Adam Beckett

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Everything posted by Adam Beckett

  1. Imperator: Rome

    ... and it is out. What always strikes me - and leaves me confused, to be honest - are the 'early reviews'. Not just by 'professional reviewers', who played the game for a while, but also my fellow plebs, who had to offer their hard earned coins for a game key. If you scroll down through the Steam reviews you will find e v e r y possible opinion on the game, from Chinese, to Japanese, to German and beyond. Contradictory in nature, to the point where one might ask, if two people ever played the same game? You can find some rather 'dramatic' statements a la "after 35 years of gaming, this is my first review..." (negative), to someone else's equally long gaming history, defending the new game (or aspects of it: "It's a Paradox title ..."). One professional reviewer criticizes the tutorial for being weak and rudimentary, while another professional reviewer finds it 'brilliant'. And then you have your 'Frasier Browns' (sorry mate, but you are not alone), who see the game through their rosy PDX goggles. But you also have the other factions, who find nothing worthy in there - while also being PDX addicts with 700+ hours in CK2 and or HoI4 etc, et cetera. I seek advise from my fellow Idle Thumbs/3MA colleagues. The smallest sample of any crowd? But peers, who play more than just one game, whose tastes are wider and widening. Find this post in a few days or weeks and explain YOUR opinion, if you could? So far, I have learned only ONE lesson publisher Paradox has taught me: never buy any of their games on release. Even after 3+ years in the making, they most likely lack important mechanics, gameplay depth and/or polish and/or 'completion'. We live in wondrous times, where games are released and still being worked on for years to come. Nothing is 'finished' anymore. They call it "soft launch" - as if it was the latest MS Excel version, to be deployed to thousands of office workers? Everything flows ... but does it always flow 'downhill' ...?
  2. Episode 418: They Are Billions

    Another installment of "What is new in the world of 'hot new things' video game reviewers got their free Early Access keys for?" You lost me after 3 minutes. A video clip of the game lost me after 2 earlier this week. Have fun. See you next time, when you might play something that is a) 'released' as in game developers telling me "this is what we made. I hope it is worth your time" and b ) a ... strategy ... game, beyond Tower Defense SimCity/Settlers with Zombies. No matter how much 'buzz' it got from I don't know who...
  3. Total War: Warhammer II

    Let's start the thread, because it might take a while until the 3MA Podcast will be up. I hope Zacny, Frasier & Co. will take their time. If you are a 3MA listener and not playing Total War: Warhammer II right now, what are you even doing?! (Aside from going to work, raising children, changing dipers, studying for med-school, etc - you are excused, obviously) I learned to hate Elves, over my decades of D&D and Fantasy RPGs. They are just too much for my working-class, Marxist uprising. But I am now six hours and 50 turns into my first campaign as "High Elves" and enjoying every moment of it. The game 'flows' very well. It feels like the most polished, most accessible (for new players), most focused main Total War campaign, they made. Read the reviews. From game design, game flow, storytelling, to gameplay mechanics, UI elements all the way to the technical parts (amazing animations, 3D models and art, voice acting, performance, et cetera). For some weird reason, the campaign map - with all the Elven rainbows and unicorns remind me of the old "Heroes of Might and Magic" - only, now in 3D, fully voiced and animated. What do you guys think so far, fellow @3MA'ers? Please, share ...
  4. Far Cry 2

    Far Cry 2 is my Westworld! ... it just dawned on me, while playing ... and losing all sense of time, immediately. Not Red Dead Redemption, not GTA V, not any other game previous or after Far Cry 2. And, if you are reading this, it is the same with you, I assume. I can not play it for months and even years, but when I come back, it certainly feels like 'home'. And unlike many games, which 'age not well', nothing about the gameplay or stunning graphics loses it's grip on me. I still might 'miss' the lack of hippos or crocodiles while cruising on a boat down the river, but nothing about 'repairing your car' or a jamming pistol while cleaning an outpost, or getting the shivers from Malaria during a frantic fight, gets old or 'boring'. I'll stop here, not trying to waste more of all your time. Just somebody mentioning "Far Cry 2" can uncontrollably start up the game. I know... Turn off the music and inject the soundtrack from Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now! Conrad's Heart of Darkness becomes alive?!
  5. Total War: Warhammer II

    I can attest to that. CA made many tweaks and improvements, from what is visible and my experience so far. As for the game engine. I am always impressed by the senior Creative Assembly game engine team, still led by the original guy who started on Shogun 1. CA was always among the first to implement new, interesting technology. They were among the first triple A studios to embrace DirectX 11, for example. All to the point to re-writing half of Shogun 2 and retroactively implementing those features (mostly, technical background stuff, players don't get to 'see'). I am currently running the game on an old CPU: AMD FX8350 (8x4.0GHz - not a 'real' octacore, compared to Intel's superior CPUs) and a new Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB mid-level GPU. I get 40-ish FPS with everything on ULTRA in 1080p, 1440p and above. I could get 60FPS easily, but chose "Shadows" in "extreme" settings (the only option in the settings which is above Ultra, only for shadows). Otherwise, the game scales very well, as usual, all the way down to low-level PCs and those mythical, 10-year old 'gaming notebooks', everyone else is apparently using. I used to run TW Rome 2 on a then 3-4 year old low-level GPU (Nvidia GTX 650 Ti BOOST) in ultra-widescreen on release day with no problems, while many others seem to have had their usual problems. I DO though have interesting frame drops, when using the highest shadow settings in Attila - but only on the campaign map, not in battles. One notch 'lower' and the campaign map runs smooth again. Must have been a driver (or drawcall) issue, which will never be solved. Warhammer I for me has had no issues whatsoever. But the overall performance never hit 60FPS on highest settings. Only when dropping down some features. If you select DirectX 12 you will see the same 'worse' performance, the way it is in Total War: Warhammer I. There is just no way, it seems, to make the necessary adjustments for DX12 to out-perfom DX11. No matter if AMD or Nvidia cards. (I tested it with Radeon RX 480 8GB and Nvidia 1060 6GB). They would have to probably write the engine from scratch or go through their base code for 6-12 months to make a difference.
  6. Picking up on something hinted in the show, something that always gets dismissed in these "Best of ... " end of the year discussions - yet is on everyone's mind - are the PATCHES/DLC of already existing games? I like to mention Starcraft II in 2016. It was the most balanced of the Starcraft 2 years. And don't take my word for it, but Artosis and Tasteless, the legendary English language commentators of the Korean Starcraft scene, said themselves, they had never seen better Starcraft 2 play than this year, culminating in the GSL Code A Season 2 and the BlizzCon Grand Finals. And yet, Korea dissolved two of the three Starcraft leagues, leaving only GSL for 2017 and it might be the last year of professional StarCraft in South Korea! Another well known game, which had a miraculous year is DOTA 2 in 2016 (before the 7.00 patch). The game reached a pinnacle in 2016, with the tournaments in Manila (Manila Major), StarLadder 5 all the way to TI 6 and the Boston Major. Tournaments in which the teams chose between 100 different heroes(!) out of 111 available strategizing and counter-picking, trying to win those millions of Dollars prize money. The game was in such a sweet spot, that I - as a viewer, not a player - would understand coherently the three different stages of the early, mid- and late-game play, as the chess-like opening strategies, or the minute-by-minute individual gameplay, culminating in team vs team back and forth battles. If Starcraft is the mechanically most demanding game, Dota 2 - in 2016 - was the highlight of what a RTS game can become. The game showed me this year especially, how it is (speed) chess-like in one way and so much more beyond it. It was a beauty to watch ... until Valve decided, towards the end of the year, with their 7.00 patch, to throw it all out and reboot the game. A third game that comes to my mind is Crusader Kings II in 2016. Everytime I read about new DLC, it sounds like this game NEEDED this addition. It made sense to add CONCLAVE or THE REAPER'S DUE to the base game (just like the upcoming "Monks & Mystics" DLC). Ever widening an incredible game. I am sure, all of you Gents, have your own games, that come to mind? In addition, I discovered for myself lately more and more mobile games, offering some form of Strategy/Tactical game elements and mechanics. From "Birth of the Empire" (Android) which is a formidable 4x clone of MoO2 and Star Trek: Birth of the Federation, to "Clash Royale" which was mentioned by Gamasutra as not just one of the best-selling games of 2016, but also something game developers should take a look at, to Creative Assembly's Total War Battles KINGDOM (also on Steam/PC), to "Conquest 3 Kingdoms" - a new mobile Android version of "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", to many more. Even if the "strategy" part might look shallow, I find many of these games appealing. (Honorable mention "Moveless Chess", which is more of a puzzle game, but the idea is brilliant!)
  7. Episode 377: Warhammer, Glorious Warhammer

    Not to repeat previous conversations, forum-posts and threads, and - just for the sake of it - let's forget for a moment how SILLY it is to have ORKS IN SPACE(!) [I guess, those Warhammer creators must have watched too many episodes of The Muppet Show and PIGS IN SPACE!! (anybody old enough to remember those?)], but, I too, want to defend Relic's "SPACE MARINES!!!" game. It was my favorite "Ork Killing Simulator" - before Monolith created "Shadow of Mordor". Space Marine was fun, because it embraced the one thing that it was meant to do: make you kill Orks as a Space Marine. Lots of them. It felt visceral. It felt great (with a gamepad). And yes, the fascist Brotherhood (or what it's called), had a Gestapo touch to it. And NOBODY can escape the power of MARCUS STRONGUS! It was also interesting to see the Relic RTS engine, doing a FPS game (which explains certain technical limitations, but it did the job quite well). Having played more Warhammer games over the years than I like to admit, I am STILL not interested in it enough, to care about who is who and what is what and lore et cetera, et cetera. For every moment I can spend reading anything about Space Orks (and the proper spelling of "ORK" vs "ORC" and how one is not the other (check out Wikipedia. It is hilarious! Seriously), I could re-read Tacitus, Livy or Seneca in Latin again. I say this not to brag, but to put this in perspective. At least, for me. Carry on...
  8. Episode 374: Civilization VI

    I myself never had the Civilization 'bug' - not with the first, second, third, fourth nor fifth ... - I buy them, incl. DLC, play a bit and - unlike many other people, I stop playing. I am probably missing out, but - at the moment - I enjoy other games. In fact, I always seem to have enjoyed other games more. Upcoming Oriental Empires speaks more to me. It is CIV-like in many ways, but leaves out the a-historical kumbaya-world view (we talked about it on the forums), instead focuses on one *culture* and the history. It will not be the mega-seller and probably cannot compete with CIV. It's smaller in scope. That's okay with me. Still, always keen to hear knowledgeable voices talking about CIV games. Including this thread.
  9. Episode 369: The Banner Saga 2

    FYI UPDATE: The Banner Saga 2 is now available on Android and iOS. Check your favorite App Store. It's 5 bucks!
  10. Episode 369: The Banner Saga 2

    Oh, no! Now, I have to finish the game, before I can listen to this. I loved the first Banner Saga. The writing in this game is just exquisite! It holds up against my favorite, long dead, Fantasy writers (E.R. Eddison, Tolkien...). If a game makes you read the entries on the map with delight, you know, they are doing something right. An 'adult' world, without the usual cliches. The balance between dialog, travel and fighting has a nice 'flow' to it. And yes, the art ... the devs deserved every prize they received for their game. It is also amazing, what a few dedicated developers can accomplish together.
  11. Episode 365: Rimworld

    Another "Early Access" game. I'll pass. I get it. You all play video games as part of your profession. You most likely get free codes. You like the 'new' and 'fresh'. Something unfinished is so much more interesting to you, since it has the "potential" (= I hate that word in game reviewers vocabulary), to become what you want it to, in your heads. And a Dwarf Fortress clone "with a twist" most certainly is exciting ... to you. I myself, prefer a *finished* game (whatever that means today - interesting discussion in itself), not something in flux. I don't buy half-baked bread. I don't watch a writer over the shoulder, while he is still writing. I don't buy a car with three wheels. No offense.
  12. Episode 364: Pet Peeves

    I am from the "School of Thought" which takes teaching you to play a game as a priority, not an afterthought. Remember being a kid, playing with other kids or with adults, a new game? Part of the enjoyment is to learn, to understand, to try out the game and it's mechanics for the first time. If the game developer and designers are only interested in their 'own' enjoyment, understanding their idea of 'game language' from playing decades of video games, without any effort to teach new players, they failed miserably, in my book. Everyone defending those games has "Stockholm(sic!) Syndrome" tattooed all over their face. "What is obvious to you, is not obvious to me." Making a tutorial is NOT trivial. Should not be an afterthought. Something you find in a brief manual, or in random 'tool tips' or - the worst - expecting me to seek information online, making me watch YouTube Let's play videos. You do this as a game designer, you failed as a game developer. Period. Tell me something, show me something, make me DO something - one trick at a time. Companies like Blizzard and Valve are the masters of teaching you to play their games. I also agree on the first Homeworld game tutorial. Exemplary teaching - from camera controls to unit formations. You could skip the tutorial, but you could not skip inside the tutorial, until you did the thing that the friendly voice was asking you to do. It registered your input. Quite new, around 1999/2000. And the way Blizzard teaches you units in Starcraft 2 should be a blueprint for (almost) every game designer? Every Single Player mission introduces one new unit. The whole scenario is designed about showing you how this specific unit is useful. They also figured out a story for each unit, making them memorable, making them 'feel' unique. In doing so, sticking some neurons in your brain. Teaching at it's best. Beyond the 'unit teaching', you get to play multiplayer 'training' missions vs AI, at different speeds. If you click on building something too early, the game tells you that. It tracks your progress. It teaches you - over time - how to get better, and faster at the game. It prepares you for multiplayer vs humans. It has training missions explicitly teaching you which unit is efficient vs which other unit. You have a limited, specific amount of units vs enemy units. 'Beating' that 'mission' is like solving a puzzle game. Which units to use vs which else and how many are enough for an assault/defense. You remember it, because you played it. Paradox "Interactive" games are the opposite of that. [i will not talk about it. I could write a book about what they are doing wrong. It angers me to a degree that I want to quit my retirement and let them hire me to teach them how to make a proper tutorial or rethink their UI 'design' - not to let their 'new' CK2 tutorial mission, they crated, still overlap with the tool tip popups, etc, etc - or how to streamline their MS Excel spreadsheet UI data dumps on people.] Of course, 'real' strategy (not just tactical) games, especially strategy war games, on a bigger scale are a hard nut to crack for developers and for new players to understand. To show them what is possible is to play the game. Nobody anticipated the economic war games withing EVE Online, for example. But to play the game one needs to understand 'what' is possible, where the limits are. A 'guided' experience is especially hard, since the developer has to deal with game illiterates to expert Gary Grigsby players. Some - experienced - players just know what to expect, when they see a game the first time. They can just hop in and figure things out for themselves. It is their part of enjoyment. Other players prefer to be taught the 'flow' of the game and gameplay. A guided experience until they themselves feel comfortable enough to ride the bike, without the invisible, helping hand behind their back. There is no 'one' solution for all. But, to think about it, to think really hard(!) about it, as a game developer and designer is the least one can expect?
  13. Episode 354: Offworld Trading Company

    Today, I read the review Tom Chick wrote on "Offworld Trading Company" ... and suddenly, I feel the unstoppable desire to own this game. Damn, you, Tom Chick! Here's the link (but, I guess, everyone around here already read it?):
  14. Episode 354: Offworld Trading Company

    Very interesting podcast. I followed the development of this game losely from afar. Listening to prior 3MA podcasts, reading Soren's Gamasutra article about EA release. Reading Steam update announcements. I love the concept of the game. I do know, it is sadly not for me. But that's ok: "Hardcore Multiplayer Community..." (Quote from the Podcast) Three words, that define me not. While I am very glad to hear, there is a Single Player campaign, isn't the core of the game still PvP, which makes especially sense for this game? My backlog of 1000+ games is already smelling funny, so sorry. I am one of those old, lonesome, single player guys, who play strategy games like reading a book - in solitude. Solving puzzles, at my own pace. Using different strategies. Trying things out. Enjoying my own limits vs the game AI. Gladly, I am too dumb to outplay most of them (Wargame AirLand Battle campaign is still too hard for me), so I keep enjoying all these games, I already have. I do understand, human players are the 'real' challenge for competitive games. But I don't like the pressure of other people (even complete strangers, online) 'in my face', while I am alone, at home. And the people I know in real life don't care about 'video games'. So I cannot play with/against them. On the topic of "Darkest Dungeon" and Early Access = it was one of a handful of games I ever bought on Early Access. I only played an hour of it during the first week and ... left it. I knew, I would like the final product, so there was no need for me to 'play-test'. I see the value of player feedback for developers (esp. metrics/analytics), but - like them - I also see hazard. Players have no clue what the idea behind it really was, or what the final product should look like. Every player has a different idea of what the game "should be" (in their mind) and they tend to have very strong opinions early on (just like those Steam people, who gave Offworld a 'negative review' before last year's PAX, while KNOWING it was not finished, complaining there was 'not enough' content. How stupid are some of these EA-holics? You judge.
  15. Episode 350: Aging Gracefully

    I have a recent example of "reverse" nostalgia? I never felt "the Force" with Supreme Commander, when it came out. I was too unexperienced as a "strategy gamer", too dumb to understand the mechanics or too overwhelmed with the unit count and too bored by the visual design. But after all the recent Ashes of the Singularity hype, I installed Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance and ... cannot stop playing it! It just took years of training with other games, to make me appreciate the thing, I missed out on. Equally, watching Korean Starcraft 2 Pro League made me a better player, going back to Starcraft 1, which I still play. It's not 'nostalgia', if you're still playing the old(er) games, is it...? I guess, it's only 'nostalgia' if your vivid memories of sleepless nights are stronger than the game itself? Which means, you had time to make a memento 'selfie', looking down on yourself, while playing - not paying attention to the units in front of you?!
  16. Waking up to the formidable Science Fiction Space Opera Single Player RTS Campaign, that is the "Legacy of the Void". The last chapter in the Starcraft 2 saga... and maybe, also, the end of an era? I share the rhapsody that was intoned in the latest Three Moves Ahead podcasts. Even Blizzard has moved on to greener pastures with their latest IP's (although, who would have thought that the online version of card games would be such a hit, despite the 'online poker' crowd, and the loyal 'Magic the Gathering' few? Well, obviously a small team at Blizzard did). It's all Lords Management and F2P and multiplayer always online, always smart phone/tablet from here on out, isn't it? Never mind "Grey Goo", or the - once again - failed attempt of Eugen to make a campaign for their "Act of Aggression" (did these guys really make R.U.S.E.?), the future certainly doesn't lie in the kind of games, some of us grew up with: the big budget, "triple A" single player RTS games (with skrimish vs AI and multiplayer as 'Game 2' and 'Game 3' included addons. Ensemble Studios which was Bruce Shelley was kicked out of business thanks to Microsoft, it feels like ages ago. Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor failed to find an audience on Kickstarter for his Supreme Commander revival and found refuge under the umbrella of (who are working on a 'new' Master of Orion(!!), if some of you forgot about that. Westwood Studios - now 'EA Los Angeles' - had their swan song a while ago with their weaker and weaker C&C series. Creative Assembly is lurking into the F2P market with their Total War ARENA, et cetera, et cetera. Yes, there will always be 'niche' market developers, 'indie' games, which will try to fill the void, but my question is rather "are 'we' - the classic RTS crowd - a dying breed?" Of course, people will always play RTS games. In their many different (smart phone?) shapes and forms, but which companies will have the money to finance a two-three digit multi-million RTS game, which gives you a fantastic single player game experience? So, while I enjoy my experience with the last Starcraft 2 edition, it feels like a farewell, a bitter-sweet last chapter, what was such a familiar 'feeling': motivated by outstanding cutscenes and characters, diving into the gameplay, to achieve the objectives, to crush the enemy, just to be awarded at the end of a mission with new bits of the story. A single player campaign, which is more digestible than the frantic multi-player online matches against super-human enemies. And even though Blizzard is holding the 'classic RTS' torch high and proudly and making extra efforts to invite new, inexperienced players to their RTS game (again, superb, didactic tutorials and training modes, even a new coop mode), I hardly see 'new', younger audiences grabing this standalone 3rd installment of Starcraft 2 out of curiosity, like we picked up new game boxes from the retail shelves of our local game store, just because we found the art work of the box interesting. I am usually not the kind of person to say "Punk is dead" ... "Rock'n'Roll is dead" ... "Jazz is dead" - but find myself in that corner. Quite a lonely place.
  17. I finished the campaign the first week and loved every bit of it. Now, replaying all three chapters, from the start on harder difficulty. The over-the-top Protoss monologues between the missions reminded me of Shiny Entertainments , for some odd (sentimental? nostalgic? voice-acting?) reason. It sounds also like the Greek or Roman Gods, quarreling amongst each other over the fate of mortal humans. What Blizzard managed with their campaigns is to swing my attitude towards their factions. I never liked playing the Zerg, but then "Heart of the Swarm" came out and Blizzard made me play the Zerg, introduced me to their "one new unit, one new trick" campaign mission structure, making me understand the unit ... and making me fall in love with them. The same happened now, with the Protoss. I used to not care about "PvP" matches (in Starcraft slang: "Protoss vs. Protoss"). I thought of them as utterly boring. But, again, with the way they set these units up, giving everyone a story/lore element, I once again, fell in love with these Starcraft units. I started to understand the unit abilities and (meta) gameplay better. How the different play styles of each faction is a reflection of the underlying lore and even art-style is a testament to the series. Blizzard knows how to 'package' their game for their audiences. I watched this years BlizzCon and found it quite ridiculous, But, playing the campaign, alone at home, I found myself suddenly cheering in the same way (although not out loud. Not THAT crazy). Another great aspect of Starcraft 2 has to deal with Blizzard's commitment to introducing new players to the game. If you click on Multiplayer you will find the Training section, which step-by-step teaches you how to become a better player, for each faction. It holds you by the hand. It tells you what to build next. It detects when you build a new building earlier than recommended. It allows you to get in the groove, to establish a flow of (early) game management. It is as if you are . You get to understand the pace of the game. It makes you feel prepared before jumping to random multiplayer matches. And there are also so called 'Challenges' in the Campaign section to further improve your righteous clicking. As for watching Pro-Starcraft. It takes not too much time to understand the basics? If you watch the World Championship Series, you can get the gist of it in a few hours, thanks to the professional commentary. As for understanding the nuances and complexity of the game .... this can take a lifetime! I am watching American Football for four decades now, and with each game and each season, I am learning a new thing or two! (Ok, with almost each game). I find Starcraft eSports very 'watchable' and more often than not ! I also watch Dota 2 games, while never ever having played a multiplayer match of Dota 2 and can - after 10 hours of watching - follow the game and understand the metagame concept in Dota 2. I have now watched 100 hours of Dota 2 and would still not be able to understand which player is going for which build to counter a mid-game strategy of the other team, or how many hit-points which spell is taking to be effective against the opponents combo (like commentator Synderen does), etc, etc, but with the professional commentary offered in pro-leagues and at big events, I can as a viewer. The game loses me when the fights break out. It is too fast for me to follow, but the Dota 2 client allows to rewatch replays in slow motion and one can study the game. Sadly, though Starcraft 2 also has the 'Replay' functionality, their game client does not provide the same depth you can find in Dota 2. I keep wondering, if the popularity of Starcraft 2 would be higher, if Blizzard would have managed to build the same level of in-game functionality (easy replay downloads, real time live in-game viewing, etc). But, compared to Dota 2, Starcraft is a much 'easier' game when it comes to complexity. Overall, it will be interesting to see the longevity of Starcraft 2 after this 'last' installment. It is also ironic, while Starcraft 'invented' Lords Management, to see this game fall to it's own blade, it's own creation.
  18. I never heard before of the "Nobunaga Series" of Japanese Strategy games. They are made/published by Koei/Tecmo for the last 30 years. Steam Version: Playstation Version available too. I found some user reviews on Steam, which peaked my interest: "Here's the deal. Koei has been making these two grand strategy game series called Romance of the Three Kingdom and Nobunaga's ambition. You're placed on a large map of China and/or Japan respectively and you take control of one of the historical warlords in the period. You're given control of the finances, diplomacy, and the military features of the realm and you're given the huge task of reuniting a tortured land and placing it under your control." (Source: "I have never played a Koei strategy game before to this was all new to me, but I followed the fun (if long) tutorial through to the end and started an easy campaign as the Oda on the "Birth of Nobunaga" scenario, I then proceeded to play faaaaaaar longer than intended this afternoon. I had a blast. Coming from a Shogun 2 total war fanatic standpoint, this provides a very different experience, that somehow sits between a Paradox game like CK2 (or Sengoku) and something a bit lighter like the total war series. Battles are automatically fought out as the month progresses and you can dip in and try to turn them in your favour if you want to. There are some great positioning based mechanics at work here that make positioning your forces or paramount importance to victory, attacking from different directions and defending or bypassing choke points, are both important things to understand, and provide a lot of enjoyment. Management of your "Officers" is a huge part of the game and I'd say this makes it more like the aforementioned Paradox titles, land management is also important, and takes up much of your time. There is a fun internal and external political system to maneuver and this allows you to do some very fun things like forming coalitions against powerful enemies and calling friends to fight for you, you can even mediate peace between two antagonists!" (Source: I played the tutorial scenario myself. Disclaimer: I don't play JRPGs, I don't know what happens in Final Fantasy VII, nor do I play 'Japanese games', in general. I am not one of 'those' people. Your father died. The leader of the Oda Clan. You play a young Daimyo/Lord who engages in a dialog with his Sensei. This older man was a loyal servant to your father, and he wants to commit ritual suicide, because he thinks, he failed his former master, teaching YOU (the character you play/you, the player). In a series of back and forth Plato like dialogs, presented like a Gameboy/Nintendo game (portraits left and right, click button for more dialog), you - the player - are introduced to the game mechanics and systems (dialog about politics and the importance of diplomacy and what wise men should do, did really remind me of Plato's Dialogues!). In the end of each novella length (but strangely enjoyable) conversation section, you get to play what you just learned (or rather execute it), before the next tutorial section. Meanwhile, in the background, you hear a chirpy grand orchestral score, like David Lean decided to make a last Cinemascope attempt, in the 1960s, making an adventure movie, based in Japan. I wish, Paradox would play this game. Everyone can learn a lesson or two, from this kind of character driven tutorial. As far as I can see, the games emphasis is on grand strategy. There are numerous advisers, you get to send all over Japan. Diplomacy plays a far bigger role than I can make out in Crusader Kings 2 or Europa Universalis IV (or any Total War game, goes without saying). The real-time battles play out like Total War Arena. Fast and without a lot of depth. But overall, this game is really intriguing, if you like Japan and Strategy games. Needless to say, I am of the School of thought who thinks tutorials are not a waste of developer resources and an afterthought, but are the true masterclass in game design. Being able to teach new players to understand your game, never having played one, in interesting and engaging ways should be your highest goal, after having nailed and balanced your game systems. But that is a topic for another discussion. While it has the typical 'Japanese' style elements, it is NOT an 'anime' game, like Valkyrie Chronicles. Like Troy, I could not make myself play that one, no matter how good people said it was. It has also the strengths of Japanese games, as I see them: strong storytelling through characters, strong emphasis on game mechanics, thoughtful design and gorgeous art. It is pretty expensive, which I cannot scratch my head around, why this is the case. A lower price point would make curious people more willing to check it out. Apparently the Japanese/Chinese versions are expensive too. I am not expecting to hear a Three Moves Ahead Podcast about this, but I still wanted to point some of you towards this title.
  19. Three Moves Ahead 323: Company of Heroes

    What put me off years ago and never wanted me to play in particular the Company of Heroes series multiplayer, goes back to another Podcast: Games For Windows Live Podcast which had a young Shawn Elliott (who later was hired by Ken Levine & Irrational Games to work on Bioshock Infinite), who in many episodes articulated his love for the game in ways I could not understand. He introduced me to the concept of 'griefing', which basically is a notion to 'break' the game, not follow the rules and hinder your opponent to play the game. It layed open the vicious side of human nature. But, more to your point, introducing 'randomness' in video games, or more broadly, in computing itself(!) is one of the most challenging things? (Would be an interesting podcast topic, imho. Or was there one?) One of the videos above in my links shows a single rifleman 'nuking' it out against a tank for over a minute. It was the first time I myself recognized what is going on there. That kind of non-precision? But you want units to have certain stats against other units, to keep the overall balance? Which of course introduces some dice-rolling non-precision and ridiculousness, if taken 'literally'. No soldier would survive a tank shell from five feet next to them. I could easier excuse a 'bad' mortar crew. It is easier to 'fictionally' justify such a unit? Clicking/commanding a unit to do a specific thing and that unit failing in many ways IS how combat really goes? It reflects the theater of war? I guess, all these games have to find a balance between familiarity of units, historical references (here, once again, our all favorite topic) and the abstraction as it translates into gameplay?
  20. Three Moves Ahead 323: Company of Heroes

    The Idle Thumbs comment system hates self-indulgence. It's auto-immue system denies it. Rightly so. Mea maxima culpa. Thanks ilitarist!
  21. Three Moves Ahead 323: Company of Heroes

    First time visiting this thread since release of the podcast. I am surprised this thread is not 30 pages long, full of old battles and discussions on CoH, ToV, CoH2 ... fill in your favorite topic. I have absolutely nothing intelligent to add. You can stop reading now. Thanks, Arathain for mentioning the *watchable* aspect of CoH. So, I am not coming totally off here (see below). Only hours ago, my school buddy - from 30+ years ago(!) - and I played against CoH2 Standard AI ... and lost miserably. And I am the guy, who does not play multiplayer games. A) Nobody I know plays video games (old people) ...and B ... I don't like them ... except CoH, as it seems. Recently, last couple days, I slapped ReShade (that's a post-processing graphic tool) on CoH2. This game is so 'optimized' for frantic multiplayer matches that it is often way too much for me. So what did I do? I started watching. I slowed it down. I ... enjoyed it as a movie experience! (Heresy! I know!) Michael Curtiz and such. And I need to share my excitement with SOMEBODY ... so it falls on you, five people, five people of EXCELLENT TASTE ... here in the Idle Thumbs/3MA forum. I don't know how to include videos in these modern websites. Be aware, what you will see is fabulous, is on YouTube and has no ads. (Who are these people, who opt-in to ads on YouTube, really?) First one was just a ReShade test, but it looks more like a recent movie, with some recent movie stars, driving an old tank? Oh, I brag. Apologies, YOU decide... And the second one, hopefully speaks for itself. It is a black and white movie. The main reason why I wanted to share this is to show you: there is minimal to more like NO skill involved in this! Everyone, who wants to, can just record something and watch it as a consumable entertainment token? The amount of work that goes in these games - not only on the mechanical side, crunching numbers, making balancing work, creating new units, which look, 'feel' and 'play' unique, but also the 'grunt' work of 'texture artists' and 'gfx artists' .. or - as mentioned - excellent sound design ... often is forgotten, in the focused minds of winners, who focus on winning and out-thinking their opponents. It is nice to explore other elements in games too. PS: I started starring at video games a while back. If you are really crazy, you might want to watch one of my 30 second videos showing off the , or the exciting I... - and I even made a , showing basically nothing - unless you liked "The Thin Red Line" or "The New World" ... ok, enough vanity. Again, apologies. I just like to point at things my eyes see in video games ... through videos.
  22. Elite: Dangerous (Kickstarter)

    Haha - yes and yes. I especially have issues with those - so called - 'tutorials. You travel to the 'training station' and what do you do there? N o t h i n g. You start the basic combat tutorial ... and is anything explained in there? A b s o l u t e l y ...not! You don't get to hear anything about shields or weapons or if those lasers have a convergence range etc, ... you are just left in space and 'hey, shoot some stuff'. This is as bad as it is lazy, in my opinion. And the manual is so vanilla. If one wants real information, they are better off turning to the Wiki (...which is user-made?). I got around. Doesn't take long. As mentioned above, I played my fair share of space sims. It really is not complicated. But, this was not about me. This is about game design - or the lack of it - and 'new', inexperienced players, trying to ease into a new game. Maybe their very first space sim. They are doing a really bad job at that. And, yes - exploration, figuring things out, is also exciting. But don't call something 'tutorial' which has nothing to do with the Latin root of the word, unless, they want to 'guard' the game from new people? I play a ton of games, of all types and genres, over a year. This just stood out, in a bad way. Even after I have read all the reviews and comments, since it's beta.
  23. Elite: Dangerous (Kickstarter)

    Yes. A new player. Yes. A new player rant. I am not saying, this game is not good or great or 'fill-in-your-favorite-adjective'. And yes, we can skip the "this is ELITE - just like it was meant to be", or "It is obviously not for you", et cetera, et cetera requitals. I was there, when the original ELITE came out (Apple II and Commodore for me). I played my fair share of Wing Commander and Freelancer and what not. ... what I AM saying is ... this game is STILL 'new player' unfriendly AS HELL! But why?? After so many patches and updates, one would think (I should never assume, but I did speculate) that the lack of anything comprehensive or even an accitental, unexpected sun erruption of a of a more welcoming first gaming hour, was on one of those far, far away, lower bullet points of the developers 'to-do list'. But, nay... - all new content is focused on the established core player base. Most likely, reflecting their (your) wishes. I play all kinds of game genres. I am fairly interested in game design and I enjoy tutorials as an academic research topic, since I believe one of the higher callings in higher education is the ability to COMMUNICATE knowledge from one person to the next. A video game, which tells you "Go watch a YouTube video", is filing bancruptcy when it comes to game(play) design. I don't care, how great the game mechanics, how vast the universe, how amazing the later game is; the very first hour is important, in my game design belief. Even if a game does not explain it in-game (RTFM, etc), it has to make an effort. In the end, there is not a lot to learn, in this particular game. It does not demand reading a 1000 pages (like the DCS World A-10C Warthog manual) and/or understanding real world navigation systems, combat aviation, radar functions (again, DCS World - the finest example of a flight sims), yet what it presents as a 'tutorial' does not deserve that title? I refer - again - to DCS World, which has some of the more demanding and complicated 'gameplay'/simulation systems, and yet THEY understand how to interactively communicate what to do and how to do it and they find ways to draw new players in, just like Blizzard does, or Valve, or Relic, or any given decent developer. "There was no money" was an argument before the first two, three patches/updates. Now, there is no excuse.
  24. Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence

    Yep. No single warrior combat. You always control an army or armies. As I mentioned before, it is much like Total War Arena. A light-version of Total War's RTS battles. The emphasis of the game is much more on the grand strategy part. You get to choose between thousands(!) of advisors and officers and can even create your own ones in an editor. What I find very appealing is the fact, that the game found a way to overcome the analysis/paralysis dilemma, I always find so impenetrable in Paradox titles, with their walls of Excel-spreadsheet data dumps, not knowing what is important and what not. What to click on. Every character, every city development, every diplomatic action allows only for a few choices/upgrades, each turn. You are 'guided' - as far as I can see - in a more new X-Com kind of way. I only dipped into this title. I have no clue how good or deep the game AI and diplomatic system goes, but more experienced players praise especially this latest game of the series.
  25. (non) competitive mindsets while playing

    I remember decades ago - sorry, I am that old - a friend of mine and myself tried to play Age of Empires (ok, not THAT old) against each other. While I was occupied building things, making my economy flow, finding people things to eat, to build, to do, my opponent (my friend) build a wall around my settlement. I was baffled that this was even possible. That someone could think of this. It taught me something about life and people. I was interested in building things. He was interested in destroying me. Not to sound pompous, but I do think, there are different type of 'players'? Deeply rooted in psychology, in character, in behavior? I don't need to be 'first' in real life neither. I let others speak up first, let them run in front of me, if they feel they have to do it. I am confident enough not to bother. Maybe I lack a certain competitive gene. There are people who like to build and there are people who like to 'fight'? I don't mind the competitive nature of (most) games, but I am always looking to play an 'interesting' game, while people online mostly care how quickly they can defeat me and/or destroy me, or shoot me in the virtual face. Both sides playing to win - at all cost - for them IS an interesting, a 'good game'; playing to explore the boundaries/limits of the game by competing to be 'first', to beat the other player. While for me a good game is something aesthetically as intellectually pleasing ... not dependent on pure skills. It is enough, if the game makes me think of something new. I do understand that 'high level' player only find satisfaction playing equally skilled opponents, just because they have played all the lesser tactics before and know their outcome. I don't.