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12:40 PM on 08.10.2011  

Puzzle Strike: Bag 'O Video Gamey Fun



The question was raised, a few podtoids ago, would you pay $60 for a new Super Puzzle Fighter II. Johnathon Holmes said absolutely. Well, Johnathon Holmes... it's time to put you money where your mouth is on this review of Puzzle Strike: Bag 'O Chips.

Released by Sirlin Games back in February, Puzzle Strike was a new twist on the deck-building genre of board games introduced by Dominion. Sirlin, fresh off designing, but still playbalancing Yomi, decided to do as Nintendo, Capcom and Midway had done. Put his game characters into a competitive puzzle game. At the time, aggressive deckbuilding games weren't really all that known. After all, there was Dominion, Tanto Cuoro, (in Japan only) Heroes of Graxia, (terrible game) and Thunderstone. Of those, Heroes was the only one that actively encouraged ruining opponents days. Soon, Ascension and Nightfall dropped but at the time, Puzzle Strike was pretty much the only PvP deckbuilder.

Which is why what they did next stands as epic. You see, he put all of the cards on thick cardboard chips and detroyed your "deck" to replace it with a nice purple cloth bag. To draw cards, you draw these chips from a bag. When the bag is empty, dump all the used chips back into the bag. So as a gimmick, what they did was pretty cool though it undoubtedly made the game more expensive to produce. Which unfortunately took the MSRP up to $60 though frugal gamers can find it for around $45.

The concept of the game is based around Puzzle Fighter, Magical Drop, and Panel De Pon (Tetris Attacks) whereas gems you "bust" could potentially become a problem for an opponent. But picking your character is important as well, as each character has different talents and abilities.

In the game, there are many types of chips with various abilities all building towards one thing... burying your opponent in gems. The first is the Gem Chips themselves. When placed in front of a player, (referred to as their Gem Pile) these gems are your doom clock. When used in your hand, however, they work like money. Next are Wound Chips, they do nothing... literally. They take up space in your hand. Action Chips are special actions where players can do stuff like make buying chips easier or defend against incoming chips. Finally there are the purple chips which perform actions on the gems in your gem pile. The action chips change from game to game so, like dominion, there's no real setup that will always be there. The gems, purple chips, and wounds, however, are always in the game. The character chips are a set of 3 chips unique to a single character.



So on your turn, you Ante (place a single 1 value gem into your gem pile) then perform an action. If, after your action, you have 10 or more gems in your gem pile, you're out of the game. If not, however, now you get to buy more chips for your bag. Finally, you refill your hand based on your gem pile. The more gems you have, (the closer to death) the more chips you get to draw. With players having to ante a chip in front of them each turn, this means you'll get, at most, 10 turns before you have to deal with the gems in front of you.

So let's talk about that since it IS the core mechanic. Now, one of the purple chips is called a Crash Gem and I'm going to refer to this action going forward as crashing a gem. What a crash gem does is destroys one gem in front of you and sends gem shards to the next player. Always the next player, you cannot choose who to hurt with crashing. The value of the gem determines how many shards get sent to the next player. By default, any gems in your gem pile are 1 Value gems. But the game has 2, 3, even the unblockable 4 valued gems.

When you crash a 3 gem, you destroy it in your pile and the broken down gem comes at your opponent in three 1 value gem shards. These gems are not in their pile yet as any chip with a purple banner can be used as a defense. For every gem they crash, they prevent one of those shards from coming down. If they crash a 1 value chip in their pile, they not only destroy a chip from their pile, they prevent one shard from coming down. Prevent shards from dropping is good enough, but yes, you can send shards back. Here is how that works. If you crash a gem that's higher in value than the shard being sent, (which is pretty much anything higher than a 1) you can send the difference at an opponent. So he crashes a gem and sends one onto you and you, in turn, crash a three. Three minus one equals two, thus you'll send two individual shards back at your opponent. All of this, however, is destroyed by the simple concept of the 4 gem. When crashing a 4 gem, all four shards, plus any produced by other gems crashed at this time, become unblockable and you just have to hope and pray you can get under 10 gems by the end of your action phase.

So with the big gems so instrumental for victory, just how in the hell do you create them? For the most part, a purple chip named Combine. You take two gems, return them to the bank, and produce a gem that's the combined value of the traded in gem. So two 1's becomes a 2, a 2 and a 1 become a 3, two 2's become a 4, etc. Now, you haven't DEALT with the gem, you've just made it a more powerful gem for when you do crash it. A 3 gem is just as bad in your gem pile as three 1 gems.

Now, let's say your opponent has 8 gems in his gem pile and you just crushed him with seven unblockable shards. When he dies, it only takes 10 gems to defeat him, thus any gems over that amount become overflow. In this way, Puzzle Strike has a very "shit rolls downhill" mechanic. Overflow spills onto the next opponent and you get to giggle maniacally because it is FULLY possible to wipe out two or more opponents on a single turn.



If there is one bad thing to be said is a lot of these concepts are confusing to first time players and the battle mats (pictured above) do a great job of explaining the game. They just don't come in the box and you have to find them on www.boardgamegeek.com.

There are also two house rules my friends and I change between in regards to the Wound chips. In the rules, it says you "buy" a wound chip whether you want one or not. These slow down your decks so we have unique ways of playing.

Rule 1: Being Broke Sucks
With this rule, we go with the "you have to buy a wound token" and change it so that you only need to buy a wound chip if you cannot buy anything else. This makes the wound chips much more aggressive as a gameplay emchanic instead of a natural consequence of the game continuing.

Rule 2: Bleed Out The Evil
With this rule, you always acquire wound chips like the rules say. However, if you reveal two wound chips from your hand at the beginning of your turn (during the ante phase), you may trash both chips as well as a chip in your discard pile/hand. This helps balance out the flood of wounds and accelerates decks.

So if any or all of this sounds cool to you, by all means, give Puzzle Strike a try. It's one of the rare successes of mixing the world of video games with the world of board games.   read


5:53 PM on 08.02.2011  

Rubbish Bin: Haze Part 2


Not just another pretty face... seriously, this man is sans face...

Some games come out and just get hammered on reviews. Whether justified or not, time passes, hatred fades, and it becomes time to investigate the games that have been dubbed some of the worst games on the platform. Last blog, I talked about the history behind Haze, the reception, and the climate to which the game was released but at that point, I hadn't actually played it.

Going forward, keep this in mind. There will be spoilers to the game. No bitching, ranting, cursing, or general assholery about warnings. Since the point of these articles is to chronicle the experience of the game, it will be walking through the title.

Booting up the title brought me to an installation screen. To be truly fair, I had to remember this installation screen was legendarily bad (nearly as bad as DMC4 supposedly) and I decided to time it. In 4 minutes, the game booted and wanted an update. Fair enough, let's let that go for another minute. In 6 minutes time total, I started the game and scratched my head over how apparently hellish that was.


In the future, everyone copies SHIELD...

My Early Days in Mantel

The sun was in my face as the door to a hangar opened. Sunlight flooded the compartment as my comrads came into view. Like all FPS games, including Gears of War 2... FUCKING 2, I was being reassured everything will be fine. A hint of Nector foreshadowing and I was on deck, wandering across the helicarrier hoping to catch a glimpse of Nick Fury. What I found instead was several jarhead moronic conversations to be overheard. Part of me would have groaned at the Apocalypse Now conversation if not for the fact that I personally overheard a similar conversation from some ROTC stupids in a Campus bar. Makes me wonder if these conversations were written or overheard because, while I physically hurt at the ignorance displayed, it's not as uncommon as people like to think.

Eventually, I found the personal transport that I needed to climb onto and we flew off to the first stage. When the doors to this transport closed, one thing became certain. Mantel apparently cares more for their troops safety than modern troop transport helicopters which are about as safe as Halo vehicles. Musings aside, we touched down in a lush jungle. Given Uncharted was already out, one couldn't help but feel at least a little disappointed by the scenary but the speeches about the chemicals, all make sense so far.


Ugh... a bug... KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT!

Crash, Ride, and Drive

After fighting through the forest and finding the crash site, we're getting glimpses of breaks in the sensory override system. The nectar interruption to hear a scream, the fact that bodies fade from sight and there is no blood when shooting people, and seeing a brief glimpse of a burning village as the "tamer" version of war kicked back in. These aspects had the most ambition but the downed pilot was by far the biggest indicator.

Poorly acted, he kept asking a very important question though. "Do you see me? No... do you see ME?" Whether blatant or hinted at, there is one problem with seeing a pilot die like this. There was no blood anywhere in the cockpit. Obviously he would be dying from severe trauma as he bled out but you were spared this horrific scene. Regardless, Nectar recovered, we escaped and headed back to the carrier.

Only to be reassigned to take down "skin coat." This early? Really?!? Oh well. On the ride there, came a joke. One I found amusing but just because I like joking about such things. You accuse your commanding officer of fearing Stockholm Syndrome with Skin Coat. "You calling Sarge a fag, sir? You'd shouldn't call Sarge a fag." Stupid, low brow, and yet a heavy indictment of the kind of meat head morons who would join Mantel (or play competitively online FPS games). Why my character would join is beyond me but these idiots fit the type to a T.

After a rough landing into a hot zone, I'm introduced to my first (I assume) driving section. Grabbing the wheel, we march section to section through valleys rigged to explode because, naturally, when you're trying to protect yourself from an ALL TERRAIN VEHICLE you rig the canyons to blow. Of course my brilliant miltary strategist believe approaching an area through a tunnel makes perfect sense against an enemy that has shown no aerial combat ability. Mantel is apparently run by morons or bad level designers. Note to future game designers, if your design warrants a tunnel run, that's fine. But give us a narrative reason as to why.

Section completed, reality perception kicks in again. As a buggy spins out of control and starts to crush a mercenary, he screams, pleads, is mocked for his pain, beforce that electronic rush of juices fades him from sight. We now enter the facility where Skin Coat is holed up.

If I mentioned subtlety before, forget I said a word. Your system starts failing, the few glimpse of the nonaltered reality show a large amount of actual victims, shot and killed in horrifically violent scenes. As the system continues to break down from time to time, suddenly your gun shots produce blood but more importantly, you have blood on your hands. Before you know it, you've captured Skin Coat and are attempting to take him in. Your character loudly reacts to the horrific treatment of prisoners you commanding officer partakes in, which culminates in you turning your gun on allies. The ship is hit and everyone crashes, hard, in the swamp.


They're brown, they deserve it.... AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!

Coming Down

As I woke up in the swamp, I was coming off the Nectar and crashing pretty hard. Suppressed emotions flooded me raw as I, for some reason, followed fireflies. Mantel knew I was off the drug and was coming after me hard. No weapon, hunted, all I could do was follow an individual until, finally, I was safe.

Later, I walked with "Skin Coat," talked of my reasons for joining Mantel, and decided to join their cause. I will be going much more in depth with the bullshit logic in part four. However, my old traveling companions come out of the woodwork in a major way. Visably insane, drugged, and bloodied, my old leader looked more monster than man. Killing the final assailant, you could tell his own drugs were wearing off as he frantically tried to deny the void rushing to greet him. This was the true face of war, and I was ready for a shocking reality to hit the game.

Coming Next: Damn the Man......tel   read


10:34 AM on 07.31.2011  

Competition is bad, apparently.


There may be many out there, right now, wondering how I can say such a thing. Well, I haven't said it, you guys have. More particularly, you guys have been saying it this entire time about the EA Origins service. When it was announced, I was curious. After all, the rumblings of Impulse being bought out were beginning, Games for Windows always was and always will be treated as that thing as that hobby Microsoft took up to keep them from hitting the bars on the weekend and waking up with a PC exclusive developer, and you'd have to be completely out of touch to ignore the rantings of several other publishers (like Randy Pitchford) against Valve policies. The PC gaming market needs competition in order to thrive.

But who is going to step up to the challenge? Penny Arcade tried and failed, Gamestop attempted their own route, so we obviously need someone big to attempt this and, provided they have the gumption to attempt an honest go, it should be a good thing. Right? Right?

Not according to gamers. You see, I had never before seen such an outrage and attack at an attempt at competition in my life. Lead by the screaming indignities of Jim Sterling, this mass collective of ragoholics has been ranting against Origin since E3. The bulk of the complaints being exclusive content and needing a second login. One could argue the real argument stems from no press account on Origin and a sense of entitlement is a horrible thing to deny a self-entitled individuals. But that's a harsh criticism to lobby so for now we'll just stick with not wanting a second login. (that, provided you bought an EA game in the past 3 years, you already have)

In the times between E3 and now, EA and Valve have had a bit of a falling out. Not too unsimilar from Steam's little tussle with Gamestop. You see, Gamestop and HMV refused to stock copies of games that would directly compete with their digital download service. Dawn of War II preorders were cancelled around the world and somehow, people forgot about this. The ironic part is that Valve, and Steam, while playing the victim card in these events, has the exact same kind of deal. You see, if a publisher has their own Digital Distribution service, they have to fight long and hard to get themselves on Steam. This is why Sins of a Solar Empire (nor Demigod or Elemental) never came to Steam. The only time you were allowed to come in and play is if you were simply too big to ignore. Like EA's Sims franchise, or Popcaps Peggle Empire. (amazing what not blatantly stealing other peoples games will do for your gamer cred)

But even when you're in the big boy club, you gotta straighten up and fly right. For example, all DLC purchases must be made through Steam. You cannot link your own storefront to a Steam version of a game. Likewise, let's say you bought that copy of Company of Heroes in a retail store... guess where you have to buy another copy if you want to buy the expansions on Steam? You guessed it, Steam. Valve demands exclusive Steam versions of PC games that do not play well with any other version of the game. Imagine, for a moment, if you bought a copy of Doom 3 at Walmart. But you bought the expansion from Best Buy and the game, upon installation, told you this content is not compatible with the Walmart version of this game. Back in the day, this would not have stood. But Valve and Steam are great guys and they would never do all the bad things mentioned above.

Not like EA. You see, EA struggled with a problem every PC gamer deals with. Getting you fuckers to actually pay for games. Odd, I know. So EA, like Take2, attempts DRM that is occassionally controversial. The very same DRM, by the way, that was crammed into your copy of Bioshock sold, right now, through Steam. Or how you need an additional login for Games for Windows when you buy and play Batman: Arkham Asylum on Steam. But EA, despite being a damn good studio that's fought long and hard to be a great publisher, we always forget the good they do when it's convenient to rage.



And what's another rage? Exclusive content. You notice the mention of the Steam exclusive versions above? That's not an issue, apparently. Steam exclusive DLC is also just fine. Mainly because it's on Steam, so it's forgivable. So let's say you're a console maker. It's perfectly okay for Sony to make Uncharted 3, Microsoft to buy Gears of War 3, and even Nintendo to make Zelda, but EA putting their own games on Origins as an exclusive is completely and totally out of line. Yeppers, that's what it is. But let's ask this question... with Minecraft being, arguably, the biggest thing to happen to PC gaming in years... where the fuck is it? Not on Steam. HOW DARE THEY?!?! WHO THE FUCK DOES HE THINK HE IS?!?! Oh wait... not a multimillionaire publisher so it's cool. Except he is. A multi million dollar publisher keeping his game exclusive to his distribution channel... where is the rage at this?

Of course Origin is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and has a lot of controversial TOS. So does Steam if you ever bother to fucking reading it but still. So does Battle.net, iTunes, Xbox Live, PSN, Nintendo, Amazon, or pretty much anything you agree to. But if it really bothers you, here is a simple suggestion. Write to the company you disagree with, mention your concerns, and be respectable about it. Most companies, especially their community outreach partners, do keep track of this. Calmly express your concerns and you'd be surprised what happens. Don't steal games out of protest, you only prove the protections right. (aka, Ubisoft) Don't rant and rave, internet outrage is cheap and easy to ignore. And hopefully, in time, you'll give EA the chance to become the service that Steam is
today. You gave Steam that chance. Oh wait, when it first came out, no you didn't. Amazing how todays saviors of PC gaming was a bunch of Nazis a scant 7 years ago.   read


1:41 PM on 07.24.2011  

Rubbish Bin: Haze Part 1


There are games that, when released, are real stinkers. Universally panned, abused, and slammed. But like Roger Ebert's stress relief reviews, some of these games really don't deserve it and some games are given a horrible reputation in conjunction with "pile on syndrome." Games that have been bashed this horribly are often victims of the pleasure found in writing a horrible review and that is the point of these blogs. Was H4.5E truly that bad, or did it find itself in the middle of the well documented antiSony propaganda machine and overhyped by the publisher?

In the first part, I'll be going over the history of the studio, the game, the troubles prelaunch, and the reaction. In the next part, I'll be playing the first half of the game, followed by the second half, and then the conclusion. In other words, expect me to get 4 seperate blog posts out of Haze. Ubisoft should be paying me for this but fine, whatever. My pain is your pleasure.

Underappreciated Pedigree

Free Radical is one of those companies that had a very loyal fanbase. Second only to Turok: Rage Wars, their Timesplitters PS2 launch game was rare in saying, "fuck single player, people loved Goldeneye Multiplayer." Because of this dramatic shift, Timesplitters single player campaign was essentially running a course of levels. Retrieve the item, escape, win. The gem of the game is that it's multiplayer content, including a level editor, was a bevy of wealth which, true fans, could mine for hours upon hours. Trust me on this as my game saves tell the tale better than I.

Timesplitters 112 hours
Timesplitters 2 178 hours
Timesplitters 3 213 hours

The reaction to this focus, however, was largely scorn. You see, we are used to fighting games having no focus on the single player content (and to this day we still support Capcoms laziness in this area) but it's rare to see it in a shooter. Other games, like Chromehounds and Warhawk, have also taken abuse for this focus. And so, with the sequel, Timesplitters 2 added a robust and massive campaign. Considered by many as a true successor to Goldeneye, this is where the fanbase truly came in. While review scores of Red Faction 2 and Timesplitters 2 were similar, Penny Arcade once famously suggested that the choice and play of Red Faction 2 was a leading cause of lepresy.

In an era where super powered games were largely dungeon crawlers, Free Radical attempted Second Sight. Another mistimed release, it went face to face with Psi Ops. In the game, there were several sections where the morality of killing was called into question and it laid the ground work for Haze's ambitions. Otherwise, Second Sight game and went with barely a notice as Timesplitters 3 was announced.

Timesplitters 3 focused on Cortez and cranked up the humor. Considered one of the funniest games of last generation, it also introduced online gameplay to it's already massive multiplayer options. This, however, fell upon deaf ears. Like many, Jeff Gerstman stated in a gamespot review, "In a world where Halo 2 exists, why do we want Timesplitters: Future Perfect?" Suffice it to say, it did well but the luster of Timesplitters 2 was apparently wearing off and their next project had to be ambitious.


Supposedly the worst graphics ever...

Another Exclusive in a Crowd of Hated Exclusives

Looking back at the reactions to PS3 exclusives, it's a wonder we're where we are today. Resistance sucked compared to Gears of War. (which was like comparing The Beatles to Lady Gaga, but this is the face of games journalism then and now) Untold Legends sucked compared to Oblivion. Heavenly Sword sucked because it was too short. Motorstorm sucked compared to Forza. These are all comparisons that were made at the time by major gaming news outlets. The attitude was, if you were a PS3 exclusive, you took a LOT of heat before you even came out. Is it a wonder, then, that this was also the era were many games were breaking exclusitivity? Haze held true on pledged allegiance, and some might say (Fox News tactic, gotta love it) it took heavy abuse just for this fact.

The other aspect was Ubisoft, not Free Radical, was overselling this game. "The $70 million dollar Halo killer that's the reason you bought your PS3 and will crush Xbox 360. Pay attention kiddies, this one will destroy you all and make you it's bitch." Haze was getting two very different messages sent out. On the publisher side of things, Haze was going to topple the gaming industry and recreate shooters in its image. From the developers side of things, they were talking up what they were trying to accomplish with the story and attempting to attach morality to shooting games. One story was told in every magazine, at every press conference, and on every gaming blog. The other story was being told exclusively through Game Developer Magazine and Gamasutra. So it's easy to see how one story was being outshouted by the other.

But Free Radical also had other problems. First, what they were attempting to accomplish was never done before and only dabbled in with titles like Second Sight and Bioware game.s (Which still limit their morality to "kill babies" or "save guy") So there was no roadmap on "this is how you paint these characters a certain way to imply emotion connotation." The other, and perhaps biggest issue, was Free Radical had no experience on a next gen platform and Cell, while more powerful than the architecture running Xbox 360, was still largely unknown, untested, and only Insomniac, Kojima Productions, and Naughty Dog were making huge strides unlocking this machine and more importantly, sharing this information. Bogged down, inexperienced, and reviled, Free Radical marched on until Ubisoft finally said, "finish it and ship it or we pull the plug." Of course this is unprovable and it's mostly heresay, but that was the general attitude. Finish Haze, release Haze, and move on with your life.


Generic yet cool soldier design...

We Love To Hate You

What Haze tried to accomplish was attaching morality to the killing in every shooting game out there. A rough trick to be certain. They attempted this by focusing on a shifted perception towards a righteous cause, the kinds of tactics that have been proven in almost all theatres of war. That was the core concept of the game.

When Haze dropped, like all PS3 exclusives at the time, it had the heavy burden of validating the hardware. Haze, as a game, had to prove it was worth $660 dollars, a task rarely expected of games in any other era. Some reviewers came forward and said, "Not a good game, but playable." Would it have dropped in the middle of titles like Prey and The Darkness, the bar would still be set pretty low. Modern Warfare, Uncharted, Warhawk, and even Halo 3 had all come out, adjusting the bar far beyond reasonable expectations. Right around the corner, and even more damning, MGS4 was due in less than a month. As a symbol of the much hated PS3, or a failure to live up to the hype, Haze rubbed some people the wrong way and boy, were they going to pay for their crimes.

After Haze's public shaming, the game refused to shift copies at retail. Within two weeks, $20 was being marked off MSRP leading Ludwig Kietzman to associate Batman's difficulty disposing a bomb to Haze's ultimate destiny. (Yet these same parallels were not being made for Portal 2, Hot Pursuit, Mortal Kombat, or other games people liked) As I followed Haze's progress through interviews on Gamasutra, I was shocked at the reaction and wondered if I should wait. My copy was acquired for a scant $10 and sat on my shelf until recently, when I booted up and installed the game...

Next Episode: My Early Days In Mantel...   read


12:43 PM on 07.03.2011  

Contest Revoked: Don't you want to Design An Imp?


This is Dr. Peepers. Dr. Peepers is one of the many Imps rushing, mallet in hand, to smash a crate of Puppies. I'm making a card game right now and YOU can help. but why would you do that?

Sorry, contest cancelled due to lack of interest. Maybe next time.   read


9:26 AM on 07.01.2011  

Violent Young Imps

Contest is cancelled, sorry. Here is the deal, I am currently working up a prototype of a card game I dubbed "Violent Young Imps." To give a little flavor text, here is the plotline as it will appear in the instruction manual...

In the deepest of holes, so far from the wimps
Lay a ravenous clan of fastidious Imps
For they fight and they scrap for whatever they gets
Until some evil soul armed them all with mallets
For a task that needs doing, and no one knows why
Perhaps over population, but yeah... puppies must die
Someone bundles them up, in their nice wooden crates
And they drop down the chutes to their ultimate fates
Thus this cycle continues, perhaps to their shame
Til these violent young imps have turned it to a game
And the beast that delivers decides to comply
For if fairness what counts, even Imps have to die.
So they rush, fight, jump, claw to their ultimate doom.
Since some crates now have bombs that, when smashed. will go boom.
So the teams have been chosen for a game meant to please
and the winners the team that smashed mostly puppies.

How the game works is simple. Each player starts with a team of Imps labeled 1-8. Each round, players send an imp to fight over the crate. If the Imp is placed face up, their special ability takes place. face down, their value is a secret. First matching value imps go home, then special abilities trigger, the crate is scored (some crates have bombs and will kill your Imp), and the Imps go home. I have 7 Imps designed easily, before I went to work on the 8th, I decided "what the hell, I could promote my blog with this and give Dtoid community members something more to do than comment and dice rolls to win something." So I need you, my children, to design the Eighth Imp. Here is the current lineup and their explainations in gameplay terms.



1: Mr. Sparkles
With a spring in his step and pretties that sway
He will find all his old friends and blow them away
Meaning: If Mr. Sparkles is in a competition, he, and every Imp there, is blown up but not before scoring the crate. Mr. Sparkles resolves right before the Imps Go Home phase.

2: Lame Jim
He favors his chances, though he knows he's still wrong
For he deals out his best blow to disable the strong
Meaning: After matches are sent away, Jim returns the strongest from the meeting back home as he leaves.

3: Dr. Peepers
Super weak in a fight, though he'll scream and he'll hex
As he's limping away, he'll at least see what's next.
Meaning: Provided he survives the round, Dr. Peepers players get to see whether the next crate is a bomb or not.

4: Average Joe
He ain't very good, though he talks a mean jive
Least when the dust settles, he knows he'll survive.
Meaning: Average Joe can never die unless he's played face down.

5: Eldrich Dave
As with all freshly dead, their energy's still rife
Should the next round be won, Dave returns them to life.
Meaning: If this player wins the next round, regardless of it being a puppy or a bomb, the player gets to revive a dead Imp on their team.

6: Koga Maru
A man of the shadows, a killer quite slick
Though he kills off the weakest, he at least does it quick.
Meaning: Koga Maru, when placed face up, will kill the lowest valued Imp in the battle before his ability triggers.

7: Big Drew and Stew
Though not too much skillful, their trick is quite clean
Their only advantage that they're doubly mean.
Meaning: If played face up, Big Drew counts as 14 instead of 7.

Contest has been cancelled, so sorry. I'll try something like this again later. Sorry.   read


7:29 AM on 06.29.2011  

Bits of Legend Playtest Results + Contest Winner


A random assortment of baddies...

This last Thursday, Bits of Legend made it's Play Test debut. A lot of stuff was expected to be broken and boy did Bits of Legend not disappoint in that regard. I expected the bosses to either be too easy or too hard, the character classes to be unbalanced, and of course the entire system was in question. A lot of people complimented the design and some even suggested it needed to be on kickstarter right now, but I knew a lot of changes were in the winds for Bits of Legend. No game ever starts out "right."

The first playtest revealed two issues. The first being the overall game length and the downtime between turns. Both of these are crippling in the current form and, that night, changes were made. You see, once the Lv4-6 quests came into play, the enemies were a lot tougher and the number of enemies needed to defeat the quests became too much. This lead to a game where, 2 hours in, nobody had reached Lv7. Which is very much far away from the estimated 90 minute game I wanted. Now I'm looking at 3 hours, at least. So I went ahead and gave the players choice to skip certain types of creatures.

Holy shit, did that change things up dramatically. Suddenly a 3+ hour game became 90 minutes. All play tests after this change made the average end game 18 turns. (out of five games) Once the time problem was solved, I could focus on the bigger issues in the game design. These were the issues I found (meaning few players noticed it) that need to be addressed.

-Long Setup Time: Sorting, shaking, placing 90+ tiles takes time. Then consider sorting and setup of the beastiary and grimoires, and yeah... about 20-30 minutes setup is not acceptable.

-Exploration Deadend: As the world fills out to the point of being able to spawn any monster, people just quit flipping tiles. Of the five games, players typically stopped exploring around 40% of tiles revealed. Need to find incentive to keep laying tiles.

-Character Imbalance: There is a noted difference in character strength when there was really no intention to create one.

-Table Space: When all set up, Bits of Legend is huge... need to make it smaller.

-Monster Balance: From easy end bosses to powerful dragons, the balance here is a mess and will just take play after play to get working right.

Those were the issues I noticed... now for comments from players.

-Color Coding Symbology: Being able to easily see the color combinations needed to spawn different monsters would be a HUGE step forward. All symbols being white makes turn planning difficult.

-Player Downtime: Some turns could take a long time, reducing these times would be great.

-Uncanny Valley: Game references 8Bit Classical RPGs, but looks too high res.

-Battles need more depth: Everyone agrees that the bosses are nice with their system but there needs to be a better system that isn't just math grinds. Then again...

-Needs more world activities: Most agree that the battle system right now is fine and just requires a better variety of things you can do in the world itself. This is the point where it's time to create splinter games.

At this point, I've seen the flaws and the potential of the design. Now comes the hard part, going forward.


One of the lovely end bosses...

The following changes are currently planned for Bits of Legend.

1: New world building solution: The current problem is the world is not being explored/flipped. Many are searching for their quests on the board, not making them by further exploring. I need to come up with an incentive to encourage world exploration. Be this bonuses, dungeons, quests, etc. Something needs to change here and I think adding more and more content to the world is the right path.

2: Beastiary Board + Markets: Right now, the Beastiary is a selection of cards, with no real order. The cards themselves are too large for their function. With the "stacking" mechanic designed on the fly, it's time to abandon monster CARDS in exchange for TOKENS. I can keep the art except put it on a board where the tokens will be kept. Right now, monsters defeated are kept as trophies. Now I want to make them also stand in as currency and include a new market system supporting the purchase or use of items. This also means I can add in more battle depth like "Blind" and "Poison." Making a board to support all this seems central to Bits of Legend moving forward.

3: More Unique, More Characters: You would think offering six characters would be awesome, right? But those characters are currently only palette swaps with a unique talent. Making character sheets double sided would allow 12 characters to begin with, but those characters also need to be more unique. Maybe introducing a leveling system where different characters get different talents as the game progresses and alloting them a set number of times they can use these talents... play balancing this would be a bitch.

4: Introduce A Point System: When players are given a choice of which monsters they want to beat, who in their right mind fights a Dragon to level when a Centaur is worth the same? The race to the end game creates a tendacy to find the easiest way through. What if the new monster tokens also had a Prestige system built in? Where if a player manages to beat the game, there's still no promise he'll win if other players were doing more?

5: New Quest/Reward System: A way to encourage world exploration is to make the world huge and varied. By adding side quests, players could be forced to explore the world further to receive bonuses like equipment and prestige towards the end game. This would also add flavor to avoid the game becoming a themeless grindfest.

In the coming weeks, I'll be trying to rethink these concepts and pushing for more and more changes. One thing is for certain, the current concept has a LOT of people excited. So now comes the long and annoying task of simply balancing and finishing the game. If all goes well, next years Origin will be shopping for a publisher.


Cleric... needs... nerfed... badly...

And now for the contest. Sorry spammer for Adult Dating Site, you're not eligible. Rolling 2 d6's, I came up with 9. From the top to the bottom (of eligible posts), SuperMonk4Ever is our winner of a copy of Haiku. Send me your mailing address (also, wait a couple weeks as I'm in the process of rewriting the rules).

At Origins, I received a copy of Resident Evil: The Deck-Building Game along with the premium play mat which they do not sell. Since I don't care much for the game, I wonder if I'll be giving it away on a future blog post...   read


1:27 PM on 06.22.2011  

I made a Board Game + Contest



As this post goes live, I have spent the past 2 months buried in Sketchbook Pro, 8 hours cutting tiles, Countless many hours nervously pouring my soul into a project that will follow me to Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio this week. This marks my first serious attempt to get one of my game designs published. I will be one of 30,000+ gamers attending Origins.

This isn't my first game design by a long shot. I've done games than range from creating Haiku poetry to attempting to emulate dating sims. At any given time, I'm bouncing around ideas for games (currently planning a trick taking game and a deck-building hovercraft racing game). Some never even get to the prototype phase.


Cast of playable characters

Inspiration

My first attempt at a "board game" barely used the board. Otaku Crush Club was a Japanese Dating Sim board game version. It was goofy and stemmed from someone offering the challenge that I couldn't make a board game out of a dating sim. My initial design was, in fact, a disaster but several of the systems could be reused and one day, I will reattempt Otaku Crush Club. But for now, I wanted to focus on an actual board and one which players would interact with.

Because I wanted a lot of interaction, I wanted to make a Tile Laying game. The biggest issue I have with most Tile Laying Games is they put emphasis to create the world, not explore the world. Even games like Carcasonne, your meeples are scoring methods, not characters exploring the world. The second thing is, Puzzle Strike showed me my earlier experiments in merging board and video games was not a waste so I decided to focus on old school JRPG or computer games. The theme would drive several mechanics going forward.

The largest motivating factor is I was trying to work out a card game concept I tentatively called Ding. An MMO nod set as a race for Lv10. Fun concept, fuck it all if I could figure out how to make it work. So I took this concept and mixed it with the new board game. The final piece fell into place as I played Pastiche. His tile laying mechanic would solve the issue I was having on how could players moderately control the monsters they were trying to fight for quests.



Bits of Legend: How it was born, how it will play.

After constructing the world, players take turns traveling. As they travel, they pass over Icons that, when combined, will spawn monsters. After facing down the monsters, players claim the monster card as a trophy. These trophies serve two purposes. The first is they can be exchanged, at Magic Guilds or Inns, for healing or spell books. The second, which is the core of the game, is that they can be turned in to complete quests and Level Up. If, when traveling, a player must fight a monster that is no longer available in the Beastiary, that path is forbidden.

The traveling mechanic gives you a number of "actions" during your turn. Actions range from Traveling between two adjacent tiles, traveling between two Magic Guilds, Buying spells, raiding an opponents camp, and exploring. Exploring ends your turn.

Initially, all the world will be an unknown (face down tiles) but if you explore, you move your character onto a tile and pull the tile up. Then the player has a choice. They can either swap it for one of the tiles they have already, or place the tile down, in the direction of their choice (thus being able to control which monsters are spawned).

At the end of your turn, night falls and with it, comes danger. Based on the icons in the center of the tile, a monster will attack you in the night. Initially (aka, closer to the center starting point), these will be simple monsters. As you explore outward, night becomes more dangerous. If you end your turn at civilization, (castle, inns, guilds, temples) then you'll rest and recover 2 wounds.

If, during your questing, you get dealt more wounds than you can sustain, you fall. You lose all your trophies and spells but start again at your nearest alignment guild.

The quests come in four types, each covering a selection of "levels" for the player. The first set is for Lv1-3 and involves collecting three "basic" monsters. Lv4-6 involves larger monsters and some basic. Lv7-9 not only face larger monsters but a "boss" monster will attack you in the night as the final portion. Finally, Lv10 and with it comes a final boss and an artifact to recover. Be the first player to beat your final boss, you win.


All set up and ready to play

All packed up and ready to go.

So now, game designed, printed, and never playtested, it's time to travel and try to find a publisher. The game looks good, should appeal to classic video gamers, and has a design unique all it's own. Let's just hope others agree.

And now, a special contest. In celebration of my game design attempt, allow me to throw up another contest. As Master Snake can attest, this ain't no jive. One commenter to this blog will win a prize. That prize? Why not a game I designed previously. This "self published" title is rare, mainly because I have not tried to get it legitimately published. Only ~20 copies exist though that number will inflate, not likely by much. Ladies and Gentlemen, try to win a copy of Haiku: The Card Game. This simple concept has players collecting sets of cards to create Haikus. To enter, leave a comment. Next Wednesday, I'll create a chart of all the entries and roll up a winner. I'd prefer continental US entries, sorry, don't want to pay a bunch of import tax on something I'm giving away.   read


3:01 PM on 06.05.2011  

Redakai: Conquer the Kairu Review + Contest Winner

Yesterday saw the national launch of a new CCG called Redakai. Flashy, Gimmicky, and expensive, how does it stack up in the market as a whole? Ultimately, it depends on the type of gamer. So sit back, relax, and read up on the latest CCG the day before E3 floods you with those “other” games.

Redakai comes in several flavors for your gaming needs. Like all CCGs, there is a small assortment of prebuilt decks (four in all), Gold booster packs, Power packs, and the Championship Set. The prebuilt decks include 43 cards, (referred to as X-Drives in their alien language) the gold boosters include 6 cards, power packs include 11 cards, and the championship set has 44 cards + trays, deck holder, and hand shield. Before going into the differences, perhaps I should explain the rest of the game.

The game is divided into three cards, all with unique gimmicks. The character cards give you your base defense, your health bar, and a unique ability. These cards are the only completely opaque cards and, in the most advanced game, you need only three of these in your deck. You see, the other cards stack on top of your character cards. Since parts of these cards block details below, you're constantly attacking or modifying the base values of these characters.

The next card is an attack card. You lay these on top of your opponents characters. There are only two requirements. The first being you can pay it's casting cost and the other being that your attack can beat the opponents defense. Attacks come in three colors, red, blue, and green. If your attacks power is over the opponents defense value, you place the attack over your opponents card. These attacks core value is a red bar which covers an opponents yellow bars. Cover all three Yellow bars, the character is defeated. But other attacks can cover opponents defensive values or even cancel abilities.

But the characters are not completely defenseless. In fact, turning the characters into monsters is the final core mechanic. By paying the casting cost, you can place a monster on top of a character. Some monsters dramatically increase defensive values, some even heal health bars, and grant new abilities. In essence, these are the mechanics that drive Redakai. But there is also the aspect of, well... I'm just going to say it, these cards are fucking cool. All characters and monsters are 3D lenticulars. All attacks are animated lenticulars. Non effect portions of the cards are often transparent. So the mechanics of stacking (nothing new in card games, just more rare than not) become central to the game. The other potential issue is, since the only “enhancement” card you can play on your characters are monster cards, that means retrieving cards after combat is easy. But this also means, should buff cards be introduced in later games, cleanup will become more complex.

[embed]202880:39047[/embed]

So with these mechanics laid out. Let's look back at the options given for acquiring this game. First, there is the prebuilt decks. Open them, play. Can't get simpler. Next is the Power Packs. Sold for around $8, a Power Pack is basically a character in a pack. At the cheapest entry, each player can buy a Power Pack and take on players in 1 on 1 matches. Next is the Gold Packs which go for about $6. Included in this is 6 cards, two of which are rares, one of which is a hobby store exclusive rare. Gold Packs will be producing more money cards than Power Packs but Power Packs are guaranteed to have at least 1 character (and the only Super Rare I pulled was from a Power Pack, take that how you will).

Finally there is the Championship Set which, if you're going into Redakai, this is where you go. Runs around $35 and includes a deck of randoms, an exclusive character, and all the nifty plastic pieces which are basically necessities to this game. The first thing is the tray, opposing trays snap together and they line up cards played on top of other cards. Next is the Blind Draw Deck Box. Because the cards are translucent, looking at the deck could easily tell you if you have attacks or monsters coming up and you can plan accordingly. Blind Draw hides you deck, mostly. Plus, it's thematically cool... c'mon. Finally, there is the Hand Library which, well, holds you hand AND tracks your energy (or Kairu in their ancient, dead language).



The verdict is given after having played 6 games with only one stalling. Redakai is a simple game and, provided all you want is simplicity, is a great game. Because of it's nature, it doesn't invite very advanced deck building elements aside from your card balances. You CAN focus on themes, of course, but that's kind of like drawing elaborate battle tactics for Yahtzee. This game is better enjoyed as a “sit down, shut up, and play” type of CCG. Because of this, it works as a great intro to CCG mechanics or a breather from something much more intensive like Legend of the Five Rings. Provided that's all you're looking for, Redakai delivers. But that's a very limited field and, should the cartoon not pick up speed, expect Redakai to die quickly. But cartoons can work wonders as Bakugon and YuGiOh (a game so horribly unbalanced, cards are frequently banned from tournament play before they are even released) can attest. Redakai certainly has the “cool” factor that could keep it around for years, making me curious just how they can expand these base mechanics. What MAY help it's hobbyist appeal is that game and hobby stores have a two month exclusive and a subset of 20 cards you can ONLY get from hobby stores. Walmart will never get these cards, and that's a boon.

[embed]202880:39048[/embed]

Did someone say Contest Winner? As you can see from the video, Master Snake has won the copy of Lords of Scotland. As of right now, I'm not giving away Magical Athlete or Burrows... yet. They'll be announced like Lords was, at the end of a future board gaming blog post. Congratulations, Master Snake! Hope you enjoy it!   read


12:49 PM on 05.30.2011  

Conversion of a Board Gamer


As I finished cleaning up and making space for a third board game shelf, I had to look back. Less than two years ago, all I knew of board games was Monopoly sucked, Stratego was win, and Sorry was (and still is) among my favorite games. As I walked out of a laundry mat, I noticed a store named Armored Gopher Games. I wandered in, looked around, and decided to return on their “board game night.” From seeing the pictures, I'm sure you can guess what happened next.

There was two things that lead towards my conversion. The first was that, despite my best efforts, Friday Night Gaming was falling apart. I used to have friends over to play video games like Warhawk, Mortal Kombat, Halo, King of Fighters, etc. Time passed, fewer had the time for it, some moved away, and eventually we were going from 6-8 people a week down to about 3. The next part that changed was gaming itself. Couch Coop was dying, the emphasis for local gaming was dying, and the online community was a bunch of jerks. Worse yet, this change in attitude was reflected in the local gamers in their competitions too. You can say “well, just play with your friends” and that's fine and dandy, but what if the friends on your friends list didn't want to play the same games you wanted to? What if you're itching for some The Outfit and the usually response to player death is “Yeah, burn the f*****?” The websites and blogs were becoming worse as well. We had turned from a celebration of gaming to a bunch of elitist pricks hoping for company failures instead of celebrating successes. Video Gaming was turning ugly and I was tired of it. Judging from some responses to blog posts in the past, I'm not the only one.


A closer look at the first rack

What I discovered, as I started getting more and more into board gaming, was all the old values were there and present. You had to think tactically, switch strategy midgame, be ready for strong opposition, and definitely think your way through to victory. Initially, I was horrible and just had to take my lumps. But like in all games, the more time I spent, the better I was becoming. I'd only lost one game of Burrows (14 game winning spree currently), Dominion was typically my jam though I'm good at most deck building games, I'm horrible at economic games, but worker placement is a genre where I'm slowly gaining proficiency. If none of this makes sense to you, don't worry. It would be like if I was talking World of Warcraft and you were just getting into Tetris.

The other thing is, because gamers face each other, most of the deplorable behavior found in modern video gaming was being stamped out. Of course everyone, from time to time, had their whiny child moments but for the most part, things are much more pleasant. And social, I cannot emphasize this enough. I recently attended Geekway to the West where 300+ gamers loaded themselves into the Westport Sheraton in St. Louis and all sat down, playing games with one another, strangers and friends all treating each other with respect. Games were won, games were lost, but it was all a celebration of gaming.


A closer look at the second rack

A bigger shock was the reaction to new gamers. Every video game community has their start, where new players are welcomed, embraced, and taught how to play, until they have enough gamers. Then the culling and shaming begins. It happened with DDR, Guitar Hero, Halo, well hell... name a Video Game, it's happened to. Top this off, as Nintendo started introducing more and more gamers into the fold, gaming had turned against these gamers. Instead of going, “you enjoy WiiSports... yeah, it's fun. Try this game, it's a little more advanced and it's why we are so passionate about this industry,” most gamers took the “screw your Carnival Minigames crap, you don't belong in gaming.” A video game store is an aggressive affront to nongamers, pushing them away then we all wonder why they don't buy more games. My mother is a prime example of this. She won't step foot in a gamestop and loves match 3 games. I put her on the path of deeper games and right now, she's beaten every DS Final Fantasy and has a 140 hour Dragon Quest IX file.


I do love me some Dominion

Board gamers, meanwhile, have the exact opposite attitude. While there is a notion of snubbing more random quickplaying games dubbed Ameritrash in the culture, for the most part gamers welcome new people into the fold. They show what they think are great games, gauge reactions, suggest different games, and things move from there. I have never seen a new person turned away from board gaming and I've seen a lot of people willingly give up their place in a board game just so someone can try it out. When was the last time you can recall this behavior outside of Rock Band?

With me being this into board games, obviously that means I'm not into video games anymore, right? Wrong. I've been video gaming all my life. I still buy the latest consoles, play the latest games, still enjoy online as well as single player, and still love having people over for some fighting games from time to time. I just love board gaming now too. I have 162 board and card games, and counting. In June, I'll be attending the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. (as well as volunteering at the Zman Games booth on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) I'm not abandoning video games in any way, shape, or form. But I do know a lot of gamers feel like me, the community turning into something ugly, and maybe board gaming is just the pill to cure. Check out your local game store, see if they have a board gaming night, and you just might find a new hobby...


Let's play some REAL Mahjong...

Read all that? Good. Because here's a special announcement that only good readers will know. I have a copy of Lords of Scotland by Zman Games sitting around. This game plays up to 5 people, retails for $10, and is a cutthroat battle lines game. So here's the deal, feedback. Want to see me talk about board games more on the Cblogs? Want to see me cover video game related board games like the upcoming Gears of War by Fantasy Flight Games? Just want to tell me board games don't belong on Destructoid and piss off? All that, and more is fine. Give me decent feedback, your name enters a chart. By this time next Monday, I'll roll a winner, send a PM, get an address, and ship this mother out to you. I would prefer US entries only although I may make an exception for Canada. Basically I want to avoid paying import taxes on a $10 prize.   read


5:49 PM on 04.27.2011  

PSN: It's downfall and effect on Gamers.

Last Wednesday, PSN went down. Rather, someone/s hacked Sony and Sony panicked, pulled their services, and began working around the clock to find out how bad it was. When they couldn't find out exactly, they hired a firm whom also helped working around the clock. Six days later, the extent of the breach was finally coming to light with some horrifying implications. All your personal data may now belong to someone else. During this breach, gamers showed among their most horrifying side to date. Since the impact, this ugliness has been turned up to 11 and frankly, I've never been more ashamed of being a gamer. I feel dirty to even be associated with the behavior that's been displayed around the net.

Let's be clear about one thing, first. This sucks for everyone who has been impacted. Trust me, I know. This will be the fourth time in a little over a year that I've had to look at my credit report. The first time was when Paypal had a breach, nothing was taken, but passwords HAD to be changed. A few months later, my credit card company called me to inform THEY had a breach. Within three days, Gawker got hacked and down that shit went. Thankfully, I felt this sting long ago when, during the Hotmail to MSN turnaround, I had my Hotmail account taken over and the emails within used to open credit cards in my name. I was identify theft'd before it was cool. Since then, I keep a printed list of passwords in a sketchbook hidden somewhere in my apartment and I, when updating, simply mark which password goes where. I learned this technique by getting stung, which sucks. But if my PSN password goes down, oh well, down the list I go. Eventually I'll run out of the 300+ I printed, not anytime soon though. For people who WILL be impacted by this issue, I feel for you and hope you come out the other end unscathed.

Now, you would think, since gamers have a long and storied history of being awesome people (Extra Life, Child's Play, etc) and their history of coming to help a fellow gamer in need, this massive breach and bad times, some sympathy would be going out to people. I don't even mean sympathy going out to Sony but to other gamers. People who couldn't use the games they purchased, they are victims. The developers who now are concerned with the obvious negative impact on sales as faith in PSN is breached to a major degree, they are victims. Think about the programmers who likely spent many an 18-20 hour day trying to figure out just what went wrong and how to recover from it, they are victims. And now, people who may have their identity stolen because of the information that was stolen, they are victims. According to gamers, they deserved it.

What? Think back to when Johnathon Holmes had his stuff stolen. Think about how the gamers of DToid banded together and did the awesome for that dude. Take that exact same scenario, place it in a bubble (removing faces from the crime), make the crime be potentially life altering and done in a fashion where someone could be years into the crime before they knew it was happening, and suddenly this person deserved every bit of the bad things that will happen to them. Why? Because they bought a PS3.

Initially the jokes were cheeky but cruel. "Haha, isn't it funny how sucky PSN got offline and sucked... you get what you payed for." This attitude is tragic: what will happen when Live falls or Steam? I have no illusions as I fully expect the PS3 fanboys to display just as terrible of behavior when/if that happens. Leading security experts are actually waiting to see HOW this was done so that they can secure their own networks. Valve, Microsoft, Nintendo, Apple, Amazon, even Paypal are waiting with baited breath, wondering if they're vulnerable to this because, frankly, this was some all new next level shit and the fact that it hit Sony could have been random (or planned considering Sony focuses on letting people use Big Boy money and not point card based economies).

The major outlets refrained from doing the lowest common denominator bullshit, but gamers themselves were more than happy to celebrate these events. When some people said "it sucks that I can't play Portal 2 online but I guess I can wait," in threads, they were often attacked. Their choice in console was a fail, thus they suck, thus getting locked out of software they payed for was 100% a deserved consequence for their decision. All they wanted to do was play a game, all gamers wanted to do was use these events as evidence that their chosen system is better, holding their argument aloft on the misery of others.

I'm looking around, trying to find SOMETHING redeeming about these events, and I can't help but wonder if THIS behavior, as displayed in gaming communities, at local conventions, in Gamestops, at tournaments, and online anytime you log into a game, is what is pushing me away. I want to play games, but now I loath logging into services. I want to buy games, but the gamers in game stores sicken me. I want to talk about games, but the discussions that break out can hardly be called discussions. Everything I used to enjoy about this hobby is slowly being stolen from me, and judging from similar sentiments I've overheard, I'm not alone. Maybe I'm just overreacting and things really aren't quite that bad. So I just thought, maybe, I'd take one final look...

http://www.destructoid.com/now-might-not-be-the-best-time--199704.phtml

Stay Classy...   read


12:12 PM on 02.16.2011  

A response to True Believers



Yesterday, when I returned from my lunchtime quest for the Marvel vs Capcom 3 Special Edition, I wrote a blog post as satelitte imagery was saving out (system resources give me very little juice to do anything else). This blog post was essentially mocking the extraordinary lengths I went through to acquire a copy. It was seeped in rage, sarcasm, outlying the quest, and holding three particular parties to task.

1. The stores, if you're not going to have premium editions, do not advertise premium editions. The only store on my list which actually got IN some special editions never advertised them. If I knew this was going to happen, I would have bought online the day before, when online copies were still plentiful. It was only after launch hour that online quantities quickly disappeared.

2. Capcom, during a launch is your best chance to rape gamers of cash. Not on alternative outfits, this right here. The steel case edition. I was not alone in my "Special or no buy" stance as, during my quest, I encountered many gamers trying to find this copy and ultimately NOT buying the game because the edition they wanted wasn't in stock. One even mentioned the same notion to me. "Why should I buy the standard when it's going to be $20 cheaper in three weeks?" This is a failing on your head for not printing enough copies.

3. Gamers, for enforcing the notion of "SUPER RARE" in items that were printed in numbers exceeding 100K. What I mean is this. Because we buy into the notion that something printed in these mass quantities is rare, we've created a scalpers market. In much the same way email scams work, 99.99% of the people who see a $130 copy of Marvel vs Capcom 3 say "no way in hell." Along comes that .01% and finds it quite reasonable, pays, and encourages this behavior. Again, most people say no but because one person will say yes, this means a whole army of lazy people out for a quick buck buy out quantities. The existence of this market is a bad thing for gamers.



Directly after work, a friend of mine laughed his ass off at this rant. It was obviously taking generic rage and exploding it beyond normal reason. Occasionally I would throw in a couple Dennis Learyesque "Okays?" but in general, he got that the rage was satirical and heavy heanded on purpose. Later online, I slid the .txt file to a couple other friends who got in their digs while understanding this was rage filled exaggeration. The only reason why I posted it online was because EVERYONE who saw this before it went online could see the satirical levels of rage. Apparently the DToid community is not quite so sharp on this.

I debated taking it down because, after all, when someone points out you're not suppose to eat paint chips, you don't keep eating. Some of the reactions to the blog were hilariously bad and, should my attempt have been to troll for idiots, I would have dragged a net full up onto the deck. Instead, I'm leaving it. Even though it doesn't paint me in the nicest picture (unless you read it as a long winded rant meant to be funny) it's an interesting example of some of the abuses we, as gamers, have accepted as fate. So allow me to respond here...



"You tried to preorder a game this hyped three weeks ago and it's Capcom's fault?"

This hyped?!? Okay, know what? Several weeks after Black Ops launch, collectors editions were still plentiful. Same with GT5. Hell, a couple weeks ago I acquired Deathsmiles Premium Edition that was woefully under produced. For this argument to become valid, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has to become the greatest selling game debut of all time. If 3 weeks before release is too late to acquire a special edition printed in excessively large quanities, then something is wrong.

Frankly? This culture of preordering months and months and months before release is stupid. In this one instance, out of the past seven years, I was caught with my pants down. I relied on advertisements to determine which stores would and would not receive Special Editions (which, I remind you, turned out to be false indicators). The only other time, God of War III, I had my preorders cancelled because not 1, not 2, but 3 different online retailers took more preorders than the number of copies they would receive. Gone are the days of the "surprise" Gold Cartridge for Ocarina of Time. If game companies are going to use these premium editions to boost their Day 1 sales, they should make sure they're readily available. With or without a Preorder.

"It's not worth a Day 1 purchase? What kind of gamer are you?"

Let me put it this way... the one store which had the "buy it here" bonus in my area didn't even know it came out yesterday. IF Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is going to be the same price today as it is Friday, or even March 13th, why is there a rush for this copy? Any promotion I could have obtained is lost. I don't play fighting games online because, well... online gamers are the biggest swirling mass of foulmothed racists and sore losers since Spain's football hooligans. Getting my friends over to play video games is rare, we more often than not do board games.

Special Edition is essentially the ONLY Day 1 bonus (should Toys R Us have had copies, I would have settled with the standard and just got the gift card). Otherwise, patience would have rewarded me with discounts beyond the $60. The kind of gamer I am is one who recognizes the writing on the wall and spends money accordingly. For example, Marvel vs Capcom 3 will be on store shelves easily into the Holiday Season and much cheaper at that time. Radiant Historia, however, will not. That one will dry up quickly, be produced in low numbers, and be on the secondary market for a premium that makes Infinite Space look reasonable. When a common game acts like a rare gem, it deserves to be overlooked in favor of the truly rare gems.

"Sounds like you didn't think ahead and are now blaming Capcom for your stupidity."

This one is fair. After all, when there is a market of people willing to shell out an extra $10 on a $60 game, the wise business decision is to deny them this ability with making this edition of the game rare. Especially considering, in less than a years time, the "street value" of this edition, for true collectors in the know, will be roughly $18. This isn't a game in truly rare status, after all. Capcom didn't even "pretend" and put Limited Edition on the cover. Nope, they said Special Edition. So Capcom could have done absolutely nothing to have flooded the market with the first run editions. And this wouldn't have even been in their best interest to sell a game for $70 to early adopters instead of $60...



To the many other detractors, I offer up this very simple advice. If a rant seems a bit too vitriolic, a bit too excessively mean, and seems larger than reasonably acceptable... it probably is. In essence, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was just a game. While it's frustrating to see the edition I'm hunting show up on Ebay to Scalpers Delight, it's still just a game. Great comedians such as Louis CK, Sam Kennison, Lewis Black, Christopher Titus, and Dennis Leary all use mundane, rather boring complaints and expand them to ridiculously large rants of life and death importance. Many others do this online. Not every "ZOMG, the world is gonna end" rant is completely serious. You should know this. You're supposed to be better than this. Live and learn.   read







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