Monday, August 3, 2015

SGC 2015

But here's one more thing.

Here's a video from SGC 2015. In all honesty I was hoping to end the blog after SGC but the Picasa error forced my hand.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Game Over. Thank You For Playing.

As you may or may not have noticed that I haven't written anything within the past couple of months. Its with a heavy heart and clear mind that I write this, a final entry, into my much-ignored blog. After 5 long years, countless missed release dates, over 60 unpublished blogs, almost 10,000 views, and only 4 comments, I've decided to end things. I started writing in hopes to increase my proficiency, hoping one day to get on with a major gaming site to write reviews for them. Now that dream is non-existent. The word "journalist" has been tarnished.

Gaming is no longer fun in many areas. The communities that sprung up in the early 00's are now defunct and have been shut down for several years. People have moved towards streaming and YouTubers only seem to be in it to get picked up by larger companies. The deep-rooted movement of gaming culture going into streaming has left people a bit wary of buying games. Now instead of seeing gameplay videos they wait for their favorite streamer to play the game to see if its any good. Reviews and scores can no longer be trusted, and with the recent debacle of #Gamergate a lot of people have turned to hating reviewers because its the "in" thing to do. Journalists and reviewers who had nothing to do with the underlying problem of #Gamergate are being hated for their review scores of popular games, many games are released outright broken and deserving of low scores. But let's face it: unless you have a journalism degree, you can't get your foot in with major review sites, and unless you have thousands of dedicated readers, no independent site will proudly display your writing. No one has time to read detailed reviews, they'd rather watch them.

Hype trains have derailed as $60 games only have $30 worth of on-disc content while DLC that costs $40 or more completes the experience. I'm not sorry to say: Destiny is only half of a game. Day one patches are commonplace and special editions charge more for season passes. Others have packed in much more content and didn't promise to "finish the fight" with 10 years worth of DLC on dying last gen systems. Size doesn't matter when more than half of the map area is unpopulated or has nothing to offer in terms of loot, things to see, or enemies to fight. Speaking with our wallets doesn't matter when there are 10 million other gamers who dive blindly into recycled IPs.

There is no need for written reviews anymore. No one reads. No one shares. That's the sad truth. Feedback as to how to improve my writing style would have been greatly appreciated, but almost everything I wrote went unnoticed.

People want to see and hear about a game.
"Well why don't you buy the video capture equipment and quit complaining?"
If it were that easy I would have done so long ago. There's this little thing called "LIFE" that gets in the way of that plan. Gaming is such a deep-rooted part of who I am that its become mostly what I know. I realized something a while back and to put it simply: I'm not interesting. I can't talk about politics, world news, or recent discoveries but I can talk about my opinions on games. I find that unacceptable in the grand scheme of things.

After 15 years of calling myself a gamer, what do I have to show for it?

I'm not going to stop playing games, but I have greatly slowed on my collecting. I've already sold off a small chunk of my collection, bringing it back below 600. I've wasted a ton of money on games that I don't even play. Games that I bought just to have, ones that would look good in a collection. Some I have no idea why the hell I spent so much money on.

I have no plans for other projects or to keep writing reviews when they go unread. So with that, this blog has come to an end.

Keep Playing.
- Garrett

Friday, January 9, 2015

Preview: Hover: Revolt of Gamers

While running and jumping around the vast city of Hover, you come across a locked box. After a few seconds of hacking it opens to reveal a gameball. Video games are highly illegal on this world thanks to the imposing security force. You are part of a resistance movement to bring games back to the masses and with your parkour skills the multiple levels of the city are simply your playground. You grab it and run, leaping over walls, bewildered citizens jumping out of your way, through tunnels, across rooftops, through a crowded plaza. Suddenly a security camera spots you and from seemingly nowhere a hovering SecuBox is right on top of you, threatening to take away the console or imprison you. You run and the adrenaline starts pumping. 

Hover: Revolt of Gamers is developed by three French amateur game designers with the studio name Fusty Game. This is the second game they've developed, with the first having unfortunately been canceled on Kickstarter. The style is similar to the ones found in the movies The Fifth Element and Star Wars: a variety of alien species living together in a multi-tiered society with the threat of a police force controlling everything. Alien languages on billboards, anti-video game propaganda, and the jumbled crowd of alien species walking about lend greatly to the atmosphere. The gameplay is a mix between Jet Grind Radio and Mirror's Edge: a fast-paced first- and third-person camera view allows you to feel in control as the action takes place. Delivering gameballs and completing missions will help you raise your stats to better your speed, jumping, and grinding, just to name a few.
This is a parkour game; it unleashes the fast-paced art of free running into an open neon-colored metropolis that's rife with sharp angles, large drops, bright lights, and a security force that wants you out of the equation. The futuristic world is a maze of pathways and, barring the obvious invisible walls, if you can see it then you can get there.
Following a MASSIVELY successful Kickstarter that ended with over triple the amount of the original goal, they were able to not only double the initial size of the city but they brought on board Jet Grind Radio/Jet Set Radio Future composer Hideki Nakamura. If you were a fan of his work for those games then you'll feel right at home here. Also for those of you lucky enough to have an Oculus Rift handy, the game is compatible with the headset but may give you motion sickness if you're unprepared for the insane movement. Biggest of all is a planned Wii U release, however no information on this has been posted. Those who were lucky (and rich enough) to contribute majorly to the Kickstarter will get rewards along the lines of a special DJ pet, an exclusive character skin, a physical copy, and, to someone who contributed $1,500 to the campaign, will have their likeness turned into a giant statue somewhere in the game.

In your free time between missions, you can explore the city to look for the best lines to get the best speed and ways to get around. It will most certainly put your pathfinding skills to the test. Currently the alpha version only allows players to traverse a small section of the city, both online and off. You can gather gameballs, GameGirls, avoid police, and take part in a few races against NPCs, or race other plays online if you prefer. The full version will have missions that include police evasion, stealth infiltration, and a few more variations that the creators have yet to reveal. A deeper character customization will be available in the full version as well as spraypaint tagging, more playable character skins, a deeper history of the world, and an expanded soundtrack.

A modern mid-level system will have no problem playing Hover on medium graphical settings. It will take a lot of horsepower to make it run at max with 60 fps. Fusty Game took no prisoners with the depth of the game's graphics. Even my laptop that's only a few years old manages to crank out a meager 15 fps on the lowest settings. There's a lot going on that's not on-screen that the game is having to keep track of: mindless NPC pedestrians, traffic, and the security system are all present and don't fade at a distance. Expect the fps results to pan out better as they make the game more compatible with different setups.

The game is compatible with an Xbox 360 control pad and is easy to use with it's minimal button usage. While it feels more organic than the keyboard and mouse layout it loses the ability to make sharp turns and that is something that's required for traversing this city cleanly. A rewind feature is extremely useful and helps you correct mistakes if you miss a jump or find yourself stuck in some way. Currently in the alpha there is no limit to how far back you can go. The ability to scan things can bring up a text menu with some interesting tidbits on the city and its inhabitants. This can also show you the locations of important NPCs, gameballs, race starting points, holographic signs, security cameras and E-cops. It can leave the screen cluttered and is disorienting at first. Time will tell if this is corrected.

 The Fusty Game team: Charles Vesic, Marine Baron, and Pierre Raffali

If you missed out on the Kickstarter, Hover will be coming to Steam via Greenlight and will be available on PC, Mac, and Linux OS's in a multitude of languages. No pricing or release date has been posted yet but its not too late to get in on the hype.  If the alpha proves anything, its that even dedicated fans can make the game of their dreams. There is something awesome about just hanging out in another world, running and exploring. Hover has something that a lot of the AAA titles these days are lacking: fun.

Keep Playing.