Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Happy Late Anniversary Marvel Heroes!

June marked the 4th anniversary of Marvel Heroes 2016, or as it's now know, Marvel Heroes Omega. So a little information and history for those who may not know what a Marvel Heroes Omega is. MH is an isometric action-rpg just like Path of Exile, Diablo or Titan Quest.

MH was developed by Secret Identity Studios which is owned by a company called Gazillion Entertainment. MH started out as Marvel Universe Online which was being developed by Cryptic Studios for Microsoft. When Microsoft cancelled the project, Cryptic took what they had and turned it into what is now Champions Online. In 2009 Gazillion hired a guy by the name of David Brevik who just happens to have been apart of two games you might have heard of, Diablo and Diablo II, and created Marvel Heroes.

Now I haven't played Marvel Heroes much since the summer of 2015, or just after the second anniversary event. In July 2015 I was honored to be on the MMO Show to discuss the game, and at some point in the podcast the time played topic was brought up. I realized at that point that I had invested nearly 600 hours of my life to the game. I didn't play much of MH when it launched in 2013, it wasn't until the 1st anniversary event in 2014 that I was really sucked into the game. Needless to say, not long after the podcast I decided that it was time for a break.

In January 2017, Marvel Heroes had it's Biggest Update Ever. The fundamental gameplay remained the same, however, most everything else was changed in this update. I won't go into any details in this post, you can read the changes here. I hadn't played MH in almost a year so it was quite overwhelming logging back in and trying to relearn a game that I spent so much time playing in the past.

This years anniversary, just like last year, is a month long with different events and sales that change every 7 days. This year's event wasn't bad, comparing it to last year's event it doesn't seem to be as good, but overall I still had quite a bit of fun.

I took full advantage of the server side XP boost by finishing leveling Warmachine and Wolverine whom I was in the process leveling for a third time. After that I decided to level all the characters I owned that I haven't played. Then, thanks to the large amount of eternity splinters I earned and owned, I purchased and leveled the remaining characters in the game. But that wasn't all; I then decided to prestige many of the heroes because it had been so long since I last played and I wanted to see just how the BUE changes effected their gameplay.

I ended up playing about 120 hours in that 25 day period. So yes, I did enjoy myself. For the most part. The BUE had a positive impact on characters that I thought were lackluster previously, adversely there were some characters I thought were made worse. Warmachine and Taskmaster are two characters that weren't great before, and oddly enough they still are not great now. Not sure how that happened.

I would say that overall I had fun during the month long event and I was reminded why I enjoyed the game for so many hours. At some point I want to do a post that talks about what I like and dislike about the BUE, but my impressions after a month of play is somewhere in the middle. Some changes are good, some are not, and I feel that some of the uniqueness of the characters was taken away due to the update.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Avoid The Void.

Dang, time really flies when you're not writing. Sheesh.

So last month I wrote about that all too familiar feeling of being in a funk. In fact, I've written about it quite often. To me it's a condition that comes about when you're A) a bad time manager and B) have too many game choices. This all leads to the indecisive funk where I want to play everything, I just can't decide what I want to play. It's all maddening really.

The List of Backlog was suppose to help alleviate that issue, but it really hasn't. Towards the end of April I got to a point in Space Hulk Ascension where I felt I had accomplished what I wanted with the game and I could confidently move on to something else. Problem is, nothing on The List was really grabbing me.

I kind of played this or that, messed around with some MMO's, nothing too serious. I even started replaying Borderlands 2, a game that I really enjoy. Then June hits and the 4th anniversary event for Marvel Heroes 2016 begins. And for a good two and a half weeks I played a ton of Marvel Heroes. To the tune of around 120 hours.

See, games like Marvel Heroes, Diablo 3, Battlefield, Paladins or any other online game are great for those times when you want to play something but can't decided which game you're going to sink time into. With a game like Diablo 3, at the start of every season I tend to play for about a month, leveling up multiple characters and grabbing loot. At the end of it I feel satisfied, I enjoyed myself and I don't feel like I was wasting time. Same with games like Battlefield and Paladins. I'll play them exclusively for a weekend or two to get my competitive juices flowing. And when I'm finished and I move onto something else, I know that I can go back to those games again and still enjoy them.

MMO's used to be that for me, they used to fill that void when game paralysis was beginning to take hold. I remember 10 years ago having a subscription to City of Heroes and the Sony Access which included Everquest 2, Star Wars Galaxies, Matrix Online and Vanguard. On my days off from work I would just play any one of those games, sometimes all of them. And that's what I did. Sometimes one game would have my interest most so I would spend more time in that one, but I was pretty good about playing them all to give myself some variety. Those were good times.

The downfall of all that really was digital distribution. As digital distribution became bigger, so did my collection of games. But that's a topic for another day really.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Funk

While trying to tackle The Backlog seems like an insurmountable yet admirable task, it isn't without it's drawbacks. Mainly when nothing on that list seems interesting to play at the moment. Right now I am in a massive gaming funk. I remember reading a comment by someone when I was doing a bit of research on the backlog where they said it's game paralysis - a condition where there's too many games and you can't decide which to play.

Here's the problem - I had anticipated being wrapped up in Dawn of War 3 for quite some time. But that game has turned out to be a huge disappointment for me. Because of that I have little desire to play the game, which has left me in a state of trying to decide what to play next. The last few nights I've sat behind my computer watching videos or tv more than playing games.

The first step in over coming game paralysis (aside from not buying games) is to recognize that you are in a funk, which I have done. Now I think it's time to get refocused and re-energized by taking a bit of time off from games.

Every night after work I get home, I get my son situated doing homework, and then I sit behind the computer for the rest of the night. On the weekend it's not much different. I spend a lot of time playing games. I realized on Thursday that I was in the funk and that I'm just bored, and that's not fun. I will say that I am happy that I figured out that I'm in the funk now instead of realizing after sitting behind my computer for a week, or more, and then kicking myself for not taking that time to just play something.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - gaming is a hobby and should be fun and not feel like work. Unless your work is gaming, in which case I don't know what you do about that. So tonight I have a couple of Netflix movies that I can watch, including Blade Runner The Final Cut on Bluray which I'm excited to watch, and tomorrow I've got some things to do and a UFC fight to watch.

I love playing games, and as a gamer there's nothing worse then being bored with gaming.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Crysis Is Over!

After finishing the previous Dawn of War games in preparation for Dawn of War III, I decided to try and use the time to knock out a few more games in The Backlog. Problem was, nothing on the list was really grabbing me all that much. But I powered through that and decided to play a couple of games I've had for ages, Crysis 2 & 3.

About 15 years ago when I was working at Gamestop it seemed like and fps was release everyother day. Not so much these days. That's why when a game like Doom 2016 comes out and turns out to be pretty good, it's a big deal.

I remember when Crysis 2 released and the PC master race threw up there arms, grabbed their torches and pitchforks and began to crucify the game for it's console-itis gameplay and feel. There's no denying that it's much different than its predecessor, a game that I loved a ton, but Crysis 2 isn't all that bad.

Over the course of a long weekend I played and finished both games, and even played through Crysis 3 a second time. I think they are both very good games that start off amazing, but lose steam once you begin to fight the Ceph. Crysis 2 the story was a mess, I had a really hard time following the narrative nor caring why I was doing what I was doing. Crysis 3 at least had better characters and a protagonist that could finally talk.

Of the two I think Crysis 3 is a better game, but not by a huge margin. The story and characters really is what sets it apart for me. There some gameplay changes to that help - refinement of the suite powers, being able to use alien weapons, and that overpowered bow!

Overall I am quite satisfied with both games. While I think the graphics in Crysis are pretty overrated, the gameplay in that and Warhead is so good that I felt compelled to finish both games twice! I'm happy that I finally played through both Crysis 2 & 3, and maybe someday I'll even play them again, but for now notch two more games off the list!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Money's Worth Conundrum

One aspect in regards to the backlog that I haven't talked about is the need for me to feel that I've gotten my money's worth out of a game. Many years ago I pre-ordered the collector's edition of Dead Space 2. While it's a great game, I was extremely frustrated and upset with how short the game was. So upset that I played through the game twice more in a row just to get my money's worth.

These days with digital sales being the norm I rarely pay full price for a new PC game so the need to invest as many hours as a game cost isn't as big of a factor for me as it was many years ago. Right now I find myself in a situation where I am playing Space Hulk: Ascension and replaying Just Cause 2, and I'm not sure I really want to but I want to feel like I got my money's worth.

JC2 I played years ago and I did play the faction missions and finished the story, but because of the size of the game I always felt that I was missing stuff in the game. Ascension is just a long ass game. I own four of the eight Space Marine chapters and there are six campaigns with at least fifteen missions if not more.

I have plenty of time before Dawn of War 3 is released to trim a bit off the backlog but neither of these games are really doing anything for me. I guess what's eating me is that I recognize these are two games that I probably won't play again, but I want to feel like I got my money's worth and satiate that feeling of completion so that I can remove them from the backlog list.

When I am suffering from that dreaded game paralysis, the backlog has been a useful tool to get me out of the funk. But I have come to the conclusion that I might not get my money's worth out of every game. Gaming is suppose to be fun, not a chore. When it comes to the list, it's something I have to often remind myself of.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Lego Backlog Update

Last post I gave some detail about The List that I created for tackling the mighty stack of the backlog. I've come to discover that The List can be both good and bad. It's good because it has given me direction and motivation for completing those games that I purchased but never played. It can also be bad because not only can it be intimidating seeing all those games labeled as backlog, but there are actually some games on there that I might not want to actually play.

What I do is sort The List by category then go to the oldest game on the list and start from there. However, there are a few games that go way back that I am just not really wanting to play right yet. So the moral of the story is to be flexible, play what you want because gaming isn't suppose to be work. That is unless it is your job, in which case gaming is work.

I do have an update on the backlog - I finished Lego Star Wars the Complete Saga and Lego Batman recently. I've been wanting to play Lego Star Wars for ages and now seemed like a good a time as any to give that a go.

Turns out, I don't really like the game all that much. I am what you would call NOT a fan of platforming or puzzles, and when you mix the two together it's even worse. The Complete Saga is actually two games in one; the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. And boy do they play differently as well. The main difference for me is the original trilogy levels are longer and have more jumpy and puzzly bits in them.

I just found The Complete Saga to be a chore to get through. The first three episodes are actually tolerable, albeit annoying. But the last three episodes drove me nuts. My dislike for platforming and puzzles can be attributed to my very lack of patience. I'm not saying it's a bad game, it is neat seeing a franchise that I have grown up with and love turned into legos, but it just wasn't for me.

I admit that after finishing The Complete Saga that maybe I was a bit hard on the game, I decided to give Lego Batman a go. I actually got Batman for free because my son received a Lego Batman set that came with a free code for the Steam version. So right there I was already loving the game.

Lego Batman has two campaigns so to speak - the heroes and the villains. The hero side is of course, Batman and Robin. Aside from all the suite changing stuff that was required to progress through the levels, that portion was quite fun. Playing through the hero story missions was so enjoyable. There was very little platforming puzzle bits, just the suites and bashing bad guys. I loved it.

Then came the villain story missions. It wasn't bad, but the villain story missions were much more tedious, much like the original trilogy episodes from the Complete Saga. Overall Lego Batman was enjoyable and I'm really glad that I gave it a try. I have decided to play through the Lego games in my Steam library in order of release so I'm looking forward to playing one that has actual voice acting!

Monday, March 13, 2017

The List of Jayedub!

I've written about the all mighty backlog in the past. You know, that thing that we as gamers constantly have looming over our shoulders, taunting us, yet we continue to feed the backlog with holiday sales on a regular basis. Honestly, it really sounds like an addictive relationship!

But in my seemingly overwhelming quest to slay the backlog dragon I have done what I believe is a few things that will help break the painful cycle of buying endless games I won't play and once and for all kill that nasty monster called the backlog.

While I do have a number of games on physical discs, the backlog really started becoming an issue when I began to make digital purchases. As the digital retail market grew and holiday sales became the norm, I found myself buying loads of games. Games that I may not have otherwise played. And each time I defended my purchases with the thought that I was saving money buying whatever game now while it's on sale because someday I will play it.

Last year I made some great strides at not purchasing a game that I wasn't intending on playing right away but it didn't stop me from buying games and putting them on the virtual shelf. It may seem silly because gaming is suppose to be a hobby, not a job. But I often felt guilt knowing that I had this ever growing list of games that I keep contributing to but never actually playing.

So I decided to scour the interwebs to see how others dealt with such an issue. The first thing I learned was not to beat myself up. I had to accept that I may or may not play every game that is on my backlog and that it's going to take time and effort to get to a point where I feel that I have accomplished my goal. Once I came to that conclusion and I stopped beating myself up, I then had to figure a way to accomplish my goal. Believe it or not, it's as simple as making a list.

The most common advice on the webs was to make a list. My start date for the list began with January 5th, 2006, the day I downloaded Steam and installed Half-Life 2. To be fair, Half-Life 2 was actually a physical purchase, but it gave me a great starting point to begin my list. I created a list with every purchase made from an online retailer that could be redeemed on Steam, Origin, Uplay and GOG. 453 games later I have my list.

The next step I did for myself. I started tracking my monthly expenses and purchases that I make online or otherwise. The idea was to see exactly how I was spending my money and on what. This has actually been an eye opener for me. If you couldn't tell, my wife and I don't exactly have a family budget. Because I like buying games during holiday special sales, I lose track of when, what and how much when it comes to buying games. I already knew that I was not playing the games that I was buying, but to see it on paper really helped me to give more thought about my game purchases.

It probably sounds like I'm making a bigger deal out of this than I should, and I agree. Unfortunately I am a bit impulsive with my game purchasing and I needed something to help me gain control over an area in my life that I felt has been out of control for so long. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like chaos, and having a mound of unplayed games for me is chaos.