Bioshock Infinite: Spoiler Free Thoughts


Elizabeth Is The Star

She is so full of life. She stops to look at everything. She loves life even after being trapped in a tower for most of it. Being free allows her to express her love for life. You can really see it in the way she interacts with the world. Twirling around while admiring the sky, or jumping into a crowd of dancers. And you could hear it in her words, her awe of the beauty in the world. Knowing these things about her, she still remains mysterious which was pretty cool. I knew enough about her to like, and still wanted to know more.

I cared about her throughout the whole game. I wanted to know what she would do next. I was anticipating every single new insight into who she was. I loved how she would react to NPC’s in the game that smoked cigarette’s by coughing. She also has a great sense of humor.

She’s full of tricks and knowledge because she read a lot of books while trapped in a tower. Beauty & the Beast anyone? Still, it gave her a lot of character, and I fell in love with her. I wanted to protect her, but instead, she protected me by supplying me with ammo, health, and salts (mana); all of this while mid-combat. She’d even give me money she found, and picked locks on doors.

Elizabeth reacts to the gruesome deaths of your enemies. She resents you for being a murderer, but she also understands that you’re a protector, that this is what you have to do, maybe just not so violently.

The World

Everywhere I walked in the game had me gaping and saying aloud, “Wow!” To me it was magical to see all the different buildings floating in the sky. Beautiful statues made of gold, also seeming to float in the middle of the air.

Of course, there’s also lots of really beautiful statues that aren’t made of gold. Floating waterfalls where the water rolls over the air and just drops down through the clouds. The game eventually explains how the city floats in the air, it’s pretty neat and I won’t spoil that; just letting you know that it is explained. It’s all so beautiful, and it felt alive. I think that’s mostly due to all the non-player character’s that speak to you as if you were there. When you walk in front of someone they address you as they would anybody walking near them.

Characters that you fight against are strange and wonderful looking. Some are dressed up as minotaur looking creatures, others are dressed as a cupid mixed with a centaur. The whole atmosphere is amazing.

I really love the graphics style. It’s like you’re wandering through a painting. I was very happily pleased that the PS3 version wasn’t a super toned down one. A lot of games lose great graphical fidelity when put on the consoles. I imagine the PC version has some details that are better, but it is definitely gorgeous on the PS3 and I give big props to Irrational Games for making that happen.

“Because it does. Because it has. Because it always will.”

Gameplay

First-person shooter. Really cool power choices. My preference was to summon crows on the enemies, watching them peck out their eyes and swarming their bodies, stunning them as I finish them off with my shotgun. I didn’t really play around with the other powers, I just stuck with what I liked.

The ability to summon up a decoy for enemies to attack was also pretty cool. They’re all cool but the mechanic of the decoy stood out to me. When you select the power, a green colored clone of yourself appears in front of you and allows you to place it wherever you want. It then takes form and looks like an exact replica, without the green color.

The game had noticeably smooth controls. Another thing that was noticeable was when I would collect items from Elizabeth. She would call out to me, I’d hit the command prompt to collect from her, the game automatically turned my character in her direction to collect the item, then it automatically turned back to exactly where I was previously facing. This way, I never got confused by which direction I was facing before. I really loved this small detail.

Another cool thing is that while Elizabeth travels with you everywhere, she stays out of your way. She won’t get you stuck in a doorway by standing in front of you. If she does end up in front of you at some point, as soon as you think “get the f*** out of my way” she’s already moving. It’s kind of funny, and definitely cool.

A noticeable bad thing was having to run back and forth in the same level repeatedly. That always just drives me nuts. While I do appreciate being able to experience the glory of these beautiful levels, I just don’t like running back and forth for tedious tasks that don’t really add anything to the gameplay or the story. This doesn’t happen often though.

Another thing I was annoyed by were parts in the game where you open a tear in the fabric of time and space or whatever. Elizabeth would keep saying “If we go through this, I don’t think we can come back” as if you had a choice. You don’t, you need to go through in order to progress through the game. I suppose it’s a reminder to go loot up whatever treasures you want before moving on. I just thought it was a little silly.

Story

The story is really cool, but it did not drive me through the game. I thought that was pretty disappointing. I was bored through most of it. There’s a mystery behind what your actual goal is, maybe too much mystery. You’re trying to save a girl that you apparently already handed over to some bad dudes as a means to clear a debt. A very interesting aspect of the story is dealing with alternate time-lines, but it never really fully develops. The whole point of the story is to be unknown until the end. But that’s why I was bored by it.

Over-hyped

With how much hype there is over the game I was definitely expecting more and I think that kind of ruined my overall experience. I was expecting the game to be amazing throughout its entirety, but instead it was pretty generic. Kill bad guys over and over with awesome extreme violence.

Much like Halo, by the time I played it I couldn’t believe people were acting like it was the best game ever. It always makes me sad because it really does have an affect on how you experience a game. Expecting it to be as amazing as everyone says it is, then finding out the only thing that sets it apart from other games like it, is the scenery. Please, stop this over-hyping madness!

Final Thoughts

I wouldn’t have cared about the game if it wasn’t for Elizabeth. I probably would have been even more bored if she wasn’t at my side adding in her thoughts on what was happening, and her self discovery as you learn her story. Not that the game isn’t super cool or anything, I just didn’t have anything to care about for a very long time besides Elizabeth. Most of the game was just killing bad guys. Why this matters to me is because the grander scheme had a really great story, it just wasn’t told. You have the basic idea but you never know anything until the end of the game.

Totally Worth It

I’ll tell you this though. If I was a rich gamer, I’d pay $60 just to have experienced the ending of this game. The finale was a decent duration (I believe at least an hour long) and it blew my mind. Mind you, I did not go reading spoilers and reviews for the game. I had read maybe tiny pieces on it, mostly just opinions, and seen some screenshots. I played this game with a completely fresh look that was only ruined by hype. I hope you can do the same. If anything was spoiled for you, you might be even more disappointed than I was.

The worst thing that stood out the most to me is that there is no New Game Plus. I mean seriously? Come on! Bastuds.

“City at the bottom of the ocean? pfft Ridiculous.” -Booker

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E3 2013: How I Got Invited


This is a very personal article, it has nothing to do with the games at the actual E3 event.  This is the story of why I was invited. =)

OnLive

I’ve been addicted to “cloud gaming” for a couple of years now. Ever since I turned on and used the OnLive service I’ve done everything I can to be able to share my experience of it with other gamers. I just love it so much. I found a fan forum for it, which was basically the only place that accepted the platform. Everywhere else was just a bunch of gamers telling me it couldn’t work. I knew better.

I’ve been using the service long enough to have talked to a few staff members from time to time, on the service, and rarely on other social media. Usually if I ever see a staff member online on the service I wish them a wonderful, fun day. I care about these people that contribute to giving me this awesome cloud gaming experience. Also, every time I’ve ever dealt with customer service they have been super friendly and eagerly helpful.

One staff member in particular, Nate Barsetti, also known as “OnLiveNate” is the one who usually handles OnLive’s social media via Facebook and Twitter. He also handles all aspects of Customer Relations including Account Management, Customer Service and Community Management! He is a super cool dude. I’ve always thought of him to be a nice, friendly person, and pretty dang funny too. I could see it in the responses he gives to users. I think it’s pretty amazing how he is able to consistently react professionally and kindly, when there are so many people being hateful.

Several months back OnLive did a neat event that offered up a rare profile avatar on their service if you participated in it. Currently, if you change your profile on the service, you need a staff member to re-upload your special avatar because it’s not available from the regular avatar selection. A week-and-a-half or so before E3 was going live, I casually sent Nate a message asking if I could get an avatar fix for my OnLive profile. He responded that it would be no problem. I’ve bugged him about it a few times. I’m still always surprised and happy when I get a response from a staff member, you know?

Did He Just Say That?

Then he asked me if I would like to get a pass to E3 for a day! Yeah, I don’t know how many times I re-read that message to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding. It was clear as day but I still couldn’t believe it. I’m not gonna lie, I cried. I can’t remember ever crying happy tears in my life before. I’ve been on the verge of it, but never actually had it happen. This time the tears wouldn’t stop, and of course the laughter. And of course, the more details I got, the more we talked about it, I couldn’t stop crying. This went on for a few days. It was insane! I feel weird just talking about it, but I’ll never forget it.

I’ve been gaming almost every single day for thirty years. This is my life. I love it. So, E3 was like one of those things I basically knew I’d never get to see in my life but would go nuts if I could. Imagine how you would feel, then multiply that by a billion, seriously! This was a dream come true.

Thinking about it all now still brings tears of joy to my eyes as I write this. After I had allowed myself to let it sink in, I was smiling every single day, all day long, up until the event, through the event, and even on my way home. This is definitely one of the most amazing things to happen to me in my life, other than getting to know, and speak with God. I know that’s saying a lot, but that’s how much this meant to me. Of course I was also praising and thanking God for it too.

Dealing With The Haters

I’ll explain a little bit about the resistance I met with fans and non-fans alike, in order to share what led up to this. Since the second I tried the service, I went around everywhere I could to share my love for the OnLive platform. I was so excited about how the service worked. I visited and posted on many different gaming forums to discuss it. I don’t remember how exactly, but I found a fan site called OnLive Fans and joined up. That site is now gone, but a new one has taken its place. (Thank you admins.)

OnLive has always been slow with its game releases. Long-time fans grew very bitter. I never blamed them for being mad about slow releases and lack of communication from the service. I do hold it against them for treating OnLive and its staff like they are enemies for it, though. I kept trying to point out, “Look, this is the only awesome service we can even do this on. On top of that, everybody else is trying to copy them!” But that was never good enough for them. I never denied the problems, I’ve just always seen the good outweigh the bad. Then, there are the people who insist it “won’t work” even though they admit they’ve never even tried it. Yeah, makes me laugh too.

It was pretty frustrating constantly arguing (over a period of two years) with non-fans and so-called fans that only wanted to focus on the negative things of the only true cloud gaming service available to us. A lot of people that can’t access OnLive where they live talk it down like it’s trash. I understand that they can’t use it, but that doesn’t mean the service sucks, it just sucks that they can’t use it right now.

I felt like an outcast for a very long time, because the most vocal people other than myself were people I considered “trolls”. It never changed how I saw the service though; it couldn’t. The video quality is perfect, coming from OnLive, and the quality only fluctuates depending on my internet connection. I still can’t get over it, it’s flipping amazing.

Fine, I’ll Just Tell The World

I was past the point where I felt like I couldn’t share my love for the service on different gaming forums anymore. Being tired of fighting off “trolls” and I guess “troll fans,” I had decided to write every single thing I loved about the service and share my feelings about it that way. So even though I couldn’t discuss my passion for it with fellow gamers who also loved it, I could at least tell people everything I loved about it and how it works. One hope I had was that it might clear some things up for people who haven’t used it.

There is a lot of confusion regarding the service. Every new article about it is always a little bit misinformed. Every article about the service would say there was a subscription requirement to use it, which currently isn’t true. Most articles about the service were based on any recent news; for example, a newly added game or feature. So they would try to throw in little tidbits of information that just weren’t correct. No big deal, but I did want to clear things up.

My article explains in detail exactly how the service works, and I’m pretty sure you can see my passion for the service in it. I definitely put all of my love into it. I couldn’t change it now if I wanted to. I have nothing to add. I wrote it after using the platform for two years so it’s pretty in-depth. My incredible sister formatted the article for me so that it would look good.

Why Me?

While going over some of the details of my trip to E3 I asked, “why me”? I knew I was always supportive and I do consider myself OnLive’s #1 fan but I wanted to know. Nate said that part of the reason I got invited to E3 was because I was “by far the most consistently positive voice in the community”. It was noticed! I was hoping that OnLive staff had seen my passion for the service because I expressed it daily for so long. I just never got any actual feedback from it, other than from other “fans” that repeatedly called me a “fanboy” for it. It was an incredible feeling to know that it was recognized. My article was what “sealed the deal”.

I had shared my article on several different gaming sites and blogs. I wanted to share it with as many people as I could. This is where the awesome comes in. My article made its way around OnLive’s office and their PR  department was impressed! It was also the first article I’d ever written about any of my gaming experiences. (Don’t tell OnLive’s PR department!)  I can’t even express how being told that my article impressed the PR department of my most favorite gaming service made me feel. On top of that, so much that I would get invited to E3? I have tears in my eyes again.

It Gets Better

I was already beyond excited; I had already lost my mind just from being invited to E3. So… I was going over the details with Nate and I mentioned that I don’t drive, but I would catch a bus if I had to, and I sure would have. I would have walked, I kid you not. I explained to him that I could probably get a friend to get me there. He asked me what I thought of a Town Car picking me up.

At this point I start shouting out loud “what the f*** is going on”, “oh my gawd”, and so on, repeatedly. My sister wished she had gotten it on camera. It was the first time in my life that I ever squealed with glee. It was strange, and totally awesome. I was being treated like a king, I don’t know how else to describe it, that’s exactly how I felt and I was just going bonkers. I’m a poor guy, ya know? I don’t own a car because I can’t afford to. I buy games cheap and on sale. So here I am, a poor, passionate gamer going to E3 and in a Town Car? I went straight back to believing “this can’t be real, this isn’t happening”. It was impossible, and I still can’t help but think of it as a miracle.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you were entertained and could get a feeling of the experience I had, because I really wanted to share that with you. I will never have enough words to express my gratitude for being able to experience this.

E3 2013 The Little Things That Matter (Pt 4): Quick Looks


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Quick Look At: Skara – The Blade Remains

I was fortunate enough to speak with Jackson, a creative writer for the game, but came home to find out that not only was all the information I got from him available on their Kickstarter page, but a million times more, so I’m going to point you in the right direction.

The Kickstarter is ending pretty soon so give it a look! It’s a PvP focused game, it will have PvE. It looks really cool, reminds me of games like ForgeArcheblade, and Panzar and even God of War: Ascension‘s multiplayer (although of course the quality isn’t quite there yet.)

The game is meant to be a lot more “skill based” with its one-hit kills that are blockable. It’s going to have what they call “Fast Battles” that are basically quick matches you can jump into, and then “Faction Battles” which are more focused on guild type PvP in larger scale warfare. There’s also a “Horde” mode that is playable offline and online! There’s no leveling system but there will be unlockable weapons and features depending on your rank.

Your playstyle will be effected by not only your class, but the race you choose. Different races have their own abilities and actions for each class. For example, Kham Warriors are stronger than Shinse Warriors but are slower. And the whole idea is for each race to have their own animations for how they attack.

There is an incredible amount of details for their game on their Kickstarter page, check it out! They also have a multiplayer combat demonstration video!

Quick Look At: Time Glitch

I continued my stroll around the show and came across a student project game. I stopped for a sec to have a look and see what this one was all about.

Time Glitch is a quick two-and-a-half to three-hour game, depending on how long it takes you to solve its puzzles, spanning over five levels. It was made by college students as part of a contest hosted by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Kyle Reynolds (pictured below, right) and Laurencio Baland (below, left) were two of the students I spoke with. I asked them if they had heard about Nitronic Rush and was surprised that they answered “no”. How dare they? Just kidding.

The game was made using the C-sharp programming language and Photoshop. The team that made the game consisted of fifteen people; they made it in twelve weeks.

Kyle, one of the artists,  was very pleased with the logo he came up with for the game. I’m pleased with it too. He also drew up the main character Alexis.

Laurencio, Model Artist, came up with the robot T-rex. He said a lot of his personality was put into it. We had a good laugh because he described the T-rex as “super evil”.

Alexis’ gun can manipulate objects by freezing them in place, slowing them down, or even speeding them up which is used to solve the different puzzles you’ll come across.

Different levels consist of a Medieval Age, Ice Age, and Dinosaur Age. There are some entertaining traps throughout the little bit that I played. Spikes launch out of the wall and impale you if you step on the wrong pedestal, and ceilings smash down on you. All of this is counteracted by your very powerful gun that can freeze them in place. You also come across catapults that launch you different distances depending on which power you use to manipulate them with.

I like the voice acting; it sounds natural to me. I think this team definitely deserves some props. It’s a fun game. I wish them all the best in their future. I also love that they call themselves Bad.Asset.Games. You can play their game for free by downloading it from their site. They also have a Facebook page so stop by and say “hi”.

Quick Look At: The Crew

I was insanely excited about this game when I saw it during Ubisoft’s press conference. A racing game that you can play single-player but seamlessly move into multiplayer is amazing to me. I love to be able to play on my own when I feel like it, and then just jump right into making new friends, or playing with friends I already have in an instant.

At E3, there were two representatives of Ubisoft on top of a circular platform that was maybe three feet off of the ground, surrounded by a cushioned bench. They gave commentary for a gameplay demonstration. People were sitting around the stage and able to look in just about any direction at the monitor displays up in the ceiling. There was also a really cool arcade seat that looked like it was inside a buggy cage where you could sit in it and play the demo.

They didn’t explain how the seamless multiplayer works exactly. What I did learn is that you can be racing a single player mission and be teleported instantly into a multiplayer game. And you can join it while it’s arleady mid-race! I’m also looking forward to Need For Speed: Rivals for a similar experience.

On top of all that, because of cloud technology, you can travel the entirety of America with no loading screens!  You can drive from California to New York without ever seeing a loading screen. And it’s open world so you can drive anywhere at all.

E3 2013 The Little Things That Matter (Pt 3): Mysterious Chinese Game


Surprise Interview: Game Name Translated To “F”

I was continuing my walk through the outside of the show, looking for all the hidden treasures when I came across a game that looked pretty neat. The booth was long and had some pretty art representing the game. There was a small table with pamphlets of information on their different games. It mostly consisted of a rather large monitor display. None of the displays were in English, though. I was fine with that; the game looked cool. So I was looking around the little booth trying to find some info when a lady approached me and started telling me about the game. Her name is Rui Zhou. She was super nice. She started explaining a couple things to me and I asked her to wait a second so I could pull out my notepad and take some notes.

I think that basically made her latch on to me. As soon as she knew I wanted to write stuff down, she perked up and was ready to go. The funny thing I found out was that the game that stopped me at their booth wasn’t even the game they were there to represent. Also, come to find out, the game they were there representing is only available in China! She was so super nice though and I really was interested in the game. I asked what the English translation of the game’s title would be. She was very apologetic about only being able to answer that with the letter “F”. I told her it was okay; it was not the first game I’d heard of with a single letter as the title. I imagine they would come up with an actual name if it was brought to the states.

She explained to me that the game I was watching was a third-person MMORPG with a focus on PvP and available PvE content. You could do 1v1 duels, all the way up to 100 versus 100 players. There are six classes, each with two branches of playstyle. All the classes have similar styled combat and skills but certain skills are enhanced depending on the class. It should enter open beta testing in October for both China and Taiwan.

Every NPC in the game is attackable, and you can even duel them for rewards. There will be “shadow bots” that basically allow you to fight other players’ characters even when they’re offline. It’s not the actual character though, but a bot representing them. You can earn the same PvP ranking from these bots as you would if you fought the actual player. This probably sounds weird to some people and they might wonder about balance and how the AI will represent the player’s character, but it is definitely a cool concept.

The combat looked like it was twitch-action based but I couldn’t say for sure. I’ve seen gameplay videos for many MMORPG’s that make them look like they’re hack-and-slash style when they’re not. I am convinced it doesn’t use a tab-target system though, from what I saw. There is some cool-looking mounted combat. There’s some kind of ranking system involved with that too. The higher level you are, the better mounted combat you encounter.

Rui could switch between different videos for the different aspects of gameplay. When I asked to see the melee combat again she didn’t understand what I meant, but she understood “hand-to-hand”. I love finding out these differences in our language barriers. She was so sweet and super enthusiastic about the game.

At some point, an older Asian gentleman came by the booth. One of the other ladies there came over and tried to pull Rui away to talk to the older gentleman. I didn’t understand what they were saying but Rui seemed to be insisting that her partner deal with the older gentleman. I felt so bad! There I was, basically a nobody posting on a personal blog and she wanted to tell me all about her game so I could share it with a bunch of Americans that couldn’t even play it! I wanted to tell her that it was okay but she was so persistent in telling me about their game, I just didn’t want to turn her down, ya know? It was weird, but also very cool.

My sister reminded me that they are looking for American publishers so any word on it might be good. I’d love to help them get some attention. Their games look really neat. I spent a couple of years playing almost nothing but “free-to-play” games; there is an endless supply of them. So, I understand how hard it would be for them to get their games moved over to the states. So I really wish them the best.

So, if you happen to have any gamer friends in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Europe then please let them know about pixelgame.net, where they host free-to-play games.

Other products by them are the Blade & Sword series, and one that I recognized but have not played: Zentia.

E3 2013 The Little Things That Matter (Pt 2): Mag II Gun


The Mag II Gun works on 95% of PS3, PC and Xbox 360 games, If I remember right, they plan to work an update into the upcoming PS4 and Xbox One consoles also. You can also remap the buttons. What? Yeah, I know! It’s a controller/gun hybrid. I seriously want one, it was the most fun I’ve ever had using a zapper gun and it gave me full control.

Thanks to Angelo Golden (a sales rep) and Vincent NG (one of the developers) for explaining how it works to me. Really nice guys. The creator, Erik Wang, was there but he was in a meeting so I didn’t get to talk with him about it.

It boasts: updateable firmware, high precision, no sensor bar needed, and built in vibration. One of the coolest features that stood out to me was on-the-fly calibration. That’s right, you can be in game playing, notice your calibration is a little off, no enemies around at that moment (preferably), just hold the button in the front of the gun for a couple of seconds, then let go and you are re-calibrated just like that.

You have full controller functionality built right in. I was told a lot of people had a hard time getting used to it. When I tried it, I loved it instantly. It was a little weird to get used to but totally easy to pick up and go. The weight of the gun was pretty light, and super comfortable. It was easy to notice this because of how natural I felt holding it, and it’s not like I hold guns very often. The fact that it’s built for use with two hands made it feel perfect to me. Most of the time when I use a one-handed zapper gun I end up using both hands due to the weight of the gun and my arm getting tired.

With my left hand near the front of the gun I had my thumb over the joystick which controls the character’s movements. My right hand was back, index finger over the trigger and thumb over the control buttons like “jump”, “reload” and so on. It felt so natural, I wanted to take one home.

The gun uses a new technology for this type of peripheral, called “gyroscope”. It doesn’t use a laser. Someone can walk right in front of the screen and not interrupt the gameplay, except for visually of course. Angelo and Vincent demonstrated this for me. Vincent stood in front of the screen and the game still reacted to Angelo shooting at it. I don’t think this feature is that big of a deal but I still thought it was pretty cool. I don’t have people crossing in front of the television very often.

I do have a goofball story to tell about it. When I tried it out, I was having so much fun just being able to control my character and shoot with the gun by itself that I didn’t realize until after I got home that I wasn’t even using it right. My gun was nowhere near the screen. I was basically flailing it around while firing. Of course I started off by pointing the gun at the screen, but whenever I made a big turn, I was moving the gun away from the screen. I had to turn the gun super far past my body to turn in the game; I just didn’t realize it when playing because I was having so much fun. I imagine changing the sensitivity should fix that up. Now that I think back on it, I wonder if the last person using it just had the sensitivity too low.

It’s already available to buy online for $150 at multiple retail stores including Gamestop of course. Check out the official site if you want even more details. The official site states that it only works for PS3 and PC right now, but the website needs to be updated. I saw it being used with Gears of War. Also, a customer review at Gamestop mentioned the firmware update for the 360.

E3 2013 The Little Things That Matter (Pt 1): Randall


First Time At E3!

I decided to circle the outside area of the show, instead of trying to squeeze through the middle, looking for anything that stood out. The first thing I saw was a beautiful stage of Battlefield 4. There was an elevated stage with a single man on top in front of 8 large screens surrounding a huge one. It was glorious! I could see the line but I didn’t see how far back it went. Being Battlefield 4, I expected it to be pretty long so I moved on. I passed two or three booths that weren’t my kind of thing (something Disney, and World of Tanks or Planes), and came across an indie game called Randall.

The 3-D statue of this game is what pulled me to the booth. I was happily surprised that the first thing I came across and didn’t recognize was something really awesome looking. There was a monitor display with a cinematic and gameplay demonstration. I really loved the art style. The CGI still had a hand drawn look to it, and the in game graphics looked like a living, breathing comic book.

The first guy I ran into gave me a little info about the game. I asked if the creators of the game were there. He pointed them out and offered to introduce me to them! Inside, I was like “no way!” I wasn’t expecting to get an introduction so easily. I got to talk to a few of the guys who made the game, Hector Amavizca, Mauricio Siller, Miguel Reyes, and Anton Ortega. I also got to talk to Francisco Sanchez, of We The Force Studios.  I forgot to get clarification, I don’t know if this is a developer/publisher mash up. There was only one studio name at the booth.

I spoke briefly to Mauricio Siller, one of the game programmers. He said that his favorite part of the game was the combat. He likes fast-paced action. I can relate.

Hector Amavizca is the animation director. What stands out to him the most while working on the game is that the 3D animators respect every keyframe that he sends in rough 2D animation.

Miguel Reyes, the main artist, worked on his own comic books and other video games before creating Randall. “Was there anything of your personality that you put into the game,” I asked. Miguel doesn’t speak English, so Anton translated for us. “Everything,” he answered. We all chuckled. I thought it was a perfect answer.

Anton Ortega, game programmer, contributed greatly to the design of the levels and gameplay. I spent the most of my time at the booth with him. He saw that I was taking notes and wanted me to have as much info as he could give me.

Randall is a 2D side-scrolling platformer, and, as I mentioned, the graphics are beautiful, especially considering the game is still a little over a year away. The themes of the game represent war, governmental control, greedy corporations, and how power corrupts.

The main story is focused on a small town where there is a strange and powerful mineral that can give people powers. This reminded me of Smallville so I couldn’t help but laugh. I love Smallville. Randall is a kid who was born with special powers but he just wants to be normal. However, he ends up fighting against the evil corporation because they thrust themselves into his everyday life.

Randall has a couple of really awesome powers. Firstly, he is super fast to the point that it slows down time for his enemies. “So he basically slows time,” I asked. “No, no, he is super fast!” Anton insisted. I don’t really see the difference when it comes to actual gameplay mechanics, but I was glad he cared enough to make the distinction.

Even cooler, Randall can enter peoples’ minds. In some levels, he can fight their fears, but more commonly, he has the ability to increase the fears of his enemies. In the game, as you enter peoples’ minds, the level will change. (This reminds me of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams and how the level backgrounds change in it as you switch between the two playable characters.) I love the whole concept of entering into peoples’ minds as a part of a 2D game mechanic.

Another cool aspect of the game is that you can choose to be good or evil: You can avoid your enemies or kill them. As you kill them, you may lean towards becoming corrupted.

I spoke with Francisco Sanchez from We The Force Studios last. I asked him how he met with the developers and what made them decide to publish the game. Turns out, he’s been friends with most of them for four to six years, and one since kindergarten! That’s a pretty dang nice relationship between the devs and the publisher. The whole team came from Mexico to be at E3 and show off their cool-looking game. It was really wonderful to talk to them and I definitely look forward to seeing more of this game.

Check out their E3 trailer! You can also signup for updates to their game. Then give em some love on Facebook.

EA’s E3 Press Conference: First Peeks/Summary


EA lightsHave you missed the press conferences so far? No worries! Of course you can scour the internet and find the news about it everywhere! Or you can also get my personal thoughts on it here with key notes that I jotted down about em. There wasn’t actually a lot of info, this was just a peek into what’s gonna be at the main E3 event of course.

First Up: Battlefield 4

BF4 helicopters

Commander Mode

BF4 commander

Apparently you can still be a part of the game while on your tablet by playing in Commander Mode. You’ll have a birds eye view to give your team-mates orders and call in support and air strikes from the look of it.

Interactive Environments

Watching a large skyscraper come falling down was some beautiful destruction to see. A crew of soldiers were underground with a tank above them, they shot down a support beam with a rocket and the tank came crashing down through the roof.

There was a pretty epic scene of soldiers jumping out of a building that was about to explode and pulled the string for their parachute at the last second! It was just for style of course, was pretty awesome looking.

Just a good quote from the end of the trailer, I thought it had a nice effect as the final words: “You’ll back me up right?”

Need For Speed: Rivals

Starts In Single Player, Ends In Multiplayer

This has me super interested. You’re single player is online with the available option to also play offline. It will seamlessly allow you to interact with other players that are online from the middle of your single player racing missions if you want to.

Apparently you can even join in on a tablet as a police officer giving commands to a helicopter in a chase. There were some really cool helicopter chase scenes shown, not from the point of view of the player though. You are also allowed to take the role of the police car to chase players down.

And of course it looks gorgeous visually. The Need For Speed movie was also shown and I think it looks totally badass!

NFS Rivals cop

EA Sports

They emphasized over and over about the small details they’ve worked on to make the games more realistic.

Madden

I haven’t played sports games in quite a long time so I’m just reporting on this for you readers. =)
As always it looks like they did a pretty excellent job with their improvements. They announced True Step which is supposed to give you the ability to foot plant, cut, and shift momentum with precise footwork. The AI has of course also been enhanced to play smarter.

Madden in game clear

NBA Live

They had a pretty big focus on realistic dribbling. With “bounceTek” they separate the ball from the hand with every single dribbling animation. Player statistics will be updated within an hour after they change in real life.

NBA

FIFA

Four times more calculations and hundreds of new skills.

Fifa

UFC

Bruce Buffer gave a beautiful performance of announcing the head of EA sports, the president of the UFC and a couple UFC champs to talk about the game. Even I was hyped up from his announcement and I don’t care at all about UFC. lol

UFC kick

Ground breaking features include: “A new MMAI system that lets fighters organically alter their strategies throughout the fight.” Full Body Deformation, a visual enhancement to let you see the effects of real life fighting.

Mirror’s Edge!

We got a sneak peak at Mirror’s Edge! Apparently it’s going to be a reboot and not a sequel though. Don’t know all the facts yet, we just got a quick look at it and it was beautiful!

Mirror's Edge bam

Mirror's Edge grapple

They also showed off quite a bit of Titanfall, that game looks incredible and I’m going to see if I can make a dedicated post on that alone, that’s how impressed I was.

This was all we saw:

star wars battlefront

Game on!

Video Games: Why Graphics Matter To Me


AMRH

I’m An Artist

I am a “graphics whore.” I think that may be partly due to the fact that I spent many years as an artist. I loved to draw, rarely still do, but for years now I spend more time playing video games than I do drawing. And when I did draw, I would copy stuff, not trace, but copy. So I don’t have enough motivation to draw my own stuff because my own stuff is quite horrible. I notice the finer details, I love them, I appreciate them, and I want more finer details. It’s like the first time I ever finally learned how to add shadows to my drawings, that small extra detail made such a vast improvement.

A problem I run into because of my love for the finer details is that I simply cannot afford a PC to get the best out of it, dangit! But I will push my PC to get everything I can out of it even if I have to run at lower frame-rates, which is actually pretty normal for me. =p

If you’re curious about why I’m talking about PC and not consoles, it’s simply due to playing more often on my PC lately than my consoles, that is all. A huge reason for that is the price of games. If you want, you can read more on what I think about the price of games and my buying habits. Graphics still matter to me even on consoles. =p

Why I’m A Graphics Whore

The main reason to being a graphics whore, I believe, is just simply due to the evolution of video games. I started with Atari, moved to nintendo, genesis, super nintendo, sega cd, skipped over a few consoles that my mom couldn’t afford to keep up with. I did play every single system, if I didn’t have it, my friends did, and being the little greedy gamer that I am, I played everything I could get my hands on. I had played the Turbo GFX16? I think that’s what the name was. Out of all my friends and all the people I ever heard about, one single kid had the Neo Geo. lol Man that thing was expensive. Who remembers the CD-I? I wanted that just for the Zelda game! Never did play it tho. I think that was probably the one system I never actually touched.

I Agree, Graphics Do Not “Make A Game”

So, back to the whole “graphics whore” thing. Since I’ve played all these old games and been through all the advancements of video games through the years, I care about graphics. Do I think graphics “make a game?” Of course not, but that’s far from the same thing as if they matter or not. They do matter. They might not matter to someone who’s just started gaming and doesn’t actually see the difference because they haven’t spent the time going through all the stages of video games evolution. But to someone like me, they very well matter.

I enjoy games like Hotline Miami and They Bleed Pixels and those graphics look old to me, I do consider them “bad” compared to today’s standards of course, I think it’s silly not to. It’s like going back to the Nintendo. Some people are into that, I am not, I’ve already been there. If I’m in the mood to “go retro” and play some of my favorite classic games, then I’m going to play my favorite classic games. I’m not going to look at a game made in the 2000’s that looks like something I played twenty-plus years ago and be like “oh wow!” That does not mean I don’t enjoy them. However, they certainly won’t be at the top of my play list. This does not mean I think it’s a bad game, I cannot re-iterate that enough.

I’ll use Renegade Ops as an example. This is a top down view where you drive a car and blow stuff up. Real simple, this is a classic style game, this is stuff we played on our Nintendo’s and Genesis’s. The graphics are today’s though, they are absolutely gorgeous. If I’m going to have a choice between a beautiful game of today and a game that looks like something I played twenty years ago, there’s simply no competition. I’ll likely ignore the game with graphics like that. Not because it’s bad, but simply because I have hundreds of better looking games I’ll enjoy just as much and probably more-so.

“Graphics Don’t Matter”

When gamers say “graphics don’t matter,” not only can I not help and think to myself “a real gamer would not say that” (while I know some people think the opposite) but it’s also an insult to the game designers and artists. These people are artists, they whip up these incredible gorgeous looking games and then you want to say “graphics don’t matter?” lol I’ll be honest here, every single time I see anybody with an opinion of that, they’re opinion is meaningless to me and I simply don’t care what else they have to say.

I don’t mean to be rude tho. It’s along the same lines if someone doesn’t like a game that I really, truly enjoy, then their opinion means nothing to me. Am I going to listen to someone’s recommendation of a game right after they just completely trashed a game I love and called me an idiot for loving it? lol No. But that’s where I seem to be different from so many gamers. I just love almost every game I play. So that seems to be a problem when I’m dealing with the gaming community. If you’re interested, here’s a more detailed post about my general passion for video games.

Impressive Indie Games

Here’s a list of Indie games that show me these designers and developers really put their heart and soul into the games and obviously far more time and effort than someone that put together a game that looks like it belongs on the Atari. Or they simply have more experience and it shows. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say that games with “bad” graphics are made by people that don’t care. To me, those are people that are testing themselves and getting into the line of work. Keep it up guys, you freakin rock! This is my opinion, I’m not offering it up as fact.

In alphabetical order, these all stand out to me:

Afterfall
Alan Wake
Anomaly 1 & 2
Bastion
Deadlight
Dear Esther
Dreadout
Dreamkiller
Forge
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise
Mark of the Ninja
Orcs Must Die 1 & 2
Sanctum 1 & 2
Shad’O
Shank 1 & 2
Sine Mora
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing
The Showdown Effect
The Swapper
Whispered World (not my kind of game but beautiful graphics and art)
Zeno Clash

That’s not counting the one’s I probably forgot (these are off the top of my head) or haven’t discovered, and also ignoring Free2Play games.

Graphic’s Options?

I don’t know any technical specifics. When I talk about graphics for video games I’m not talking about SA, AA, PhysX or whatever that stuff is… I don’t even know what any of that means. I just hope my computer will pull it off. I am interested in learning the technical stuff but then when I try to it’s just so boring!

Basically good graphics to me is this, “ooh shiny!” But I definitely notice the details, the small intricate details that show off the beauty of these illusions and dreams, these creations. The way sunlight beams down through tree’s, glimmering deep colors that splash… I see it all. I often talk to other gamers that continue to insist that they don’t need those extra details and this is why “graphics don’t matter.” Not for me. They do matter and I truly appreciate the work that the designers and artists put into these games.

Immersion

As I’ve said, I don’t know the technical stuff. I don’t study the science of games, I just love playing them. Another argument for “graphics matter” is one I do come across from other gamers. They seem to be in the vocal minority, makes me laugh. The argument is immersion. You are dang right, my friends. Of course, you don’t need high end graphics to be immersed into a game. You certainly won’t be immersed into a game on graphics alone. Story is a huge deal, but not only that, music and sound effects.

Battlefield 3: I’m not a huge fan of shooting games, I love them just like I love others but they’re not on the top of my list of favorites as far as genres go. Some of them stand out, and this is one of them. The graphics and music of Battlefield 3 had me fully immersed, and I give a lot of credit to that musical score. It was beautiful, soft yet hard, and put me in the freakin mood! And the graphics are gorgeous! The story wasn’t super great, but I did like it enough.

I completed this game around at least four months ago if not longer and I can still picture my first time on the aircraft carrier in the game. I didn’t realize I was on one cuz I think I was distracted by something else in real life at that point in the game. Walking along talking to my superior or whoever, getting my orders, getting to the door and it opening into the top deck of the carrier. The sunlight, the surrounding battleships, jets taking off and flying by. The wind, the epic music along with that wind. Climbing into my jet, checking my flaps, taking off. I was freakin nervous man. I seriously got nervous. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget that experience, it was incredible.

Would I have been immersed just as much in an older looking game? Maybe, as long as the music and sound effects were just as good and the way the game took me through all these actions still happened, but the graphics sure do help make it an even more incredible experience.

And as I’ve said before, if I have a choice between a game that has worse graphics or better graphics but offers the same experience, there’s no competition, graphics win. I’ll still play them both tho. =)

If Graphics Didn’t Matter…

Even the developers wouldn’t bother improving them. I mean come on now. Over all these years of playing video games if graphics didn’t matter they wouldn’t have gone through this amazing evolution over time. This is art, and its beautiful. I wish you would appreciate it more.

Game on! =)

Being A Cheap Gamer: New Game Sales, Not Used


I love video games! So much so that I want them all, seriously. I’ve been that way since I was five years old and played my first video game ever. I was hooked the second I saw a friend of my mom’s playing one. They let me play and I didn’t ever want to stop and i pretty much haven’t since.

The Price Of Games

Video games are expensive tho, especially now. $40 was expensive, $60 is just insane, then you top that off with DLC and the normal push of Season Passes now that brings a game to a bare minimum of $90. Don’t buy three to five games and you can buy a whole new console, that’s pretty ridiculous and that’s of course if you can even afford that $90 per game.

This brings up used games. I don’t trust used games anymore, times are of course different and systems can read scratched up discs better than they could twenty years ago but I still don’t trust buying them. That aside, even used game prices aren’t that great. $35-$40 for a used game? You could wait a month for that same price of a new one on sale. Of course that’s hard to do when you want to jump right into the game when the multiplayer is most popular. I tend to wait a year for games to drop in price to $20 and that really sucks if I want to play a multiplayer game. Some big name titles like CoD and Battlefield’s multiplayer are still quite lively after a year but smaller titles don’t last much longer than its first month which is very sad.
I know that not all used games sell for $35-$40, let’s not pretend that isn’t the normal used price for newer games tho.

Sales

Move to PC gaming. New games tend to be about the same price as console games for PC but the sales are incredibly better, there’s a huge noticeable difference. For several months now you can buy a game like Batman Arkham City for $7.50 on PC, not only that but you get the GOTY version which includes all DLC. This is something I didn’t even know about until about two years ago. Mostly because I spent several years playing MMORPG’s and not bothering with single player games as a result of having to choose one game but also because I loved playing them and love playing online.

The average price drop for console games is $20 which is fine, it’s not bad or anything. It’s rare for a console game to be spotted anywhere from $10-$15 so if you see a game you wanted that cheap you should probably pick it up.

PC game sales are all “new” games. Of course it isn’t exactly the same, you can’t get scratched discs or anything and there’s no packaging required. Buying games anywhere from $2.50-$15 is amazing for sure, those prices are hard to pass up for any game.

Cheap Games Worth It?

A problem I have seen is that some gamers seem to think the low price of the game reflects the quality. For example the new Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. I’ve seen tons of posts by people asking why it’s so cheap, insinuating that it’s not worth it which blows my mind and I want to slap them. People are judging the “worth” of a game by its price? No wonder publishers have such an easy time pushing them around.
If you are this type of gamer you have no idea what you’re missing out on. You should be watching gameplay videos and judging it off that, or even play demo’s. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to judge a game based on its price.

That said, I do seem to be different than most gamers, I love all games for different reasons, I just can’t help it. I end up in arguments with people over almost every video game because I enjoy them all.

Empty Wallet

I don’t want to be cheap, I have to be. I want every game tho so that makes it much harder to even be able to look at games on release day. I want to give these developers as much money as they deserve, I do, I just simply cant. So every time I see a game I want on some super cheap sale I snag it up and then I go send a message to them (hoping they’ll even have a chance to see it) thanking them for allowing me to experience their incredible product for such a cheap price. And I do apologize that I couldn’t spend more on it. Sometimes I get a response and it’s nice, most times I don’t which is fine.

Again, I’m not cheap because I want to be, I really am grateful every single time I see a $60 game go on sale for $5-$15 months later. Even tho these price drops are regular and expected I still appreciate them.

Game Choice

Could I choose to be more picky with my video games? It’s possible but I am so incredibly passionate about the genre that it’s not something I want to do. Could I buy used games? Yes. But since I follow sales relentlessly I usually don’t see the point of buying used when I can just buy new for the same price, and usually cheaper.

There have been a few times where I played a single game for three to six years, Diablo 1 and 2, Everquest, and of course World of Warcraft. It is possible to play a single game for so long but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to play others also.
Thinking about it that way it suddenly became hard for me to make this argument. lol Yeah, I can pick one game and stick to it, but do I want to? Of course not.
Also if I were to pick one game and stick to it that would just mean even at super cheap prices the devs wouldn’t be getting my money for those other games. Do I think that’s a valid argument? No, but I do think it’s a valid point.

I’m Just Broke Man! Thank You For Sales

When I look at it from the point of view of the poor person that I am, sticking to one game makes sense and I have been happily forced through it. It’s not like I hated playing Diablo 2 for five years or World of Warcraft for six years, I loved them. It’s just that when I finally saw that I could get games at a much more affordable price it plopped me right back into the wider world of which I love, the world of gaming.

My Impressions of the Call of Duty: Ghosts, All Access


perfect header

I was a couple of minutes late to the live stream. The reason I watched it is because this is a game I simply don’t mind spoilers for. I hate spoilers! Even the small ones, for most games that is. Shooters? I’m usually ok with spoilers, especially when it’s one that’s part of a very long series of familiar games.

Shooting Underwater!

So I jump into the stream and what’s the first thing I see? Swimming underwater. Even I was like “How many times are we going to see this opening?” They’re really cool but I mean come on.
But then bullets started flying! Or swimming? Ok, it’s not super unique or anything but that was damn cool! Definitely better than just watching your character in a scuba suit start underwater and come out of it as an opening scene.
Actual interaction while under water? Nice! Thank you! A lot of the underwater scenes were so incredibly gorgeous that I can’t help but think a lot of them were cinematics, but the in-game scenes that were shown were also beautiful.

gorgeous underwater scene

Riley, The Dog

I don’t really care about the dog too much but I do think it’ll be a cool element. I’m not quite sure if you actually take control of the dog but that’s what it looked like. I do think it’s silly to take control of the dog, cool gameplay aspect, but then he might as well just be a drone. I did think it was cool that the dogs barks will pull enemies out of hiding to investigate or distract them.

The dogs name is now confirmed to be Riley. Congrats to the winner of that guessing contest! What was really cool was to see Riley bursting through a door attached to enemies.

great dog shot

The City At Night

I loved the skyscraper scenes, just gorgeous. Nothing new with the whole bursting through window action but it was definitely pretty and still totally badass. I loved the part where the building is tearing apart and falling over and the Ghosts (I assume) are sliding down the inside of it and then out! Super cool. I wish I was able to snag more screenshots of the scenes.

1

It Looks Cool

I’m not a super major fan and follower of the series or anything but I enjoy all video games. I really liked the campaign for Black Ops, and Modern Warfare 3 had some pretty epic scenes but the story wasn’t as good as Black Ops to me. The multiplayer is fantastic of course. The graphics are looking pretty impressive. I really love the lighting effects. =)

These are my personal screenshots that I took while watching the stream. =)