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Friday, July 26, 2013

[SMITE] Credit where it's due

In a previous post I mocked SMITE's interpretation of female deities and their apparent penchant for upping the combative ante by insisting on fighting in high heels. Though there was an exception, she was not without her issues (sorry Freya). Let it not be said however, that I do not notice improvement.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Future evolutions of F2P

It seems like not all that long ago Free to Play was the new hot MMO buzzword. Though we can quibble over what game was first to be "Free to play" Wikipedia suggests that the earliest versions were things like Furcadia and Achaea. Whatever they were, it was early on that mainstream free-to-play games adopted the "playing is free, convenience is extra" mentality, as well as some early experiments with the infamous "pay-to-win" version. These days it is ubiquitous, and even subscription based games such as WoW are contemplating options that look very "free-to-play". But where is this headed? How might the model evolve in the next few years? Below are two things I have seen that  suspect might be more common.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

[Planetside 2] Cutting out your own implants

Despite the sardonic title, Planetside 2 has not yet gone this far, but they came rather close. The issue is that their newest Game Update (GU13) was slated to bring out new "Implants" which were basically temporary buffs you would buy with Certs (not going to go into the massive folly that which the cert grind is) or Station Cash. The problem is that several of these buffs were extremely powerful to the point of seeming nearly mandatory. Thankfully they have chosen not to release them with GU13, but the lesson is worth examining none the less.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

[Firefall] An ARES mission rundown

ARES missions show up on the map like little Greeco-Roman helmets, shown below:
For Troy!!
The difficulty is the colored bar on the left (Yellow -> Orange -> Red -> Purple, with Yellow being the easiest, Purple being hardest), and the description shown in the upper left corner should give you an idea of how tough the mission is going to be. The "Difficulty Stage" is because some ARES missions will become tougher as more people show up. If you see a small white icon above the ARES one that looks like 3 bathroom-door figures, that means it is a "group" mission and is intended for a group of 3-5.

A word on is relative. Each faction is different, so what is difficult for one battleframe might be easy for another. I find the difficulty a bit deceptive currently, because a Yellow mission against Chosen/Tanken might be much harder than a Red mission against Aranha. Right now I would scale them as such:

(Hard) Chosen ------ Bandits ----------------------------------Aranha (Easy)

The Sniper is the gentleman aiming at me. There will be many.
This is because Aranha have few burst damage options and can be easily avoided by staying airborne as much as you can. Chosen have Juggernauts and Snipers, both of which can do extremely high damage in a short period of time; and most Chosen can throw down Melding Portals and summon small armies of Tortured Souls you need to deal with. Bandits tend to have large numbers and high health, so can beat you with attrition; their Assaults are also not to be underestimated.

So you hoof your way to the mission and should find something like this:
Not ominous at all.
There are currently six types of missions; each of the six can pit you against one of the enemy factions, chosen randomly with some restrictions (in parentheses).

Chosen Bomb (Chosen) - In this mission there is a bomb, usually located in the back of the area that is cycling down from 100% to 0% stability in 1% increments (every 2-3 seconds). When it hits 0% it deals around 1000 damage to everyone in its room and the mission fails. To disarm the bomb, you need to find three colored icosahedrons (d20's); a red, white, and black (that looks purple). Then you need to bring these to the bomb and press "e" when prompted. Each time the bomb loses 1% stability it will change its current color, and you need to put the icosahedron in while the bomb is on its proper color, or everyone in the room takes damage. Putting in the icosahedron's gains you a few percent back on the bomb's countdown. Once all three are in, the mission should complete.

Payload Recovery (Chosen, Tanken, Aranha(?)) - The most common in my experience, this ARES mission requires the player venture into a cave/base/whatever to find a "payload" which can be anything from medical supplies, drill parts, or experimental weapons...doesn't really matter, the result is always the same. Go to object, pick it up by pressing "e" near it, then run it out to the Arcporter that should be outside (though sometimes they are a bit hard to find) and press "e" to turn it in. Depending on the difficulty of the mission you might need to do this a few times, and the Arcporter should have a number that reads "Objects Remaining: #" somewhere on the hud.

Datapad Recovery (Tanken, Chosen, Aranha(?)) - Virtually identical to Payload recovery, in this case the object is a datapad. The only difference is that there will be 1-4 "terminals" scattered around the area, and if you are carrying the datapad you can interact with them by pressing "e" for some bonus xp and loot. The datapad only needs to be recovered once, so return it to the Arcporter outside and you're finished.

Terminal Hack (Tanken, Chosen(?)) - A timed mission; there will be 1-6 terminals inside the mission that you need to hack but pressing "e" when near them. You usually get somewhere in the range of 5-8 minutes to do so. I cannot confirm, but I believing hacking one terminal gives you a bit of extra time. Failing to do so within the time limit can mean failure, but sometimes you can still hack even after the clock reaches zero, and thus still complete the mission and get the rewards (this is likely a bug and will probably be fixed).

Planet Explosives (Chosen, Aranha) - Also a timed mission, there will be 1-6 objects you need to plant explosives on. For Chosen they are tall towers called "Strifebringers" and for Aranha they are called "Armored Cocoons". In either case, you plant the bomb by pressing "e" near them. BE WARNED! The bombs explode and deal something like 1000 damage to everyone and everything near them when they go off, meaning they can kill enemies (which you can use to your benefit) and can kill YOU!.
The orange slash is a bullet that happened to be whizzing by.
Assassinate Bandit (Tanken) - In this mission there is a Bandit Leader you need to defeat; he's a dreadnaught and likes to use the Mammoth's Shield Wall ability. He is also relatively tough and usually comes with Bandit Elite Assault enemies, which have a lot of health and a gun that is a mix of an Assault's cannon and a Dragonfly's crossbow; a high speed, high damage projectile. Furthermore, there will usually be 1-4 "Bandit Callboxes" that the bandits or player can interact with. 10 seconds after interaction they summon a few more bandits (often Bandit Elite Assaults) and another Bandit Leader. Though killing the additional ones is not necessary, they do give a few thousand exp and bonus rewards.

For the missions that require you to carry something (Payload, Chosen Bomb, and Datapad) you can't use your primary weapon while carrying the payload; left clicking will toss the object in front of you. You CAN switch to your secondary weapon and use it without dropping the payload, and you can use abilities as normal (though special shots like a Recluse's Creeping Death will require a gun be used to function).

So there you go!

Monday, July 15, 2013

[Firefall] Learn to Thump in 5 minutes or less

Thumping, not just a euphemism for the kids anymore, is the primary means of getting specific and the highest quality resources in Firefall. However due to the new, unique (compared to other games) interface it can be a little daunting at first, so I wrote this quick guide to get you from zero to thumping as fast as possible.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Enjoying a game in spite of bugs

When I think of bugs in a game, I think of hilarious animation glitches, NPCs that don't properly spawn, or perhaps misplaced textures. Bugs are always going to be there, despite the best efforts of developers...but I find that my ability to excuse bugs in part depends on how much I was enjoying the game prior to encountering it. The paragon example in my mind is Skyrim. Out of the box it has some severe, sometimes game-breaking bugs, and I once played with them and enjoyed myself. So I got to thinking, why is it that I was eager and happy to play and defend Skyrim despite the bugs, when other games I would have completely dismissed due to a single or smaller bug.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Free to Play follies

Given all the discussion about Free to Play games I've been seeing buzzing around I thought I'd inject a bit of opinion of my own on two of the common pitfalls I've seen that keeps me from really getting into a game. The thing about effective F2P marketing, in my opinion, is not having the player be too aware that they are having a second-class experience if they don't subscribe or spend money. Make them aware that they COULD spend money, but don't spend all your time waving your premium aspects in their face. The second is when the game designer hems away so much content/ability for F2P purchases that they leave the player basically playing a very poor quality demo.