The features PC gamers want – A response

PC games thrive on options, because they need to fit a wider variety of usage scenarios—in terms of input and output devices, hardware capabilities and desired level of technical involvement on part of the player—than on any other platform. This is what makes the PC great. Providing most of these options isn’t too much work, and PC developers should take them into account from the beginning—but gamers also need to realize that some options, like variable framerates, will be difficult to implement in ports of console games.

http://www.pcgamer.com/the-features-pc-gamers-wantan-open-letter-to-developers-and-gamers/

All around PC good guy Durante recently put together an article for pcgamer.com. If you don’t know Durante, he is the guy who made Dark Souls on PC “good”. He has also done some other great work such as making Deadly Premonition….well slightly less shit.

But basically the guy knows his stuff, so I’m not going to say anything he wrote is wrong. In fact, I’ll pretty much agree with it all and you should read the article. PC gaming is about options and that is really all we ask for.

So what am I writing about? Well it is the simple response a PC developer might give. And that response is:

“Sure you want all that stuff, but are you prepared to pay for it?”

Now this isn’t really about piracy, because that is neither here nor there. What I’m talking about is the culture of steam sales and russian key trading which is becoming a growing blight on PC gaming. Want 4k downsampling? Fair enough. Want to also pay $2 for the game from “some guy” or through an automated trading site? Well that is where you are going to have a conflict.

It just doesn’t add up. Why would developers put in the effort when the sales returns are going to be less? People like to point at statistics suggesting a game sold a million on steam and much less on consoles. While it is important to have people play your game, those million paying $1 each for it doesn’t get your next game funded and it certainly doesn’t get you enthusiast features.

It goes beyond sales too. Is Valve giving Ubisoft millions of dollars to market the shit out of the latest Assassin’s Creed rubbish? Nope, but they get that on console, so it is those sales they are going to protect and invest in and care about.

So next time you think about complaining about a bad console version or are begging for a port? Think about how much you are willing to pay for that game and how your peers will react too. The fact is, there are plenty of quality PC ports and they are all treated the same way. If you want the good stuff, it needs to make sense for publishers too.

It isn’t greed it is just common sense. Plenty of people dismiss it or put their head in the sand or claim games are too expensive as they accumulate 2000 steam games. The reality is it is a growing problem, the internet will automate it and the only way to stop PC games being stuffed up is to not be part of it.

If you can buy a good port at the asked price? Do it. If somebody is selling cheap keys? Be strong and tell them to stop doing that too. Remember piracy was mostly a bullshit reason too, but that didn’t stop it almost killing the platform.

Steam Discovery Update

So finally Valve have done… well “something” to the store and rolled out a massive update. Does it add tabs? Well no. The ability to hide games you own? Nope. So it seems that Valve are still resisting the blatantly obvious.

However they have added one interesting feature, which is “Curators”. Basically you can recommend games to people on the store and gain a following. Of course, on day 1 the immediate problem with the system is obvious. You don’t gain a following by curating, you curate because you have a following.

Total Biscuit is straight to number 1 and this is where you can already see where it is all going to go. Want to get on Total Biscuit’s list? Well you would have to ask very nicely as a developer. There might even be other methods to get featured down the track…. Even if people don’t stoop to that, it is certainly a nice way to appear on every game page…complete with a link to your youtube video.

Once people are making money from it? You can bet larger groups will get together to start gaming the system. Want a couple of thousand fake followers? Sure that can be arranged to push you onto the front page. From there you can sit back and pick and choose games according to their “relative merits”.

Then of course you have the problem of “real groups” like NeoGAF that have recommendations from officers. While I will not call the selection of games particularly crap, you have to wonder how useful it is. Metal Gear Rising alongside Table Top Simulator? Well of course because… they are two games.

Why Valve can’t just hire somebody to curate the store themselves is beyond me. They could even add proper tags and categories! It doesn’t cut out the potential for hi-jinks, but at least it is controlled by Valve themselves and they own the store after all. As it stands, you just know this is going to be abused.

Oh and you can’t avoid it either…because if somebody has followers their opinion matters.

It would be easy to improve too. Letting you “not recommend” a game for a start, to say it is crap. But of course we couldn’t have youtube celebrities doing that, so it will never happen. How about categorising games ourselves as curators? Apparently not, even though it would make the feature useful.

I guess the blue colour is ok though.

But hey, I might as well join the fun right? Check out my new Curated list “Boring as Batshit” games. From Skyrim to Borderlands to Borderlands 2, this is a carefully curated list of games you should never, ever, bother playing.

http://store.steampowered.com/curator/6858803/

Goblin Sword – ios Mini-Review

I’ve suck some time into Goblin Sword. New on the appstore for $1 in un-price gouged regions.

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/id905488045?mt=8

First the points for originality, zero, 0, None … 8 from touch arcade. The game seems to be build on the updated “Ravenous Games” engine and the whole thing is inspired by a lot of old games, most obviously Wonderboy in Monsterland/world.

On the other hand, it is inspired by Wonderboy!

Well, with a double jump…. and your sword shoots sometimes. But other than that you have the snakes, the ghosts, the main character that really looks like Wonderboy…and lots and lots of coins to collect.

It is actually a pretty decent effort. The graphics are a step above similar games, the levels are large and have a decent amount of secrets (think super mario world verticality) and the action is decent enough to hold your interest.

It isn’t going to be the “next big thing”, but for a dollar I think there is plenty of game here. Well worth a look.

Velocity 2x – Review

Hot off the PS+ September release schedule is Velocity 2x, a hybrid shooting/flying/warping/running/collecting/boring/overrated/dodging type of game that has gotten a lot of hype recently. Because it looked quite interesting and there isn’t a whole lot else to play on the platform yet, I thought I’d give it a good going over. Interesting it indeed is, but not always in a positive way.

Velocity 2x defies its own name by being an extremely slow game to get into. The first few levels are simple, tedious even, as you fly your ship around and learn the basic controls. Basically you can speed yourself up, warp to another destination and… shoot. This all happens in a confined auto scrolling location that is about as uninspired as it can get, unless grey tubes and walls are your thing.

This flying action is fair enough in theory and can almost become quite exhilarating as you speed yourself up, collect the bland looking blue “survivors” and warp to a safe area to avoid blowing yourself up. But just as you start having fun with the game, you hit a section that slows you down again or you get attacked by space invader reject enemies. It is here that these long sections really fall apart, as the controls get fiddly, the action stop/start and your overall goals start competing with each other. Are you collecting all the survivors? Well take it slow and steady and try not to get hit by the massive bullets in an enclosed space. Want to speed up? Well you’ll have to skip a lot of things…so sorry. It comes down to being a game that you need to play in exactly the “right way” to enjoy. If that is how you want to play it? Fine. But otherwise it’ll spurn your efforts at every turn or just continually come up short.

I could see some people mastering the whole thing and reaching a zen like state of gaming brilliance. But the question seems to be, “why exactly would you want to do that?” There just isn’t anything inspiring, from the bland cutscenes before levels, which you will learn to skip, to mediocre boss battles that feel more luck based than anything else (good luck seeing what is going on with so much shit on the screen) to the fiddly controls, it just doesn’t seem worth your time to conquer.

Perhaps sensing these limitations, the developers added on-foot sections to break up the action. The premise is simple enough, you dock your ship, look for a lock to blow up and then continue on your way. Luckily the controls are much better here, with the ships teleport ability working much better in short jumps and the twin stick style shooting allowing enough control to get the job done.

Unfortunately even though these sections play better, they are even more dull than the flying bits. Run along, jump, teleport a few times until you complete the loop and can get out again. After just a few instances, I started dreading having to fly into the dock each time, because I felt like every single on foot section was the same… and it pretty much was.

But then you realise that all the levels outside are the same and you start to wonder what all the fuss is about. Don’t get me wrong, Velocity 2x is not a bad game by any stretch. It is just a deeply average one, the type of game you’ll play for a short period, think “huh” and then never touch again for as long as your PS4/Vita lives.

To be fair, things do start to mix up a little as the hours tick by, but I still didn’t find much to keep me interested throughout the stretch of levels (People who go for trophies/high scores might have other ideas). There is a fun game here somewhere, but often a mix of styles becomes just that, an interesting mix rather than a complete performance and I think that is the case here. Maybe Velocity 3x will get the balance right.

Still, give it a go on PS+ and maybe you’ll be the target market (Speed runners? People who 100% Assassin’s Creed games? I don’t know…) that will really get into it. I just wouldn’t be investing too much of your other money into it first ($24 no less! Australian PSN prices are a serious joke), because it just isn’t that good.

Pre Jym Pre-Workout Review

It is that time again as I dive back into the world of pre-workout supplements and try to determine if I like a product or not, so that I can communicate this knowledge to other people. As such, this review isn’t going out of its way to break the mold of what should be included in a review. It is really just a review.

But that isn’t important.

What is important, is that I gave the pre-workout Pre Jym a good testing over and I have a few things to say about it. The product itself has got a lot of hype recently, mostly centered around how it offers you a full scoop/dose of all the incredible ingredients, that nobody actually understands.

scoop

Taste

I know what you are thinking. “Who cares what it tastes like? I only want to know if it works or not.” But no, you are wrong, you are so fucking wrong. At least if you go down the Cherry flavoured path, you have no idea what you are in for.

Pre Jym, in a single word tastes completefuckingawful. I’m not just talking “pre-workouts taste like shit but I drink it and move on” bad (see Jack3d). I’m talking, “this could possibly be the worst thing I’ve ever tried to drink, bad“.

One big scoop (and yes the scoop is big, HYPE!) requires 14oz of water. Even then, I felt like only half the powder mixed in no matter how hard I tried. I wasn’t drinking something with big white chunks floating in it, so I added even more water and tried to get it down.

The consistency was heavy, the smell terrible and the taste just as awful as you might expect. The after taste? Not too bad really, but that just ensured I went back to finish the whole glass.

You think doing that last set of 5 is bad on the bench press? Try drinking this shit.

Now at this stage you’re probably thinking “harden up” and normally I would be alongside with you. But this isn’t just a bad taste. This is to the level of never wanting to drink it again. This is to the level of me doing a workout, but instead of worrying about what I was doing, I was still thinking about how bad it was and trying not to pass out when I burped up the smell again.

So take note, it matters.

But does it work?

Well, sort of.

One giant big ass scoop has 300kg of caffeine in it (ok may technically be mg).  Which sounds pretty impressive and is maybe 100mg more than the competitors. It also has more “other stuff” that you probably don’t care too much about since it basically does nothing for your workout.

Capture

I know, I know, you can read all the marketing papers about wanting more BioPerine in your life. But really all that matters is what you will feel when lifting and that is the old 3 cups of coffee hidden in each tall tasty glass.

And when you look at it like this, it works just fine. I got the caffeine “buzz” and a few of my lifts were focused in that good old “I’m going to smash this” kind of way we all know and love..

Of course I didn’t life any heavier than I normally would and any lift where I felt more motivated? Well I was going to lift it anyway.

On the downside, I felt the effects a bit longer than I was used to, even if the comedown was pretty even. Obviously this is due to the higher dose you get, but it all feels like wasted energy in the end. Do you really need 300mg of caffeine to get off your ass and get to the gym? If anything rewarding yourself by not drinking this product would be a whole lot more motivating.

Conclusion

I was pretty excited to try Pre Jym, because lots of people have talked about how strong it is and after all, it is something to do. Unfortunately I’d really struggle to recommend the product. The taste? Well I won’t get started on that again, but it is in the effect that I was even more disappointed.

While it isn’t gimmicky like C4 Extreme (something I appreciate), it still felt exactly the same as a slightly stronger Jack3d Micro. And given Jack3d isn’t exactly impressive to begin with (but is about all you need really), I don’t think there is a lot to really get excited about here.

It’ll get you going, sure and the caffeine is a proven thing to help with your energy needs. But I just feel there is too much of it here, from something that is too expensive (especially in Australia!) and tastes like death.

It isn’t terrible, but you could probably do better with your money or at least you should have lowered expectations. Once again, just go sink a redbull or two and be done with it.