOG Galaxy and did it all again, because it doesn’t import your organization when it imports the Steam titles. And it doesn’t have collections at all, as far as I could tell, so I had to tag them, one at a time. And then that all doesn’t come out pretty like Steam does it, so let’s just ignore that for now.
Here’s what I’ve got on Steam, which is most of it (only have 39 total titles on GOG anyways). Most of that is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll just go over what I count as my “backlog”:
Never Started – what it says
Significant Time Played – this is stuff I haven’t beaten, but still intend to finish (unlike “Dropped”), and that I’ve put time enough in that I figure I get the feel of the game.
Started – stuff I’ve started, but don’t yet feel like I’ve put time enough into to determine if I actually want to finish it or not (some of those are longer RPG’s that I’ve put a few hours into, but don’t yet feel I’ve gotten significant progress).
Adding in my GOG games, we can add another 31 to the Never Played and 3 to Started. Then, to add the console games, we can add another to Never Played, and one more to Significant Time Played. Considering all this as my backlog, I’ve got about 150 games on my backlog. Honestly, thought it would be a lot more.
Now for the interview:
A game you’re eager to play, but haven’t yet started:
Probably Kingdom Come: Deliverance. I’ve wanted to play this for a while, but just haven’t had the time, what with my other games.
A game you’ve started several times but haven’t yet finished:
I don’t really do this: I generally just drop games, or finish them after picking them back up the first time. The only one that really comes to mind is Radiata Stories. I’ve started this a couple of times, only to chase after a new game. My console set-up right now isn’t the most inviting (at least, not compared to my PC setup), so playing those games isn’t my top priority. But I absolutely mean to get to it some day!
The most recent addition to your library:
Looks like it’s Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists, aka Atelier Nelke, on Jan 14. I got the Dusk and Arland Atelier trilogies at the same time; this was just the last one I added to my cart.
The game which has spent the most time on your backlog:
This has got to be either Radiata Stories or Shadow Hearts: From the New World. I’m not exactly sure when I bought them – I was buying any JRPG on the PS2 I could find, between 2007 and 2012 – but I just never finished the former, and never started that latter. But I have them, and do intend on getting to them…eventually.
The person responsible for adding the most entries to your backlog:
Anon from /v/. Not only do I look to /v/ for vetting, but also just entertainment. Sometimes I’ll see things that look interesting, and get them. Sometimes they don’t add to my backlog (as I’m excited to see what this thing is all about), but it certainly doesn’t diminish it either.
Well, looks like I might be playing one of those PS2 games. We’ll see. Might even get started tonight.
Just a quick update, since I’m not dead. January gaming was just basically ESO, with dailies in Dragalia Lost and playing the events in STO and Granblue Fantasy. Made a new character in ESO (2H/S+B Nightblade Tank), kinda on a whim (since some bloggers I knew were talking about how ESO’s combat was kinda not satisfying, which wasn’t my experience – but I’ve only played ranged until now, which has a completely different feel than melee; so I wanted to see what was up with that). So yah, that’s what’s up there.
In terms of “posts I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t because REASONS,” I have watched the last two episodes of Picard. The second episode was somewhat better than the first, but the third was the worst so far. Long story short, I just don’t care about the characters or the world that’s been set up. I’ll keep watching for now, since this is the end of the pilot, so to speak; or the first area of an RPG. But it’s been almost 1/3 of the season (3/10 episodes). This wasn’t necessary, and everything could have been done in one episode, maybe 1.5. And it would have made me happier, since a lot of the stuff that annoyed me could have been cut without any repercussions to the overall story. Not all the annoying stuff, but most of it.
I’ll have another post tomorrow about Love Your Backlog Week – but I need to get my backlog organized! (Hopefully GOG’s unification of my stuff will help.)
Way back a month ago, Kim over at Later Levels made a post about their perfect video game. I’ve been thinking about this post a lot (I was thinking about posting what you see today since that day), but here it is now. This is obviously a complicated question, and I didn’t really think a comment would do it justice. I’m not going to go into that much detail (because I haven’t thought about it that much)…and I’m not going to limit myself to one game.
Now, it’d be easy to just pick my favorite games that already exist, and merely say “make X better” or “fix that little problem”. But that would be pretty boring, I think. So I’ll go with games that don’t exist yet, as far as I know.
First up, I want an Atelier game. Sure, there are a lot of them, and they come out pretty much yearly. But they’ve never made the perfect Atelier game, for me. Instead of a regular turn-based RPG, I’d want something more akin to a shop simulator. Kind of like Recettear, but with the Atelier feel. It’s always bugged me how the eponymous atelier would often be portrayed as a shop of sorts, but the player never actually ran it (Atelier Annie sorta did it, but in a clunky and terrible way, like it did everything); if there was every any money to be made in alchemy, it was selling stuff to the stock npc vendors who for some reason buy all your crap, but never put it up. The narrative link would be that the heroine would notice that these vendors would buy her stuff, then resell it at a 10-100x markup – and she wants to get that action.
As a busy shopkeep and crafter, it doesn’t make sense that the alchemist would go out and slay monsters herself. Like Recettear’s protagonist, our heroine would get other people to risk their necks for her ingredients. Most would do it for free or a small fee (there’s always fighters and friends for Atelier girls), but you could hire some experts to get the rare stuff that even the alchemist wouldn’t know about (or know how to get it): an herbalist, a miner, etc. The combat would be there, but (mostly) optional: it’d be like sending out the Homs or pet slimes, except they’re characters. I would make combat action-based rather than turn-based, since the alchemist heroine wouldn’t be doing the fighting: either like the Tales of… series, or the various hunter-type games. There would be times when the alchemist would have to go on journeys with her lackeys, if only to identify the ingredients the first time (basically training the assistants).
I would also modify the traditional friendship system. Since the traditional Atelier friendship systems depends a lot on taking the friends out in combat, that obviously has to change. It’d probably be better to have a more request-based. Something like how the Persona series handles that system would really work. Maybe there could even be romance options, which are not unknown even in the Atelier series (Mana Khemia comes to mind, even though that game had a male protagonist).
Since the game would be about keeping a shop, the overall story would have to stay pretty grounded. No existential threats to the kingdom/humanity/the world here. Maybe something threatening the shop at the beginning, but it would mostly be character-driven. Of course there would need to be multiple endings.
My second perfect game would be a grand strategy game…IN SPACE. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What about Stellaris?” The trouble is, Stellaris is an awkward mix of 4X and grand strategy, and doesn’t do either particularly well. I also want the character/dynasty stuff from CKII. I want some of the empire management options from Victoria II. Stellaris is a good start, but I want better. Something more than a map painter in space (though still with the option of painting the map). Also, I would make it single-player first, not multi-player-first-even-though-very-few-people-play-it-like-that like Stellaris and the other Paradox grand strategy games.
Basically, I want a Star Trek gsg (doesn’t need to be actual Star Trek; just have the feel (unlike any Trek made after 2008…)). The Federation doesn’t go out conquering. It doesn’t map-paint. It uses diplomacy and stuff to convince others to join them. Being a one-planet minor is perfectly possible in Trek. Or you could go the Klingon route and CONQUER EVERYTHING. Or you could go the Cardassian route and only conquer to get resources. Or the Ferengi route and stay a small empire, but be extremely influential economically. Or none of the above. Managing the empire would also be different, depending on which faction you’re dealing with. A Federation would settle colonization rights between member states, but a Klingon Empire would have to deal with the Great (and not-so-Great) Houses, with all their jockeying. A monarchy or artistocratic government might need to play games with their nobles, a la CKII. And so on. The possibilities are there.
And of course combat would be needed. I don’t much like the fleet action of Stellaris, and would much rather have individual ship combat, again more like Trek. (Trek had fleets, but fleet combat was relatively rare.) I don’t know if combat would be its own mini-game or not. Might be fun, but might get tiresome. Probably would have it be an option, like in Total War: you could do it yourself, which could potentially lead to better outcomes; or you could just let the computer work it all out statistically.
Oh, and as far as map painting goes, only systems would be owned, not space. That is something that has long annoyed me about space 4X games, and particularly ones that relied on hyperspace lanes between systems: space has borders that can’t be crossed. That’s really unrealistic: space is BIG. It’d be impossible to patrol interstellar space…so I wouldn’t have that as a mechanic. Sure, it might be possible to block expansion or travel, if the game requires hyperspace lanes or whatever that always begin and end in systems. But blocking travel (especially between parts of your own territory) just because a travel path happens to have a borderline that wasn’t there before, in interstellar space, is annoying as hell (had that happen pretty much every game in Endless Space and old Stellaris).
There you have it. My rambles on what I want to play. (There’s a reason I’m not a game designer.) I don’t know if anyone else would want to play those games, but I don’t care; that’s not the point of this blog post. I would play the hell out of these games.
Yesterday the Dusk trilogy of the Atelier series came out. While I’m not the type that generally gets games day 1, especially if I have any question about the quality, or how much I’d like a game, I figured by this point I know what I’m getting into. Plus, they’d have a discount, being new (but not really new – they’re PS3 games), and Koei games, especially those by Gust, don’t often go on sale, let alone get deep discounts. And, the whole Atelier series was on sale, so I picked up the Arland series (at over 50% off, which is about as good as it gets), and Nelke as well, because at this point why not? So now I have all the Atelier games that are on PC, on PC.
And I’ve been in a bit of a gaming funk recently. The mobage I play I’ve all but burned out on from all the free rolls at Christmas/New Year. I’ve finished Elsewyr and Dragonguard for ESO (right in time for the announcement tomorrow). I don’t want to get into Crusader Kings II without more of the DLC. And Cities Skylines is fun and all, but it really doesn’t provide a narrative I want. I started Blue Reflection a few weeks ago, and got to the first boss; I liked what I played, but I’m not really in the mood for that sort of story right now.
Good thing Atelier Ayesha came out. I got to play it a bit last night, and have…a few impressions. Only a few, though, since even the 90 minutes or so I was playing barely got me out of the tutorial. I guess that’s not so bad – a lot of jrpgs have longer tutorials than that. But regardless of how long said tutorial/intro was…it wasn’t quite thorough enough. If I wasn’t quite familiar with the conventions of the series, I’d probably be lost. You get the barest tutorial of the systems, while going through the intro (most of the time is actually just story intro), and then you’re on your own. I do appreciate not being babied, but it does seem a bit lacking, if I didn’t already know what was going on.
As far as that story goes, I think it does all right. There’s clearly something going wrong in the world, at least locally. Water is drying up, the ground is getting increasingly infertile, and resources are becoming scarce. Even the simple, not-that-great medicine that our protagonist makes (before even learning what alchemy is) is a money-maker for the merchants she sells to. There are ruins all over the place of a past, more advanced, civilization, that modern people don’t even understand. Monsters run rampant in the less civilized areas. Oh, and sometimes people just randomly disappear.
Which is what happened to Ayesha’s younger sister. But, at the beginning of the game, Ayesha sees her sister, who seems like a ghost or something. Luckily, an actual alchemist just happened to be around, and seems to know what’s going on. But he’s a huge jerk, and won’t tell Ayesha anything – his philosophy is that knowledge given is knowledge unearned. But, he tells Ayesha that she has about three years to get her sister back (this is your ultimate time limit, obviously).
And that’s the call to adventure. Unfortunately, Ayesha is a complete airhead, so just goes off with no idea where she’s going. Fortunately, she has a friend who’s willing to take care of her. Off they both go, to the big city (which I presume is the main hub), and from there you actually start the game.
So far so good. But it’s not really enough to know if I’ll like it much. It has the main time limit, but I’m not sure if any incremental ones will show up, like they do in the other pre-Shalie games that I’ve played. I don’t really like the time limits, but I think it’ll be fine. The main thing I don’t like (which is just part of the series at this point) is that various actions take such a long time, in relation to the time limit. Even the most basic crafting takes at least a day (and remember, there are only three years’ worth of days), and gathering ingredients from even a single node takes a significant portion of a day. (And I’m sure battles do, too.) That, in addition to the travel times (which seem excessive), makes things not quite as fun, for me. But, as I said, so far, so good.
Over at Massively OP, an article popped up today about using lore to excuse design decisions, and how that’s not OK. Going in, I thought this was going to be about actual game design – combat flow, ui flow, and the like. Basically using lore to justify bad QOL elements. I can certainly get behind that stance. I can’t really think of any examples off the top of my head (most devs use the excuse of “QOL is hard”), but I’m certainly against the concept, and was hoping that the article would explain things.
But no, what the article was actually about was mostly character customization, or the lack thereof, in certain ways. (There was also a bit about no cross-faction teaming in WoW, which I think is also a valid complaint – I have the same complaints about STO. But that wasn’t the thrust of the article.) Really, mostly complaining about gender-class locking, or not being able to make female characters.
To be clear, I don’t actually like those things. Those sorts of things will definitely diminish my desire to play the game. But they are OK. If that’s what the devs want, they can use lore to justify it. If you want to say “no female knights, because lore,” that’s your choice. Or “no male witches”. Whatever, that’s fine. Even if your game is a knight game, or a witch game.
Getting mad about the gender locking, for this particular reason, is silly. Obviously the devs had a certain sort of character in mind. It’s a really ancient way of designing a RPG, especially for a MMO, but it’s still valid. In the very, very early days of PnP RPG’s, the characters were pretty static. The Wizard, The Knight, The Thief, etc. Even the first modules for DnD were designed with this in mind. Obviously, this design went away pretty quick (because both character and story customization are more fun, and are quite viable in pnp format), but, again, it’s still a valid design choice. Those RPG’s that do this (they seem to be mostly Asian, and particularly Korean in my experience) are fine. You (and I) might not like it, but it’s fine, for them.
Of course, the devs also have to face the consequences of their design decisions. If they whine about criticism, they get to come off as babbys. But said criticism should be about the choice made, and how it makes the game worse, not that the choice itself isn’t ok, or the lore isn’t valid. It’s perfectly fine for the Red Team and Blue Team to not be able to team together for lore reasons. Maybe annoying to players, but not necessary.
Of course, using lore as an excuse, when it’s not the real reason, is pretty low. If the game is coded in such a way that allowing, for example, cross-faction team, is nearly impossible without going in and blowing up half your game, then just admit that. I get the feeling sometimes that devs don’t want to admit those sort of things, for whatever reason. As if it’d be admitting a huge mistake, and that’d be dishonorable somehow. I get the feeling that’s the reason in WoW’s case (and probably STO’s case), but for some reason they just fall back on lore (which is extremely silly for STO).
It’s almost the end of the year, so it’s time to look forward to the next. And by that I mean video games, new ones.
Recently I was seriously thinking about getting a Switch and PS4. But of course, a game console needs games. So I was looking at what was out there, as far as exclusives goes. But it’s not just extant games that matter, but future ones as well. Since trying to predict which games won’t come to PC (especially for PS4) is pretty tricky, I decided I’d just make a list of games I’m actually looking forward to. The following list came from stuff I picked off whatever was the first hit from Google that looked reasonably complete, so I might be missing some; and of course there’s the caveat that any or all of these can be delayed or even cancelled, but at any rate, here is a list of games for next year, which I’m looking forward to coming out:
Cyberpunk 2077 – I’ve been looking forward to this ever since the reveal. I’m very interested in cyberpunk stuff in general, and CD Projekt Red is a company I’ve come to expect good things from.
Rune Factory 5 – RF4 is one of my favorite games, ever. I’ve been waiting for the continuation of the series ever since that game came out.
Granblue Fantasy ReLink – OK, this probably won’t come out in 2020, but it might! I of course love the original game, and everything I’ve seen from the console version looks great.
Granblue Fantasy VS – Another Granblue Fantasy spinoff, but this time a fighting game. Only kept out of the above list because I’m not to big into that genre. However, there is basically a single-player/coop RPG beat-em-up that’s also part of the game, which looks quite fun.
Trials of Mana – I loooved Secret of Mana, and this looks like a proper sequel. Only kept from the above category because I’ve played some of the later Mana games, and they weren’t that good.
Sakura Wars – A VN, but with gameplay? And it’s gameplay I might actually like? Sign me up!
Final Fantasy VII remake – This looks like it could be a lot of fun. Not a fan of breaking up a single, older game into two-plus games, and I never really played FFVII in the first place, though.
Destroy All Humans remake – Another game that I loved. But I want to see just what’s being remade, and how, before I fully jump on the hype train.
Persona 5 Royal – Persona 4 is another of my favorite games, and I also quite liked Persona 3. Never got P5 proper because I never got a PS4. So I’m looking forward to playing the “definitive” version.
Tales of Arise – back in the PS2/GC days, I really liked the Tales of series. But when gaming moved on past that, I lost contact with the series, for the most part. I played the Vita version of Tales of Hearts, which was fun enough, but nothing special. But Arise looks different, somehow. We’ll see.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles remaster – This was a game I really wanted to get back when it came out, but I couldn’t. This is mostly just a fake nostalgia pick, to be honest.
The Settlers – the city-building genre is one I’m a fan of. I’ve heard a lot of good about the original Settlers series, but they’re all so old and funky. Maybe this game will settle that itch, in a way that games like Patrican and Tropico haven’t quite gotten yet.
Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines 2 – The original is another of my favorite games, so any sequel is going to get my interest. But what I’ve seen isn’t too promising. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of time to fix things, and we’ll see how it goes when it comes out.
System Shock – I liked SS2 well enough, but never could get into the original. This is my chance, but I’m not really a fan of those old-school shooters.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – I wanted to try this game, but I didn’t have the system, and the censorship issues didn’t drive me to rectify that situation. I still want to play it, though it looks like this version will still have the censorship, even in the Japanese. I’m going to keep an eye on this one, to see if anything comes of it.
Another month down. November is probably my favorite month. It’s not quite the end of the year, but almost. Thanksgiving is a great holiday. It’s my birthday month. The weather’s getting cooler, but not actually winter yet (though it may snow). Perfect time to play some video games.
But, did I do what was planned? What I thought I’d do, at the beginning of last month, was:
ESO on “daily” status
Play Atelier Ryza (and possibly finish)
Get Cities: Skylines going
Get maybe a Switch or PS4 on Black Friday; RDR2 too
Not exactly ambitious. So they were easy to accomplish! Which I did. ESO is more or less on “daily” status. It might have fully been so, but I decided randomly to create an alt (OrcSorc tank – I like to live on the edge!), and play a different campaign (didn’t feel like doing the Daggerfall Compact on my main). But most nights, yah, it’s just doing my daily writs and training horsemanship.
Did finish Atelier Ryza. As mentioned before, relatively short. Decided against getting any of the DLC, since it seems to add maybe a half-hour of story, and a single end-game boss per character. Not worth it to me.
And I did indeed start up Cities: Skylines again. I’ve been watching Youtube videos of people fixing up traffic issues (pretty much most of the game), and I’ve been trying their ideas. Not quite there yet, but every time I get ideas. Also, the game keeps me up at night – “I’ll just add a few more streets,” or “I’ll just fix this one traffic issue”. Fun times, but less fun when you go to bed an hour late and you have to wake up two hours early for a meeting.
As for Black Friday…that was a bust. No deals on Switch, and only one deal for PS4 (Slim, not Pro), and that was sold out long before I got to it. Not too many deals on games, either, though I did get the Elsewyr expansion for ESO – if I finish it before June, when the next expansion comes out and Elsewyr becomes part of the sub, I think I’ll have gotten a good deal. I saw RDR2 on Steam today; thought about it, but I’ll be giving it a pass for now. I’m just not in the right place for it at this point.
December plans? Honestly, I have little idea. In the mobage realm, December means free rolls and Christmas events, so that’s always fun. I’ll keep on keeping on with ESO. One of these times I’ll “beat” C:S, finally figure out how to make a good, big city with nice traffic. Maybe the various Christmas sales will entice me to something, but I doubt much will come of it. And I might give something in my backlog a go (almost did this past weekend, but ESO caught my fancy for that time).
It’s the end of November, which means it’s the end of IntPiPoMo. I said at the beginning that I wouldn’t have any problems making the goal of 50 pictures, since screenshots count. Well, unfortunately I almost never post from the computer where all my screenshots are, so I only count 29 entries in the past! Can I do 21 in one post?
Of course I can. Should I? Probably not! But I will anyways!
I figure most of these will come from Star Trek Online, not only because it’s the game I’ve played the most, but because it’s one of the most screenshot-worthy games I’ve played. Well, at least for the purposes of IntPiPoMo: I have a bunch from, say, ESO, but most of them are just of amusing dialogs, so I don’t really count them.
There we go, that should make 50, and then some. Kinda sad I had to make a make-up post like this, but on occasion it’s fun to go through the old screenshots to see what I was thinking about back when.
-Black Friday is kinda a disappointment. I was hoping to get a PS4 or Switch on a big sale, but no dice. Still sad I missed them last year. PC game sales seem similarly dire. Though I still got two games: Star Traders: Frontiers, and City State. And I’ve actually given the latter a play (verdict so far: I don’t really get it)
-No Granblue Fantasy anime review this week. Not because I didn’t watch it, or that I don’t feel like reviewing it, but because there’s nothing much there. I didn’t even take a single screenshot. The Ferry arc is finished. Gran falls for the headspace attack despite explicitly being warned (and repeating that warning himself); I think the mirror match should have been Djeeta instead. More Gran/Lyria shipping. We get a tiny bit of backstory to Ferry, and Drang.
-Speaking of GBF, the new event is great. Whoever did the writing for this should really get into sports announcing – it’s very hype. Lyria is cute as usual, but also very, very dumb. I’m glad the new kid wasn’t some miracle wunderkind type. While I think it’s great that events are using more already-established characters, I think they went just slightly overboard this time (like, Cathrine wasn’t strictly needed).
-MegaMan event in Dragalia Lost is really lame. I mean, I get that the early games were rather…limited in the scope of the story, but they could have done a bit more here. And just rehashing the dragon fights is super lame.
-World Flipper is pretty fun. I don’t think it’s worth spending any money on, but it’s a fun diversion. I think it’s the first Cygames mobage that actually fulfills the idea of “spend a few minutes here and there playing”. But it’s definitely the D-team here: no co-op lobbies, no quick-join, not even voiced main stories. And of course, not compatible with my Chromebook. Good thing it has cute girls, or else it wouldn’t be worth even downloading and rerolling. But still, fun gameplay. Though I don’t think mixing pinball and bullet hell is the most obvious choice.