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5:39 PM on 07.23.2015

I Made A Steam Tiles Website!

Last Fall I posted about how I'd been making custom images for Steam's Grid View. Well, after talking with a few people on Steam I decided to go ahead and make my own site for them. I have most of the content uploaded, including some new images for Rocket League, ARK, and The Witcher 3. So here's the site if you'd like to take a look:


Early header attempt...


There are a bunch for Rocket League.

I only started learning WordPress a week ago, and it's not designed for this kind of blog, so it was tricky to devise a decent setup. I still need to make a title banner soon and probably do further tweaking. I think the "Full Game List" needs to be more prominent, or even the main page? I'm also thinking about adding a PayPal "donation" button. Maybe I'll get a few bucks for coffee once in a while, right?


I made a HUGE batch for The Witcher 3 because there is so much great artwork.

This is also a practice run for making my own blog site soon. I will probably put the lighter gaming stuff on Destructoid and keep more serious essays on my own site. So, I still have a lot to learn. Aiming to launch that in about a month. I'll cross-post a lot of stuff here as well since who knows if anyone will actually find my own site when I put it up.


And several for my favorite ARPG ever. EVER.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. If any of you have feedback on this site or the one I'm planning please share! And if you have some games you'd like grid images for this would be a good time to ask lol

Sorry this is such a short blog, I know it's probably more appropriate for the forums. But everyone I know is here soooo...

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11:20 AM on 07.11.2015

Jinx's Big Dumb Screenshot Blog Part 3


PART THREE!

Part One HERE!
Part Two HERE!

Valkyria Chronicles

A brilliant strategy-jrpg that I enjoyed immensely. It suffers badly from being a console title originally, though. There are no quick-saves or even mid-mission checkpoints, and missions can take over an hour to complete sometimes. Lose and you have to start over, and you don’t even get any XP for all that time you put into the fight. After replaying a difficult, 2 hour mission three or four times it reached a point where it was frustrating, not fun. I felt like I was wasting huge amounts of time and getting nothing for it.

Wolfenstein: New Order

A mediocre shooter that shouldn’t have tried to have so much story. I got to a part where I was supposed to search the rebel hideout for toys and it was like, “I signed up to shoot Nazis. This is not shooting Nazis.” /quits

Fallout: New Vegas w/ Nevada Skies

Tried to replay NV with the nice Nevada Skies mod (extra weather, improved skyboxes) and a few other tweaks like an upgraded texture pack. Unfortunately I played it pretty recently, too, recently, so it wasn’t so fun. Maybe I should do 3 instead? Or maybe just wait for 4. Nevada skies is cool, though, btw.

Batman: Arkham Knight

I’m actually one of the few people this clusterfuck of a game runs (mostly) playable for without *too* many bugs. Playable meaning that after an .ini tweak I learned from Borderlands 2 it stays between 30 and 45fps most of the time with no stuttering. I’m guessing my 760’s 4GB of vram is why I didn’t get the stuttering. Overall the game struck me as kinda “meh”, I actually like Origins more. And tbh Origins is a much prettier game. I am going to wait for some major patches before I jump back in again.

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

I want to be a princess, too :( Brilliant little platformer you should totally run out and get. However, some of the platforming at the end was a little too sadistic for me. *YouTube’s ending* (I have the hugest crush on Rottytops, just saying)

Diablo III

I’d say Kate Beckinsale should sue them for using her likeness, but the texture and model quality are so shitty it would be hard to prove. Anyway, after playing the Grim Dawn’s new Act I wanted more arpg and figured Diablo III had to be at least decent. Not so much imo. It’s obscenely easy on “Hard”, and in a weirdly unbalanced way. Enemies can barely scratch you, yet they are sponges for damage so the combat take *forever*. No problem, though, I can just import someone else’s New Game + save or tweak an .ini file, right? Nope, it’s always online because of course it is. They basically turned Diablo into a shitty MMO. And the story is cliché, the graphics are garbage, and the combat is unsatisfying. And yeah, I’m sure for arpg addicts who like replaying and grinding the game is great. But I shouldn’t have to play the entire game once for it to get good!

Sacred 2

I want to like this game so much. I love the visual design of the world, and I love the soundtrack. It’s still the prettiest arpg out there. But it’s almost too big for its own good, and a bit bland story-wise. My main issue, though, is that the camera is positioned in a way that there is very little room in front of your character -so you have a very small field of view in front of you. I suspect this is from it being made with 4:3 monitors in mind perhaps? It drives me nuts in any case.

Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assault On Dragon Keep

Finally got around to this. I should love it, but I think I am just burnt out of Borderlands :(

Pillars of Eternity

This game was a bit of a struggle. I loved the story, graphics, and soundtrack. But the combat is just awful. The need bigger collision boxes to keep characters/enemies far enough apart that you can tell what’s going on. Once combat starts you end up with the jumbled trainwreck you see above. The real killer that made me stop is that one of the big cities saw my framerate drop to 20fps. In a game that is 90% 2D. How is that even possible?! The Witcher 3 runs better than this game.

Portal Stories: Mel

Remember the big Portal mod that came out before this one that got all this critical acclaim, then we tried it and it was shit? Well this one is also shit. There, saved you some time.

The Witcher 3

Brilliant game that I’m not ready to play. I just can’t keep enough things straight at once to follow a world this huge and complex. Hopefully soon because it seems amazing.

Thank you for reading/viewing! Starting to think this blog should have been “a bunch of games I couldn’t finish and why”. Maybe I should write a blog about the issues I’ve been having and why it’s gotten in the way of blogging and gaming :/

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8:23 PM on 07.09.2015

Jinx's Big Dumb Screenshot Blog Part 2


PART 2!

Part One HERE!

Funny story, if you haven't put a subject in and press "save" the editor will wipe all your fucking work. Nice job on that, guys.

Divinity: Original Sin

Brilliant game that I never finished for some reason. So I decided to go back and do that. Then I’m greeted by a packed inventory screen and all sorts of stuff I didn’t remember how to do. Same problem with games that release DLC expansions 6 months later… I have no idea what I’m doing any more! Finish them now or just forget them.

Eurotruck Simulator

I heard this was a nice, relaxing game. Well, maybe it is if you are used to driving on the wrong side of the road. I was afraid if I played it more I might make mistakes trying to drive in real life...

Grim Dawn

The best ARPG I’ve played since Diablo II. Also the most satisfying combat. Just holy crap the exploding body parts and blood and explosions and effects. Diablo III and Path of Exile pale in comparison to this game imo.

Torchlight II

After finishing up through Act II in Grim Dawn (that was the end of the current content) I decided to retry Torchlight II. And I still don’t know why I can’t get into this game. I loved the original, and II is better than the original in every way. Yet I’m just not feeling it. Anyone else have this reaction?

Dirt 3

I’m not huge on non-combat racers but Dirt can be fun. I’m really bigger on Showdown, though. I know fans of the series hated it, but it was more for people like me who aren’t interested in simulation. I also *love* weather effects in games (I remember going nuts over the storm in the first level of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts) so when I saw the rain/snow effects I needed it (on sale for $5 anyway). Kinda want Project Cars for the same reason.

Oceanhorn

Beautiful, well-done mobile port. The Windwaker-esque style is cool, and the gameplay is a little like an isometric Zelda. It felt a too easy to me, though. Maybe I just needed to stick with it a little longer? It’s on my “get back to eventually” list (with so, so many other games).

Sine Mora

I was hoping this would be more in the vein of say Gradius, but it was a bit too bullet-hell for me. I mean, look at that shit. How is that fun?! (and yes, shmuppers, I know that's tame compared to some games)

Enslaved

Another gorgeous game messed up by a gross colored filter. I managed to compensate somewhat using SweetFX  and the game look so much better with the yellow filtered back out. Unfortunately the game itself isn’t that good. Totally linear with crappy gameplay. So much trial and error, and it was *very* inconsistent in terms of where it would or would not let you go. This is a 3D platformer that won’t let you fall off platforms because it’s so controlling. And the game had so much potential. At least the incredible concept art is still out there to enjoy.

Crimzon Clover

A bullet-hell shooter but for some reason I didn’t mind it. Maybe because it’s you unleashing a lot of the hell. And it’s very forgiving. Oh, and infinite continues, yes that was nice lol.

Bloodrayne: Betrayal

Like Enslaved, a game with wonderful art direction that’s let down by crappy gameplay. There is no difficulty curse, the game’s initial difficulty is like running face first into a brick wall. It makes it frustrating and unsatisfying. *sigh*

Axiom Verge

Hell yeah, a game on this list I can be genuinely excited about. If you like 2D platformers and/or metroidvanias you need this game in your life. The cool music and beautiful pixel art are complemented by some great gameplay. Also, dat parallax scrolling.

Lego Worlds

Got this on a whim. It’s fun to explore for a while, and the procedural generation creates some beautiful areas. The problem is, that’s about all there is now. The different “biomes” aren’t connected in any logical way, and vehicles are just randomly laying around. There is really no point. (I think you can build stuff, but I couldn’t be arsed to figure it out.)  That said, I *do* think it’s going to be a great game – eventually. As it is, I played for 2 hours, got bored, and requested a refund.

Come back soon for the exciting conclusion!

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7:28 PM on 07.08.2015

Jinx's Big Dumb Screenshot Blog Part 1


PART ONE!

I did a “week in screenshots” blog a while back and thought it might be fun to do something similar again and spark some discussion. Except it’s been six months so I have a lot more games to go through! So this will be three-parts, one game/screenshot per day.

I tend to go through a lot of different games, in different genres, and many of these are more like brief impressions. The main reason for this kind of blog, though, is that I’m still having some cognitive issues. More elaborate blogs are difficult to put together right now, but having some small blurbs to write is doable. It’s also why I’ve not finished so many games (I finished almost nothing on this list).

These are vaguely in chronological order starting from last November. Click a screenshot for the full-sized version of it.

Unreal Tournament 3

So you’re thinking “why is he playing that game?!” Well, for one it’s a great game. For two, there is something called foxMod that lets you easily play it with four-player split-screen. For three, a friend had a 52” 4K television. So… UT3 four-player split-screen at 4K. Each player with their own full 1080p viewing area. It was… amazing. Best split-screen FPS gaming since freaking Goldeneye for me. Once my head is more clear I’ll put together a blog about it, probably with a bundle of excellent custom maps to play and my SweetFX settings (to clear the ugly brown filter UT3 has). Side note: UT4 will apparently have split-screen built in as a feature.

NekoPara

I tried the demo for this because a friend on Steam wouldn’t stop talking about it. Uh. So yeah. Yeah. They’re cats. Not girls. That makes it not rapey, right?

Quest of Dungeons

I played this a lot on both my Note 3 and my PC. There are some major issues with the game (95% of the decent loot is in huge loot caches rather than distributed decently) but it’s a lot of fun if you want a little roguelike. Can’t imagine playing on a smaller phone than the Note, though (5.7”).

Devil May Cry

At 4K even! A couple things about 4K gaming. A) If you want to test performance at 4K or get screenshots at 4K just use Nvidia DSR or the AMD equivalent to downsample from that to 1080p. B) Many “last-gen” games run decent at 4K, if not always perfect. Ambient occlusion is often the killer for me (I think it scales with res). If you can disable or turn that down (and obviously disable AA) you are often good. DMC runs well for me at 4K (GTX 760), and looks really pretty. If you are downsampling to 1080p, though, anything over 1440p is probably not going to be noticeable.

Defense Grid 2

Once you figure out what is probably the worst freaking menu system ever it’s a pretty good game. At first. The gameplay is great, and basically just more Defense Grid
Castle In The Darkness

I should have loved this. I mean, it’s by Nicalis and it’s a 2D platformer. That should be my *thing*. Unfortunately a decent platformer is ruined by constant, awful, unfunny references to Zelda and pop-culture stuff. The game is constantly taking you out of its own world with these references, it’s seriously *that bad*. Oh well.

Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

I enjoyed this for quite a while, but it finally became apparent that it wasn’t going anywhere gameplay wise. You go from one hub to the next, get the one set of upgrades for each character, rinse and repeat. What’s the point of upgrades if they just do more damage and you only get one choice? The gameplay and fights are interesting but never really evolve much. The story is very nice, but the gameplay isn't good enough to compliment it.

Besiege

Absolutely brilliant indie game that I am absolutely terrible at. And after that Kotaku article showing all the amazing dicks people had made I found myself feeling… inadequate.

Starbound (Giraffe update)

I was looking forward to this update so much but… it sucked. Now it starts with a bunch of stupid, linear quests. But the worst part is the Outpost. There is a gate to it in every single star system… so it feels like you are never going anywhere. The sense of being lost and alone in a hostile galaxy, of survival and exploration, is gone. No matter where you go, there you are, a jump away from the Outpost. You don’t even have to eat any more. Really glad I saved my installs of the old versions. Hopefully things get turned around eventually, or a “survival mode” similar to the Koala beta is reintroduced via update or mod.

Survarium

I have played the crap out of this game yet I'm loathe to recommend it to anyone. The world building is wonderful, and the beautiful maps tell a lot of the game’s backstory through setting. And the style, the faction system, and general gameplay are interesting. Ultimately, though, it's mostly just Stalker Counter-Strike with micro-transactions and bad servers at the moment. Suggest trying it if that sounds interesting, checking back later if not. They are supposed to add a bigger "free play" mode (think DayZ+Stalker) but that's still forever off :/

Road Redemption

The game is fun, and it’s gotten better (and more optimized for sure) since this screenshot was taken. But it still feels very sloppy, floaty, erratic, and half-baked. I don’t see much changing this far into development. Get it for $5 on sale some time. Oh, it has four-player split-screen, though, so if you can play that definitely get it.

Far Cry 3

I finally got around to this, and I was really looking forward to it. But I couldn’t help but constantly compare it to Just Cause 2. It feels like a half-baked first-person Just Cause 2. And I was constantly thinking “I’d rather be playing Just Cause 2”.

And that's Part 1! Check out Part 2 HERE! :D

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8:34 PM on 06.04.2015

The Success of Nintendo’s Wii 2 – A Retrospective

A crash in Wii software sales led Nintendo to need a new console a full year before Sony and Microsoft’s new hardware releases. While this was an awkward situation, it was also an advantage for Nintendo. After seven years the 360 and PS3 were showing their age badly, leaving gamers ready to splurge on something exciting. Nintendo won over those early adopters, and later won the race, by learning from their past mistakes and successes.

The core lesson Nintendo heeded goes clear back to the 8-bit console generation. Their main competitor then was Sega. The Sega Master System was generally considered more powerful than the Nintendo Entertainment System, and Sega had the advantage of IPs known through their arcade games. Yet Nintendo won that war, and not just through their own titles. They won it because the NES had amazing third party support. The number of quality titles released for the NES was astounding, and there was always something around the corner to keep gamers excited. The lesson of the NES and SNES was that when it comes to selling consoles, one thing is important above all else: software support.

Nintendo also learned a couple lessons from the N64’s mediocre showing. The first: they can’t support an entire console on their own. Even with considerable help from Rare, the N64’s poor third-party support hurt it badly. The second: third-party support is partially linked to hardware. The N64 lost major developers like Square because the N64 didn’t have a CD-ROM and couldn’t run their new games. The Wii had similar problems. It just wasn’t capable of running the same games as the 360/PS3.


That’s something Nintendo finally realized when developing the Wii 2 – it had become a cross-platform world. Most games, the bulk of any gamer’s diet, were available across two or three platforms. So if Nintendo wanted good third-party support, the Wii 2 had to be capable of running the same games as Microsoft and Sony’s upcoming systems. Initial plans for the Wii 2 involved a touch-screen “GamePad” that would have added two-screen functionality similar to the DS/3DS. Rather than spend resources on a gadget of questionable value, though, Nintendo went with a moderately powerful system that they estimated would be able to run “next gen” games well at 720p. Instead of the GamePad, Nintendo went with a “pro” controller similar to PS3/360 controllers. That way they would have a comparable button layout for cross-platform games. Nintendo also moved to match the PS3/360 in general hardware and functionality. The Wii 2 would have comparable online features, if a bit streamlined, and a 250GB internal hard drive as well as support for external storage. That was enough for DLC, patches, and some smaller download titles. Bluray support was added as well – rather than proprietary discs – allowing for comparable game sizes and movie playback.


Nintendo didn’t stop there, though. To win over developers the system needed to be inviting and easy to work with. With that in mind they switched to a PC-like x86 architecture. They weren’t sure where Sony and Microsoft were going with their hardware, but many games were released on PC so x86 would create an environment less intimidating to developers. They also worked directly with engine developers, making sure that Unity, Unreal, and others were natively supported by the Wii 2. They kept the system's learning curve low, assuring quick development and good optimization from the start.

But a side-effect of the cross-platform world – and being the underdog – was that Nintendo couldn’t just take a “build it and they will come” approach to the system. They needed to go out and court developers and publishers directly. Unlike the 80s and 90s, where Japan had dominated console game development, Western developers were now the backbone of the industry. Given their communication problems during the Wii’s lifetime (some linguistic, some cultural), Nintendo of America was expanded. Communication with Western developers was handled primarily via Nintendo’s Western staff, assuring good cooperation and support. Some of these new staff members were specifically assigned to court developers and publishers, locking down titles to be ready within the system’s launch window. Indie developers were also part of Nintendo’s plan. The nostalgic style of titles such as Axiom Verge and Shovel Knight were a perfect fit for a Nintendo system.


The final factor in the Wii 2’s success was launching with a true “system seller” pack-in – Super Mario 3D World. Inspired heavily by Mario 64’s larger areas, SM3DW took that a step farther with sprawling, non-linear levels that invited exploration and discovery. A focused, single-player experience, it was a true “next-gen” Mario game that expanded the scale of the series and had more content and gameplay than most RPGs. While the Wii 2’s initial launch price was high – $400 – the game was so amazing that many were willing to buy the hardware for it alone.

Nintendo’s real battle would begin a year later, though, with the release of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. While both consoles launched with a few exclusives, none of those titles had much character. More first-person shooters, more zombie killing, more quick-time events, and, well, that awful Knack game. Meanwhile the Wii 2 already had a year’s worth of similar “next-gen” quality releases. The master stroke, though: Nintendo’s announcement of a new Wii 2 SKU launching at $350 and including Super Mario 3D World. By undercutting its competitors’ prices, and offering a pack-in that won scores of Game of the Year awards, Nintendo dominated the holidays and spoiled its competitors’ launches.


The success of the Wii 2 from that point on was mostly a matter of releasing more great software. It could be argued, really, that all Nintendo had done was achieve parity with the core software support that Microsoft and Sony already had during the PS3/360/Wii cycle. Most games released on three or four platforms during the Wii 2’s run, and each console had a relatively small number of exclusives to set them apart. But that was all Nintendo needed. Their first-party game selection had always been great. By making those exclusives the only deciding factor between systems, they gained a decisive advantage. And with that Nintendo finally became worthy of being called “The Big N” again.

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11:59 PM on 11.08.2014

Jinx's Most Wanted Games of 2015

Hoffman did a cblog a couple days ago about what upcoming games he was looking forward to. A lot of us responded with our lists as well, but I figured it might be fun to double-check mine and share it in little more detail. So I present to you my most anticipated games of 2015 - now with pix and links (and Links!). Most are multi-platform or PC. Not all of these will make it out in 2015, and some are already available in beta/alpha form. So this is all approximate...

A.N.N.E.

I backed this on Kickstarter. Glorious pixel graphics, and a mix of platforming and shmup. <3

Batman Arkham Knight

Looking forward to this not just for the gameplay, but some incredible visuals like Origins.

Defender's Quest 2

The first game is my favorite tower defense game ever. Want this so bad.

DOOM 4

Still mad they never made the QuakeCon preview public. Probably won't be till 2016 but whatevs.

Grand Theft Auto V

I never liked GTA much, I am more a Saints Row or Just Cause guy. But this... so pretty...

A Hat In Time

Still a rough alpha, but this is looking like a true N64-style platformer. Do want.

Hellraid

Look at that, what do I even need to say?

Legend of Iya

Another platformer with pixel graphics that I backed on Kickstarter... just shut up, you.

Killing Floor 2

Because I love gore in games, and KF2 has a whole system for it.

Pillars of Eternity

So pretty...

Road Redemption

More or less a 2014 version of Road Rash. Hell yeah.

Secrets of Grindea

A bit like the old NES/SNES Zeldas, but bigger and more complex. Please be good.

Starbound

Updates to the beta have been slow, but a big one is coming soon...

Survarium

So much potential here. The beta is just PvP and I have put a ton of time into just that.

Vector Thrust

Looks like Afterburner, but cell-shaded and more complex. Gimme.

The Witcher 3

Looking amazing.

Woolfe

A 2.5D, Alice-ish platformer. The alpha is already very good.

Zelda U

Yeah, I'm going to have to buy a freaking Wii U. Screw you all >.<

I really want a Fallout 4 or Metroid U announcement, too. Just let us know they exist! What surprised me most about this list is how many were either PC exclusive or "PC first" releases. I guess I'm on the right platform for me.



I feel like 2015 will be a better year for gaming than 2014. With new-gen consoles entering their second or third year, we should finally see some games that were really designed for their hardware. Plus, the fruit of Kickstarter will continue to blossom, giving us a lot of great smaller games to fill the time between big releases. It's going to be a great year :)

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3:12 PM on 11.04.2014

Jinx's Week In Screenshots

I take a lot of screenshots, so I thought it might make for an interesting kind of blog to cover what I've been playing visually. With plenty of commentary, of course, and lots of relevant links in case anything catches your eye. So here's what I've been playing this last week or so. Most images are linked to their original, full-resolution versions.

X-Wing. I remember this game from back in the late 90s in undergrad. I didn't have a PC then, but my friend TJ did, and that's where I got to see Doom, Master of Orion, and X-Wing for the first time. I didn't get to play X-Wing much, but I remembered it being cool, so I snagged it immediately from GoG when it was released (you can get Tie Fighter as well). And it is cool, but it's also flawed in a lot of ways. The main issue is the difficultly. There is no "curve" where the game slowly gets harder, it's just random. Worse, many of the difficult missions still rely on luck in terms of how things turn out with the AI allies and enemies. Pretty annoying when missions might take a good 20 minutes to complete. I don't mind hard games, but X-Wing is just frustrating. Yet I still keep playing it, so it must be doing something right.


"Escort Mission: The Game". (more shots)

Epic Mickey 2. I was really thrilled when I saw this show up on Steam. I thought it had been canceled, but apparently it got a tiny retail release a few places. It has a lot of technical issues - it hates my CPU so I am just going to wait till I upgrade to play. It looks okay, though, and there are so few N64-style platformers that I'll take what I can get.


Pretty game, but it hates hexacore processors and is locked at 30fps.

A Hat In Time. Speaking of N64-style 3D platformers... here comes one with the potential to be great. It's only in the alpha stage, but I'm digging the visual style, music, and initial levels. You can buy into the alpha (via Steam) on their website, though it's a lot more expensive than just preordering. I spent the extra cash because I just had to check it out.


This level reminds me of Mario 64, but on a bigger scale (more shots).

Castle of Illusion. Back to pretty good Mickey games, I picked this up on Android. I have the PC version, and I was expecting this to be cut down. Nope. It's the same exact game, and it looks beautiful on my Note 3's 5.7" screen. The controls are actually half-decent, too. It's still rather play on PC or console, but if you want a higher end game for on the go this is a good choice.


Great platformer, and a real treat if you are a fan of the original 16-bit version.

 Freedom Planet. Another great platformer! White it's inspired a lot by the 16-bit Sonic games, it also has shades of Rocket Knight and feels more like an evolution or spinoff than a copy of Sonic. The visuals are beautiful, and even better if you add scanlines. The music is great and sounds like it could easily have come from a 16-bit platformer. If you like classic Sonic and/or 2D platformers you should look into this one.


I really don't know why this game hasn't gotten more attention (more shots).

 Blazerush. I don't even remember why I bought this game but holy crap am I having fun with it. Just silly racing fun with weapons and knocking people off the track and lots of play modes. I haven't gotten to try the multiplayer (online and 4-player local) but I can imagine it would be a blast. If you have a controller and just want to sit back and have some goofy fun it's a great game for it.


A frantic and crazy game, hard to capture in a still image (more shots).

Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries. I've been following this for a while, and they just released a demo for Halloween. It's a truly "2.5D" game, in that while the camera is set, and gameplay is mostly 2D, you can go into for the foreground and background sometimes. The demo has three very different levels and they were pretty enjoyable. Definitely one to watch if you like platformers and/or the Alice games.


This part is more 3D, letting you go into the background Double Dragon style (more shots).

Evolve (alpha). I played a little. It was kind of "meh". It's kind of like fighting a boss monster, but with no level beforehand to build up tension, no worrying about conserving supplies for the upcoming battle, no foreplay. I really don't see how this concept can carry a whole $60 game. And I have a feeling, like Titanfall, it will launch light on content then expect you to buy the season pass to fill it out. No thanks.


I only played a couple rounds. But that's because I got bored.

What's next? Well, I'm really looking forward to Valkyria Chronicles next week - I don't have a PS3 so it's new to me! I'm passing on most full-priced AAA titles this winter, though. Too much backlog, I can't justify spending $50 on a new game when I have equally good stuff I haven't even gotten to yet. I think I'd rather save for a big HDTV or maybe a 1440p monitor anyway. Hmmmm...

See you next week maybe? If people think this is fun they should try it, too. Either weekly, or just do a best-of blog with your favorite shots. Screenshots are a good way to share our gaming experiences, but a lot of them just sit around in our profiles unenjoyed.


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12:03 AM on 09.04.2014

Time For Some Humor I Think

(HIGH BANDWIDTH BLOG, avoid if you aren't on wifi!) I'm having stress issues, so rather than commenting on the latest drama I decided to put together another compilation of my goofy memes, images, screenshots, etc. Yeah, I'm probably not as funny as I think I am, but hopefully people will gets some chuckles from these and maybe we can all de-stress a bit together. I provided a little commentary on most of them, just so I don't look too lazy...


I started making Jem memes for another blog I didn't finish... I'm at 60...


Eat a dick, Microsoft.


And this is why you don't buy Day 1.


Motherf*cking bears, man.


Pretty much what's happening.


An exaggeration, but it sure ain't the 80s no more.


Something about the word "monetize" infuriates me.


So yeah this is probably my fave. I love Dog.


"Deleted scene" from my Squeenix Tomb Raider article.


Made this for my blog giving Squeenix hell for selling out to MS.


I forget the occasion. So many it could have been...


Coming full circle back to R.O.B. amiright?


I like any piece of hardware that looks like it will give me cancer.


PCGMR FTW bitches!


Me when I have to use a console.


Well this was unfortunately prophetic :(


Was gonna do a series of these with a car called "Burnout Bob". I'm glad I didn't, too.


Eh.


Steam has finally been noticed by Japanese developers it seems.


PS+ sits oddly in the middle, but I won't argue that it isn't a great deal.


Not sure why Nintendo gets a pass on everything lately. They used to be the big evil corporation that ran everything!


Me when I bash the Wii U...


Don't forget the pre-order bonuses you'll miss out on if you don't buy blindly before reviews are out. Sketchy as fuck, this industry.


Or I can Force choke you. Whatever works.


Almost posted this on the Kuro review. I saved it just for you guys.


Can't remember what Japanimation game this was for, but teasing weeboos about being peedoos is funny.


I'm pretty patient but yeah this shit is getting ridiculous.


Went through this awful phase last Fall where all I wanted to play was Triple Town...


Luigi, out-death-stared.


Or I have so much I can't decide, I really don't know.


My controller concept for Ryse and other QTE games.


Well it sorta fits.



STEAM SALE TIME, BITCHES


Ugh why did I do this.


Wizard of Oz and 60s Spiderman. I don't even.


This would be the end of us all...


IT'S A TRAP!

OTHER STUFF MAYBE INTERESTING OR NOT WHATEVER MAN


Google had a playable logo, I think for the Roswell incident. Notice the similarity to E.T.?


My friend's girlfriend made him this. Pretty sweet.


Response to someone, not so funny out of context...


I played Shadowrun Returns with an infinite zoom hack and noticed this couch... stuff from Half-Life, Borderlands, Doctor Who...


Went in to change during a defense mission and got interrupted in the changing room lol


More like #juststalkerthings


Nice side-article placement, Dtoid!


Unfortunately this vending machine in Borderlands 2 does not, in fact, dispense boobs.


Speaking of boobs...


Pay attention to the mission names in X-COM, there are some good ones.


Me at the goth club...


My bank statement from a year ago... notice a pattern?


It's tough but you can set up a third-person view in Borderlands 2!


So I DJ at goth-industrial clubs sometimes. Made this custom collar inspired by Gaige's from Borderlands 2.


When I was surfing for images to make custom grid images in Steam for Deadpool I found the *original* art from this scene. If you look close you can see just how badly they photoshopped clothing on them. But their bras are still hanging on the wall behind them lol


I'm a smart ass...


*strokes his PC*


So yeah. That's all, folks. Hope at least a couple of those weren't awful. If you did enjoy them, I did another entire blog of these a while back.

I will not be responsible for any terrible side-effects looking at this blog might have on you.

  read


12:53 PM on 08.30.2014

Steam Grid View - Making and Using Custom Images

The Joy of Steam's Grid View


I made several for this game... and I don't even own it yet.

*UPDATE* 7/25/15 - I now have my own website for these: Jinx's Steam Grid View Images.

For years I neglected the "grid" view in Steam � I preferred the "detail" view because it seemed easier to navigate. Last winter, though, I decided to try the grid view as a way to limit what games I had in front of me at any given time so I could focus on finishing them. The easiest way to do this is just to create a set of Favorites and switch to grid view. You can also select to show any category in grid view now, which is a huge improvement � it used to just be "all" or "favorites".

Grid view is easy to tweak in terms of scaling the tiles to show more or fewer games at once, and you can easily toggle between grid, detail, and list view as needed (all in the upper right hand corner). Part of the reason I'd avoided grid view before was because I felt it didn't show enough games on screen at once. But even at a medium sized scale it shows a lot more games than the "list" view, though not as many as the "detail" view. So you actually aren't giving up much.


When I got in on the Survarium beta the first thing I did was add it to Steam.

What are you gaining? Well, for one you're actually using most of your screen, rather than having 80% of it basically blank while you squint at a tiny list over on the far left. Second, you are getting a way to really appreciate your library visually. Having your games in grid view is the virtual equivalent of having them on your shelf � except it's prettier because it's like having all the box art facing out.

Well, in theory it's prettier. The problem is that some Steam games have mediocre images for the tile view. Moreover, any non-Steam games or emulators you add to your library will not have an image at all and just show the icon instead. You should also know that these are the same images that get displayed in Big Picture Mode. If you are using that interface, replacing ugly or broken images is especially important.


Making images for NES games is tough because all the box art is vertical.

Luckily there are a few sites like the Steam Banners Booru which have custom grid images uploaded and cataloged. If a game has a poor or missing image in Steam you will probably find one, and maybe some neat alternates to use as well. Even if the default image for a game is nice, I may change it out sometimes to keep my library looking fresh. You can also upload your own custom images to that site, which is what I do with mine. And that, of course, is the other option � simply make your own images!


Making Custom Images for Grid View


Original image from the art book. Crop, add logo, pow you're done.

The key to making custom images is finding good art to work with. This can be difficult because the art for most games was designed for vertical boxes, making is awkward to use in a horizontal layout. I typically use Google Image Search to find images to use, just downloading anything potentially useful into a folder to tinker with later. In addition to the game's name, you may also want to add in keywords such as:

"steam grid image" or "steam banner" - Hey, someone else may have already made one that's good! You might also limit your search to 460x215px images under advanced options (the size of grid images).
"box art" - This can narrow it down a bit, getting you more art and less screenshots.
"art" - Sometimes you can find stand-alone versions of the box art (no logos etc) uploaded by fans or the artists themselves. Invaluable and very cool if you are a fan.
"logo" - Finding a stand-alone version of a game's logo is great, because it gives you far more layout options. It also saves the grueling work of cutting a logo out of the box art. You can often find .png files that already have a transparent background � those are very useful!
"manual" � Sometimes scans of game manuals have different art, or the box art without logos etc. plastered all over it.
"wallpaper" � Both official and fan wallpapers can be a good resource, especially since wallpapers are often in a letterboxed layout. You might just need to resize and crop it to make a tile!
"arcade" or "cabinet" � If it is an arcade game, or a port of one, sometimes the original cabinet art can be a great way to go.

Screenshots can be another source of imagery � either online, or from your own collection. For Saint's Row: The Third I took a screenshot of my custom character, then cropped it and added the logo. And my current Skyrim image is from a screenshot I took in my (modded) game.


This was made from one of my favorite screenshots.

I would like to make a more detailed tutorial, but that's difficult because everyone uses different image software � and it would require a crash course in image editing. I use an ancient copy of Photoshop 7, but GIMP (link) should provide everything you need. If you have some experience with basic image editing, it shouldn't be too hard to pick up. A few basic things you need to know:

* Grid Images are 460x215, though larger variants (same aspect ratio) of that seem to work.
* You can use .jpg or .png format. I suggest .png as you don't lose quality that way.
* Try to find a .png version of the game logo with a transparency. It increases your options because you can paste it on any artwork as a layer and arrange it as you like.
* To make a logo/text stand out, try using "outer glow"� but instead of a white glow, set it to "normal" render mode and use black. This can help the text stay visible by darkening the background around it, and is a lot more subtle than a bright glow.

Even if you don't have much image editing experience, you can sometimes just take a wallpaper and resize/crop it � not too hard to do in GIMP.


Enjoy That Library


A sample from my library with a lot of my custom images.

Overall, Grid View can be a great way of both browsing and displaying your PC game library. Custom images are crucial to keeping things looking nice, though especially if you add your non-Steam games like I do. So once you've weeded out the duds into the new "Hidden" category, run through your library to add or update your images and make your library look the best it can.

One last thing � I love making these, so if you have some you can't find on the Steam Banners Booru, let me know in the comments and I'll try to make one for you!


In case you're playing the pre-alpha of the new Unreal Tournament...

  read


5:59 PM on 08.18.2014

Square Enix - Sellout Sh*tbags



It was revealed this week that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be coming "exclusively" to the Xbox One. I put that in quotes because the phrasing of the announcement left it open for the game to release later on other platforms. Will it? Who fucking knows. I suspect a late PC release is, at the least, very likely. Harder to say with the PS4, based on Dead Rising 3 and Ryse. You won't get a straight answer from anyone involved, in any case. That would be too courteous.

Even if we ignore the series long history as a multi-platform title, the whole situation is a big "fuck you" to the fans who across five platforms made the 2013 reboot successful. It isnt just a matter of what is happening, either. Exclusives are fairly common. Its more the situation surrounding it, and Square Enix and Microsofts inadequate reassurances to frustrated fans.

That's what I want to talk about here. Why is this situation different from other "console exclusives"? How have Square Enix and Microsoft made things worse? The outrage might seem over the top, with no one involved able to make so much as a Facebook post without receiving an onslaught of replies from angry fans. But I think the outrage is justified, and both Square Enix and Microsoft deserve every damn bit of the hell they are getting.


Precedents and Expectations


Part of what made this so bad for fans is that it came out of left field. I see some apologists saying this is "just another exclusive", but that's just not true. Rise of the Tomb Raider is the immediate sequel to a game that was on other platforms. It is not from a studio or IP owned by Microsoft. When Rise of the Tomb Raider was announced everyone was right to assume it would be cross-platform, or at least show up on the PS4/One/PC if it wasn't feasible on the PS3/360.

Speaking of cross-platform, let's not forget that earlier this year Square Enix released the Definitive Edition of the first game on PS4/One encouraging people who bought it on PS3/360 as well to repurchase it. I think if someone bought the original game twice its not too much for them to expect the immediate sequel to be available to them as well.

And finally its 2014, people. Its a multiplatform world. Theres a good piece over on Eurogamer about what a backwards move this was by Square Enix. I guess its our fault for assuming they were with the times.


The Story Factor


Part of the issue here, though, is somewhat unique to Tomb Raider. The reboot was a gritty, personal game about the brutal experiences which forged Lara into the woman she is. It was a story-driven game which left fans with an emotional investment in Lara's fate. The immediate response of fans to the sequel was excitement. Finally, we would get to see Lara's story continue! Then a few months later we were informed that if we didn't own a One we were shit out of luck.

In what other media does this kind of bullshit happen?!

Can you imagine reading an amazing book then being told you weren't allowed to read the sequel unless you bought a $400 book light? Or if the next season of your favorite TV show was suddenly only viewable if you had Time Warner? What if you could only get in to see Avengers: Age of Ultron if you had an iPhone? Only in the game industry does this kind of bullshit fly. And speaking of flying bullshit


The PR Bullshit Nightmare


The most utterly in-fucking-furiating thing about this situation is how it has been handled by the parties involved. There have been statements from Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics, but both ignore the two questions everyone is asking:

"Will Rise of the Tomb Raider be released on other platforms?"
"If so, how long will we have to wait?"

Microsoft shoves the question off to Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics, saying that they have nothing to do with whether it is released on other platforms after the exclusivity is up. But Crystal Dynamics will not clarify any of this either. I suspect part of the "deal" was that both the length of exclusivity and other platforms remain undisclosed until after the One gets its sales boost from the "exclusive" release.

The whole tone from both camps has been both condescending and evasive. We know the game will probably come out for other platforms, just fucking tell us already. Nobody likes to have these kind of bullshit PR games played with them, especially when it comes to something they care about.

The worst to me is actually Crystal Dynamics. They actually have the nerve to say that they aren't "walking away from our fans who only play on Playstation or on PC." That is the goddamn definition of what you are doing you lying assholes. These guys are literally sell-outs, having taken Microsoft's money to deny a huge percentage of their fans access to this game.

So yeah. Fuck these guys.


It's Just Business! It's Nothing Personal!


This is what the apologists are saying. It's "just business". We have no right to be angry, after all it's nothing "personal".

But isn't it? These companies lure us into making an emotional investment in their products. They encourage us to form an attachment to characters like Lara. Hell, they spend millions in marketing to make it personal. Yet when they screw us over, we're supposed to suddenly turn that off? We're expected to be loyal fans and customers, but to expect no loyalty in return from these companies? What kind of sick fucking relationship is this? One it's time to get out of, that's what kind.

So here's the deal. I'm going to be passing on Temple of Osiris this Fall I think. And if Rise of the Tomb Raider does come out on PC? Yeah, I'll wait for it to be $10 in a Steam sale. I'm not paying $60 for a game that isn't new.

Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics have not shown any loyalty to me as a fan. Why should I show them any loyalty as a customer?

Don't get mad, guys. It's nothing personal.   read


8:07 PM on 05.20.2014

Transistor - Custom Images For Steam Grid View

I made a batch of custom images to use in the larger Steam grid view for Transistor. The default image is okay, but not terribly exciting:



To use a custom image for a game in the large grid view, just right-click on it and select "Set Custom Image" to pick the one you want to use from your PC. You can always remove it (pick "Remove Custom Image") and Steam will automatically go back to the default.

Anyway, here goes:


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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.


I've been making a lot of custom images lately, including some for Survarium, Stalker: Lost Alpha, and even some NES classics. I've uploaded most of my work to the Steam Banners website to share. You can check out my work there, as well as find a ton of custom images for your games.

I've been planning a blog on making and using these in general, life has just been a bit of a mess since last summer. It's definitely refreshing to use some nicer images, though, or even just to change them around to keep your library looking fresh. In parting, here's a glance at what part of my library looks like right now, with quite a few custom images in use:


(click to enlarge)   read


8:19 PM on 09.29.2013

The Steam Controller: Shut Up and Listen



Since the announcement of the Steam Controller last Friday, I don't think I've seen so many otherwise intelligent people say so many ignorant things. Just look at this moron. While I'm sympathetic to having a negative gut reaction when faced with something different, most concerns or complaints people have expressed are directly addressed on Valve's announcement page. The rest are mostly unfounded if you take a minute to think about how the controller works, or look at a picture of it with your brain on.

Valve also showed the controller to a number of developers, and their response was overall quite positive impressive considering this is still a prototype. I highly recommend reading the detailed blog by Tommy Refenes of Team Meat about using the controller. It gives you a good sense of what it feels like to use it. There's also an article on Kotaku detailing other developers' reactions to the controller. I'll be quoting both below.

Anyway, I'm just going to go through the things I've seen people say and explain why they are, you know, wrong. And don't be afraid of change, people. That wouldn't be... wise...



"This is just another annoying gimmick like motion controls!"

Nooooope. This is not "innovation for innovation's sake" like the Kinect or Wii U GamePad. The Steam Controller was developed for a reason, to address a specific problem: "How can we make games that traditionally require a keyboard and mouse easily playable on the couch?" While the Steam Controller's functionality surpasses that primary goal, and may offer new ways to play and enjoy games, it has a reason to exist. They same can't be said of most other controller "innovations".


"But I'd have to take my thumbs off the trackpads to press the buttons!"

Really? You're right, that's different from the 360 controller, where you can easily press XYAB without your thumbs leaving the analog sticks.



I mean, you know, if you have a third thumb or something. You circus freak.

But no, let's not stop there. Let's address this whole supposed "button issue". Because people seem to have forgotten how to count.

On a 360 controller you can access 6 buttons without your thumbs leaving the analog controls, assuming you count the wonky analog stick-buttons.



Well HOLY FRICKIN' MATH, BATMAN, you can actually press more buttons on the Steam Controller!



Note that I labeled the right analog pad "8+" because it can be dynamically changed to emulate several buttons when needed.

To be fair, Valve really shouldn't have labeled those central buttons "XYAB" on the prototype, as they aren't meant to fulfill the same functions as the buttons by the same name on a 360 controller. I think that's throwing people off.

Ignoring those, though, the thing actually has a ton of buttons you can press without having your thumbs leave the trackpads. It addition to the two top buttons/triggers there are two underneath you can access, kind of like the Z button on the N64 controller. Moreover, the trackpads themselves are buttons, and I suspect it would be easier to press them without issue than analog-stick buttons. By altering the magnetic field they can even make the touchpads themselves function as multiple buttons. In other words, where your thumb is when you press down would signify a different virtual button. You could "feel" each button by changes in the magnetic field across the pad. And yes, developers who tried it say that works quite well. Well enough to play Super Meatboy and Spelunky.


"But this is just like using a touch-screen in a cell-phone game, there's no tactile or sensory feedback!"



Okay. Let's start with the basics. Look at the controller. No, seriously, stop what you're doing, and look it with your freaking eyeballs. Each pad is circular and concave. So they are already way more tactile than the annoying, slippery "virtual" pads on a cellphone screen. Each pad also has a series of raised concentric circles to better give you a sense of depth. Finally, the haptic feedback can create sensations based on your thumb's location, providing customizable feedback that can change depending on the game and situation. Refenes suggested that they add more "regular" tactile feedback to the pad (maybe a nub in the center or at up-down-left-right), and that's among the things Valve is already considering.


"But this isn't going to be as accurate as an analog stick!"

No, it's going to be more accurate, though somewhat shy of mouse accuracy. One indie developer described it, compared to a standard controller, as "much more precise for (say) anything WASD+mouselook." So, as Valve suggests on their announcement page, the controller should give you FPS accuracy and speed superior to a standard controller, albeit still shy of a gaming mouse.


"But this will be horrible for games I play with a D-Pad!"



It wasn't designed with those games in mind, but signs actually point to it being just fine. According to Refenes of Team Meat, "I was able to play Meat Boy the way Meat Boy can be played on an advanced level." He also found it fine with Spelunky. And Team Meat well, if anyone knows platformers, it's them. The jury is still out on how it will work with fighting games, but I can actually see it being great for circular movements.

In any case, nobody is taking away your old controllers. A lot of us already have multiple controllers for different types of games, like special pads/sticks for fighting games. This one is more for using the SteamOS UI and keyboard-mouse style PC games.


"But why come up with a new controller when the current ones are just fine?"

They are just fine for many kinds of games. But, as I stated above, they aren't designed for complex keyboard-mouse titles. Moreover, for certain genres like FPS games the Steam Controller is potentially superior.


"But I don't want to use it because ________!"

Then don't freaking use it. Your 360 controller and keyboard-mouse setups will still work fine. Valve specifically states that the new controller is not meant to replace them. Maybe you should take some time away from gaming to improve your reading comprehension skills?


So Anyway



One last thing. It's just a freaking prototype. Based on player feedback and the hardware beta they could end up adding a D-pad, swapping one of the touchpads for an analog stick, or making any number of other changes before release. Hell, during the developer demonstration one of the Valve employees tweaked the firmware on the fly at someone's request. Can you imagine Sony or Microsoft involving the community in the development process like this? No. Freaking. Way.

And, everything else aside, it's going to be hard to judge this thing one way or the other until more of us get our hands on it. Putting your thumbs into dynamic magnetic fields sounds pretty crazy... and I can't wait to freaking try it out.


- Jinx

PS: I'm moving to reserve recapper for now. That way I have more time to harass you all with my regular blog posts. Aren't you lucky?   read


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