Posts tagged ‘steam’

Expectations and Resolutions for 2013

Writing

In January 2012, I’d resolved to post directly to the blog more and edit less. I had an especially bad habit of leaving posts to languish in my drafts folder for months and then deleting them because they weren’t topical anymore. While I did get better about editing, I didn’t post straight to the blog much at all. So I’m renewing the same resolution to be more brave about my posting in the coming year. At least that’s going to be my excuse for any typos people point out.

Upcoming Games

There are a few MMOs that I’m anticipating:

  • City of Steam
  • Defiance
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Neverwinter

City of Steam is my novelty game. It’s a steampunk setting with a F2P model using a browser client. I missed a few chances to play in the closed beta, so I can’t say anything about how it plays. I’m a little concerned that they’re relying on just the setting to differentiate the game from other MMOs instead of trying to refine and improve the genre standard mechanics, but that’s based on superficial research on my part.

I’m pulling for Defiance partly because it’s by Trion. I’ve continued to be a fan of how Trion’s developed Rift even after I wasn’t actively subscribing to it (although I did resubscribe when the Storm Legion expansion was announced), and I’d like to see them continue to succeed. The other reason I’m hoping it does well is there’s a real dearth of science-fiction MMOs and I’m hoping this one doesn’t suffer the same fate as Tabula Rasa. I really don’t think that’s likely, considering how invested both Trion and SyFy are in the game and tie-in television series.

Elder Scrolls Online is my dark horse game. I was originally pretty pessimistic about the game’s chances, but my opinion has since become more optimistic based on developer interviews. Of course talk is cheap so who knows if ESO will fly or fall, but I’m hoping that it does well just so I can explore Tamriel more widely than I’ve been able to do in Skyrim.

Of all of the upcoming MMOs, Neverwinter is the only one that I’m genuinely excited for. Prior to going to GenCon this summer, this game was in the I’ll-play-it-when-it-comes-out category but I was really impressed with out beautiful the demo was. The environments were detailed and interesting, and the animations were fluid. The gameplay itself was very action oriented, and reminded me slightly of Torchlight and Gauntlet. Add all that to a supercharged version of the Foundry software that’s currently in Star Trek Online, and I’m not only excited to play the game Cryptic is making but also see what kinds of modules players build. There’ve been some really excellent missions done in STO and I hope that Neverwinter will inspire the same amount of creativity in it’s players.

Backlog

Outside of those few new games, this year is going to be all about the backlog. Anyone want to take bets on how long that lasts?

MMOs

Champions Online has been making a lot of changes and I really want to roll up a brand new hero to see what’s changed with the game since 2011. I know there’s lots of new powers and custom pieces, plus they recently added vehicles, and have just started hinting a some big new content releases.

Lord of the Rings Online has the whole Riders of Rohan expansion that I’ve not touched yet, plus I still have about a third of the Rise of Isengard expansion to finish.

Rift has had a huge amount of new content added, I just need to sit down and force myself to rebuild all of the roles that’ve been reset on my Mage.

Single-player

Even though I completed Dishonored, I was working on replaying a few missions with full stealth/zero kills. I’d also still like to do a second playthrough as more of an assassin than a ghost, but I’m going to bump that down to the bottom of my list for the year.

I’d only gotten through about a third of A Game of Dwarves before I was distracted by some other game.

I haven’t played that last three DLCs for Mass Effect 3.

I never got back to Skyrim last year like I intended, not to mention there’s been one major DLC released for the PC with another one announced.

I’ve barely gotten into Torchlight 2.

I loved the demo for XCOM enough to preorder the game, but I haven’t launched it since it released. I played Dishonored first since I wanted to make sure I finished that, and got distracted before I could even start XCOM.

Plus from my Steam there’s Orcs Must Die 1 & 2, Legend of Grimrock, Anno 2070, SPAZ, and the Back to the Future series all of which barely makes a dent. I also have a few Kickstarter backed games that are in or nearing the beta stages that I want to contribute playtime to like Castle Story, Timber and Stone, and the Banner Saga multiplayer.

Other Hobbies and My 2013 Resolution

Outside of games, I also have some more Star Trek ship models to assemble and paint, plus my long suffering Nanowrimo novel from 2010 that I still want to finish.

Having so little free time with so many demands is the core of what I want to work on this year. I’ve been in the habit of surfing along with my moods and interests and just spending time on games and projects as my id dictated. While there’s not really anything bad about going with the flow like that, it hasn’t been good for finishing projects. So this year I’m actually making lists of games and other projects I want to finish and sorting them in the order I want to tackle them with the intention of focusing on one at a time. I’ve already had some success at that, since that’s basically how I’ve finished all three Mass Effect games, Red Dead Redemption, and Dishonored. My problems nearly always stem from trying to multi-task between games and other hobbies.

Wish me luck.

Dishonored

I bought Dishonored from Steam. I considered getting it for my Xbox, but didn’t because I was hoping that it would be opened up for mods eventually and because the load times for PC were much faster. The load times were a major decision point for me as I don’t play many stealth games and I knew I would want to be able to obsessively use quick saves to avoid getting frustrated and I didn’t want to spend half my playing time starting at loading screens.
The game begins very similarly to Skyrim, although instead of a wagon ride to the executioner’s block, you are on a boat headed to meet with the Empress. Things go bad quickly with the murder of the Empress, disappearance of her daughter and heir, and Korvo, the main character, being framed for the murder then imprisoned and tortured. The rest of the game involves escaping prison and then finding out who was behind the murder and bringing the evildoers to justice.


Unlike Skyrim, Dishonored is not an open-ended game. It is split into nine missions plus some interludes, with each mission having a specific goal that Korvo must accomplish. The freedom in Dishonored comes from the many ways in which you can achieve the mission goals. All of the missions have optional objectives and offer both lethal and non-lethal ways of completing the missions, plus you have myriad choices in how to make it through the mission map and deal with obstacles and soldiers.

The actual stealth gameplay reminded me quite a lot of Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham City. So much so that I overly relied on sleep darts and the Blink and Dark Vision powers for more than half of the game. While it was fun to play that way, I was missing out on some fun by not making use of Possession and Bend Time as well.

I completed the game with the low chaos (good) ending in about 20 hours. I chose non-lethal solutions to all of the missions, although I did blunder around a bit in the first few missions so I didn’t completely get away without killing everyone. I say this just about every time I finish I game I enjoy that offers multiple endings, but I’m looking through to playing Dishonored a second time. Of course I never finish these second goes, although I think I have a pretty good shot and succeeding with Dishonored.

At one point in a mission, I was trying to get past a locked door but I couldn’t find the key. I realized could keep sneaking around hunting for it, which would take a long time while trying to keep from getting spotted, or I could look on YouTube, or I could make a save point and just go on a rampage until I found the key. I ended up taking the rampage option and had a lot of fun cutting loose with Korvo. While I never did find the key, I did figure out an alternate way past that door and had a lot of fun doing it.

In the time I spent playing more assassin than thief, I found that the game played quite a bit differently, and I think this’ll make a difference in keeping me engaged a second time through.

Looking Forward to 2012

Family

Before I get into what games I’m looking forward to, I wanted to mention some personal and blog related things. My wife and I are expecting our second little Kae to show up sometime in June. I’m sure that’s going to kill any time I have to play MMOs for a few months. I really dislike logging into an MMO, when I don’t know if I’m going to get pulled away at a second’s notice. When my son was born, I focused mostly on single player games, since I could pause it and go do father things without worrying about ruining anyone else’s game.

Not playing MMOs will either mean that this blog goes silent for a few months, or you’ll see tons of posts as I’ll have lots of time to read, think, and write.

Writing

Last year, I tried an experiment with posting consistently on week days. I wasn’t perfect about it, but I did well enough to consider it a success. I stopped doing that mid-summer though once it started to take the fun out of writing. I don’t regret doing it though as I developed some good habits and even got to the point where I started to feel antsy if I hadn’t written anything by the end of the day. Kind of like those healthy people who talk about missing the gym. I guess anyway, I’ve never felt that.

Anyway, this year I’m trying a new experiment. I write a lot from my phone and from work, basically anytime that I get an urge to put pixels on a screen. Most of the time though, those posts go into the draft folder and never emerge. I always intend to edit and publish them that night, yet rarely ever do. So this year, I’m going to try skipping the editing stage as much as possible. After all, if there are any really stupid grammar or spelling mistakes, I’m going to be much more motivated to fix them if the article is public, and this way I’ll not have any regrets about not getting an opinion or idea out in a timely fashion.

So now you know, if the blog stays empty it’s just because I have no ideas and not because I’m a lazy self-editor. Finally, let’s talk about some games.

PC/Xbox

This is the first year in a while, that I’m not really looking forward to much. Mass Effect 3 is basically my whole list for the year.

I believe this is a good thing though, because my backlog of unfinished, never played, and never installed games is getting embarrassingly massive. I still haven’t gone back to Skyrim and finished my first play through. I have the last DLC for Mass Effect 2 to finish. I’ve barely touched Minecraft since the 1.0 release in November. Then there’s my Steam library, let’s just not even start on that.

So while there’s not much new I’m looking forward to, I’m still excited for single-player and offline gaming this year.

MMOs

Rift

While I do still have an active subscription, I’m not planning on renewing it in April. As I mentioned in my 2001 review, I had a ton of fun with the game, but between feeling so behind with all of the content updates and most of my friends playing other MMOs, I have no interest in going back.

Champions Online

I fully expect to keep playing in Millennium City off and on as Cryptic adds new story missions and new power sets. Honestly, I’ve already started eyeing the launcher as they’ve added some cool new costume options recently as well as the Earth and Wind power sets. The cool thing about this game is I have no expectations for the coming year, so I’ll enjoy whatever comes.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’m playing a ton of TOR right now. I have a Jedi Knight Guardian in the mid 40’s (level cap is 50) and am nearing the end of the story missions. This means I’ll hit the mythical end-game soon. Generally when I do that, I start an alt and lose interest in repeating content after a few days. This is followed by moving on to another game. With TOR, I’m hoping that having some fresh class missions will be enough to keep me interested and get a second character to 50. We’ll see if BioWare manages a first in my gaming history.

Interestingly, I’m already feeling like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of TOR, so if I do end up cancelling my subscription, I’m not going to feel bad about it. I suppose that because the game really has felt like playing KotOR 3.

Looking at the rest of the year, I hope to still be playing in June but I kind of doubt it given my history at level cap. Obviously once the baby get’s here, all bets are off.

Lord of the Rings Online

After taking most of the year off and then getting in a solid month, LotRO has been on hold since November. First it was Skyrim and then it was TOR keeping me from playing. Eventually, I’ll return to Middle-Earth and resume my hunter Brynulf’s journey into the Gap of Rohan. It may well be the fall, but it seems like I always go back to LotRO eventually, and that makes me happy.

Star Trek Online

After an extremely rough year, I really hope that STO turns things around. The F2P launch is happening (today actually), and the long awaited Featured Episode Series Four is coming as part of the second anniversary of the game.

Past February, I want to see a permanent Executive Producer hired and I really want to see the monthly Engineering Reports and Ask Cryptics restarted. I know there have been a few new hires since the PWE acquisition, but I’d like to see the team continue to grow, and start seeing that investment payoff in more regular updates of new features and new story missions. If we get to December and have seen Featured Episode Series 4, 5, and 6, I’ll be very happy. If not three FE’s (which D’Angelo doesn’t think is likely), then I want to see more single mission story content added.

One thing I do want to clarify though, I’m not at all disappointed or upset with the Star Trek development team at Cryptic. I think they’ve done as much as possible given some pretty difficult situations over the last six months (if not longer).

Steam Sale and Surprise

The Steam Perils of Summer sale is over. Based on what I’ve seen, I’m somewhere in the middle on money spent at $70. For only $10 more than getting a single console game, I now own:

  • Audiosurf
  • Beat Hazard
  • Borderlands + all the DLC
  • Dawn of Discovery – Venice
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Introversion Complete Pack (Uplink, DefCon, Darwinia, Multiwinia)
  • King’s Bounty: Gold Edition
  • Supreme Commander 2
  • Witcher: Enhanced Edition

I’ve been torn about whether or not to get Borderlands since it first launched. As a co-op focused game, I couldn’t decide if I’d end up playing more with Xbox friends or PC friends, plus there’s always GamerScore to think about. At $11 (+$12 for all the DLC), it was just too good of a deal to pass up. Plus, I saw a lot of my Steam friends getting it as well, so I figure there’ll be lots of people to play with.

I already own the original Witcher on DVD, but I bought the Enhance Edition anyway. This was purely out of laziness, now I don’t have to mess with patching the game when I reinstall it find the disc.

SupCom 2 and King’s Bounty are games I’d thought about getting at one point or another. I didn’t have a PC that would run SupCom2 well enough when it came out, and then when I had a PC that would run it, it was too old for me to buy at full price. King’s Bounty was one I wanted to buy when it launched but didn’t because of some DRM or retail issue, I can’t remember at this point.

Of all my purchases, Dawn of Discovery – Venice, was the only game I’d planned to buy soon. I really like Dawn of Discovery for city building, but I was waiting on getting the expansion until I’d finished a few more of my console games.

The rest of my purchases were all impulse buys: Audiosurf, Beat Hazard, Galcon Fusion, and the Introversion games. I’d demoed Audiosurf and Galcon before and liked them, but I’ve been out of a casual gaming mood for a long time now. Still at under $5 for each, they were worth adding to my library for whenever I was in the mood for a quick play session.

I haven’t played all of my purchases yet, but I did want to mention how surprised and thrilled I am with Beat Hazard. I picked this game up because it sounded fun and was only $2.50, but I didn’t expect to play it a bunch. It’s a shooter similar to Geometry Wars, but it uses your music collection to drive the gameplay. Oddly enough, it fills the same gaming niche for me that Rockband 2 does. Rockband is a game I play only once a month or so, but when I do, I play for a couple of hours. It’s a chance to listen to music that I like while also gaming. Beat Hazard is pretty much the same thing, only it’s an Asteroids-like shooter  instead of a rhythm game. Unlike Rockband, Beat Hazard is quick to pickup and play for five minutes at a time, and I think it’ll become a part of my regular gaming-life.

Xfire and Steam in Win7

As a former XP user who skipped Vista, the UAC functionality is something new that I’m learning to deal with.

I’m sure a lot of people just turn it off, but I’m trying to find ways to work within the security setup.  I’m happy to click on a UAC prompt when I’m installing a program, that’s not something I do daily, but I don’t want to click on a prompt every time I launch Xfire or Steam.  Xfire requires it be run in admin mode.  Steam doesn’t have to be run that way, but Fallen Earth (which I bought through Steam) does.  If you run a game in Steam that requires it be in admin mode, but Steam is not, then you get this very unhelpful message.

Fallen Earth Steam ErrorOf course the game is actually available but you either have to run the program directly from the SteamApps folder in admin mode or you have to launch Steam in admin mode.  Either way you’ll get a UAC prompt.  Every time.

Continue reading ‘Xfire and Steam in Win7’ »

Lawncare and the Undead

In the division of household chores between my wife and myself, I am the one tasked with mowing the lawn.  I can’t complain about it too much, since it only needs to be down for six months out of the year (as opposed to laundry), and it takes my only about an hour to do the front, the back, and trim with a weed-eater.  Despite all of that, I don’t like lawn-care, or gardening, but  I love Plants versus Zombies.

This game was not on my radar until I heard an interview with Jason Kapalka on the Gamers With Jobs Conference Call 133.  I bought it on Steam for $10 ($9.99), although you can also get it directly from PopCap but it’s listed as $19.95.

I’m not going to do any kind of in-depth review because I’m having too much fun playing (4.8 hours according to Steam).  Plus Syp over at Bio Break already did a better job than I could have.  I will say that the sense of humor and quirkiness reminds me of World of Goo.

Update – Destructoid also has a review up if you want something even more detailed or just to see some screenshots.  You can also find a demo on both the Steam and PopCap sites.

Mount and Blade

After recommendations from Bill at Dubious Quality and Darren at Common Sense Gamer, I finally made some time to download and trout the Mount and Blade demo through Steam.  Did I like it?  Yes.  How much?  I started with the tutorial around 9:30 pm, after my wife and son went to bed.  After the tutorial I started a game.  I played for a bit: got some quests, failed one and completed others, gained a few levels, got captured once.  I was having fun and then some part of my brain wondered, “What time is it?”  It was 2 am, and I needed to get up in 5 hours for work.  While this isn’t too out of the ordinary, I actually continued to play for another 30 minutes.  Just had to finish one more thing.

So yeah, I’m really enjoying the game.  I’ve since hit the level 7 limit of the demo and purchased the complete version.

I’m actually surprised I liked it so much. I’m a pretty shallow gamer.  Graphics are a big part of games for me, enough so that I don’t usually play older games or indie games.  Even when the gameplay is great, if the graphics aren’t good then I’m not interested.

My only complaint isn’t actually game realted.  When I purchased the full version, Steam didn’t convert my existing installation but re-downloaded the full game again.

So if you like RPG’s go get it.  It’s a little bit Oblivion and a little bit Total War.

Gears DRM Debacle

Event like the Gears of War DRM debacle perfectly illustrate why Digital Rights Management is such a bad idea for the PC platform.

As a software developer myself, I can guarantee that there is no such thing as bug-free code.  Any piece of software that has more than 50 lines of code in it is going to have bugs, and any bug fix can introduce additional problems.  So anytime a developer adds functionality (like say DRM) to a product they are adding new possible problems.

When new functionality improves the game experience, this increased risk of problems is worthwhile to a gamer, but the addition of DRM usually provides no experience  improvements.  This is why Valve’s Steam has so much customer buy in.  Games are digitally distributed so there’s no CD/DVD required in the drive and I can buy and play a game without having to leave my house, and Steam allows me to download my purchases again if I need to.

With the exception of MMO’s, I’ve stopped buying PC games except through Valve’s Steam or Stardock’s Impulse.

Game publishers (and movie studios) need to look at what happened with the music industry.  Record studios pushed DRM in different forms for years without success, and now both iTunes and Amazon are doing great business without any DRM at all.  Customer’s pay for convenience and quality, not hassles.  Pirates won’t pay no matter what kind of protection is included.