Archive for the Gaming Category

My Thoughts on Mass Effect 3

Posted in Entertainment, Gaming, Social on November 13, 2013 by tattoohero

Mass Effect 3 is a video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts.  It was released 6 March 2012.  So, yes, this is something I probably should have written back in March of 2012 and not have waited until November 2013 to give my review on the ending of game I wanted to play as much as I wanted to see Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith.  I even reserved my copy at Gamestop a year before it was released.  At the time, it had a Fall 2011 release date then it got moved to 1st quarter of 2012 then the actual 6 March 2012.   Summer of 2011, they announced the Collector’s Edition, so I paid the extra $20 and got the version instead.  I have never been as excited for a game as I was for Mass Effect 3.

I made sure I knew enough about the game without spoiling any of the story.  I’m a fan fiction writer and I have written over two dozen stories set in the Mass Effect universe. [link]  I did a lot of speculating about how the war with the Reapers would play out and some I hit on and some I didn’t.  The last thing I wanted was to know what was in the story.  I knew about certain characters returning.  I was okay with knowing that, but I at the same time, I wasn’t surprised they were returning.  Some of the squadmates from the first game didn’t join the fight in the second game.  The way BioWare create this trilogy is amazing.  Choice matters.  Do I pull a doucher move and punch this reporter chick in the face?  Even as a male Shepard?  Or do I walk away without answering her questions?

I was set, ready to play once I got my hands on the game at the midnight release.  I had been keeping an eye on Twitter because the Mass Effect team had started tweeting about the Reaper invasion, bringing the story of the game to Twitter.  They didn’t spoil anything in the game, they added to the story.  Which I loved.  I applaud them for doing that.  At 11pm EST, I did read a tweet that shocked me and I mentioned to those I was standing around waiting for Midnight what was tweeted.  My favorite reporter had just died.  Why couldn’t it be the one I always punch in the face?  Oh, because I get to punch her in the face for a third time.  That works too.  I was sadden by the lost of Emily Wong, the reporter Shepard helped in the first game.

I knew about the reporter, Diana Allers.  Before the game, I was dead set against letting her on board the Normandy.  I didn’t want to be like General Custer, having a reporter with you all the time.  But once I found out how things were going to work, having her on the ship is a plus.  Allers wasn’t as annoying as I thought, but still rather not have a reporter on the ship.  Some of my playthroughs, she’s not on the ship.  I had 10 different Shepard ready for import.  Five male, five female.  Every Shepard is different some how.  I played the game every way possible, I think.  I still think I might have missed something some where.  I found something new just last week during a PC run.

I get home and start playing by 1am.  I played until the sun came up, went to bed, got up and played all day and all day on Wednesday.  My plan was to import my first run of Mass Effect 2.  It was an import with zero DLC from Mass Effect 2 completed.  It was a rental at the time and the Cerberus Network code wasn’t available to those who rent.  Keep the game, they send you to box and the contents in the box.  Which I did a few weeks later. My plan was to slowly import all my different Shepard(s).  I had conflicts with different love interest.  Some people died because I made a bad choice in Mass Effect 2.  Some died because I had to choose between two people(Mass Effect).

As a fan fiction writer there were a few things I really wanted to know.  What is Dr. Chakwas first name was tops of my list of things I was hoping to get answers to.  Getting more background on characters makes it easier for me to write them into my stories.  Is the things I heard were going to be addressed in the game actually going to be in the game?  Yes, I was very happy when I learned Dr. Chakwas first name is Karin.  I never laughed so hard as I did when Liara finally meets with her father and listen to that conversation.  Pure gold.

There were decisions in the game that were gut wrenching to make.  Some of the renegade moves cut me to the core.  How did I just do that?  What was I thinking?  That happened more than once during my first renegade Shepard.  That was a very rough run.  Shooting people in the back, allowing someone to take their own life in front of you.  Yea, rough stuff.  The game was emotional rollercoaster.  I laughed, I got mad at what was going on, and at the end, I cried.  The ending to this day still brings tears to my eyes.  Seeing that Shepard died had me crying so hard, I couldn’t play anymore that night.  I even tried to play the multi-player but my mind wasn’t into it.  I had to take the rest of the night off.

Even knowing in my stories my canon Shepard lives a long and happy life with Dr. T’Soni.  Knowing you can head-canon Shepard living if your war readiness is high enough does not stop the tears.  The music is very moving at times and sets the tone for the end game scenes.  I found the ending to be very fitting to the arc of the story.  BioWare stated this was the end of Shepard’s story before the game launched.  Seeing the choices with Shepard possibly living in only one of them.  Yea, it’s the end of Shepard story.  I am perfectly fine with that.  I was fine with the ending.  I questioned a few things.

I had many chats with a Xbox buddy about the ending.  Many, many chats.  Then BioWare announces the extended cut to placate the nerd rage about the ending.  Again, they stated they were not changing the ending.  The fans reaction to the games ending and how BioWare handled it makes me question why a company would want so much input from fans.  The extended cut and the Leviathan DLC added much to the back story.  But it wasn’t something me and my Xbox buddy hadn’t already thought of.  Everything in the extended cut, I thought would happen.  

People were freaking out about the destruction of the Mass Relays.  What?  They can’t be rebuilt?  I wonder if people sat and thought about things before they started freaking out?  It’s wouldn’t be the first time in human history for things to be lost during a war and rediscovered a few decade/centuries later.  Knee jerk reactions help no one.  There was a lot of that going on with the ending.  The rage at BioWare Social Network caused me to stop posting there.  There are sections of that forum I refuse to click on because I don’t want to read what people are posting.  It’s been almost two years and people still bitch about the ending.  Get over it already.  It wasn’t that bad.

I hated hearing how our choices didn’t matter.  Actually, yes they did.  Just not in the manner you thought.  They turned everything into a numbers game.  And if you had an import with 100% done in the other two games, it was easy to have a high enough war readiness number to make it seem like your choices didn’t matter.  But I ask this.  What does curing the genophage have to do with a choice at the end?  I wonder how many players who ranted about the ending knows there are actually 6 different cut scene ending to the game and none of them deal with the three choices at the end, but are attached to the war readiness number.  There are ranges to them.  The lower the number the worst things are.  I destroyed the Reapers and everyone else.  No one got off the Normandy.  The two squadmates who were with me died during the trench run added content.  Choices matter, just not how most thought it would.

I think the biggest problem with the war readiness number and how that was configured by adding the multi-player as part of it.  As much as I think the way they added multi-player to a single-player game was a good one, but looking back on it, I’m not so sure it was a good idea after all.  Some one can promote enough classes from the multi-player to never ever have to worry about their war readiness number at the end of the game.  Hell, all the added single-player content did that too.  If you bought it.  This after they lowered the number when they released the extended cut.

After all these months and after taking a lengthy break from Mass Effect, I have can still find things I’ve not seen before.  Which is cool as hell.  I still don’t get all the hate about the ending.  I wonder about the indoctrination theory crowd.  As soon as I started hearing about that, I started laughing.  Then when I read more of the arguments, I stopped trying to figure these people out.  I could go on and on about it, but I won’t.  No way does that theory work in my view.  I’d go with everything was a dream before I go with the indoctrination crowd.

At times, I do think the writers left the ending and what happened to Shepard for the player to decide.  Is that last gasp from Shepard on the pile a rubble, Shepard’s last breath or coming to from being knocked out from the explosion?  I know what happens with my Shepard.

 

 

Gamers and Bad Attitudes Toward Others

Posted in Entertainment, Gaming, Social on November 11, 2013 by tattoohero

I’ve been playing games at home since my parents bought a Tandy version of Pong in the mid-1970’s.   I didn’t play much when I was in my early 20’s, but I got back into gaming with the Super Nintendo and I’ve had ever new generation of consoles since the SNES.  Games have improved so much in the past forty years.  While the quality of games have continue to improve with each passing year, the attitude of the gamer as been on a steady decline.

I found this article back in August.  I want to comment on this paragraph….”I could go on and on about this, but I’m just going to consider one example: the word ‘noob.’ If you decide to take up almost any other hobby in the world, you can find beginning classes teaching you how to do it. If you want to knit, you can go to a yarn store and meet fellow knitters who will help you get the basics. If you want to play basketball, you can join a rec center or community league at a beginner level. And generally, the people already involved in those hobbies are thrilled to have someone with whom they can share their passion. But if you want to get started as a gamer, you get told, ‘go home noob,’ because people in this hobby hate newcomers so much they turned the word itself into an insult. How are we supposed to thrive as an industry if we are actively hostile to growing our audience?”

When I read this article in August, the above paragraph hit home with me.  I’ve been in the receiving end of the insults because I was new to something in a game.  People don’t think twice about insulting someone on the internet.  We’re all anonymous.  What does it matter if you call someone a ‘fucking retard’?  Gaming is all about you and your desires correct?  Never mind you are playing in a small group with people you’ve never played with before.  Someone in the group might be new to the game and doesn’t know what is going on or hasn’t fully grasped everything and is still trying to learn.  Berating them doesn’t help.  It makes you look like an utter and complete asshole.  It makes the new player question if they want to continue to attempt to learn the game or not.

I’ve been playing video games since Pong.  I grew up with them.  I play games on console and on a PC.  I even play some on my phone if I’m that bored and not home.  I did take ten years off from PC gaming and just this past winter did I finally build a gaming PC tower.  Trying to play games on a cheap laptop wasn’t cutting it when I keep hearing how great games look on it compared to the consoles.  At the time, I wasn’t seeing it.  I have noticed the difference since building the gaming tower.  I do think my monitor looks better than my TV.  That might have something to do with it.

In the years I was only playing games on console, I never really had any horrible experiences playing with others.  I have met some very nice, helpful people on Xbox Live.  I think the worst thing that went on with me was when Mircosoft ran the 1 vs 100 game.  I got many hateful messages because my gamertag was listed in the top 10.   The hate towards me was nothing compared to what others in the group I played with were getting for being in the top 3.  Being called stupid when you were listed in the top 10 for high score in a trivia game is actually funny.  I did laugh those messages off.  The vulgar ones got turned in as a complaint.

Even playing with random people on Xbox Live, I never really had any horrible experiences that caused me to quit playing in the middle of a match.  I wish I could say that with the PC.  I really do.  Some of the experiences I had these past few months while playing with random people has been unpleasant at times.  I’ve never been one to just rage quit on a match with others.  I’ve seen others do it on a whim, but I always try to work my way through the rough stuff and finish.  Whether or not it was successful or not didn’t matter to me.  At least I stuck around to finish and didn’t quit when things got hairy.

I have quit on groups out of frustration while playing on my PC.  Mostly it’s because someone has an elitist attitude and starts berating me because I wasn’t doing what they felt I should be doing.  Too many players have no patience to help a fellow gamer grow as a gamer.  Instead they’ll talk down to them and make them feel unwelcome to the community.  I am curious on how many new MMO players tried any of the bigger title MMOs and quit playing because they didn’t know anyone else playing and those they meet treat them with contempt because they are new?  I’m sure it happens more often than people think.

It’s bad enough when we treat our fellow gamers with contempt, it crosses the line when gamers start harassing game developers like what was going on at BioWare with one of their writers.  Games only thrive when players play them.  When gamers treat other games with contempt because they don’t know everything there is to know about this or that game, it puts gaming in a negative light.   Mass Effect 3’s ending is the prefect example of this.  I, personally, did not hate the ending.  I felt it fit with the story.  Me and one of my Xbox friends had long talks about the ending.  He, like me, was fine with the ending.  Could it have been better?  Yes, it could have.  The original ending should have had the epilogue in it and I think that would have quelled most of the fans frustration.

The easy access to gaming companies make is easier for us, gamers, to communicate with developers of games.  We, as gamers, have a responsibility to communicate with them in a civilized manner.  Nothing turned me off more reading comments at BioWare’s Social Network than those that called the writers of the story lazy.  Those people were not lazy, they had to take choices the player is allowed to make into everything they wrote.  To tied everything together.

The attitude of many at the BioWare’s forums caused me to stop posting there.  Then the one area I was posting in got closed because of the infighting between players over certain characters.  I don’t even know what character thread the problem was in or if it was in many threads.  I was at the site a few days ago looking at stuff for the next Dragon Age game, and took a look and that sub-forum of the forum for Mass Effect 3 is still closed.  A year later, it’s still closed.  Sad.

This is because people can’t get along.  Has the internet jaded us that much that typing an insult is done without a second thought?  Do people forget there is someone on the other side of that connection playing along side them reading the insult and know its towards them?  Or do people just don’t care about anyone but themselves?  The attitudes I have seen while playing MMOs have left a horrible impression on me and makes me question if I want to continue to play in the genre in the future.  People need to take a step back and remember a time when they were new to something.  People need to learn patience with new players.  Either ignore their questions or help them.  Being a smart ass doesn’t help anyone but your ego.  Communities only work and thrive when people work together.  That means the experienced player needs to help the inexperienced player or leave them alone.  The community is at its strongest when everyone works together.  This includes helping the new player gain experience and help them to grow as a player.

Gaming and the Internet

Posted in Entertainment, Gaming on November 8, 2013 by tattoohero

Gaming in the 21st Century isn’t that much different from gaming just two decades ago.  What has changed is more and more game publishers are requiring gamers to have an internet connection.  I understand why this is happening, but at that same time, I don’t agree with it.

What is a gamer to do when their own ISP is shooting craps and wants to play a game?  They’re stuck playing an older game because all the newer ones are tied to the internet some how.  A game might need you to be connected to the net all the time while playing.  MMOs are designed that way, but for that genre, it makes sense.   A game like SimCity having that requirement is plain unnecessary.  EA forced that on to SimCity even when majority of the fans of the game didn’t want it to be online only.  Many want to play it offline.

Why should a gamer be punished and forced to play older games because they are having ISP issues?  They shouldn’t.  Single-player games should always function fine offline.  There are games when played offline only function properly if you don’t have any download content added to the game.  Mass Effect 3 is a wonderful example of this.  I can play the game offline, but I can’t continue on a previous save because I’m offline and Origin can’t verify my DLC.

Now the sad thing is, I can play Mass Effect 3 on my Xbox 360 offline and not have an issue with the DLC.  It plays fine.  All the digital licenses are on the console’s hard drive.  Where on the PC, it is not.  I can play the retail portion of the game on the PC offline, but if any DLC is part of the save file, nope.  This is a frustrating issue and I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way.  I can play on my Xbox 360 and never connect to Xbox Live and still play every game I own and the DLC included.  I can not do that on PC.  Internet is a must for today’s games.  Microsoft mentions you’ll need to be always online with the XboxOne then back tracked on that when they felt the fans wrath of the requirement.

It’s bad enough when my own ISP isn’t working like it is supposed to.  Not allowing me to play the games I love compounds my frustration.  Do the gaming publishers even care about that?  To me, it seems EA does not.  Most of my PC games are from BioWare which is owned by EA.  EA is a frustrating company to deal with.  I’ve known this since the 1990’s when I had problems with one of the first PC games I ever bought.  I cringed when EA bought BioWare.    I’m sure I’m not the only gamer who feels that way when EA makes these moves.

Things are worse when the gaming company’s own servers are unreliable and have to be taken offline.  I knew when I pre-ordered SimCity I was required to be online always.  When SimCity launched, my ISP was working fine but EA/Maxxis servers were not.  They had to shut them down for a few days.  Nothing like eagerly awaiting a new game only to not be able to play it for several days during that first week.  Once they got more servers up and running, I’ve not had an issue with the game since when it comes to being able to log into the game servers.  Is it too much to ask for a game launch to go smoother than SimCity or even Blizzard’s Diablo III?  Which EA did not learn from.

Is it fair to the gamer when their MMO servers get shut down for a few days because the company is launching a new game?  To me that practice is utter nonsense.  Unfortunately, it does happen.  I feel bad for those unable to play the game they love because the company decided to temporary close the game servers so they can have a smoother time at a log-in server when launching a new title.  Here’s a concept for gaming companies.  Don’t tie all your games log-in through the same server.

Where does gaming go from here?  Soon everything we do will be tied 100% to the internet.  It seems to me at times, we are getting close to that now when most State agencies require you to sign-up or check-in via their website.  That is a rant for another day.  What is a gamer to do when they have few options for ISP where they live and want to game and their ISP won’t let them because is spotty connection.  Which took about a month for them to finally fix it.  I’m not with some small ISP company either.

I suppose I can always use my console when the net isn’t working at my house.  I’m not finding many new games to buy for it.  Same is true for the PC as well.  Certain games need to function without being constantly online.  I shouldn’t be gimped out of content because of the license only being active when the net is functioning.  Piracy led to this happening.  I don’t see things in the future changing, I see more and more things being tied to the net and I’m being to question if that is a good thing or not.

2013-The Lost Year of Gaming

Posted in Entertainment, Gaming on November 7, 2013 by tattoohero

I have spent the majority of 2013 playing Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO.  It’s the first MMO I have ever played.  After many months and many hours of play and I decided to take a break from the game.  I built a new gaming PC this past winter so I could play games like The Old Republic.  Which means I stopped playing games on my Xbox 360.  The past few days, I’ve been looking at games I might want to play that have been released this calendar year.  Besides the MMO, I also bought SimCity for PC.

The launch for SimCity was horrible and well published and blasted by the media and fans at the time, so I wont go into all of that.  I still play it a little bit but for the most part, I’m done with it.  I don’t think SimCity is a horrible game.  I got my money’s worth out of it and that is what matters to me the most.  Did I get good value from this purchase?  Some games I pay pennies on the dollar per hour played.  Others, yea, well, not every game I buy I like.  Same is true for movies.  Not every movie I’ve seen at the theater I liked.  It is the risk you take when going to a movie or buying a video game based on a preview or review.  Family and friends input help some, but not when you don’t play the same genre.

The genre I enjoy the most is role-playing games.  Oddly enough, I don’t enjoy the Japanese RPGs.  It’s the art and how all the characters look like kids with straight pointy hair.  I don’t care much for anime either.  Again, it’s the style of the art.  As I take a break from a MMO and start looking at single-player games, I have noticed the lack of new RPGs this year.  There are a few games next year I am looking forward to but 2013 none.  So I’m calling it the lost year of gaming.

Maybe because I left my Xbox behind for the PC for several months, but of the games released this year on the Xbox 360, none had me going….I MUST HAVE THAT GAME!  Not once.  As much as I love the Grand Theft Auto Series, I have no desire to play the newest installment.  I’m not sure why.  I spent many hours playing playing Grand Theft Auto IV.  The story was good with plenty of things to do on the side, but maybe as I grow older with age, my taste for things also change.

GTA as a series has graphic improvements and the developers have tweaked the controls with each passing game, but the game play itself has been the same since number III.  How many gangster movies can one watch before they start getting predictable and boring?  I’m finding myself over time playing few and few games.   When I don’t buy any new games for my Xbox for over a year, that says something.

Maybe it has to do with the simple fact, both Sony and Microsoft are releasing their next consoles later this month and next year will see a flood of games.  The game I want the most is slated for Fall 2014.  That’s a year away.  Maybe I’ll find a new game between now and then, but I’m not sure.  The games that I’ve seen are shooter style games which I don’t play.  The biggest titles are just more of the same with a fresh coat of paint on it.

Can Ubisoft NOT, I repeat NOT put out an Assassin Creed game for a year or two?  There was a two-year gap between Assassin Creed and Assassin Creed II, but since II.  There has been a game a year and it’s always released the last week of October.   As much as I love historical fiction, a game a year was too much and I quit playing after Brotherhood.  Same tiring game play and look.  Adding multi-player to it was a huge turn off for me as well as a game a year for five straight years.

First-person shooters have stopped with the World War II themed games, which I also felt had way too many titles.  But all they did was moved to a more modern theme and keep doing the same thing.  Is being a copy-cat society stifling creativity and originality?  You see it all through out time in music.  Listen to pop music and you’ll hear artist sounding similar in every era.  It has in my humble opinion gotten worse over the past two decades.

While most of the games on my Xbox I can play on my PC, I’m still not finding a game I missed this year.  I find that troubling.  As for games in the future, there are two I am looking forward to being released.  One is slated for Spring but no actual date.  Same with the Fall release, not actual date.  2014 is around the corner and I’m not even seeing a game coming out 1st quarter of 2014 I want.   So, I patiently waiting for the two games I am very interested into be released.  2013 is truly the lost year in gaming for me.  Playing a MMO that is about to hit its 2nd anniversary for eight months solid isn’t playing a new game.    Just saying.