My name is August, though you'll almost always see me with the pseudonym, Arttemis. I'm happily married to a gorgeous woman who loves to run around Italy, pick-pocketing its population and performing parkour, but is horrified to run through a zombie-infested mall, even if she has a sledgehammer with an axe attached.
I've been familiar with gaming since Atari days, but it wasn't until the release of Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 2, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998 that I was an avid fan. While those are still some of my favorite games, my favorite genre is, without a doubt, action games. DMC3 is potentially my most-played title of all time, though I can see Bayonetta taking its place.
Quick note - most of my activity is done through my phone (Xperia Play, rooted/BL unlocked), so I apologize for my plethora of typos and incoherent sentences.
Note: Wow, so it's been two years since my last blog; figures it would take Diablo III to bring me back into writing. Hope you enjoy!
-Less than $5 for 6 characters worth of amazing gear
Blizzard has consistently taken the stance of "if you're going to do it anyway, just go ahead and do it our way" by doing things like adding damage meters, loot tables, boss tactics, and most notably voice chat all built completely into World of Warcraft. Adding a monetary auction house option into Diablo III follows the exact same mentality, with a bit of "if you can't beat them, join them" thrown in.
This isn't a new concept whatsoever, guys. People have been using ebay andothersites to buy D2 items for a full decade now, and if it's any indication, people aren't willing to pay more than ten dollars for a full set of gear (except the slim few willing to pay premium for the very rare "perfect" items). I'm familiar with this because I've actually sold a few 7% small charms on ebay! Capitalism is in full effect here and customers are always going to buy only the cheapest listings first, keeping prices low. All of these items were farmed and subsequently sold by real people. Blizzard isn't starting a micro-transaction apocalypse here, nor are they artificially inflating or hindering the in-game economy because every item has to come from someone's effort; there aren't infinite listings of Breath of the Dying Colossus Blades for only the rich to buy. What's happening now is Blizzard is making outside vendors useless by giving players access to purchasable items without having to alt-tab and wait for mules - and now they get to net the auction fees associated with listing/winning transactions.
Even though none of this is new, I will acknowledge the fact that it's never been condoned, 100% reliable (are the ebay items even legit or duped, set to disappear after the next patch?), and definitely never this easily accessible. With that in mind, I was initially worried about what effect this would have upon the famous Diablo trading scene. Who would trade away the best gear when there is an easy way to make a dollar or two out of it?
-I have a feeling these prices are way far higher than they will be once the game's released
Anyone familiar with the early Diablo II trading scene knows that the Stone of Jordan ring, or SOJ, was clearly the most common form of currency in the game economy. Items were all compared by their corresponding value of "how many SOJs" they could bring in. Even though D2 moved on to a more traditional bartering system, that kind of economy is probably what you'll see in Diablo III. From the looks of things, in-game gold will finally have a real value in the community, and can be used to purchase what you want. With the auction house, Items will have a quantitative value set by the community, so that everything you want can be obtainable through a standard currency. You will now be able to literally sell your items (for gold or dollars) to pay for what you want. This isn't a one-way street of having to buy items as your only option. I'll repeat that for those just skimming through:
You will now be able to literally sell your items to pay for what you want. This isn't a one-way street of having to buy items as your only option.
The biggest change that will occur, I think, is how the trade system will be impacted. I'm absolutely positive that trading games and channels will still exist; If you find gear and want to barter, I'm sure it won't be impossible. The thing is, though, there're can't be a very large amount of players willing to go through the hassle of haggling and bartering when you can simply throw your items up on the auction house for gold/cash.
That's a hardcore badass
In the end, just remember, this is only available for people who are building softcore characters. I know I'll be making a Magician for farming, and a Monk for kicking ass in PvP... but the real trading will be where all the badasses are: Hardcore, bitches! I'll be the bad motherfucker with the pile of bones next to my player banner.
If you've ever played Diablo 2 online, you'd know that the only way you could access your character is by logging into Battle.Net. Even if you wanted to play your character solo 11 years ago, you still had to have access to the internet. It is pretty stupid that there is no option for a LAN or real singleplayer, though.
I'm still bummed that it's 4-players max. You can't even make a game with each class, and that's just dumb. /sadface
The level cap doesn't really mean much to me, but I'm glad I don't have to focus on advancing skill progression for every single level. I'll make a build, finish inputting my skills, then tweak their abilities for the remaining 30 levels of the game while getting gear. I also appreciate that every skill has a useful purpose. D2 used most skills for synergies, which was clever, but it's nice to actually sink points into several skills knowing I'll be using them all.
Remember that awesome Resident Evil shirt Capcom showed off just before Comic-Con?
See gallery below for more pictures!
Well, it turns out it will be available to more than just convention atendees! Like with Metroid Prime Trilogy, GameStop is handing out a free game-related t-shirt with the pre-order of an anticipated title, this time Wii's Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles!
"Reserve Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles and receive this insane Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles Zombie Face T-Shirt. This T-shirt is the perfect way to camouflage yourself during the coming zombie apocalypse, and can also be used by the ladies to really freak people out during Mardi Gras. Available online and in-store while supplies last."
Currently, Amazon.com does not match this pre-order incentive like they sometimes do.
For those of you, like me, who have an ECA membership (which was complimentary with a PAX ticket!) and wish to take advantage of the 10%-off every Amazon game purchase, there's still hope! GameStop makes no mention of the shirt being an "exclusive" bonus, which is something they love to brag about when that is the case, as seen with Metroid Prime Trilogy's shirt. Hopefully this makes its way to other distributors!
Personally, I was already dead-set on buying this game, but the chance of getting that awesome shirt may sway me to go the way of GameStop depending on shirt availability. I can think of a certain bearded samurai that will likely also be all over this deal.
Note: There's no mention of available sizes... I hope it's not just XL+ only like some other t-shirt swag.
Through very generous friends, a bit of luck, and not much money at all, I've managed to amass a pretty large sum of goodies in the last couple of weeks. Be sure to look through the gallery for more pics.
Awesome Gifts: First, I was given a Nintendo DS from fellow (incredibly awesome!) Dtoider, ShadokatRegn, who graciously passed on her original handheld when she came into possession of a DS Lite. This is actually my first portable console since I got a lime green Game Boy Color back in '98!
Just mere days later, I get a package in the mail. My friend returned my entire loaned-out GameCube collection, albeit later than I expected. Also inside, much to my surprise, was their old Wii, as well as accessories and games!
Completely by chance, I happened to find a picture from a decal website that had a set of patterns that I couldn't resist. Having just acquired a DS and Wii for free, I just had to splurge; the pictures will let you know why:
What? Your NINTENDO WII is evolving!
Congratulations! Your NINTENDO WII evolved into a REVOLUTION ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM!
I can't get over how well the retro DS and Wii skins look together.
JoeCamNet's Sale: I was interested in several titles from Joe's long list of games for sale after he decided to thin out his collection for personal reasons. Being the complete action-genre addict that I am, I couldn't pass on a large portion of his stock, plus a few extras, for a reasonable price!
Joe was completely honest in his descriptions of the games, carefully listing each (very minor) nick or dent to the extent of a professional collector. Being used to GameStop-condition boxes and not-very-accurate Ebay descriptions, I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised at how precise his descriptions were; each game was in amazing shape, and every superfluous scuff was already mentioned.
If you're interested in any of his games, definitely send him a message. He's quick to reply, very honest, accepts very reasonable prices, and ships almost instantly. Good luck, Joe!
GameStop Sale: If you don't know about this, you should definitely check things out. I was able to score Prince of Persia in excellent condition for $12; less than two weeks ago it was $35! Depending on the store, you may find tons of classic PS2 and Xbox games for 50% off.
Thanks to a $50 gift card I had lying around, I was able to pick up a huge stash of games without paying much at all!
Bionic Commando, Prince of Persia, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, LotR: The Two Towers, Mega Man X1-8, Shinobi, Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven/Fatal Shadows, House of the Dead 2&3, Tenchu: Shadow Assassins
I'm registered, booked, and ready to go. I can't wait to see everyone there!
Let me start off by stating that I'm an absolute action-genre junkie. Hacking and slashing, quick reflexes, unforgiving enemies, frame-based timing, and acrobatic skills that put 13-year-old Chinese gymnasts to shame --- essentially any game consisting of these concepts can keep me occupied just about indefinitely. Some of my all-time favorite gameplay can be found in the likes of Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden series.
Now, why would I invoke Kojima's name in a blog focused on the action genre? There are two reasons, actually: the newly announced Metal Gear Solid: Rising and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.
[Keep in mind that not much is known about these titles, so the entirety of this blog can safely be considered conjecture.]
Castlevania: Lord of Shadows
With Konami's conference complete, a satisfying amount of in-game material has been shown on this title. Announced last year and re-announced as a Castlevania title by Hideo Kojima himself, the game will actually be produced by Dave Cox and developed by MercurySteam, with what seems like merely topical support from Hideo to help "give birth" to the old franchise's new direction. Players control the protagonist Gabriel, which is just about all we know. The trailer hinted at the desire and ability to bring back the life of his recently murdered wife, but what's more definitive is the few seconds of action shown in the second half.
All of the series staples look as though they've found their place at home in this completely new entry of Castlevania sans the Belmont family protagonist. We're shown glimpses at how platforming will be presented with footage of Gabriel sprinting through a vine-filled tunnel and leaping at the end. Without much to go on, I imagine the focus of the game will fall inline with previous entries to the series: battle through enemies as you explore areas to find upgrades and items, and taking down bosses in intervals along the way. With hints at horse (and werewolf) riding sections, and ridiculously large and impressive bosses, I'm pretty hopeful for a varied experience without repetitive action to dilute the gameplay experience.
Whip it good!
That gameplay, however, is precisely the type of content that I'm interested in. Gabriel's whip is used to attack in what can loosely be described as God of War-esque combat mechanics. I'd say that's the most accurate comparison because the combat doesn't look nearly as technical as what you'd find in DMC or Bayonetta, but there are moderately-paced, wide-arching whip attacks that are familiar to anyone whose played GoW. It seems players will have a litany of special abilities at their disposal, including a whirlwind-styled whipping storm, as well as a windmill-mimicking series of uppercut slashes.
One technical aspect that particularly impressed me about this engine (aside from the graphics) was the camera's ability to follow the action on-screen. Whether it's panning across the an area to follow a dashing spider, keeping the focus on your character even while surrounded by enemies, or following Gabriel as he scales a giant, the camera seemed smooth and efficient, a request many Ninja Gaiden players express.
Ultimately, I'm really looking forward to this game as something much, much more than just an action title. I'm hoping the titular Lords of Shadows themselves offer a refreshing premise for the series, but ultimately, I think the scope of the castle and story are what this game relies upon the most.
Media: E3 '09 Trailer, Debut LoS Trailer, I've also stuffed the gallery with all sorts of images for you to view, though you may have already seen them on this site and elsewhere.
Metal Gear Solid: Rising
The newly announced Metal Gear Solid: Rising promises to feature the return of Raiden, who donned the cybernetic ninja uniform throughout MGS4. There's no clues about the game's setting, but we are promised a new form of gameplay: Lightning Bolt Action! Kojima's role will be more removed for this title, as it's being run by the Kojima Productions "youngbloods" and taking advantage of already existing technology.
I was hoping more information would be revealed during Konami's press conference, but we're left to speculate on what type of gameplay to expect, or what the game is even about. There's an interesting theory that's worth checking out about who else might be a protagonist, as well as what the setting might be in Genki-JAM's Cblog, and it's filled with convincing and thought provoking photoshops and clues.
What really interests me is how these two titles will represent action. We know MGS:R is recycling "existing technology" from MGS4's engine, which I'm sure can be vastly altered to encompass a faster paced style of gameplay.
I can't help but imagine the landscape in MGS:R being utilized by players to create a veritable playground for a cyborg ninja to leap around and hack 'n' slash his way through, with no more than a Tenchu-reminiscent style of stealth, and CV:LoS hosting an expansive, rich, gothic tale of action and adventure. With supervisory input from Kojima on both games, I'm wondering if there will be a homogeneous theme, or perhaps a Yin-Yang contrasting effect for their release.
Other E3 '09 titles that interest me: Since I already have your attention, I just thought I'd share just a few of the games that interested me at this year's E3:
Beyonetta - A highly technical action game that looks like it's capable of one-upping the DMC legacy! There's no way I could go without mentioning Kamiya's newest action game!
Metroid: Other M - One of the best announcements from E3, IMO. This title may be in development by Team Ninja, but the gameplay is completely unique - at least when compared to Ninja Gaiden games. I recommend checking out Phoenix Gamma's Cblog sleuthing for additional information on what's looking like it will be an outstanding game!
Edge of Twilight - Largely overlooked, but very interesting trailer. The action seems brutal, and the settings are diverse.
[First off, I've been sitting on this blog for a while now and thought I'd might as well flesh it out for publishing in true community-contributing fashion, particularly since Dtoid was kind enough to give me something! (Woot!!!)]
[Also, I call these two features "less talked-about" because most of the discussion I hear about this game revolves around the new art style, potential Battle.Net subscription costs, and new kickass class skills.]
Diablo III's lead designer Jay Wilson spoke to IGN a while ago for a two-page interview speaking about two topics - potion and inventory management. Both are inherently relevant to gameplay and seem interesting enough to post my opinions on their interesting deviations from previous games.
Wilson had this to say about the current state of potions in Diablo II,
"A lot of people, I think, would say that's a hallmark of the Diablo series, the potion system. We looked at it and said, 'No, that just makes the game worse, [...] It doesn't make it play like a better action game, it just kind of gives the player infinite health. It's actually a fairly poor recovery mechanic because it forces the designers to design monsters that have to deal with a player that has infinite health"
The introduction of health orbs was showcased in the announcement footage and more recent trailers, but that only accounts for half of the plan to remove focus on those delicious bottles of HP and mana.
"The goal is to have players use skills where previously they would have used a potion, [...] If I've got to deal with an enemy, I'm going to go in, stun a whole bunch of guys, and circumnavigate them to reach a health orb. Or I'm going to stun them and take out a bunch of guys with the hope that I'm going to get a health orb, and if I don't, I'll use some other kind of mechanic to deal with that threat."
Using strategy against mobs - Anyone adept in playing a 'Tiger Strike/Dragon Tail' Assassin from D2:LoD would already be familiar with this tactic after using Cobra Strike to completely refill health and mana when combined with powerful finishing moves. I welcome a balance in powers between players and enemies so that it encourages one to be self-sufficient and not rely on an infinite amount of potions.
+ : Adding strategic gameplay elements to Diablo sounds perfect!
The next alteration Wilson addressed was the change in how inventory management will be handled.
As it stands now, D2 players are forced to deal with incredibly small amounts of space to store incredibly large amounts of shit. There are indeed some antiquated mechanics that should be addressed - such as: limited storage sizes, obtrusive charms, and how to manage consumables.
On this side: Small chested (lawlpun!) ___________________________________ On this side: Me lucky charms!
The new solution to be found in D3 pits all items as equal 1-slot entities.
"The one really great thing that most people wouldn't argue with was the grid-based system allowed for very large icons which made the items feel better. So one of the things we don't like about the current inventory is the icons are smaller than we'd like them to be, so we're working on sizing up the icons themselves to be very large, much larger than say World of Warcraft [...] What we don't want is the grid-based Tetris sort of system."
I've always thought this would be a fine solution to implement in the storage stash. Players would no longer have to create countless mules or risk transferring gear if there could be an account-wide storage chest that holds dozens of items, all condensed to a single block.
Keys don't take up as much space as guns or rifles!
Unlike Resident Evil's item management systems, Diablo characters don't have to lug around their currently used gear in their inventory - it's stored on the characters' bodies. Actual inventory space is used to hold consumables (potions, scrolls, and tomes), the "cube", and gear that's deemed good enough to sell or trade. With the advent of charms, this leads to belts overflowing with potions into the inventory to suck up remaining space, leaving characters' inventories barely enough room to hold vendor trash or worthy gear.
Personally, I love the pseudo-realism found in managing different sized gear. If Blizzard had addressed the issue of space directly, they could have created consumable-specific pouches to alleviate space, as well as increase bag size/amount, and kept the mechanics similar but now effective. The one-slot solution just saddens me a bit.
+ : Storage space is far less of an issue.
- : An iconic gameplay element is replaced with a WoW-esque feature instead of directly addressing the actual antiquated issues.
[Note: 5/15 urine-colored thawing potions because I think the changes especially stink]
In actuality, Blizzard could completely remove the inventory system from D3 and it would still be my most anticipated title, period. I'm ready to be addicted to another Diablo game!