Saturday, 30 August 2014

X-Wing mission control beta

Fantasy Flight Games keep on rolling with the announcements these days. The latest is the addition of a web based scenario designer for players of X-Wing.  This is awesome for me because I can now basically create my own missions and link them there.  I will also add my existing ones to this new system. 

So go check it out if you haven't already at this link.
Bear in mind though that this is a beta so if it's anything like gaming there is a small chance when they launch it fully they will wipe existing data.  Anyway folks have a good weekend and as Wayne and Garth would say "GAME ON"

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Corruption in gaming journalism and other rants

If you have been keeping an ear to the ground recently in gaming circles you may have heard about the ongoing saga regarding one Zoe Quinn, a female indie game developer who made a game called depression quest on steam.  It's free to play but honestly who the fuck wants to play a game with that name?  That aside the interesting thing about this Zoe Quinn situation is the corruption allegations surrounding numerous journalists around the Internet.  The allegations basically say that she fucked a bunch of guys who at one time or another wrote for sites like Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Kotaku, Neogaf and more in an effort to promote her game via glowing reviews from her fuck buddies.  She essentially has a trump card that says if you try to face her down she can draw upon these people to attack you online.  Since none of these men want their careers ruined by having her reveal this information she has a high level of protection from the gaming journalist sector.

It's weird to think of corruption in something like game development and journalism, I mean it's a medium that every child grew up with in the last 20+ years and is largely viewed by the older generation as being a waste of time and mind numbing and gamers in general these days are a mixed lot who are capable of amazing acts of altruism and charity, along with titanic sized amounts of selfishness.  It's hard to imagine the journalists out there who write about games, interview developers and engage with their communities could be corrupt.  It's not all writers of course, not every one is some kind of stooge for the gaming developers and publishers of the world who take money to write glowing reviews and promote titles regardless of the products failings.

Accusations are thrown out regularly by players of corruption through popular websites like IGN, Gamespot, Gametrailers, Eurogamer and many, many more.  I couldn't help but feel this way when the original Battlefield 4 launched last year and was filled with game breaking bugs, crash issues, glitches and more through every facet of that title.  However if you were to read the reviews of the game at launch you would never think this was the case, in fact you would be led to believe the title is near perfect with the score the websites gave the game.  Now was it a case that every single writer for all of those popular websites just got lucky and never encountered an issue during their review time?  Or did they perhaps gloss over certain issues because EA gave incentives for a positive review score.  Take into account that Battlefield 4's competition Call of Duty Ghosts was given a much more balanced review treatment and that game was fine by comparison to Battlefield 4.

In fact we know that websites like Gametrailers will take "bribes" by looking at past product placement.  Seeing popular Gametrailers personality Geoff Keighly surrounded by Mountain Dew and Dorito's packaging is pretty much confirmation that these major gaming websites are more than willing to sell out for some revenue.  It pretty much compromises the integrity of people like Geoff due to his acceptance of the deal made and his unflinching disregard of peoples criticism for it.  These kinds of deals are regular and it's hard not to think that people are being manipulated to give a game a good score because of this. 

At one time you had a safe haven from the corporate shilling and bullshit in the form of youtube.  A site that allowed people who didn't work in the industry to play games and give honest feedback and reviews of their own.  Angry Joe is someone I would highly recommend you check out since his reviews are not only entertaining but he has the level of integrity many of us would like to see in professional gaming journalism today.  But even this bastion has since been eroded with the corporate entities now approaching these people and offering them money and other items to do the same thing as the big sites.  This isn't to say all of them do this, Angry Joe is one example with another being TotalBiscuit, another reviewer who has openly talked about the Youtube situation, admitting that yes he has promoted games in the past after being contacted by publishers.  The difference is that he will make it known that on those video's he has been asked to do it and if you watch it then keep that in mind.

I don't begrudge these youtube personalities from accepting the fame and money from these deals.  For a lot of these people it was life changing.  They don't work a regular job, stay at home, play games, make videos and get invited to big events by the publishers.  It's a very tempting offer to say the least.  I don't know if I would personally be able to keep my head above it all if I had that kind of attention on the likes of youtube.  I produce videos for a few games and they lack the same level of quality and production but if I were to be approached hypothetically I could see the difficulty of the decision.  Accepting is easy money for me and my family but I risk compromising what I started with my channel.  So for the youtube people it's a personal choice and how you view them after that is based on your own view of their situation.

Professional journalists however are paid by a company to write material for a specific field of media and if they allow themselves to be compromised through things such as sex in the Zoe Quinn sense, corporate promotion or flat out bribery then they don't have the right to call themselves gamers let alone journalists.  I expect the people who write about games to impartial, to be fair and give a balanced judgement to us the consumer.  A review is only an opinion of a single individual obviously, but these opinions count for much more than that when you see how many people online actually believe what they read.  I hope that these people do not have a hand in muddying my favourite hobby and that anyone who reads this just remember that games journalists are people who are just as prone to stupid decisions as you and I.  Don't take everything they say at face value and use your own best judgement when purchasing games.  I like to think my reviews are more balanced and not influenced by money from a publisher like EA or Ubisoft but it doesn't make my opinion infallible just a little clearer, like Angry Joe and TotalBiscuit and the millions of other independent gamers who give a game a score.

To people like Zoe Quinn, fuck you.  To those "journalists" who fucked her and now live in fear of her spilling the beans, fuck you to.  You people are more of an issue with gaming than anything Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo could ever do to the industry.  You drag us all down with your actions and for that you should be punished.  And for anyone who thinks I am targeting a female gamer/developer because of gender you are blind to what's going on and need to read up on the actions of the few who are slowly eroding our hobby with their lies about the industry being anti-feminist and sexist.  Gaming is not gender specific and yes it could do with a few changes to the old gaming stereotypes but I have never for one second felt that women are victimised in games and I have played a lot over the last 25 years from the ZX Spectrum onward.  If you want to swallow the bullshit and believe the industry has some kind of agenda against women, then you're fucked in the head.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The age of entitlement

Entitled is a word I have seen used more and more in the gaming world recently.  Years ago you would never have heard anyone refer to another person on a forum or in game as being such but these days it's become a catch all term for a type of person online.  And what kind of person is that?  Well it's a person who acts in such a way that their opinion, their demands and their threats better be taken seriously by the developers or else.

We all know about the cases of players who take to things like twitter to threaten death and punishment on certain developers and their families for making even the most minor changes to a games function or features.  These people are in my opinion scum and should be removed from the Internet permanently.  But they only represent a small faction of the entitled front online today.  You only need look into the free to play market to see how regularly players attack the moderators, developers and even publishers for perceived slights against them.  These sleights can be anything from X feature being pushed back a week to patch changes making the game play a little different from before.  It's a shocking state of affairs when you see entire boards light up with sometimes very violent arguments between grown adults over the apparent value they give themselves regarding a free to play game.

An example can be taken from the Mechwarrior Online boards.  A more common practice today for free to play developers is to gather early sales by offering players something special for their pre-launch system.  Mechwarrior in this case opened the "founders" initiative which essentially offered three packs to players who were interested in buying in early to the game.  $30 got you the lowest pack which offered some basic in game currency, premium time and early access to the late stage beta.  A $60 pack offered the same but with the customers choice of battlemech from a pool of four.  The top tier pack known as the legendary pack asked players for $120 and granted them everything from the previous packs along with all four 'mechs at launch.  So the developer (PGI) gave players of all financial levels something to get them started If they wanted to.  These packs however where not required for players to get into the beta and nor did the "founders 'mechs" grant any special bonuses to those people who bought the second and third tier packs.

To put this into perspective.  The founders program was not a kickstarter and was never necessary for the developer or publisher to launch the game.  It was the first of a new way of bringing in early income and gauging interest from customers.  The extra cash no doubt helped of course but it wasn't key to Mechwarrior Online launching as a product.  However the entitled people on the forums would tell you otherwise or at least claim they were solely responsible for the game ever being launched.  Their demands ranged from the laughable to the absurd from free battlemechs, special items nearly every month, free premium time, early access to new features and more.  The key element here is that as founders they already got some of these bonuses with the likes of bonus premium time, unique 'mechs and early beta access but this wasn't enough. 

Fortunately this attitude has since dwindled and now players demand regular attention for their minor issues with the game.  If a weapon kills them too often "IT'S TOO OP", if their favourite weapon gets patched or altered "GAME IS DEAD NOW, CANNOT PLAY" it's never a balanced approach or even a logical one at times.  Mechwarrior Online isn't exempt from this kind of attitude either as the current record breaking crowd funded title Star Citizen has it's share of weird entitled ass hats.

Star Citizen from the outside looks like a dream game for sci-fi fans.  It's entirely crowd funded, is headed up by Chris Roberts an industry veteran with many sci-fi titles under his belt, has numerous talented developers from across the gaming spectrum and even has Hollywood design talent involved for ship design and sound.  The community as whole is generally well behaved and friendly but there is sometimes a sad occurrence of entitlement from a small minority there.  The most current example is the situation with a vessel known in game as the Constellation.  It's a large ship that will act as the worlds YT-1300 or Millennium Falcon and as such is highly desirable for players who fancy being the smuggler, explorer or average trader.  Roberts Space Industries (the developer) revealed three new variants of the Constellation, each with their own quirks that make them desirable for different reasons.

There is a luxury version which coincidentally is the most expensive, another one is a standard explorer and a third version is the bog standard variant which is also the cheapest.  Now these new variants where popular and some highly sought after as some of these are limited in number.  The stats where published and a minor typo caused a furore on the forums with players demanding they give them the item listed which wasn't actually on the ship.  Another issue came from the luxury version which has a very flash looking internal finish to fit with the luxury philosophy of the ship.  Some players however want the internals to look like the cheapest version because.....they want it.  It's become a lightning rod for arguing over something which is essentially minor.  It's the inside of the ship and they demand it be changed because they don't want it to look that way, even though that is what you paid for.  This is the kind of entitlement we see today in gaming.

I have a theory that isn't exactly 100% but it might be on the right track.  A new generation gamers has since hit adulthood and these people have been weaned on the milk of social media and a means of making their feelings known to all people at any time.  So when they feel upset or don't like a change that is made they become irate and post on forums and message boards elsewhere to demand things be the way they want them and when people of the older generation see them whining, they tell them to clam down or to simply shut the fuck up.  This enrages the entitled people who are used to an online environment where their friends tell them they are right all the time and they become extremely negative.  Everyone is to blame and everyone needs to listen to them and them alone.  Their anger goes into hilarious rants that threaten everything from legal action to boycotts to threats of violence. 

The thing is that these companies are just that, companies.  They exist to make a product that you buy and you choose to give them money to continue producing more content.  If the money stops then they stop and the game goes away.  Developers do not owe us as customers anything with regards to purchases.  It's their decision to change how the games works when they feel and we as players have a voice to disagree with these decisions and create a dialogue, but becoming a whining child does not change a thing.  The entitled crowd don't seem to understand that games are made for mass markets and huge audiences and not an experience for them and them alone.  It's odd and it's a sad thing that these people are sometimes the most vocal on any forum or in game these days.  If they had their way, games would be made via committee and not teams with a clear idea of their end goals for the product.

My personal message to these people is this.  Shut the fuck up whining, think before you speak and when you do speak, try to take into account the community as whole and not just your deluded self.  Forums are not your personal stage to perform a one man drama production and finally, it's a fucking game not your life.  If something pisses you off go play something else or leave entirely.  The only time you can genuinely berate a developer is when they release a game so broken it affects everyone playing and not just you.  Battlefield 4 is an example of this.

Thanks for reading, have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The crushing of John Cena - Summerslam 2014

Summerslam was interesting.

I was aware of the outcome of the main event prior to watching in so much that Brock Lesnar would win the title.  What I didn't expect was just how convincingly they decided to do it.  Brock literally squashed Cena with near two dozen suplexes that left Cena in a crumpled heap on the mat.  Sure the last son of Krypton did get a few bits and pieces of offence in but overall he was squashed big time.

He got beat down so badly he is now stuck with this expression
Presumable this is to make Brock the companies mega heel and top opponent for the new generation of top tier WWE stars.  It's not like they are hurting for fresh blood with the likes of Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins running as popular characters on their own alongside the likes of the Wyatt's (although Rowan and Harper may not count as young but they are fresh) Cesaro, Swagger, Rusev, Bo Dallas and more.  I would like to think that the systematic destruction of Cena at Summerslam is the beginning of the new age of WWE with these newer faces at the top, but as with all things WWE, they have one good idea and around 50 bad ones.

I welcome the Cena domination by Brock, it was such a fun match to watch and actually told a story.  It is genuinely one of those historic moments that people will remember for years to come.  Does this mean the end of John Cena?  Hell no, he will be back within a six month time frame and probably get the belt once again.  Maybe not from Brock but whoever has the belt will drop it to him when he returns.  For the foreseeable future Cena like Orton will be with us for probably another decade off and on.  I just hope they aren't going to be the faces of the business for that remaining decade what with the current issues both financially and creatively the WWE are suffering.  It's clear now that fans don't just want a single man on the top every month and sometimes, just sometimes it's worth indulging the fans with something they want to see.  It worked at Summerslam and if they are smart they will keep listening.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

X-Wing Wave 6 announced

I was kind of surprised with the relative lack of models announced for Wave 5 of X-Wing.  Only two ships was kind of odd considering the usual four ships for previous waves.  Wave 5 is still worth investing in purely for the YT-2400 and VT-49 Decimator and no doubt these ships will be fine additions to any players collection.

Wave 6 however more than makes up for wave 5's lack of content.  Dubbed the scum and villainy expansion, this new wave adds a third faction to X-Wing known as "scum" and odd name in my opinion.  Now in some of my guides for and custom scenario's I have listed some ships as potential pirate, mercenary or system patrol craft and now we have them with unique colour schemes.  The ships in wave 6 are numerous and awesome at the same time.  So below are the new ships and variations in Wave 6.

First up is the scum expansion which is pretty substantive.  It has three models which are existing releases now re-coloured to fit the third faction.  We have two Z-95 Headhunters painted in the colours of the infamous Black Sun organisation.  The other model is the reliable Y-Wing painted in the new factions colours.  The remaining items are new cards and pilots for these vessels along with extra pilot cards for famous characters such as Boba Fett.  This expansion will be a great expansion.

To further expand on these new pilots and re-colours we also get some new firepower in the form of the Starviper attack platform, originally built by Mandalmotors for Prince Xizor during his attempted power play against Darth vader, this fighter looks cool and is very powerful.  Multiples of this fighter can be deployed when Mandalmotors took control over the production after Xizor's downfall. 

Next is the M3-A Interceptor which is also built by MandalMotors.  It's cheap, efficient and extremely agile.  This fighter will likely be the scum factions mainstay fighter alongside the Z-95.  The fighter originally turned up in the now dead Star wars Galaxies MMO as a starter ship for newer players.

The final addition is the bounty hunter vessel flown by the ruthlessly efficient IG-88.  The IG-2000 is a powerful vessel built for a droid and thus is tougher, more manoeuvrable and can deliver a high damage output.  This ship will probably be remembered by fans from the novels and comics created after the original trilogy featuring the odd looking droid as it worked to capture it's prey.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Critical Rocket's wrestling thoughts - 13th August 2014

It's been another month odd gap since my last post to do with either the World Wrestling Entertainment Corporation or Total Nonstop Action Impact.  Full names aside things haven't really improved for either company. 


The biggest issue with McMahon's juggernaut is the network.  It launched earlier in the year and although it was heavily hyped and advertised regularly it didn't make the splash the company had hoped.  It only launched in North America and shareholders were told it would be profitable within two months or so of it launching with at least one million customers.  As of June/July the network struggled to stay close to 700,000 which put the company into damage control mode in an effort to remain profitable for this year.  This meant slashing $20 million from their expenses, which as you can imagine meant sacking people.  A lot of them both on and off camera.

This strategy was ill advised really and it only worked to alienate the many cable providers that once carried their product in the United States.  The main problem the network has is basically a lack of original programming.  For many fans there is only so much wrestling you can watch in any week while keeping up with the shows current offering.  It's not that the network is bad or doesn't offer a shit tonne of content but not launching it worldwide I feel has hurt them financially big time and has resulted in many people losing their jobs for McMahon's little vanity project.  Let's face it, McMahon has wanted to be in complete control of his show for decades and now with the power of the Internet he can but it really has bit him in the ass.

The product itself also isn't all that electrifying either.  They have plenty of great young wrestlers who could become the top stars of the company overnight if they would let them do it.  Reigns, Rollins, Ambrose, Cesaro, Kingston, Wyatt, Woods, Big E, Rusev, Ziggler, Miz, Bryan, Slater and more who could easily replace the now stale and injured Cena, Orton, Kane, Triple H, Big Show, Jericho, RVD and even Lesnar.  They are big names and did their job admirably whether you like them or not but really we need a revival of 1996' New Generation era and push the new boys to the top.

The sad truth is that wrestlers like Ziggler, Ambrose, Kingston, Rollins and Cesaro all occupy a upper midcard role that seems permanent and whatever heat they get is quickly doused to keep the top guys up there.  I think the company is afraid of pushing new people for fear of losing their merchandise sales.  Those new people who have gotten over such as Wyatt and Reigns seem to have top spots on the pay per views but never seem to get the results they need to truly become big stars.  Wyatt virtually lost all his heat when he lost to Cena repeatedly for zero gain and his current feud with Jericho is a plaster to try and stop the bleeding.  Roman Reigns is a fucking monster who could easily be cheered as a vicious heel or superhero babyface but his current situation with Orton and being relegated to a midcard role for Summerslam only exemplifies the creative teams sloth like speed in getting him over.

The diva's still seem to be going through the motions with the only real interesting action there being the feud between AJ Lee and Paige who are both great wrestlers.  Brie Bella is currently in a woefully underwhelming feud with Stephanie McMahon.  I know Steph can do a great job as the cunt boss character and her matches back in the day where passable, but Brie Bella is a fucking disaster.  If she wasn't married to Daniel Bryan I would have sacked her a long time ago and I hope she is aware that she isn't there for her ability or lack thereof in wrestling.  Their feud has been long, boring and completely uninteresting.  For proof of this the two weeks where they had the closing quarter of Raw for their feud development, it garnered the one of the lowest ratings of the year, meaning people were tuning out when they came out to awkwardly act to each other.

Every other Diva is just window dressing really and any attempt to put them over is abandoned quickly.  Layla and Summer Rae now both hate Fandango and now take part in regular squash matches involving the dancing pro wrestler.  Alicia Fox briefly had a "stroppy teen" angle where she would throw a hissy fit after losing before leaving.  This went nowhere.  The funkadactyls broke up and simply faded away.

The main issue the company has is it's pacing.  All too often they have been rushing their top heels into feuds with Cena with the inevitable defeat of said heel and then going into obscurity afterwards.  Heel's aren't allowed to breathe in the company any more.  Why couldn't the Wyatt family win the tag titles?  Why couldn't Bray have the US or Intercontinental belt for a while before he dropped it willingly to challenge Cena?  Instead Wyatt gets ridiculous heat and immediately attacks Cena only to be defeated several times clean and losing his heat just as quickly as he gained it.  Buried may be a harsh term but I can't help but feel Wyatt has suffered badly from his Cena feud, like all heel's do.

It's not different with Orton who regularly goes over up and comers for zero benefit to his character or popularity being he is already over with fans.  I wouldn't be shocked to see him win over Reigns this Sunday because he got a bottom lip about losing to a younger wrestler.  In regards to the Lesnar match this Sunday, he will lose without a doubt simply because......Cena.


TNA have been suffering big time.  Television is their biggest issue right now as they have no deal in place with Spike to continue broadcasting on their network.  The rumour mill did say they will be able to continue broadcasting while they look for a new provider but it won't end well for them I imagine and it pretty much confirms Spike will not be renewing their deal with the company.  It's one thing to say "Well they get a million viewers each week, so it's not all bad" but then you have to point out that over the last four years they haven't broken that magic million since.  A product like wrestling needs to gain more viewers to be profitable over the long term and when you consider that in a country of 1 billion, only a million people watch your product is bad and it shows in their live event attendance. 

The worst part of it is the poor bastards who work for the company.  Despite being talented wrestlers (for the most part) they have to work for a company that is run incompetently and creatively bereft of ideas that will create interesting shows.  When you give wrestlers gimmicks such as the Menagerie you know it's fucked and there is no saving it from being taken round the back of a shed and put out of it's misery.  They still rely on former WWE wrestlers to be the front and centre of their stories.  MVP, Lashley and King are all former WWE stars.  Bully ray, Devon and Dreamer are ECW/WWE wrestlers.  Hardy is their biggest merchandise seller.  Ethan Carter is a former NXT character backed up currently by another ECW/WWE guy and temporarily Ezekiel Jackson and Snitsky.  Mr.Anderson is simply going through the motions in the midcard.

Any original talent they have are generally used as filler for their other half baked plans.  The Bromans are a great comedy heel team who could easily flourish if the company had a more developed tag division.  The Wolves are as vanilla as it gets with no personality to speak of, athletically capable but boring to listen to.  Roode, Aries and Young are in the top spot but get used sparingly and although they are popular they don't get the limelight quite like Bully does for instance.  James Storm has become some kind of weird dominatrix, abusing Sanada into being his wrestling bitch.  Honestly I don't get why he is doing what he is doing at the moment and it just confuses me.  What beef does he have with Muta?  Why does he slap Sanada so much and treat him that way?  Is that how Japanese wrestlers socialise?  No fucking idea but it's weird.

Probably the dumbest idea on the company's part was their "boss toss" campaign which revolved around spoiling their show.  For months we have had Bully Ray trying to get his hands on Dixie Carter and plant her through a table as a throwback to his early days in the fed.  Now they did a good job of making you wait, where each time it looks like he will finally do it, they get distracted or betrayed or attacked by a new opponent and Bully has certainly taken his fair share of defeats during this feud.  This worked great until a fortnight back where they basically show you it happening as a preview for the following weeks episode.  Spoilers used to not only ruin a blow off for a feud but also in a sad attempt to gain more viewers for that week.  The end result was Dixie went through a table and it made no impact (excuse the pun) on the ratings one bit.  That alone speaks volumes about the situation TNA sits in.  Their upcoming excursion to Japan for Bound for glory will probably be another colossal failure for them and may quite possibly be the event that sinks them financially.

I have said that a lot previously but it's such a slow agonising death for this company I hope someone will come along and buy them so they can get a cash injection actually become a better company.  America deserves to have some direct competition between it's professional wrestling groups to keep it fresh for fans and stimulate the different companies to produce shows.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Review: Divinity Original Sin

The Divinity series is one of PC gamings older roleplaying games.  Developer Larian have even taken the risk of adapting their world to other genre types with Divinity Dragon Commander, a RTS roleplaying hybrid and the earlier Divinity II a third person action RPG.  They haven't always been successful but hats off to Larian for expanding their universe with new experiences.  In a step back to their original hit, Larian started a kickstarter campaign to create a new Divinity game in the vein of their first isometric RPG and the result is Divinity Original Sin.

The story is quite in depth and grandiose as it should be, but the basic introduction is that you are a Source hunter, a person trained to hunt down and exterminate users of a dark but very powerful form of magic.  You arrive in a small seaside town where a murder has occurred and the victim was believed to have been slaughtered through the use of this source magic.  From here your tale begins and the plot spins out to become ever more twisted and complex coming down a world saving battle for all humanity.

The inventory is clean and easy to use with plenty of tooltips
Character creation is limited visually with only a few face and hair options open to you and no body options.  You always create two characters who act as your main protagonists, both can male or female it's your choice.  But don't expect to create two wildly different people visually but in the stats they can be worlds apart.  There are plenty of pregen character classes to choose from with your tried and true fighters, rangers, wizards and rogues.  You can choose more interesting classes such as the battlemage, warrior druid, monk and more and even better is the ability to create your own unique class with whatever starting skills you please and it's here that character creation is at it's best.

The games world and questing system does allow for a large amount of freedom in how you approach encounters and NPC's.  There is no wrong way of doing a quest and usually there are multiple ways of achieving your goals either through reason, thievery, intimidation or flat our murder if all else fails.  Every NPC can pickpocketed, every building explored and every box rummaged through.  Loot is randomly generated so it's worth indulging your inner magpie.  The environments in game are broken into zones with each being a fair size and to fully explore and complete them taking a few hours at a time.  Most of them contain several dungeons, monster parties, quests and a location to buy and sell your loot for better equipment, spells and potions.

The quest system is good but it isn't truly flexible.  It is entirely possible to jump to a later part of a quest and effectively break it.  The main plot is exempt from this fortunately but there where several quests that became broken when another NPC was killed as part of a different quest, robbing me of vital experience.  My other gripe with the quest system is a lack of markers for dumb players like myself who needs that little reminder about where I am supposed to go.  It would be nice to have that as an option in the game again.

Spell effects are cool and using the environment is advised
Combat is very entertaining and can be quite rewarding when you setup the battlefield correctly.  Divinity makes use of the elements to create combo attacks between characters and is really fun to experiment with.  An example would be to drop a boulder on a group of foes which poisons the ground around them.  The following character then uses a fire attack to ignite the poison and blow them up, setting the enemies on fire while also poisoning them.  There are other types of combinations to experiment with as you play.  The flow of combat is also quite good as the game uses a turn based system rather than a real time system.  Using action points you can move around the field, cast spells and attack foes in melee combat and there are a good mix of enemy types to come up against so the combat doesn't get tiresome.

Crafting is also a big feature of the game with numerous items that are seemingly useless having a part in some recipe somewhere.  Pillows for example can be cut open with a knife to get feathers which can then be used to create arrows.  Nine inch nails can be attached to footwear to make cleats so you don't slip on ice and many other creations are out there to be found.  There is also cooking, potion brewing, enchanting, blacksmithing and spell creation to experiment with also, so it pays to be a hoarder as you never know what items could come up in a recipe.   

Divinity isn't just a solo experience either.  The reason you create two characters is that another player can join your party and play as any number of characters you choose for them.  Party sizes max out at four and there are NPC's to recruit to your side who also have their own back story and reasons for helping you.  The cooperative experience only makes the game better with players getting into in game arguments over what to do in certain quests, kicking off a game of rock, paper, scissors.  Conversations between the party can crop up with benefits being conferred to you after most of them.  It just makes the partying and adventuring more fun with another person and I hope more games do this in the future.

At launch Divinity comes with steam workshop support so new mods will trickle in over time and the game has a full editor built in that can be used to create your own adventures in entirely new areas should you want to continue the story of the Source hunters or make new characters entirely.

The world looks nice if not a little low res when zoomed in
The game is visually fine with some nice environmental touches here and there but close up some of the textures can be a little flat or pixelated at times.  Still the visuals are good for the projects size and the overall visual style of the game keeps in line with previous Divinity games.  Spell effects are powerful looking and animate well, the characters are generally expressive when casting or attacking and the monsters look good, sometimes even quite intimidating.

The sound I feel is a mixed bag with voice acting being the worst.  Some NPC's are fine but the poor attempts at English accents are outright bad at times while others are fine.  Madora one of your party members has a pretty grating voice that will make you seriously consider dropping her from the party while monster dialogue and the few brief cutscenes are generally well done.  The battle sounds are good with spells being the stand out again for the work done on them in particular.  The in game music is a mix again with some decent looped tunes for the towns and villages that can get old quick.  The battle theme is forgettable really but it isn't tragic to listen to.

In closing Divinity Original Sin is one of those games that really rewards you for playing with a great story, awesome combat mechanics and some good old school roleplaying.  It isn't polished in every area but the overall package is brilliant and can only get better with patches and updates.  Here's hoping for a few expansions and sequels in the future.

SCORE: 8.0/10

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Mechwarrior Online August updates and new IS 'mech announced

It's all going on this August in Mechwarrior Online according to Russ Bullock.  August will see another small but important step toward the oft delayed community warfare feature of MWO along with more clan battlemechs rolling out to those who didn't preorder them as part of operation revival.  For myself though the most promising piece of information is the arrival of the new Inner Sphere 'mech, the Vindicator.

Among these additions we will be seeing a few new events over the coming weekends, probably with MC prizes and new cockpit items up for grabs for those willing to put the time in to get them.  Probably the most interesting part though is the public test of Inner Sphere versus Clan in 12 v 12 but later on 12 v 10 matches.  These will certainly help in forming the basis for future community warfare matches and the inevitable clan invasion events going into 2015 when the official game time will be 3050 and the invasion is in full swing. 

So yeah it's looking good for this month, here is the link to the post for a more concise list of features coming this month along with some early screen grabs of the upcoming Module 1 of community warfare.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Shout Out - MWO fan film starring me and some friends

This isn't my creation here as I lack the talent required to edit and create these awesome shots, but I do lend my voice to one of the characters for this fan made film for mechwarrior online.  Take a look at the link here and comment, rate and subscribe to Kuga if you like what you see.  He worked his arse off for this and I was very happy to help.  For those not wanting to click random links, here is the video embedded here below.  Enjoy.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Don't Panic! Crytek and Cryengine's future

While trawling the Mechwarrior Online forums this week I came across a thread from a user who was genuinely worried that the recent Crytek issues may jeopardise the future of the game, since it's built using the Cryengine.  Now I don't work in the industry (duh!) but I can make an educated guess that any issues that Crytek may be having will not impact any game currently being developed in their engine.

The reason for this is that the company will have bought a license or outright bought the use of the engine for a lump sum.  The benefit of buying an engine from a company like Epic who make the Unreal engine is that they can provide assistance in getting certain parts of the engine to work in the way you want it to.  Now in the case of the Cryengine 3 being used by Mechwarrior Online and Star Citizen, both developers have had to pretty much create their own code for multiplayer and it's backend systems meaning said support from Crytek would have been moot anyway.  Obviously certain aspects of engine support would be available should they need it, but by now any developer using the engine will be comfortable enough to work out any problems themselves without this level of support.

So what if Crytek did end up going south and go up for auction?  Well in all likelihood the Cryengine would be a hot commodity for whoever bought it as it would allow them to continue to license the engine and potentially build their own version, under a different name perhaps depending on the sale.  It wouldn't mean that the developers who were working on that engine come into work that day and suddenly all of their progress has magically deleted itself and set them back to square one, as amusing an image that creates it just doesn't work that way.

It reminds me of the Star Wars purchase by Disney which created a brief panic on the Fantasy Flight Games forums, specifically X-Wing, with people asking if the game will now be cancelled due to the new rights owners.  Obviously this was a similar thing as the Cryengine as the only difference would be that you paid your fees to a different rights holder and that's it.  Even if the X-Wing license was to be eventually cancelled by Disney, FFG no doubt have an agreement to produce models for their game for a set number of years before any kind of license negotiations come back up.

If Crytek had died and the Cryengine was dead and buried the developers would continue working on their game without a hiccup in development.  It's not like any single developer can afford to just drop what they're doing, buy a new engine and port everything over.  They would have to create everything from scratch again.  In the case of MWO and Star Citizen this isn't an option and so for all those people worried out there, don't be.  Your chosen game won't be going anywhere even if Crytek was to be swallowed by the Earth with no traces of the company left to find.

Also as a PC gamer let's not forget how dickish Crytek can be to us anyway.  After Crysis came out and made them a small fortune the developer suddenly looked at piratebay and decided that every pirated copy of that game equalled lost sales and basically called us all pirates, shifting development of their titles to consoles.  So any problems they have with the company they deserve, especially with the titles they are rolling out to become a publisher.  Warface looks like a game that came out back in 2005 and if that's the Cryengine then thank Primus third party developers are doing better things with the engine than Crytek itself because Warface looks like ass.  Cervat Yerli, from PC gamers, sorry pirates out there apparently, go fuck yourself.