Monday, August 19, 2013

Field Report #21 - We've Got To Go Deeper

I think this summer I have been working particularly much, but there has still been time for some gaming, and especially game buying (I need to do something with all that money). Last time I checked I had bought somewhere around twenty new games this year alone, and the year is only half gone! Well a little bit past half gone (I barely remember june and july tbh), but still. Most of the games are oldies but goldies, like Baldurs Gate or Serious Sam and I have no idea when I intend to play them, they're just games I've always wanted to try out (or in some cases have played and want to replay). There are way more new games coming in than I have time to finish them, especially since many of the games I buy are rpgs that tend to take 30ish hours to complete or even "worse", games that are basically neverending, like Skyrim. No matter, I have all life right? So this is what I've been up to lately.

Final Fantasy V
I decided it was time to finish the last couple of Final Fantasy games that I haven't actually played, that being FFIV, FFV and FFVI, especially since I have heard that they are actually very good. I also decided I wanted to play the GBA versions of them for two reasons; 1. better graphics, doesn't actually matter that much to me but it's a bonus and 2. they've fixed some of the worse gameplay issues I know the old SNES versions could have, things that an unpatient me probably wouldn't have much fun with.

I'm not a huge fan of the first three Final Fantasies, although I appreciate seeing how one of the best RPG series started out and how some of its core features developed. I always have great restecpah for the fact that game developers were still trying out new ideas and basically chiseling out how these things should work when the genre and whole industry was still fairly young. I was very pleasantly surprised by FFIV, feeling like it's one of the first final fantasy games where they actually do some work on the character development making it one of the first in the FF series with some personality to it. Although the story is pretty much the same old same old, good guys need to vanquish evil force (and that hasn't changed much throughout the series), the character interaction is greatly written, humurous and touching. I just love it when a handful of pixels can make me feel so much, actually laughing out loud at the dialogue and getting attached enough to care about their thoughts, actions or when something happens to them.

FFV is, for some reason, the only FF game I had no idea about. Eventhough I hadn't played FFIV and FFVI before, I still had a general idea about the story, main characters and main bad guys, mostly probably because of reading the odd thing here and there on the internet. FFV on the other hand, I didn't know any of these things and I don't know why this game isn't mentioned as much because so far it's actually really good. The only thing I can think of is that it wasn't originally released in western world (FFIV was released as FFII and FFVI was released as FFIII, basically skipping FFV) until years later, meaning most of us over here probably missed out on this game initially. According to the Wikipedia page, the game was intended to be released just as FFIV and FFVI but wasn't considered as accessible to the average gamer, something which if you ask me, is total bullshit. Unless something extremely weird and confusing happens in the second half of the game, it plays really well, is fun and involving just as most FF games. I'm loving what they've done with the job system, allowing you to combine different jobs, and without penalizing you too much for swapping as was the case in FFIII.

MtG 2014
After having played and thoroughly enjoyed MtG 2013, I was very glad to see there was a new game released, following the sports game formula of naming games after the year to come rather than the year it is being released. At first I wondered what could be so different about the games that it warranted me buying a whole new one, including possible DLC content that I tend to buy, but there are actually a couple of things. The campaign looks completely different, with challenges inbetween the duels rather than just a string of duels, and obviously some completely new decks of varying quality. Unlike MtG 2013 I haven't decided to unlock some decks for myself to start out with but thought I'd go as far as I could with the starter decks and unlock them card by card instead. One deck proved to particularly challenging, a white human mob deck, but the benefit is that as soon as you do manage to crush it (think I chose a red life burn deck, going directly to the player rather than through the creatures to win against this one) you get to play the deck yourself, and it has definitely proven to be one of the best. I think, except for a red life burn deck like I played against it, maybe a black sacrifice/pain deck would be a good counter, but other than that the white deck has proved to withstand many different combinations. I haven't gotten that far into the game yet, but am really liking it, especially just being able to jump in for a game or two when I have a couple of minutes to spare. I've also been invited via twitter to do some live stream multiplayer gaming, which I'd gladly try, so we'll see where that ends up.

I'm still running around in Skyrim, pretty aimless at the moment. I think I like it that way, slowly making my way across the country side rather than aiming towards doing certain quests in a certain order. I just see where I end up, going for whatever is closest on the map, until I've cleared it all or bore, I guess. Although most of it is pretty same same - cave with some animals and crazy people that need killing for the meh treasure at the end - I do stumble across some really cool stuff every now and then and I think that's as it should be. Everything doesn't have to blow my mind away, sometimes the mere feeling of discovery is quite enough.

Just to give an example; I found this lighthouse, went in and found lots of dead people lying around. This was unusual, the normal way of things is that every building I find is either filled with bandits to kill or semi-friendly people that I don't need to kill, this was one of the few places I had found where everyone seemed dead already. Turns out I had the opportunity to figure out what had happened to the poor family living there, and the notes they had left talking about "sounds coming from the cellar" did not remove from the eeriness of the whole situation. The whole thing only took me maybe half an hour to get through, but it definitely felt like a game within the game, and I found myself curiously and carefully wandering around the lighthouse to figure out what had happened, coming up with different solutions in my head ranging from the regular bandits to undeads. It had a nice feel and immersiveness to it and I only hope I find more tidbits like that in the game, so far that is probably one of the top three experiences I have had.

The occasional kicking-my-ass boss/mob are also loads of fun, since overall the encounters are fairly simple in the game. I play as a warrior and only use spells scarcely, I can imagine however that relying more on spells probably would make things even easier as they seem to be very powerful. Some fights I run in, swords a-blazing only to get one shot by some skill. I load up and realize that this fight might actually require some tactic and careful choice of skills, those fights are always the most fun. It does remove some of the fun however when I finally manage to kill a hard boss only to find my companion Lydia dead somewhere in a corner. I sigh to myself and load up again, realizing I have to not only fight the encounter, but the stupidity of my companions AI as well. Overall it doesn't bother me too much fortunately, I think I have come to terms with the fact that my companion is about as clever as two thick planks and that half the challenge is to make sure she stays out of trouble.

I like Skyrim for the for the occasional quick exploring session, when I feel like doing nothing special but just run around and see where I end up. Occasionally I find something really interesting, so yeah I'm still having loads of fun with this game.

I've been wanting to give this game a go ever since I first saw it, so when I saw it on sale during the Steam Summer Sale I immediately went for it. I should've known to buy the 4 copy bundle, since it would soon turn out I was going to spread a Terraria fever. First a friend of mine, who had been playing Terraria a lot already when it was released, asked if he could check out what I was doing. He jumped into my world and it didn't take long for him to get hooked. We adventured some and my bf sitting next to me got curious, watching what we were doing over my shoulder and had bought his own copy of the game before long so that he could join us. The three of us spent a whole lot of time running around doing the things you do in Terraria - kill things, mine things, craft things. Another friend of mine saw that I was playing it and decided to check it out as well so that we're soon now four people playing on the same server at the same time. It really is a lot more fun playing it with other people than alone, even if they do take all your stuff.

Terraria is often compared to Minecraft, and I can definitely see why. The basics are the same, with the main difference being Minecraft is in 3d whereas Terraria is 2d. For some reason however, I never had any interest in playing Minecraft, finding the whole building and crafting business seem quite boring. Terraria on the other hand is leaning more toward the killing things, using the crafting and building as more of a tool to be able to kill more difficult enemies. In Minecraft the goal usually ends up to be inventing things to build and overcoming the practical obstacles of getting those things built - that never interested me. I know many people don't even play Minecraft with enemies, focusing only on the gathering of materials to be able to build things, and that's just not for me. Don't get me wrong, I loved playing with Legos when I was little (tbh, I still do), but I think I just don't have the patience of doing all that digging and building with no other goal than just that. I want all that time and work to lead to something concrete, like a better item for me to kill something with, rather than just a building to show for it. Even in Lego I built stuff so that I would have a spaceship or whatnot to be able to battle it out with my friends.

Perler friendly -

I started out playing on Mediumcore, thinking that Softcore was for lamers. After a couple of deaths, and too much time (and more deaths) spent trying to get my hard earned stuff back I realized it just felt too punishing to play Mediumcore, I deeply regretted my choice. Especially once you started getting down to the lava areas where your gear, and other things, can actually incinerate and be gone forever if you're unlucky. Nuhuh, I won't have any of that. Unfortunately to me, seeing all my stuff disappear in front of my eyes, things that probably took hours and hours to get, doesn't entice me to want to get it all back, it makes me want to quit the game altogether. I realized that if I didn't want myself to nerdrage uninstall Terraria in the close future, I needed to reroll into Softcore to save at least the worst of the frustration. Said and done, that's where I am at now. Not that there isn't any frustration left in the game, it's still quite annoying when you spend several minutes to get to a certain place only to get killed and then repeat that process a couple of times. But at least that is just frustrating enough to make me want to overcome it, rather than just give up. Yeah, I admit I'm not a fighter when it comes to games, not much anyway.

The Others
There are still a couple of other games lying around on my desktop that I play every now and then. Black Mesa is still loads of fun, I've just got a bit stuck at a massive shoot out and I need to gather the nerve to burn it through. This just after I got stuck at a pretty annoying avoid-the-lasers platforming part. The funny thing is, if I get stuck at some part in a game I often remember it as being a lot more troublesome than it is, and when I eventually return to it, be it after a couple of days or weeks, I often find that I one shot it and can move on with ease. I'm hoping this is the case with the Black Mesa fight as well, once I go back to try it again.

HoMM2 and HoMM3 will probably never leave my dekstop, simply because they're awesome games that I will always feel like playing every now and then. And when I do... wait let me restart that sentence. I don't always play HoMM3, but when I do, I spend 6 hours at a time. They will just never bore me.

I still have Krater installed, although it's probably months since I last played it. I definitely want to continue that game though, it's simplistic but fun in its style. I just wish it had done a bit more with all that potential, but I'm still curious to see how it continues, I'll get around to that eventually.

The Goners
And now a couple of games I've decided I'm done with for now;
Kotor 2 - I'm sorry to say the bugs got the best of me. I knew I wouldn't have the patience to replay all that I needed to get back to where I was only to maybe, potentially get passed that bug, especially while knowing that there would be more coming up further ahead. I loved the story, I loved the gameplay, but that games was just too broken to be played, at least by me.
HoMM6 - It just can't compete with HoMM2 and HoMM3, so whenever I want some HoMM fun I'll turn to those games instead leaving HoMM6 in the dust. After months of just lying around I decided it was time to uninstall it. It's not bad, it's just not good enough.

Red Rogue -

On The Horizon
In the meantime, the list of games I want to play just keeps growing. Recent additions include;
Red Rogue - Free side-scrolling roguelike
Strife - RPG in the Doom engine, do I need to say more?
Bioshock Infinite - You probably know what this is, third installment in the Bioshock series.

All in all the list is longer than I'd like to think about, on the other hand it is good to know there is always some game around the corner I'd really like to try out, keeping me busy. And as always, I'd love to hear about what games you're endulging in at the moment. I hear both Hearthstone and FFXIVRR is supposed to be really good.


  1. I still spend a lot of my gaming time in Skyrim. I've played through the whole game and it's DLC's with one char, a barbaric warrior. I'm now on a complete different approach. My current vampire char is a illusion/conjunction mage. She hardly fights herself, she has minions to fight for her, but she's a master in deluding her opponents. It's cool to see a bunch of deluded bandits fight among themself, while the last one standing get downed by one of it's raised comrades.
    I agree that, when you've maxed out your core skills and have got high end weapons and armour, most fights tend to become quite easy, even on master. With a few self-imposed limitations, things can get somewhat harder though. My current mage char doesn't summon minions but only uses raised dead, which can be a problem for her when there are no dead bodies available or they're running out. She also have just one dead trall only and doesn't use high end chars for them (those raised dead heave awfull signs though). A nice thing of my current char is that it hardly matters what she's wearing, so she has collect a whole wardrobe and changes regularly.

    I've never played HoMM but I did play Age of Wonders 1, 2 and SM in the past. AoW and HoMM are somewhat similar. Do you know this serie?

    1. Yeah I've been thinking about playing a caster, in the end they often turn out to be more fun because there is just more you can do with spells than a sword. Also the fighting system in Skyrim isn't overly smooth in all honesty, I think it could "feel better" perhaps with spells instead.

      I've heard of AoW but I've never played a single game! I've always thought they were kind of like the Civ games, so more of strategy games. I'm not really sure what category HoMM falls under...

  2. Skyrim was my addiction this summer, still need to FFV.

  3. If you liked Magic the Gathering you should probably give Hearthstone (the new digital TCG by Blizzard) a view... it's not available yet but there's lots of videos on youtube from the beta. Looks really good. I'm definitely gonna try it as I was an avid MtG player back when I was still a teen nerd. :)

    Oh Skyrim... I spent most of my 2011 christmas vacation in that wonderful land. :)
    It is one of the best game experiences I've ever had, really immersive explorative game. I would just get lost in there and soak in the atmosphere and after doing that for a while you stumble on something awesome.
    I completed pretty much everything, all the different questlines, all achievements, tried to find all the miniature quest lines, dragon masks, etc, etc. But I still can't say that I've done everything. There is just so much to do, you can't even know when you've completed it.

    I just recently got back into WoW, so spending most of my time in that lately. Doing some Minecraft now and then, very relaxing game. Therapeutic in a way.
    Also looking to complete the new Tomb Raider game since it got such good reviews and seems a bit similar to the Assassin's Creed games which I liked very much.


    1. I've been keeping an eye on Hearthstone, that definitely seems interesting. I will give that a try when it goes live, as I am a sucker for card games like that. I'll also check out Scrolls when that comes out, next year I think that might be.