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10:46 AM on 09.19.2012

European WiiU prices and how my motivation for buying this console died.

I have been a Nintendo fan for as long as I can remember playing video games. My first console was a SNES,and since then I got all of Nintendo's home consoles except the Virtual Boy. Personally I preferred the old Nintendo,the one who focused on providing beefier hardware,but that's just me.
So I wasn't so satisfied for the Wii,but so many years later it matured,and my view for it matured too.
Up until recently I was excited and I could say interested in WiiU,but now I don't think I'll be buying.
Or at least until later on,after the other new consoles have come out and I've seen what they can do, their prices,and a possible price drop on WiiU.

You see while I always liked Nintendo's own games like Mario and Zelda,and Metroid,and I'm their fan, Wii couldn't fulfill my gaming desires,because there where so many inventive and cool games coming out that weren't on that system. Actually the gaming platform I decided to have for all these multiplatform games became my PC. I added a graphics card to my general use PC to make it just able to play multiplatform games,but once I got in to PC gaming I came to try out PC exclusives too like Crysis,S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and many other series that I came to like as much as Mario and Zelda.
Right now my computer is in the wonderful position of being able to play all games that are coming out, and most of them in the highest settings. Note that I already had bought a computer because I needed it for general use,as I believe most modern houses need a computer,it's something so mainstream as TVs and Ovens by now. So the only thing I had to do to turn this general purpose machine I had to a gaming platform that could also depict better visuals than others,was to buy a 150 Graphics Card. So to me jumping to PC gaming was a rather inexpensive move.

But while my primary platform now is a PC,I don't turn my back completely to consoles. So I saw the WiiU and what it can do,and what it can offer to me is something different than what my computer can. WiiU's philosophy isn't based on progressing graphics,but machine-human interaction by showcasing a new input device. And I thought that perhaps the kind of different experience I could get could justify me spending some money for it.

Now let's talk about games,the most powerful and solid reason for me to buy a new Nintendo console is so I can play Nintendo's first party games,the Marios and Zeldas. Good third party games perhaps will come out too,but I have many reasons to believe that as bad as games usually get ported from xbox360 to ps3 or from xbox360 to PC,that will also be the case for many games that will get ported from xbox360 to WiiU. Meaning,that most multiplatform games probably won't make proper and decent uses of the possibilities presented by each different platform,but instead usually ports come with platform-specific problems that doesn't exist on the base platform the developer developed the game for. Considering that being the rule,I doubt any multi-platform games will make as good use of WiiU's extra features as they should,so probably if I actually get a WiiU I will end up still buying multiplatform games for my PC,as this is more convenient for me,usually offers me more options and better visuals, and usually purchasing a PC game is less expensive than purchasing a console game.

So after we cleared that out, the only motivation that remains to me for buying WiiU is just so I can play the new Mario and Zelda games. Actually the new Mario and Zelda games that couldn't have come out on an older console like the Wii. And I'm saying that because there will be Mario game available for WiiU on launch day,but I really haven't seen something groundbreaking about it,having something unique that a new Mario game on Wii couldn't have. Well you might say that New Super Mario Bros U will be playable at 1080p,and this is enough of a selling point,but it isn't. Because NSMBU except from the screen resolution change doesn't look any better than New Super Mario Bross Wii. And I can testify to that,because I tried out this Wii game on an emulator on PC,where it played at 1080p,with also ridiculous amounts of Antialiasing and Anisotropic filtering, and this game looked as good as NSMBU looks if not better already. The thing is that while everything with this new game will be displayed on higher resolution,most of the models,animations,and the rest of the assets of this game are straightly ported from the Wii game. Perhaps you can't realize that if you played NSMBWII on a blurry Standard Definition TV,but someone who have played it on 1080p and have also seen NSMBU,can clearly see it. Of course other Mario games will come later on,and surely there will be some 3D ones too that hopefully will feature new models,appropriate for the new generation of Nintendo hardware.So,the point of this paragraph is that there won't be games for me to buy for this console at Day 1. But hey,this can still turn up to be a wonderful console with fabulous games,right ?

Except from already having a gaming platform that can play all multiplatform games and perhaps at better visuals than the other platform's versions,and perhaps even more than that,and beside that there are not really games that I'd like to play for this console at launch,could there be something else that hinders my motivation for buying this console ? Well there is. And that is its price. You see eventually the local shop price of WiiU for my country was revealed today,and I had a not so pleasant surprise. I live in a European country,and specifically Greece,and the local prices for the console turned up to be 320 for the Basic Pack,and 370 for the Premium Pack.
That's higher than what I had calculated on a past blog I wrote about what would be the worst case scenario for European Union prices. You see,the Basic version of the console in Japan costs 26,250 which is the equivalent of 335 US dollars. The American price for the same version is 300 US dollars. Which means that the difference between these 2 markets is 35 dollars. On my old blog entry I analyzed two possible pricing scenarios that could be true for the European prices of the console. The best case scenario would be,that the worth of money that the console would cost would be somewhere in between the Japanese and the American price,basically the closest rounded price to these two prices. The worst case scenario though,would be that European prices would feature the exact same numbers of the American price,without taking in to consideration the exchange value. Reality though proved me wrong,and the actual price for WiiU in my country is even higher numbers than the American price. The actual price of 320 for my country is the equivalent to 417 US Dollars,and that's just for the Basic pack. It staggers me that only the Basic package in Europe costs more money than what the Premium package plus another game cost in America, because the Basic pack in Europe is priced the equivalent of 116 dollars more than it is priced in America.

Paying about 35% more than the other guy for the same product does feel a bit like a rip-off, and while I'm annoyed that this happens,it isn't the major factor that acted negatively on my motivation. I mean I wouldn't mind if I paid 35% more for a sandwich. But when it comes to more expensive things that happen to cost hundreds of currency units,things get more serious. To be honest I never cared for the Basic version from the beginning,so if I ever buy this console I'll buy the complete 'Premium' package and not the one that will make you to spend even more money later on to acquire the things you missed. But with this version costing 370... It's hard for me to justify this purchase,as this would be the most expensive console I ever bought,and at the same time the only one that doesn't have games I feel that I must play. If I think more general what I could do with 370 euros,I could buy a complete new PC,well perhaps not a beefy one,but I could. Or I could just invest these money on upgrading my current rig,and making sure it will be able to play all games that will come out in the next 5-6 years,and it will take long until I can't play a game on its highest settings. And don't get me started with how I could spend this money for non-gaming things. From my standpoint it's really hard to justify this purchase. Sure I'll be missing a couple of good Mario and Zelda games,but if I don't miss them,then I guess my rig won't be able to play games that will come out in 2017 at good settings.Well except if I pay about that amount of money once more. I really want to play the new proper Mario and Zelda games,I really do,but if they all have graphics that are already considered old for PC,and the new WiiU based features are nothing more than replacing plastic buttons with digital buttons on a touch-screen,it is hard to me justify paying that price,while with that money I could make sure that I will be able to play more games that I like in the future,which they will also look better.

Closing this long blog,the main message I'd like to share is that first of all Nintendo should make better tries to raise up the motivation for someone to buy their system and justify the investment of buying WiiU,and secondly that charging specific costumers with considerably higher prices doesn't make these costumers feel so nice. I read on Wikipedia that the average monthly income of an American is 2000 dollars,and since the American WiiU price there is 300 dollars, it means WiiU costs Americans about 1/6 of the money they are making in a month. Yet in countries of Europe like Slovakia,Portugal,Greece,Lithuania,Estonia,Hungary and others where the average monthly income is 700 euros,it means that a WiiU ends up costing to them about 1/2 of the money they make in a month.And if the difference between salaries wasn't enough you just inflate the price you sell your product in countries like these and ask them to pay 35% more than what an American pays.   read


2:22 PM on 09.16.2012

I played New Super Mario Bros Wii...

How should I say this ? I have mixed feelings after playing this game.
The positive side of it,is that the game can keep me playing it,and it's not as boring as other games I played recently that I gave up playing... It is a good game,and perhaps some people can have great fun out of it.

Before playing this game I was excited that I'd get to play a new 2D Mario game,I thought it would be nice to play something that would remind me of good moments. The problem I found though,was that maybe this game reminded of old games more than it should...

Yet not all that remembering is good. Because when I play the same mini-game I played on Super Mario Bros 3, with the cards that when you find two matching you get that item,and I try the memorized pattern that I used on that other game I played on SNES about 19 years ago,things get to feel too much the same... So they added some Koopa cards,and when you find 2 Koopa cards the mini game is over. Ok. But except from that,it isn't only the same mini-game,but the way the cards are spread out follow the same pattern they followed on SMB3. I didn't even had to guess where the right cards where, I instinctively earned all the items one by one. At that point I felt like something wrong was happening here.

Moving on I noticed that the worlds also follow the same pattern. They have the same themes,and they are also lined in the same order except from 2 worlds that each replaced the other one's position. I came to expect what I'll find next. "So now I'm on the Water World,so the Giant World will be next".

Later on I realized that the Koopalings had the same attacks and weaknesses,and the way to beat them was the exact same as in SMB3. "Well OK" I said."That will make them easier for me,so it is convenient". But then Kamek,the old magician that existed in Yoshi's Island just to throw dust on bosses come back again,and what does he/she do ? Throws more magic dust to bosses. Do you see where this is getting ?

I suddenly realize that the only new things on this game are some power-ups. Everything else this game has,I played it before.

Now there had been many occasions where a sequel of a game came out and was too different from older games,and the fanbase got disappointed because their once original game now copies Call of Duty or some other game...
But Nintendo seems to be in the extreme other side of this.

OK, we got used and accepted that the story in all Mario games will be that Princess Peach gets kidnapped by Bowser,and Mario has to save her.
But also reusing the same bosses,and have them attack and being attack with the same way ?
And reusing the same mini-games that are supposedly based on luck and randomness,and reusing the exact same patterns on them that existed on an older game ?
And featuring worlds with the same themes,in the same order ?
And using a map feature to move between levels,exactly as the older game did ?

You know what ? Some of the things Mario games introduced in the past were very cool,but back then it was 1993 and 1995. Bringing cool things from 19 and 17 years back without enough change or any enhancement won't bring back the 'wow factor' they had back then.
I think Nintendo went to far in trying to make us "remember the good old days".
If their idea for that is to take some features of their past games and mix them together as they where,without any change,well guess what,I can play these game too and have the same experience.

When you buy a new game,you expect it to be new. Now if a game has the same mechanics,the same story,the same goals,the same world(s),the same protagonists,the same enemies,and they all act and are as they always where,it's starting to feel more like a remake of an older game than a new game.
Perhaps if you are generous you might say it doesn't feel like a remake,but like a reboot at best.
But then why do they say it's a NEW game ?
I will play NSMBW to the end,I won't give up on it,but my opinion worsens about Nintendo after I played this game. Not that the game itself is bad and that someone can't have fun with it,it might blow the mind of someone who never played past 2D Mario games.
But for a Mario veteran like me,this game started giving me an unpleasant feeling after some time.
Could Nintendo have gone out of ideas ? Could they just started being too lazy that they just copy features from their past games and add them to newer ones because they are too bored to build new things from ground zero ?
I honestly don't know. But I feel like Nintendo's modern games are shadows of the company's older ones.
:(   read


2:30 PM on 09.13.2012

WiiU doesn't have a price for Europe. (Speculation)

I was very interested to learn when the new console will be released in Europe,and what its price will be. Yet Nintendo Direct didn't unveiled any price points for the old continent. Of course the blame for this is on EU's policy which forbids producers of goods to set prices for their products,and retailers have all the freedom regarding pricing goods.

But usually most European countries end up pricing electronics on about the same price points,with maximum difference around 30 to 50 euros from country to country. But what will the average price point for WiiU will be ? This is open to speculation. There are two schools of thought however,those who say that the European average prices will be set based on Japanese prices,and will be as close to the worth of 25,000 yen and 30,000 yen to Euros,and the other school of thought thinks that the European prices will be based on the numbers of America's prices without taking in consideration the exchange rates.
Let's analyze these two scenarios,and see if one of them is more fair than the other.



Scenario 1: European prices will be as many Euros as Japanese prices are,but rounded.
In this case:

[color=darkblue]WiiU Basic:[/color] 25,000 Yen which equal to 247 Euros which equal to 321 Dollars
[color=darkblue]WiiU Premium:[/color] 30,000 Yen which equal to 296 Euros which equal to 383 Dollars.

If this scenario is true,it's certain that the European prices will be rounded upwards,to 250 Euros for the Basic version,and 300 Euros for the Premium version,which makes the European prices equal to Japanese,but still higher than American prices.




Scenario 2: European prices will have the same numbers as American prices,without taking in consideration the exchange rates.
In that case:

[color=darkblue]WiiU Basic:[/color] 300 Dollars are turned to 300 Euros which equal to 389 Dollars
[color=darkblue]WiiU Premium:[/color] 350 Dollars are turned to 350 Euros which equal to 454 Dollars

If this scenario is true,Europeans end up paying more money than everyone else in the planet,specifically 89$ more than Americans for the Basic version and 104$ more for the Premium version.
At the same times Europeans will have to pay 6,898 yen more for the Basic version than the Japanese,and 8,062 more yen for the Premium version.






My opinion is that the first Scenario should be the one that is actually true,as it makes it so all people from around the world pay about the same money for the same product.
Scenario 2 was popularized by Apple products,and unfortunately it was the case too for the Nintendo 3DS.   read


5:30 PM on 09.10.2012

Nintendo you disappoint me.

After so many years,with a brand new console incoming,you come up with this ?
http://i45.tinypic.com/htgyrl.jpg

Call it a reboot,or a sequel,or a prequel,or a remake,however you want. You know that Nintendo games doesn't have story progressing and they are either all happen in alternate universes,or Nintendo essentially re-releases the same games again and again with few differences.

But this ladies and gentlemen is Balloon Trip, which is the new Balloon Fighter,perhaps a game that you never heard of before,because it took Nintendo 25+ years to remember that it had that franchise.

Well the new one is supposed to show off the console's new features.
So lets start counting them:


#1 IMPROVED GRAPHICS!!! Graphics are clearly improved,and in particular they forward jumped 2 console generations,as from NES graphics now you get PS1 graphics.

#2 NO MORE CHARACTER!!! Yeah I now,it is hard for Nintendo to give personalities to its characters,so instead of playing the old little someone with blue hair,now you play as your Mii.
Do you feel the innovation already ?

#3 TOUCH SCREEN CONTROLS!!!! Which means you are moving your character not by d-pad,not by control stick,neither even with motion controls. You now move your character with a stylus pointing at your controller's screen. Have you played Zelda: Spirit Tracks ? You know how it is...
(sarcasm)The most amazing and innovative experience ever! (sarcasm)

#4 TWO SCREENS AT THE SAME TIME!!!! And of course for the grande finale we have the biggest innovation yet gaming has seen. You can see your character and the game's world on the screen of your controller,as it would be weird to control him using the stylus otherwise,but at the same time you see him on the TV too!
So in case you get bored of watching the game on one screen you can watch it on the other!
The innovation of being able to watch the exact same thing on 2 different screens is amazing.
But I wonder where the race of people with 2 heads and 4 eyes lives,because I for one,can't watch both screens at the same time.


WiiU is bringing the biggest innovation in gaming to your house!   read


4:02 AM on 09.09.2012

Valve's top secret hardware revealed.

I just saw that New York Times has an article that reveals what is the mysterious piece of hardware Valve is working on. It turns out to be a Virtual & Augmented Reality Goggles system.

The article states that Valve is generally looking on improving and making Wearable Computing a mainstream to be used in future PC games.

I find this new piece of tech and thought to be exciting,but I doubt if game developers will spend time utilizing such 'exotic' tech as this goggles system,seeing how there is already very small support for innovative systems when it comes for games for PCs,judging by the utilization of other clever accessories like Razer's Sixense.

The truth is most developers are already too bored to even make a PC specific GUI,or provide proper mouse and keyboard support for their most games which are ported from consoles.
But who knows ? Perhaps things can change in the future.
But what I get is that the next generation of platforms will heavily depend on new ways to play games,than just improvement of visuals.

To read the original article of New York Times,click the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/09/technology/valve-a-video-game-maker-with-few-rules.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all   read


4:05 PM on 09.07.2012

Classic FPS gaming is dying

Introduction
Unfortunately as time passes I realize that the classic old-school gameplay system of FPSs is dying.
I'm referring to the game design that was common in the FPSs of the 90s,and basically the very pure and first realization of the genre. My first contact with the genre was with Wolfenstein 3D,that I randomly picked off a self when I was a kid for my Super Nintendo console.
What a different game than the rest I played this was... There was no player's character in it. You could only see him on the game's box cover or during the statistics screens of each level.
There where a few other games that tried the First Person Perspective before,but they weren't shooters. The first FPS that I happened to play,also was the first FPS ever. I grew up playing games with a similar style to it. Then Doom came out,which was far more popular than Wolfenstein 3D,and people started calling everything FPS as a "Doom clone" after it. But eventually people realized that there where so many games imitating Doom,or should I say Wolfenstein 3D,that a new genre was born,the genre of FPSs.
As FPS as a genre came up because some developers decided to copy the formula of id Software's games,the genre kept evolving the same way. It seems that imitation played a big part on the evolution of this genre. Yet with some games bringing something new to the table every now and then,and with the majority of developers imitating every new mechanic they find in new FPSs,the modern FPSs have evolved in to something that has become quite different than the original formula.
Let's track how the genre evolved from its birth in 1992,to today.

The formula of Wolfenstein 3D
Wolfenstein 3D was the game that set the very basic formula everyone else copied from.
The game featured an optical numerical meter that displayed the player character's health,with the maximum being 100%,and where at 0% the character dies. The main weapons where guns,and the player was able to see only the hand and the gun of his character. It was a game that featured secret rooms and secret levels that acted as Easter eggs,and added replay value to the game. It also featured collectible gold pieces that the player would be awarded with extra lives if he founded all the hidden pieces in a level. These basic mechanics became the standards for every FPS,and games like Doom and Quake where based on this formula.

Duke Nukem 3D: mobility,immersion,and destructible scenery
Perhaps after Wolfenstein 3D,the immediate most influential game for the genre was Duke Nukem 3D. Duke Nukem 3D accepted all the mechanics of the basic Wolfenstein 3D formula,and added to it a variety of new features that many of them where to become genre standards.
Perhaps the most important thing was the ability that was given to the player's character to jump,duck,and even fly with the use of jetpack! It was so the first time in an FPS game that you could travel not only horizontally ,but also vertically. Things like that are considered standard and basic today,but back then players felt that this game gave far too much more freedom than other games of its time. Another thing that we can credit to Duke Nukem 3D was its obsession to immersion. For immersion DN3D decided to have far more interactivity than the other games,so the developers made it so if you would hit a gas pipe,gas would come out it. If you shoot a toilet,water will sprinkle out of it, if you shoot a large crack on the wall with a rocket launcher,the wall will break. DN3D enhanced mobility and added expanded 3D movement and exploration. Most of these features where adopted by the industry and became genre standards.

Half Life: Scripted scenes and linearity
Here is where some new school elements started appearing for the first time,even if the industry decided to adopt them much later on. Half Life was the first game that was introduced as a "cinematic" game,and its design was unique.It featured linear levels with many scripted scenes and cut-scenes,as well a lot of focus on puzzles.The game was specifically praised for its physics.
Half Life's features though didn't became standards immediately,but long after,2 console generations later.

Goldeneye 007 (N64):Mission based campaign
This was another unique game that refined the genre. Goldeneye introduced split-screen multiplayer for the first time,and it also introduced mission-driven gameplay. Before Goldeneye all you had to do in FPSs was to travel from point A of the map to point B alive. Goldeneye changed that by providing missions to the player,things he had to do before exiting a level. Missions could be anything from stealing data from a computer,to protect an NPC, (escort mission) to shut down a computer system. It was clear that gameplay suddenly became much more sophisticated and complicated for the FPS genre. Note that what Goldeneye brought added to the classic formula,and didn't replaced any core game mechanic. There might have been things you needed to do inside a level before exiting,but levels still started you and ended at a specific point of the map.

Halo:Health regeneration and weapon limit
Perhaps Halo is the most influential game on the "new school" FPS design.
It was a critically acclaimed title that made Microsoft's Xbox console relevant,and brought some new features like health regeneration and a limit on the weapons you can carry.
These two features started getting adopted by the industry though after the even bigger success of Halo 2. What makes Halo differ from most of the past influential games that are featured in this list though is that one of its features,namely health regeneration wasn't adding a piece to the old formula,but instead replaced. Up until now most new features where adding new abilities and mechanics that complemented the old ones,but Halo's feature was such that it replaced an already existing of the old formula. Halo also didn't featured the full list of the classic formula,as secret areas and rooms,and other replayability factors where absent in it.

Call of Duty:Iron sights and cover-based shooting
Call of Duty embraced Halo's unique features that replaced some features of the classic formula,and add a new feature which was the Iron Sights. Up until CoD you could successfully aim and hit an enemy in FPSs just by pointing at him.Call of Duty introduced the artificial inaccuracy your player would have if he didn't used the iron sights of his weapon,forcing you to have to press a button in order to properly aim enemies. Another thing Call of Duty introduced was cover-based shooting. If you tried to just walk and shoot down enemies while moving,you would die pretty quickly and easily in that game,and you had to always use cover points in fire fights against enemies. These features also started to get adopted by the industry,but as with Halo, Call of Duty's new features also replace features of the old FPS formula instead of adding to it.


The FPSs of today.
Today's FPSs have embraced the replacement of old school features with new ones. The industry moved from improving and adding to a classic formula to replacing and removing parts of it. FPSs of today feature the health regeneration and weapons limit from Halo,the cover-based shooting and iron sights from Call of Duty,and the linear level design and scripted scenes of Half Life.
They have replaced Healthbars,medkits,unlimited weapon carriage,and true player's accuracy of the classic formula with substitutes,and they scrapped things like collectible items,secret areas and secret levels that acted as factors for the promotion of exploration and replay value. In fact modern FPSs condemn exploration as something evil and as such they show you floating arrows to point to your linear direction (in case you get lost in a single straight line) ,and punish you with death when you try to leave the pre-determined path. As for replay value,you can get it as an extra with DLCs.
Modern FPSs aren't just different than classic FPSs. It's not just like they do things different,they actually punish you for trying to play them the old way. If I try to run and gun I'll die because I was out of cover,and if I try to explore the game's world I will get a message on my screen telling me that if I don't want to go the pre-determined way,it will kill me!
I'm not having fun with this guys... I loved FPSs for what they offered me,now they refuse to give it to me,and they punish me for asking it.

The problem is when the old franchises forget what they where.
I would have absolutely no problem if new franchises came up and embraced the new school of FPSs. In fact I wouldn't even care if every single new franchise was only new-school. What does disappoint and depresses me though,is the fact that the classic franchises,those who invented some of the unique features that got adopted by the industry,turn their back to their original features and mechanics to embrace those of newer franchises,ending up unoriginal imitations.
It is saddening seeing how once innovating franchises now fall so low to scrap their foundations and originality so to copycat other games.
First we got Perfect Dark Zero,a prequel of a Nintendo 64 game,to scrap everything that made Perfect Dark a diamond to become a below average imitation of Halo. Then we saw the very first FPS franchise ever,the one who started it all,Wolfenstein,to loose its dignity and pride and dare to imitate Halo and Call of Duty and include health regeneration and iron sights. Disappointed from that,the next savior of classic gaming that we all waited for was Duke Nukem Forever. But oh,Duke you too had to scrap all the things that made your past game special and awesome, to copy Halo, and to make things worse you even spilled irony against it.

Is there still hope ?
And after the last hope for an old FPS franchise to respect its own originality and keep improving on the classic formula instead of copying other games died,we suddenly got.... Serious Sam 3!
Let me tell you something about Serious Sam,this series wasn't considered "serious" at all back then. Serious Sam came up on the early 2000's as a parody of classic FPS. It adopted all of the features of the classic FPS formula,at a time Halo was coming out and developers started thinking about moving in to new school formula. Serious Sam games played well,but because of their humor everybody considered them to be... too much of imitations of the current game franchises,so most people saw these game very light-heartedly or didn't even played them because they thought they where copying other games too much. So Serious Sam 3's trailer in E3 2011 stroke as a thunder in a day with clear forecast. The game wasn't even announced until then and nobody knew it would come out.But even so,everybody was thinking that if a Serious Sam game would have come out,it would be the absolute imitation of current (new school) FPSs. Yet SS3 surprised everyone by being the one and only FPS franchise staying true to the old-school formula. Sam isn't parodying new school shooters for being new school,he is parodying old-school shooters for not being old-school,with a trailer which is slogan is "NO COVER,ALL MAN" just 1 month after Duke Nukem Forever's disappointing release. And suddenly all the people who grew up in the 90s with games like Wolfenstein 3D,Doom,Quake,and Duke Nukem 3D get shocked by it. But unfortunately we see that the industry doesn't want games like Serious Sam 3 anymore. It is a shame that such a nice game didn't found a publisher and the developers had to publish the game themselves. Which made SS3 to be only available as a digital download for computers. In fact,I realize how much the industry hates me. How much they hate it to be there games that I enjoy to play.
In the modern games that publishers publish,their games punish me for trying to play the way I like. And when one game comes out that allows me to play the way I like,they punish this game too by not supporting it and publishing it. Well screw you modern game industry. If you hate me so much,if you hate it so much that I can have fun by playing a game,then I hate you too. My beef isn't with games like Halo and Call of Duty. I don't hate these games. They just do their own thing. What I do hate is that everybody else is copying these 2 games,and that the industry thinks that if something isn't imitating these two games too much,it's not worth it.I hate that the industry hates originality and requires all games to be the same,look the same,and play the same. It not only kills creativity,it also kills the gameplay I personally enjoy so much to play. Closing this large blog post,I'd like to recommend Serious Sam 3 to everyone who grew up in the 90s playing FPSs. It's a must play game,as it's the only game the past 7-8 years that stays true to the original gameplay formula we loved. Will there be new franchises in the future that will have the classic gameplay that we loved ? Unlikely but plausible. Will the old franchises like Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein return to their roots and provide us with pure old-school gameplay on their next installments ? I don't know. What I do know is that at least we have Croteam and Serious Sam.   read


3:11 PM on 09.05.2012

Some Pros and Cons of PC gaming.



I became a PC gamer since my xbox360 died by itself with RROD for the 4th time back in 2008. I was always a console gamer,and for the most I was a Nintendo fan,up until the Wii which I disliked. Unfortunately I was stupid enough to buy a Xbox360 in its first year of launch and spend about 500+ Euros for its hardware alone, along with the accessories I got for it only to be left without a console to play 2 years later on,when the warranty ended. That made me so furious I wouldn't buy another xbox360. Wii couldn't fulfill my gaming desires and back then PS3 was still very expensive,and I also never liked that much SONY's exclusives. It just happened that in about that time I had bought a new PC,that was intended only for casual use,like web surfing,writing word documents etc. I wondered one day if my PC could play recent and modern games,so I made some research to see what modern games required to run on my computer. Surprised I realized that the only thing that my machine was missing to turn in to a decent console platform was a graphics card,and one at the price point of 100 Euros would be more than enough to allow me to play modern multiplatform games. So I decided to buy that card and turn my computer to a platform that could play modern games,for just 100.
Since then my primary gaming platform is PC,even though I bought a Wii since then.
I found out that PC gaming has many advantages over console gaming,as it also has some drawbacks. Most times when I see discussions in the internet about PC gaming and comparison,posters are one-sided no matter if they are PC gamers defending PC gaming,or Console gamers defending Console gaming. So I decided to write a blog noting some positive and negative sides of PC gaming,as I see them myself. There could be more prons and cons than those I present here,but these are what are most important to me.


Pros

1) Better Graphics
This is the most used point in a discussion regarding the prons of PC gaming,and not without a reason. It is true that most games look better on a PC than a console. That is because technology advances all the time,day by day,and is offered to the PC market as early as it's available for mass production. Graphics card manufacturers usually bring new models to the market every year,with new models being more powerful than old ones,while consoles update every 5-6 years. That make PCs to get access to new technology much faster,which results in the ability of PCs to play games with better graphics than consoles. And sure,graphics aren't all that matter,and I'll agree that gameplay is more important than graphics.But that doesn't mean that graphics have no value at all as some people seem to believe. I got a copy of Metro 2033 which is the most graphics heavy game on the market currently,but couldn't finish it because of its awkward controls and punishing gameplay. But I can still load up Super Mario Bros on an emulator and spend my time enjoying a good game.
But one finds it reasonable that as technology advances,games which are based on tech,advance too.
If FPSs where stuck at Wolfenstein 3D level of graphics detail,perhaps games like Halo or Half Life 2 wouldn't be enjoyable as they are. As a gamer I want the games I play to have the best quality not only gameplay,but also in graphics,sound,controls,replayability,and a lot more other aspects. PC offers me the ability to enjoy better graphics. While graphics aren't the most important thing to enjoy a game,they still are an important factor that affects the overall enjoyment I can take from a game.
It's nice that even multiplatform games that weren't designed to look better on a PC,can look better because of higher resolution options,and the ability the user has with the use of his graphic's card software to force things like Anti-aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering in to a game. Graphics aren't the only reason to play a game,but they can make a game more immersive and enjoyable if they are good.

2) Cheaper Games
This is one of the factors that comes to my mind most often,because it's coming every time I buy a game for my PC. Prices of console games are inflated because console publishers like Nintendo and Microsoft ask from software publishers a share from the sales of their games that they sell on their consoles. But that doesn't happen in the PC market,and thus us PC gamers can buy games somewhat cheaper than console gamers. I remember when my Xbox360 was working,games for it came out at price points from 60E up to 75E. In PC gaming most new games cost 40 euros, with the exception of few publishers like EA who for some reason demand more money for their games,so often they charge them for 50,or 55 euros. Average for every multiplatform game that I buy for my PC I save about 20 euros in comparison with a console gamer. That gave me the ability to be able to buy more games as a PC gamer than I would ever could as a console gamer. And just in the first year the money I saved by buying PC games already met the price I had paid for my Graphics Card. Since 2008 I probably have saved more than 300 Euros by playing multiplatform games on my PC.

3) Exclusives
That is mostly a matter of taste,but besides Nintendo's exclusives I don't like that much the exclusives of the other 2 consoles. Halo is good but I wouldn't buy another machine just for it. I never got in to Playstation exclusives,but I respect that they are quality games,just not for my taste.
But PC has exclusives too. In fact,the fact that there is no an authority that would decide which games get sold on PCs or not,allows many niche games to come out on this platform,that would never reach a console.
And PC has some nice exclusives,for many tastes. If you like MMOs,PC has a plenty of them and they are all exclusives. Yet I am not an MMO fan,and the exclusives I like are games like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series,and Serious Sam 3. These games are considered too niche to be on consoles, yet I like them very much. S.T.A.L.K.E.R was the first series to feature an open-world,free roaming FPS gameplay,along with RPG elements and Horror/Survival atmosphere. It's a unique experience no other game of any franchise can deliver. Serious Sam 3 is the only recent FPS game that truly delivers classic FPS gameplay from the 90's. Duke Nukem Forever was nothing like that,it featured Health Regeneration,Weapon limits and other gameplay elements that are obviously from the new-school of FPSs,of the Halo/Call of Duty generation. I started playing FPSs in the 90s,and I loved that genre so much because of its gameplay,which is drastically different of how modern FPSs like Battlefield 3 play. I like healthpacks,brutally murdering monsters,and having large levels stuffed with secret areas and easter eggs to discover. But these aren't the only PC exclusives that are good. There are many PC only games out there,for almost every niche market and taste.
I can't even count the exclusive franchises that PC gas,unlike the console market where the exclusives of one console can be counted in the fingers of a person's hands.

4) Emulators
You know,my first console was an Atari 2600,and even though I had many consoles since then,there where always some good games for each console I had that I never got to play. Some of them where never shipped in my continent (Europe) others arrived too late on a console's life at the time most retailers had already removed games and hardware of said console from the selves to make room for newer consoles,so there where always some games I missed. Now I can play all those games that I missed on my computer,and at 1080p. It's like magic and I couldn't believe it when I realized that there are libraries of hundreds of console games from the early 80s up to more recent times that I could get the chance to play them,and that if it weren't for Emulators I would never be able to experience them at all.

5) Modding
Perhaps one of the most important prons of PC gaming,is the fact that the files and folders of a PC game are accessible for those who know how they can manipulate them. The modding community has done very much for the rest of us gamers,who doesn't know how to mod ourselves. Modding has many faces. It could be free new content that you download like new maps,guns,npcs,or missions/sidequests,and even new games running on the engine of another game. But it isn't only providing new content. Modding can also be used to alter how a game plays,without adding any other playable content. The recent case of the bad port of Dark Souls,and the unofficial fix is a great example. In the past PC gamers who happened to know also how to manipulate a game's files,also managed to fix games that where broken by making and supplying the community with unofficial patches that fixed problems the developers couldn't bother fixing. Knowing that there are people out there who like games enough to fix them or add to them,and are willing to do that for free,to share the experience of it,is something that makes me feel very comfortable as a PC gamer. I know that games that are fun but have some problems will get fixed,and that for some games I will get new content for free. That solidarity between PC gamers is a very nice thing.

6) Customization
And here comes another part of why I enjoy gaming on my PC more than gaming on consoles.
The fact that I'm given more options to customize my personal experience with the game is something very nice. Options and choices are nice. I can play a game with a keyboard and mouse,and not just a specific type of keyboard or mouse,but any.I'm not forced to use a specific input method like a specific console's controller. I can choose my mouse to have 3 buttons,5 buttons,or 10+ buttons,choose between the resolution of its laser sensor,and between anatomically designed mice for right-handed people or left-handed people. Or I can choose to play with a controller,and I can choose between many controller shapes and not just one. But it isn't only control customization,I can also customize my FOV in most games,the graphics,and many other aspects. Being able to customize your experience is nice.

7) It's still a PC
One shouldn't forget that a PC is still a PC with all the conveniences this holds. What I'm talking about is that at any time I can just press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and return to my Desktop screen,from where I can access my mail or Facebook account to see if somebody replied to me,or to look for a walkthrough if I got stuck somewhere. And then I can return to my game exactly where I left it,without having to turn it off to do the other things I wanted to do. That's something nice. When I played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess I got stuck many times in some puzzles where I couldn't find the solution and got bored trying out. So to progress I had to pause the game,turn on my PC,and then look for a walkthrough in the internet. A process that gets tedious if you have to do it often. But if you are already playing a game on your PC,you can just press 3 buttons together on your keyboard and you will be magically teleported to a web browser window in 2 seconds. Having that convenience is very nice.


Cons

1) Could be Expensive to start playing on PC if you have a very old computer
If you already have a recent computer you bought just for doing general casual things,there are huge chances that the only thing you need to turn it to a decent gaming platform is a relatively cheap graphics card which costs way less than buying a new console. But if you don't have a computer at all,or it's a 10 year old machine that barely can run Google Chrome, it can be quite expensive to buy a new PC just for gaming. Buying a new PC just for gaming could be hard to justify its price. But if you already have a modern PC,which by modern I mean a PC that would have costed to you about 600E anywhere the last 3-4 years,most probably the only thing preventing you from playing multiplatform games with console graphics quality is a cheap graphics card. You don't have to buy one of those megabeast cards that cost 500 Euros or something. You can play a mutliplatform game with visual quality as an xbox360 but at 1080p,with a 60-80 Euros graphics card.
Cards like the AMD HD 7970 are for people who want to play games with way better graphics than those of current console games like Crysis,at ridiculously high multi-monitor resolutions like 7680x1440p.

2) Bad Ports
Since the current console generation started,most multiplatform developers started developing games for xbox360 and then porting these games to PS3 and PC. Often not much care is being invested on the PS3 and PC versions of the games,which leads to platform-specific problems. You might not hear that often PC gamers complaining about such problems as PS3 gamers,but that's not because developers love PC more than PS3. It's because most of the problems the PC versions of the games will be fixed (in time) by the PC community who has the ability to tinker with a game's files. But bad ports are still coming out. I'll never forget downloading the demo of Crysis 2 and seeing a "Press Start" message on the title screen in the PC version of the game,while I had no controller attached to my computer,and I had to try the 100+ keys of my keyboard one by one to find which keyboard button does the same job the xbox360' controller's start button does. Using's Skyrim's menus with a mouse and keyboard was a mess with its designed for xbox360 GUI design. Unfortunately most multiplatform games are made for xbox360 and not all developers care enough to apply required fixes for the other versions of their games. That can lead to many frustrations for us non-xbox360 gamers,including PC gamers and PS3 gamers.

3) Viruses and Save deletes
PCs can get viruses. And if you have an anti-virus software running on your computer,your computer will be too slow,no matter how much powerful hardware you have. For enjoying a nice gaming experience every frame that you can get per seconds matters. That's why I've been playing without an anti-virus program running on my computer. But not having an active anti-virus running puts you on risk. In the 4 years that I'm a PC gamer,I had to do emergency formats 3 times. And 3 times I lost many of my saves from my hard disc. There are occasions where you have a format planned,and you have the time and means to backup your saves,but there can also be emergency situations where a format is immediately required,and you can't backup. I've lost my saves of Oblivon where I had hundreds of hours in them. I've lost my saves of Crysis,and many other games. Something like that could give you a reason to play through some of these games once more,and it could be an unorthodox way to gain replay value for a game,but for games that are HUGE and have many choices like Oblivion and the Mass Effect series,loosing your saves can be a disaster.

4) Upgrading (arguable)
A cons that I often see some people talking about is having to upgrade your computer very frequently to be able to play new games. That is mostly something a console gamer would say though. You see,it's true that as time passes by some games have new cool graphics enhancements that require more power. But to be honest upgrading was never a real problem for me. You see most of the AAA games are ports,and most ports aren't enhanced,so they don't really need much more powerful hardware to run them. You can play Skyrim with a 5 year old graphics card for that matter. There are though games that do have enhanced graphics like Battlefield 3.
The thing is,that graphics enhancements are optional. I can choose to play Battlefield 3 on Ultra,but I can also choose to play it on Very Low. Sure,a game that makes use of the latest hardware needs the latest hardware so you can play it with the best possible graphics,but it's not necessary to play a game with its best possible graphics. I can't play Battlefield 3 at Ultra at 1080p with all things like AA at 16x,but I can play it at Very High settings at 1080p with AA at 2x,and the game still looks awesome,and far better than its console versions. The key word here is choice. Graphics are customizeable and thus better graphics are optional. If you don't want or can't play the latest game with the best possible graphics,you don't have to,you can play it with less good graphics.   read


1:39 PM on 09.02.2012

TES:V Skyrim vs TES:IV Oblivion. Which is better ?

It has come to my attention that there seems to be an unusual pattern that can be recognized by examining facts of The Elder Scrolls series. If you look at the forums,you will probably see that there will be groups of people saying that an older game of the series is better than the new one. That doesn't happen only now,but it happens for years. I get in to the series with Oblivion,the fourth part of the series,and it had come to my attention that there where many people saying that Oblivion was a bad game,and that Morrowind was much better. But Oblivion was far from a bad game,it was a unique experience that left me surprised when I played it,because I had played nothing like it before. Time passed and Skyrim came out. After finishing playing it I realized that I enjoyed Oblivion more. And it wasn't only me who enjoyed Oblivion more than Skyrim,but other people who got in to the series with Oblivion also liked Oblivion more than Skyrim. But at the same time Oblivion had multiple sales than Morrowind,and Skyrim has multiple sales than Oblivion. What is happening here ? Why do Elder Scrolls fans say that the game that got them in to the series is better than later games,even if said later games receive critical acclaim,sell more copies,and got loved by more people ?
To answer that we will have to examine the games,how each game of the series changed in comparison to the older one. My main comparison will be between Skyrim and Oblivion because they are the latest games of the series,and the ones that probably most people would have played,but I'll refer to Morrowind many times. For this comparison I will note some specific important features of the series,and compare how they where executed on different games. Let's start.

1) Attributes

In all Elder Scrolls games from Arena to Oblivion,when you leveled up you where allowed to spend 3 points in the attributes of your preference. Attributes like Strength, Intelligence, Willpower, Endurance, Agility, Speed, Personality and Luck. These were working pretty much the same as the attributes of the classic pen&paper Dungeons and Dragons game. Strength governed how much weight you can carry,and how powerful your melee attacks where. Intelligence governed how much Magicka you had. Willpower governed how fast Magicka would regenerate.Endurance gave you more Health Points and Stamina Points.Agility allowed your character to maneuver faster,be better at using a crossbow,and Sneaking better.Speed made you move faster.Personality determined your charisma,how average people feel about you when they meet you. Luck governed a variety of things like your chances in winning in-game luck games (like betting on the soldier of the Blue Team in the Arena), the chances of critical strikes,the chances of getting non-leveled unique items in random containers,etc.
In Skyrim we got to hear from Bethesda that leveling up your character by spending 3 points in a menu was frustrating and thus had to be removed from the game for the shake of "streamlining" the game.
So instead of having 3 points to spend in 8 attributes,in Skyrim you can only spend 1 point in 3 attributes. Skyrim's 3 attributes are the basic Health,Stamina Magicka. I don't know for others and I don't want to play it smart,but I really don't think that by reducing the attributes to 3 and the points to 1 point,suddenly the leveling process is easier to understand or something. What I do see is that there is less choice in this game,and less character customization options,which in my opinion is a bad thing. By scrapping the attribute of Luck, everything the attribute was responsible for is scrapped too. There are no luck games in Skyrim,and there is no chance you will find rare unique loot by chance,as all Skyrim's loot is leveled. By scrapping Personality, a part of the immersion past games provided to me is absent,since NPCs now can't dynamically feel something for me,be it hate or liking. I could continue with examples,but I think you get the point. It wasn't only the leveling system that got streamlined in Skyrim,but a number of many gameplay features where also scrapped too,leading to an experience that overall has less choice and options,and is more directed and empty.


2) Birthsigns / Standing Stones

In Oblivion and past games of the series,early on in the game you where able to choose your birthsign,from Tamriel's Zodiac.It was something you would do only once. Bethesda seems to think that a menu where the player can choose something is hard,so they scrapped the concept of choosing your birthsign via a menu,and instead applied the powers each sign gave to the character, to 'Standing Stones' that the player can find throughout Skyrim. I'll disagree that choosing something through a menu is complex and frustrating,but I can't say that the alternative method Skyrim has is bad. It actually feels nice finding a Standing Stone and activating in your travel. It's a good idea for exploration,and perhaps it actually is a better way to provide bonuses to the player, as every time you will find one,it will be like an Easter egg. While I disagree with the reasoning behind that,I can say that I prefer it now that you get bonuses by easter eggs.

3) Races

In Skyrim the 10 races of the series got nerfed. The idea behind it was once more that the had to be streamlined,so it's not complex and players won't get frustrated. By choosing a race in Oblivion,you where actually choosing your gamestyle in a way. Each race played differently,had unique abilities, and would gather different reactions from NPCs. In Skyrim though when you choose your race, you basically choose your character's skin and almost nothing more. If you where a Khajit you could see in the dark,and thus you wouldn't need to carry torches with you.If you where an Argonian you would never care about carrying Cure Disease and Cure Poison potions with you. If you where an Imperial it would be easier for you to get people to trust you and hand over valuable information. In Skyrim for the shake of streamlining a lot of the series's features where scrapped,because of this decision of the developers to make choosing your race have no impact in how you play the game.
It is interesting to see how they managed to make it so races doesn't matter in Skyrim. They basically scrapped all the mechanics that the race's abilities where counting on.
There is no environmental hazards like Cold Weather in Skyrim,so your Nord who has natural resistance to cold won't have an advantage over the other races. There are no diseases in Skyrim,so your Argonian that is immune to diseases won't have an advantage either.There are no dark places in Skyrim,so your Khajit who can see in the dark won't have an advantage,there is no dynamic persuasion system,so your Imperial who has natural charisma won't have an advantage either. It is clear to me that when Bethesda is fixing one thing,it kills 10 other things or so in the process. This huge nerf of the races greatly reduced the replay value of Skyrim for me. In Oblivion I'd wanted to play with the difference races,so I can play the game drastically different,and approach the various situations in different ways. There was a quest in Oblivion where the character had to jump deep in a well,find a dead body,and retrieve and bring back a ring on the surface. The ring was enchanted and the moment you picked it up,it added 150 weight points to you,probably not allowing you to get outside in the surface in time,and ending up drowning yourself. If you where an Imperial you would probably have to drink a potion that would fortify your Strength.If you where a High Elf you could use a Magicka-Expensive Water Breathing spell to get outside alive. If you where an Argonian,you would just swim without having a time limit at all. This kind of choice,the choice you had to complete same objectives and quests,but with an entirely different way,added lot of replay value to Oblivion. Unfortunately Skyrim misses lot of that replay value,and it also misses something more important: Gameplay variety,and the choice of having different playstyles to choose from. From my perspective what have been done in Skyrim's races is a bad thing. If you don't care about more variety of gameplay mechanics and choices in the game,you might even find it convenient that now you can choose a race without also choosing your gamestyle at the same time, meaning that all the other gamestyles where completely removed from the game just for that.

4) Persuasion and Charisma

This is about something that Skyrim completely misses: the gameplay mechanic of alternating people's feelings towards your characters dynamically. In Oblivion each NPC had a feeling-meter ranging from the low 0 to the high 100,with the lowest being hate and the highest being adoration and love. There where many ways to affect people's feelings towards you in Oblivion. Depending on your Personality Attribute each non-quest specific NPC would have a certain feeling towards you. If you didn't liked that,you could change how someone feels about you,by either attacking them or intimidating them,to make them fear you or hate you,or by adoring them and bribing them to make them like you. In Skyrim you can get some NPCs to become "friends" of you,but the difference is that this happens not dynamically,but because of pre-scripted events. And even that is not that much fleshed out. When you got someone to lets say like you in Oblivion,the words they would say to greet you,even the look on their faces would be different,but in Skyrim even if someone is considered a friend of you,he will have the exact same lines of dialogue,spoken at the same tone,and he will have the same look. Delphine becomes friend of you in Skyrim,and her look is always the same.Her voice tone is always the same. Only thing that changes that lets you now that this person is a friend of yours now,is that you can take everything from her room without being considered a thief. But she becomes a friend because it's scripted. It wasn't because you specifically wanted it to be that way and you did something for it. If you wonder why Persuasion seems that big of a deal for me,it's because up on that mechanic I managed to role-play my own roles,and set my own goals in Oblivion,something I can't do in Skyrim. One of those roles was a charismatic and well known bard that everyone seems to like. So I added lots of points on my Personality Attribute,and I started playing the persuasion mini-game and got everyone in the Imperial City to like me. Thus every time I passed from Imperial City after that,everyone would stop to happily great me,and I would see everyone's faces happy. It made much of an experience to me. I spent time setting my own goal (getting everyone in IC to like me) and role-playing the person I really wanted. I can't do that on Skyrim. And I can't play the opposite guy (someone who everyone hates him) either. I don't have the freedom to role play these roles,or other roles,because a whole mechanic that could do so much in Oblivion is completely absent in Skyrim. We supposedly got "Speech" as a substitute,but it's nothing like the original Persuasion system. All the Speechcraft skill does is that it makes it so you can buy things for cheaper and sell things for more money. Absolutely nothing to do with how characters feel about you.

5) Facegen

Facegen is a third party program that was added in the Gamebryo Engine,the Engine used for Oblivion. It is a program dedicated to everything that has to do with faces. What it did for Oblivion was to generate random faces,and also animate them. There have been a lot criticism about Oblivion's faces looking ugly,and I'll say that yes,looking back at most of Oblivion's faces,most people in it look ugly. Partially the reason for that was,that Bethesda decided to not use the full definition Facegen provided for performance reasons,which ended in-game faces to look a uglier and cartoonish. Yet there are two things that Facegen did right: Thing number 1 is that in Oblivion every single NPC looks like a different person. Thing 2 is that NPCs had facial animations. Bethesda decided to create their own face generation system,which is lets say less sophisticated than Facegen. Where Facegen allowed you to completely adjust every single line and part of your character's face dynamically,allowing for both very ridiculous looking people,and also very identical to real-life people,Bethesda's face generation solution uses pre-made parts like noses and eyes,and the problem is that they are very few. So in Skyrim most people ended up to look much like someone else. Most NPCs except from Main Quest characters,look very much the same,which is one of the things that make Skyrim overall feel somewhat bland. Another bad thing is that in Skyrim NPCs have no facial animations to show their feelings. Their eyes only open and close,as their mouths when they are talking to you. Other than that,it's like the don't have face muscles. In Oblivion it was different though. You could see the disappointment in their faces, their fear,their happiness,their surprise,their sadness... In Skyrim NPCs feel less alive and believable.
The samey faces on Skyrim's NPCs,and their lack of facial expressions had a big hit on my immersion after having played Oblivion.

6) Journal

The Journal also lost functionality in Skyrim. But that actually lead me to get more frustrated in Skyrim,instead of removing my frustration. In the past games quest where nicely organized,and you would get much detailed and helpful information by its entries. You could also read all the entries of a given quest at any time,even of the quests you had completed. Skyrim only shows you the latest entry of a quest in the Journal. That brought problems to me sometimes as the latest entries of some quests assumed you remembered the info that past entries gave to you,and didn't included some information that was valuable,leaving me with no clues. And in a game like Skyrim,where you discover 5-8 new quests in your way to complete a single quest,you can't remember all the quest entries you have read. It's impossible with so many quests. To make things worse,some quests (the Miscellaneous Quests) doesn't even get a detailed entries,but you only get the quest's title. At a point I wanted to do a quest that I didn't remember its name,but only its story. So I went to the list of my Miscellaneous quests,and I came to face around 60 quests,and none had some words under it explaining what is going on on these quests,so I couldn't recognize the quest I wanted to play. In most cases even the titles are bland and doesn't offer any helpful info,something that killed my motivation and interest in actually playing these quests.Why to travel so far to meet a person I don't remember,if I don't even know why am I supposed to meet him in first place ?
I don't know how they managed to fuck up the journal,honestly. Such an essential piece of the games,that was working so flawlessly in past games.

7) Radiant Story

Skyrim brings a new feature,called Radiant Story. This feature will automatically generate new quests,choosing in random an NPC,a dungeon,and an Item,to generate a new quest. The idea behind that is that the game should offer you the most quests available,and what's more than unlimited ? So Skyrim's quests will never end,but after doing about 2-3 of those quests,you easily recognize the pattern they follow,and they become bland and boring very fast. To make a never ending game is a nice and romantic idea,but one has to put some limits somewhere. It might work on games who are only mechanics like Chess,but if your game has any story at all,then it's not possible. The only way to make a story to never end is to repeat it again and again for an eternity. But as the classic tale from the fairy tale compilation 1001 nights tells us,eventually the never ending story will get so stale and boring it will bore everyone to death.More isn't always better. Perhaps Bethesda should really think about the matter of Quantity vs Quality.

8) Main Hero

I often hear that what Skyrim gets better than Oblivion is the story of the main character you play as,the Dragonborn. I might say that yes,power-wise the Dragonborn is much more powerful and an important person than the Hero of Cyrodill from Oblivion. In Skyrim your character is your classic chosen badass with supernatural powers that beats everyone and saves the world. It's a tried and used concept that works,as the majority of people do want to feel more powerful than others in their games,and be the heroes and center of the worlds. But it sticks to the cliches of video gaming. If you think about,in about 80% of the games you play,your character has a super gift which is why he is winning. Few games have the main character of the game be a simple man / woman like everyone else,the common folk. In Oblivion though,you weren't a prophecized legendary super-hero. You where just someone who decided to fight for the good of the world,with his courage. An ordinary man or woman. The gifted person of the story was Martin Septim,the emperor's son,which was the last (at that time) Dragonborn. But Martin didn't knew he was a Dragonborn,he was just a monk grown by monks,so he didn't knew how to fight at all,and you had to tell him how to act like he should! Some people say that the fact that the one who is 'chosen one' in the game isn't the player's character but someone else,is a bad thing. It seems gamers have become too used to playing characters who are way better than everyone else without doing anything for it,that they can't stand playing a game where its story doesn't make the playable character a person who has a unique overpowered feature over all other characters. I will say that I felt more of a badass as a dragonborn,and that I really liked that. But I wouldn't say that Oblivion had a bad story,just because in this game you are not the 'chosen one',but instead you are a random person who has to tell the chosen one that he is a chosen one. While I agree that playing a badass character is a nice experience,a story doesn't have to give to its protagonist supernatural abilities to be good. I see being a Dragonborn more enjoyable than be an ordinary man,but I also see that Bethesda's move on writing Oblivion's story was an attempt for originality.

9) Athletics and Acrobatics

Athletics and Acrobatics where two skills that where on Oblivion but where not in Skyrim. By raising your Athletics you would walk faster,run faster,and swim faster,while by raising your Acrobatics you would jump higher and would get less damage when falling from high places. By running fast you could roleplay a runner,or get yourself out of hairy situation and escape easily some really hard battles.By jumping high you could reach places that could give you a battle advantage in some fights,or jump over hurdles and reach faster your destination by travelling using different routes.
In Skyrim you can't change your running speed,neither the high of your jump or the damage you get when you land from a fall. These skills where not for everyone,but they could be very precious to some who liked them.

10) Smith and Enchanting

In Oblivion you could enchant anytime considering you had an Enchantments Workstation in front of you,and enchanting wasn't a skill. The power of your enchantments was dependent on the size of the soul you had captured on your soul gem. Skyrim scraps that system and makes enchanting a skill,so the power of your enchantments is tied on your skill level. Personally I don't see the reason for such a change,and I can't say that its something worse or better. Smith is a new skill that allows you to make new weapons and armor,and reinforce them. By the time you will be able to smith a weapon,you will already have found it in your travels,but you can still upgrade your weapons. But there is still something here that makes it seem pointless to me. That is that what counts most on how easily you get killed or you kill in this game isn't dependent on the rating of your weapon or armor,but on your character's level and the enemy's level. Even if you have the most powerful weapon you can find at a given level,and have reinforced it,you will still drop like a fly if you try to fight some enemies who are at a higher level than you. Your reinforced weapon will still not do them enough damage,while your reinforced armor won't do that much more to protect you from a higher leveled enemy.

11) Werewolves

In Skyrim you can become a Werewolf,and be one gives you special bonuses as well as weaknesses. Being able to become a werewolf was a much requested feature that Oblivion missed,and fans were waiting and asking for years for them to be included. Skyrim has a clear advantage here over Oblivion.

12) Dungeon Puzzles

One thing that made Skyrim's dungeon experience better than Oblivion's was the addition of puzzles. Still,I wish they had more variety of puzzles,as turning the turning stones and finding the Golden Claw,the Ember Claw,the Silver Claw,the Iron Claw etc gets stale after a while. Non the less,puzzles where a great enhancement for the dungeons. I hope and wish than in a future Elder Scrolls game they won't get scrapped by Bethesda for poor excuses like "They frustrated the players",like so many features from previous games where absent on Skyrim. Instead I want Bethesda to spend more time in creating a larger variety of puzzles,and adding more of them in the dungeons. I love puzzles!

13) Leveling System

The leveling system also differs in the two games. In Oblivion the game always scanned your level and presented you only with the enemies appropriate for your level,so the game's difficulty never gets too hard or too easy. In Skyrim some areas have a predetermined level,meaning in all enemies on that area are on a specific level. That means you will often visit places that aren't for your level yet,and thus get killed very easily,in a few seconds. Now both systems have their positives and negatives. Oblivion's system good was that it never allowed the game to become to hard or to easy for you. Skyrim's system good is that after you level up enough,you will feel more powerful than you where before. Oblivion's system bad is that you will always get to fight enemies on your level,so you will never feel as a super-powerful badass. Skyrim's bad is that you can get stuck somewhere and not be able to progress,which could lead you to frustration. Personally I can't choose one of them. I enjoyed both games and their leveling systems.

14) The Ending & After Ending

An ending can make or break an otherwise good game. There have been games like Mass Effect 3 that frustrated and disappointed the fans so much,only because of its ending. So which game has the best ending,is it Skyrim or Oblivion ? Well I didn't enjoyed Skyrim's ending that much. I was all excited until the point where I got out of The Hall of Heroes and started shouting to spread the myst away.But the Final Boss fight disappointed me.The so much hyped final boss was a rather easy opponent,even easier than most of the ordinary dragons you get to fight.After you kill him along with 3 other people,you get back to the mountain where Parthurnax calmly talks to you like he did before,and that's it. The closure you get is some words from Parthurnax in the same tone he talked before. Oblivion in the other hand didn't had a Final Boss,at least with the traditional term. Instead the last thing you do yourself is to talk to Martin,and then a cutscene plays. But oh,boy what a cutscene that was! The Daedric Prince of Destruction Mehrunes Dagon jumps out of a portal and forms up in Tamriel,and specifically in the Imperial City,the largest city of the Empire throughout Tamriel. He is 7 stories tall,has 4 arms and is wreaking havoc! I watch the so beautiful Imperial City getting devastated by this gigantic demonic being feeling that the world has come to an end,and then Martin makes a ritual to summon Akatosh,the King of the Aedra and protector of the Mortal Realm known as Mundus where Tamriel is located.Martin sacrifices himself so that Akatosh can take over his body and use it as an avatar,and I watch Martin's body getting transformed to shape up the true shape of Akatosh,and there he is,a Huge Dragon made out of Golden Light. But it's not over. The two deities are fighting each other in an epic and colossal battle and I stand there watching this feeling so much awe by the deities's power and size,so helpless like I can't do nothing else but hope and pray for Akatosh to win.And he does,and banishes the Daedric Prince to his realm of Oblivion forever,and then Akatosh gets petrified and turns to a statue left in the Imperial City. I might didn't gave the final fight myself,but the emotions I felt during Oblivion's last battle where unique and Skyrim didn't manage to reproduce them,let away surpass them. What's interesting is also how completing the main quest changes the game's world. In Oblivion you get everybody talking about this even. You eavesdrop conversations about how huge Mehrune's Dagon was and how Akatosh saved the world. The people you meet recognize you,and greet you as a hero . In Skyrim it's like nobody knows what happened. You even pay a visit to Delphine and Esbern,and if you didn't killed Parthurnax they are still mad at you and only tell you to kill him,like never killed Alduin. Except from the Greybeards and Parthurnax no one knows you killed Alduin. Heck,most people don't even seem to know that there was a dragon named Alduin,and seem to think all dragons are the same. I will confess that up until the end Skyrim's main story was more interesting than Oblivion's. But in the end,I felt that Oblivion's main storyline was more rewarding. You get Credits rolling on your screen,and you even get the Imperial Council to give you as a present a unique set of armor as a token of gratitude.


Conclusion
I could go on and keep on writing about things that Oblivion did better than Skyrim,and features of Skyrim that weren't at all in Oblivion. If you take a list of each game's features,the list of Skyrim's features will be larger,and many of those features will sound cooler too. Yet Skyrim suffer from blandness,you get the feeling that everyone in it looks the same,talks the same,behaves the same, dress the same,whatever NPCs tell you after you complete the game is the same they would tell you before you do it,most quests play the same... Oblivion had less features in numbers,and perhaps they don't sound as cool. But the thing is that Oblivion had more variety in its less features. Every NPC looked and felt as a different person,you could see their feelings by the look of their faces and the tone of their voice,you could make them like you or hate you,there where more playstyles,more choices,more quest variants with better written plots... It felt like everything that was included in the game was included for a reason and it made sense for it to be there,as everything was more fleshed out. I believe I know the reason behind it. Perhaps it is because Oblivion's development lasted 5 whole years,while Skyrim was developed in only 3,as the 2 years right after Oblivion was released Bethesda was busy making Fallout 3. Perhaps if Skyrim had been worked another 2 years its features would be as fleshed out as Oblivion's where,but that would also mean that the game would come out on 2013,probably on new consoles.   read


11:27 AM on 09.01.2012

My Dark Souls PC review.


The Hype
Dark Souls is a game that had lot of hype ready for it before its publication. PS3 players that had played Demon's Souls where so excited when the game was announced that made me think that this series was a good one. There where some gaming sites that even went far enough to say that Dark Souls would be a game much better than Skyrim,before either of these two games where even released,something that I faced with skepticism. The game was released for consoles,and after that I started hearing that this game is so unique and great,that perhaps it is the best game of this console generation. Me having not played the game and being completely unfamiliar with the series,I thought that these people where over-exaggerating. But Namco and From Software decided to eventually release the game for PCs too,so I would have a chance to play this game too,hooray!

The Port
From Software informed us that they weren't experienced enough with PCs,so the game wouldn't be as good as other games arriving in the platform. And that's how it is. The PC version of Dark Souls isn't as well handled as other games that get ported to PCs,in fact it misses many features that have come to become standards in PC gaming. An unusual thing is that the game won't render at 1:1 resolution,meaning it won't render as much pixels as your screen has.PC users are accustomed that every single piece of software that runs on their PCs,no matter if its a game,a work program,or an internet browser,will render at 1:1 resolution. But does asking for a game to render at 1:1 resolution no matter what the monitor's resolution is,is too much,and perhaps the PC gamers who ask for this are spoiled ? The truth is that it's not like that. When a picture is not rendered at 1:1 resolution,but the render resolution is lower than the monitor resolution,when that image is stretched on a monitor it gets blurry. And it's not a matter of asking 'better graphics' from the console versions,the 1:1 resolution render is about the game being working as it should. Because if the picture is so blurred you can't even read the messages on the screen,functionality goes away as you can't get the info the developers where willing to transfer to the player. The problem that comes up is as serious as the problem that some times appears on some console games,where the letters on the screen are so small you can't read them. Actually the reason for that is that these games also doesn't render at 1:1 resolution,with the difference being that the games render at a higher resolution than the monitor,making letters be too small to read. Thankfully a modder released a patch that allows the game to render on higher resolutions,so each one of us who want to play Dark Souls on PC,we can get the experience from this game that we are supposed to have. Another technical issue has to do with the frame rate. I wouldn't have a problem with the frame rate being locked at 30 frames per second,even if 30 fps IS a low frame rate,and the difference with let's say 60 fps is noticeable. The problem with the frame rate is that the game will some times drop below 30 fps,even on machines it shouldn't. It's rather awkward for me to get higher frame rates in a game like Crysis Warhead on Very High graphical settings,than in Dark Souls,considering Crysis Warhead is so "heavy" it can't even run on consoles,yet Dark Souls is a console game with absolutely nothing added to it that would make it heavier. What From Software said was true,they can't produce a PC game up to the platform's standards.

Ignoring the Technical Issues and Seeing Dark Souls for what it is.
To be honest in the beginning I was annoyed a bit about the technical issues. I finally did some workaround and applied some fixes,and I got the game playable on a reasonable resolution,with a frame rate I can withstand. Now I can finally forget technical things and get to learn what Dark Souls is all about,how it plays,and why it is so important!
I'll write one thing,and get it well inside your mind: THE MORE YOU PLAY DARK SOULS THE BETTER IT GETS. When I started the game I felt like I was lost. The tutorial was bare bones and skipped much needed information,I didn't knew how to equip my weapons,my attack registration seemed to suffer from latency from times to times,resulting in me getting dead,enemies kill me easily in seconds,I can't save whenever I want,and I can't even pause the game! The first hours in Dark Souls where my hardest and most frustrating. I got to think that I'd never finish this game,that it didn't worth it. I felt like I was wasting my time playing it. But I felt I had to give it more chances. And I'm glad I did,because this game might be sadistic and unfair many times,but it is rewarding. I got to learn how to do things I must do by googling and searching on the forums. Perhaps I should have to go through this,but anyway,I did 'cause I didn't wanted to have this game sit on my disc without me playing it after spending some fresh money for it. So I learnt how to equip my weapons and armor and I started fighting. After an hour or two I realized that there wasn't technical latency on my attacks,no,this was a game mechanic. When my stamina got too low,my character wouldn't attack until a portion of his stamina is back up again. A lot of frustration could have been avoided,if the game had a proper tutorial telling you that. After a few hours I also got used to the game's saving system. The game automatically saves whenever you sit on a 'bonfire'. Which means each time you want to save you have to go back to these fires and sit. But every time you do that,all the enemies come back to life and respawn,so you will have to kill all of them again!
That's not just to make your life harder,instead it's a mechanic to help you level up. Because in Dark Souls you will have to grind and farm enemies to get souls, so that you can buy things and level up.
It works like in your average MMO. There are areas for higher-leveled characters than you,so your progress gets halted until you grind enough to level up,and then go there.The problem is this game isn't branded as an MMO,and the reason I never get in to World of Warcraft and all the other MMOs out there is because I hate grinding and enemy farming,because I hate repetition. Dark Souls is a game that will surprise you,many times.

Graphics
It is hard for me to tell if this game has good graphics or not. The reason is that some things on this game look very nice,while others look bad. Some of the backgrounds and textures reminded me games like The Witcher 2 and got me surprised,yet some other things like some low resolution 2d trees,reminded me the graphics of games like Castlevania from the Nintendo 64,and surprised me even more. In general the game's graphics are neither good or bad,they are average,but there will be some times that a scene will look so marvelous you will wonder how a PS3 game can have visuals like that, and other times you will get surprised on how some very old looking textures and models got in.

Sound
Dark Souls is good on the sound aspect. It's nothing special,don't expect to find the next memorable theme you will want to listen even when you aren't playing the game here,but you will never get annoyed by the music either. The sound effects are generally nice and do their job well.

Controls
The first thing I have to point out about the controls of Dark Souls is this: Get an xbox360 controller. The game is unplayable with mouse and keyboard,so forget about it.If you have a controller but it's not an xbox360 controller,then make sure that its button layout and naming is exactly the same as xbox360's controller,or else you will have serious problems. Because the game at all times assumes you play with an xbox360 controller,so the button prompts that show up on the screen tell you to push this particular controller's buttons. If you have an xbox360 controller,then still you will find out that controls aren't as responsive as they should. Think about that: You press the attack button while you are out of stamina. Your character won't attack though because you doesn't have stamina. That doesn't mean that your character won't attack at all,he will,but when stamina goes back up enough so he can attack. But by the time stamina will be regenerated enough so your character can attack,the enemy will probably already have moved to another direction,charging his own attack,so you will end up hitting the air,while the enemy is slashing his sword through your intestines. Another bad thing is that your character's attack animations are too slow in comparison with the animations of the enemies. So lets say you are on a hot battle,and you press the attack button to attack.But the movement of your character is so slow you think the action wasn't registered,so you push the button again. By the time your character's attack animation is FINALLY initiated,you already have pressed the attack button 3-4 times because it was unresponsive,but for all the times you pressed the button,your character will attack even if its much later on,which leads to initiating unwanted combos of attacks,that leads you to death,because you didn't timed the attacks appropriately. When I started the game about 60% of my deaths was because of unresponsive controls. Now I have got used to it,and I tend to realize when the game registers my attacks or not,so now only about 30% of my deaths are because of controls not working as intended.
I don't know if controls are like that in purpose,or if they just doesn't work well,assuming this game is made by sadistic developers who want to punish the players every way possible,the more the merrier...

Now I'm a Badass! Or Maybe Not.
Even after all these frustrations though,the game is compelling. There are many things that you will consider annoyances,but there is nothing you can't get used to. Assuming you have the patience to keep trying and fighting the game's awkward design choices and mechanics,you will find out that this game gets better and better as you play it. In the beginning you will feel like shit,but as you play you will feel more and more like a badass. The game will punish you,but then reward you with a unique weapon,or a secret hidden room with a bonus,or by giving you power. As you play the enemies you thought so hard suddenly become wimps and you eat them for breakfast,which makes you feel the most powerful being in the area.But that's until you get to the next area,or you meet the next 4 stories tall boss that will instantly kill you with a single attack,while he is not even visible on your screen... Dark Souls alternates your feelings and changes your mood with a unique pace. At first it makes you feel week,so you can value power later on.Then it gives you the power to feel like a badass. Then it presents you a new enemy type that makes you drop like a fly,and feel like the weakest person on the planet again! It's this alternating feel that gets you addicted to this game. It's like a drug. You get to feel how it is to be "high",so you can like it. Then it takes it away from you,making you to ask for more,and crave for it,so you can do even more things to get that feeling again. Then it gives you more than that.Then it takes it away from you again...
Dark Souls is a huge game and it will take tens of hours to be finished. But even then,there are players who have completed 5-6 playthroughs. It's not without reason. These people are addicted to Dark Souls as I am now. Dark Souls might not be that shiny and beautiful gem that will make you wanna have it,in fact it doesn't even matter for it to look nice.But you get to hear about it from people... And once you fall in to its trap and give it a chance and start playing it,it will steal your soul and get you addicted in playing it again and again,and again!
Dark Souls is a unique game. It isn't for everyone,but for those who are in to it,it will give them an experience no other game has ever given them.   read


6:18 AM on 08.30.2012

Skyrim's biggest problem: Redundant Features.

Skyrim is a huge game,and I'm sure it can last many hours because as everyone says there are so many things you can do in Skyrim. I won't say there aren't things you can do in Skyrim,but what I will do say is that there is absolutely no reason to do some of those things,and perhaps there wasn't even a reason for Bethesda to add them in first place. Fans of the series wished that Skyrim would have many features,and Bethesda decided to please them by adding them,but most of them aren't as much fleshed out as they should be to worth including them. This might sound too general for some,so I decided to make a list with some of the most redundant features of Skyrim,and explain why each one of them is useless in particular.


1) Horse Combat

There isn't a single action game where the player can ride a horse,that its fans didn't asked for horse combat.The Elder Scrolls is one of those series that didn't allowed the player to ride horses until a recent update for Skyrim which added the much desired feature. So Bethesda decided to finally include Horseback Fighting in the game,and what they did was to add 2 attack moves (1 per side) that you can do while you are up on a horse. Problem is they forgot to give the ability for npcs to fight from horseback too,so you can't really have a mounted fight with anyone. Oh,and when you try to hit anything you almost always miss,because the enemy creature is either too short and under your line of attack,or the attack's radius is pretty small to reach an enemy while you are on a horse. They gave us the ability to try this new feature and slash the air from the back of a horse,just so each one of us can say "Yay I'm such a cool badass now!",only that the only thing we are ever going to slash while on a horse's back is air.

2) Sleep

In Oblivion the sleep option made sense,because every time you where to level up,you had to sleep. In Skyrim you can level up anywhere,and while this is convenient for leveling up,it resulted on making sleep useless. Well you get a "rested" bonus if you sleep,but it's nothing special,the help it provides is so small you can finish the game with or without it and never realizing any difference on your experience or the game's difficulty.

3) Inns

As sleep is redundant in Skyrim,paying for a sleep is also redundant. In Oblivion every time you wanted to level up you had to rent a room for a night until you are rich and can spend tens of thousands of coins for your own house. In Skyrim you can buy a house much faster,and you never need to sleep. There is no reason for the player to use an inn.


4) Nighteye

Nighteye is the ability to see in the dark. A player might acquire this ability as a spell,he can get his armor enchanted with it,or he can have it as a race power if he chose to play as a Khajit. The thing is everything in Skyrim is so bright you can perfectly see and distinguish enemies,rocks,items,whatever in any place and at any time in this game.Be it the deepest of the dungeons,or a wild forest at 23:00 hours. An ability that makes you see in the dark,makes sense if there are dark places,like they where in Morrowind and Oblivion. Since Skyrim is globally illuminated and there isn't a single dark place in it,I wonder why they left Nighteye in. The irony is that Nighteye's visual effects will make it harder for you to see what is happening on the screen..

5) Cooking

In Skyrim you can gather ingredients and cook food.Finding all the needed ingredients to cook might sound like a chore,but the effects of cooked food are so weak in comparison to the effects of the potions that you can buy for a few coins from every single city you can fast travel to,that makes cooking redundant. It would make sense if there where things like cooking contests or something,but as it is,cooking is added just for the shake of making the game's feature list look bigger.

6) The Bard's College

O.K. things are pretty simple here. You saw that there are musical instruments you can pick up in Skyrim,you heard that there is a Bard's College here that teaches music and the player can join it,and you expected to start playing music yourself. Yet when you become a member they never teach you how to sing or how to play music,but they send you to dangerous dungeons to kill guys and monsters. All these quests could have made more sense if they where included in the Companion's Guild,or even if they where simple missions you get from random NPCs. A music school that doesn't teach you music but instead asks you to do the same things every other function and ordinary NPC asks you to do,doesn't need to be named a music school.There isn't a reason for this guild to exist.

7) Race #1 Argonians

What differentiated Argonians from other races in past games where their immunity to poison and diseases,and their ability to breath underwater. In Skyrim there are no points where you will have to get underwater,diseases are not a danger since there are no attributes to be damaged,and NPCs never use poison on their weapons. The only way to get poisoned in Skyrim is by having a Frostbite spider attack you,but since the poison deals about 2~4 health points damage max and its effect lasts about 2-3 seconds,all of the Argonian's special features are useless.

8) Race #2 Khajit

Khajit in past games had 2 basic abilities that made them interesting to choose and play as one. You could see in dark places,and you had good acrobatics,meaning you would loose less health points by falling from high places. In Skyrim there are no dark places,and there is no acrobatics skill,meaning Khajits doesn't have any advantages from the other races.

9) Race #3 Nord

What made Nords special in past games was their natural resistance to cold. This ability made sense in older games,because there where "cold" areas where your non-Nord character would be loosing life as much as he stayed there,and would have to drink 'Resist Cold' potions to survive,which gave Nords an advantage. But in Skyrim there aren't areas where your character gets damage because of cold. Cold as a hazard has been removed from the game,and even if you swim in waters that have ice crust on the surface,there is still absolutely no Cold Damage affecting your character. That means you have no advantages for playing as a Nord.

10) Smithing.

A lot of players abused smithing to level up faster,but the truth is that for anyone that doesn't want to abuse and farm the game like that,smithing is useless. By the time you will be able to craft an armor or weapon,you will probably have already found it for free in large quantities in your travels.   read


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