Marvel Heroes launched yesterday. It is decently enjoyable marvel universe take on the diablo formula of grind grind against enemies for all the loots only with you playing as a marvel hero instead of a class. You get to choose from 5 heroes at the start (Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Thing, Storm, and Daredevil) and you get another one of the starter heroes after you finish the tutorial level. For example I chose Scarlet Witch and I got daredevil at the end of the tutorial.
There is a real problem with the free to play model where you have to buy characters however. The most popular characters cost an absurd amount of real money to acquire in the game (you can supposedly get all the heroes from loot drops but as far as I know their drop rates are super low). Hey did you like that new Iron Man movie that was so popular recently? Want to play as him? Okay $20. Same thing with spider-man. It could be really alienating to casual fans of the characters who jump in to the game expecting to play as their favorite character only to find it costs $20 to play as them.
I get a weird sense of excitement then existential panic when I think about games that are always online nowadays. There are a ton of collectible online card games that are coming out this year that look really cool and there are so many positives to the digital medium. You don’t have to go and sort through stacks upon stacks of cards for example. You don’t have to play with someone face to face,you can just skype with a friend and have a blast. Plus my dad will finally have a way to connect over games again as tcgs were the way we would always connect back in the day.
These are all so many positives but then I think about the long term and I get a panicky feeling. Since these games will require an internet connection to play it means that there is always going to be a possible end point for the game down the line, there will be sometime however many years down the line where the servers go dark and all the time you have spent building up your digital collection of cards and game time to be gone. I am not particularly proud of the collection of pokemon cards,mage knight miniatures and other random card games I tried for a week collecting dust in my basement but I still love the fact that if I ever feel the desire I could go back and play them again.
With digital based card games though that won’t ever happen, whenever the company produces gets burned out all I will have is a app on my computer that no longer works. In fact I am actually reminded of a online based tcg I played back in 5th and 6th grade with my dad called Sanctum, it was a unique mixture of turn based strategy and card games. I actually won a tournament in the game (I still have the hilariously awful jean shirt with Sanctum Champ stiched hilariously on it) but that jean jacket is all I have left from it. It is just sad to think about investing something that is going to arbritrially fade away at some random point.
I hate how I feel like I always have to be connected now with whatever experience I am engaging in. Be it reading a book, watching a movie, playing a video game, etc. I feel like I always have to have my phone handy just in case something funny occurs or in case I feel lonely. This whole feeling of “always connected” technology has given me a massive dependence on attention from others that makes me feel weak. I don’t feel like I can completely enjoy myself unless I am in contact with someone else, which in a way makes me feel more lonely than anything since I can’t be comfortable by myself.
Honestly the most scared I have ever been from video games have been from games that probably shouldn’t scare me that much. The silent hill games scared me into recurring nightmares yes but ”you are alone in a strange place solving puzzles” games like myst tap into a fear I have had since I was a kid. That fear is being alone in a place that I don’t really know and with no one talk to but myself. Myst and other games like that my dad had growing up terrified me and I never really could explain to him why. I loved watching him play them and solve the puzzles. I couldn’t play them by myself without stopping after a few minutes just because of that feeling of isolation.
That fear has been tapped into over the years with “escape the room” type flash games. They are games played in first person where you are trapped in a room with a bunch of strange objects and must solve puzzles around the room in order to escape. Not only do they get to my fear of isolation, they get into my fear of claustrophobia. I often get so creeped out that it turns into a panicked frustration before I can even solve a single puzzle in games like that.
Today Dead Space 3 came out, the third game in a series of sci-fi horror shooters. The previous two games were great action games with some fun,disturbing storytelling and tense set pieces. The third differs from the previous two in that the entire game can be played through with two players. So far the gameplay is great but the much touted co-op features aren’t what I was expecting.
For some reason ALL the cinemas and even slightly cinematic moments are shown from Isaac/1p’s point of view, leading to an awkward and immersion breaking(which is a huge sin in a series that prides itself on immersion) half-second cut to switch back to your/2p’s point of view. It is insane that this happen even for little split second jump scare scenes that last barely 3 seconds. A lot of the times the characters in the story scenes don’t even acknowledge the existence of the coop character, they only talk to Isaac. It really disconcerting that a feature that was so heavily promoted is implemented so lazily, I really feel like the second wheel to Isaac rather than my own character as it seemed like the previews for the game promised.
Secondly the preorder/bonus guns and outfits only go to Isaac/1p’s inventory so while my buddy is kicking ass with the preorder gun that we BOTH got the preorder codes for, I’m stuck using my basic peashooter. Same thing with the bonus costumes for saved data from dead space 2 and mass effect 3. Again I feel like the second wheel.
That said so far the rest of the game has been a blast. I never really felt a sense of horror in the games as much as I did thrill. More “Oh crap im being overrun and im stuck in a corner!” than “OH NO WHAT WAS THAT?!” to put it in emotional response terms. So playing through the game co-op still illicts those thrills as Matt and I desperately try to tell each other which enemy we are killing first as we are being overrun.
Ill try and update with more thoughts as we play through it more in the coming days.
So I beat Far Cry 3 today after having the last few story missions sitting there waiting for me for about a week. I always run into this specific problem with open world games and rpgs, that complete utter feeling of emptiness that comes from realizing you are at the end and have nothing left to unlock. Around the point that I had 5 or so missions left I have unlocked the whole map, unlocked all my skills,and liberated all the safe houses. The decision to finish the story just came from a sense of “well I did all this other stuff, might as well go ahead.”
The feeling of emptiness I am describing is that to me, open world games live and die on the thrill of unlocking content. Every new weapon, every new method of transportation, every new section of the map,etc. offer small thrills that you have accomplished something that could make the game more fun. Of course those thrills for me are always downward sloping as I progress more and more through the sandbox and realize that the things left to unlock are dwindling down as quickly as I unlock them. At the end when I finally unlock the final item, I don’t feel satisifed that I have completed it. I feel like an idiot for taking away the most fun part of the game.
Don’t get me wrong. Far Cry 3 has solid, fun shooting and stealth mechanics but it’s hard to not feel indestructible in it when you have all the best weapons and are fully leveled up. One of the most fun aspects of the game, hunting and skinning animals to craft better gear, can actually be rendered completely irrelevant if you focus that part of the game early on. I stopped caring about hunting animals after I crafted everything, there was really no point to it as the money their skin provided was minuscule. I wish I hadn’t completed the hunting process so early on but at the same time all of the upgrades I gear I got from doing so made the rest of the game easier/more fun to explore.
I’ll ramble more about this later.
Applying for a job at the post office. If I get the job though I will have to make the greatest sacrifice ever…..removing the Bukowski bumper sticker from my car. I really don’t think the post office would trust me if they knew I liked him.
Another part of my sad realization that I can’t view 3d stuff as much as I used to is that my eyes have grown accustomed to it. Meaning it takes a lot for something that is in 3d to really appear to be in 3d beyond hurting my eyes and head. Somewhere a long the line looking at stuff in 3d just became so routine to me that when something is in 3d, unless it is some super dazzling stuff, appears to just look normal to me.
It’s similar to the feeling I get when I look at my tv and go to an electronics store. My tv is great, everything on it looks great! I’m happy with it! But since I am so accustomed to seeing it every day that when I go to an electronics store everything else looks astounding compared to it. I have to tell myself “wait no one of those in the store was actually the tv I own myself and you are taking what you have for granted”.
and not a get a headache from it or eye strain. I used to be able to play games on my 3ds for over an hour and not feel like my eyes were hurting or that I needed to take some aspirin. Somewhere in the last year though my eyes and brain’s tolerance for it has gotten immensely worse.
I first noticed it in June of 2012 when I had some friends over to watch Hugo on my 3dtv. The film is stunning, probably the best use of 3d I have seen in any film ever but my eyes could only tolerate maybe 20 minutes of it before I asked my friends if I could turn the 3d off. It was insanely frustrating as everything in the film blended the 3d feeling of looking into a shoebox diorama with the right amount of “LOOK AT MY FINGER POINTING AT YOU” style things jumping out at you.
I started noticing it more after that. 3ds game sessions that would last for hours with the 3d slider turned on now lasted barely 10 minutes. The glasses near my tv became dusty. I can’t even remember the last 3d thing I watched or played on my tv.
Now I am sitting here with the 3d copy of a movie I wanted a home copy of for years and I am too afraid to even watch it. Say what you will about Avatar but you must admit the film is astoundingly gorgeous and the 3d top notch. The film is what got me to believe in the current 3d trend in the first place. Now though after waiting so long to watch it in a nice comfy couch at home I find myself stressing over the fact it will just make me reach for a bottle of tylenol.
Indie games that I have been hearing about for over a year but have never really been made playable by a mass audience? I want to play Spy Party, I want to play Nidhogg, I want to play Johan Sebastian Joust. People have played these games! I swear I have seen videos of people playing them and some of them have even won some awards!
Spy Party hurts the most really. I have been aching for it ever since I heard the concept of one player playing a sniper on a ledge over looking a party while the opposing player plays as the target and trying to hide amongst the npcs of the party. The target has to act like an npc of the party as to not arouse suspicion that they are the actual target. The sniper can actually fail by shooting the wrong npc so the sniper has to observe the party meticulously and figure out which npc is the player. God it sounds so awesome I smile every time I think about it, then I frown when I realize I still haven’t played it. DAMN IT.