Tag Archives: Playstation

A path retaken

We all tend to do it for all kinds of reasons, gamers do it to redo that achievement feeling, or just to feel awake and superior, for me Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, the Russia airport scene does it every time, 18 kills, 16 headshots, 100% accuracy; those virtual Spetsnaz kids had no idea who they were messing with (a nerd with a joystick), but hey, I digress.

I got to playing God of War again, it had been three years and when I played it there was no PS5 and that game became even more magical than it originally was. This time around I played the easy version, I wanted to enjoy all the views and I had forgotten just how perfect that game was. The soundtrack by Bear McCreary, the narration, the smooth graphics, especially the witch in the woods (censored identity), she looks as gorgeous on the PS5 screen as she does in real life. The game is all kinds of perfect, and I had actually forgotten just how perfect it is. It leaves little doubt why the game was rated between 94% and 100%, perfection seems to do that and from an RPG point of view, walking through Midgard, Alfheim, Helheim and so on looks overwhelming, and now that I am playing it in easy mode, the adrenaline goes down and I get to relax at times, taking in the beauty of the game more seriously than I had done before. 

Even as I never found everything, and there is every chance I will be in that same situation now, I do not feel bothered, the game delivers in so many ways, the idea that I miss a puzzle or two is mere icing on the cake. The game delivers and delivers again, that is excellence! (Ubisoft please take notice).

Even now as I am designing a new RPG, the feelings that I have replaying God of War matter; if you can hold your thoughts to something as perfect as that, you tend to gain ideas, you tend to open the thinking field and that part matters too. There is no need to copy, there is no need to be alike, there is a need to compare to a game of the highest notion and critically analyse the thoughts you are having. Others might use GTA5, or perhaps Horizon Zero Dawn, it doesn’t matter who you compare to, as long as you do. For me the story is everything, and there God of War delivers, in that I need to consider, if Keno Diastima (my TV series) taught me anything is that the field might have special effects taking the limelight, but it makes up for no more than 10%, any more and you are relying on the creation of a popcorn movie and the writer in me abhors that idea, it’s like a Batman story, complete with the kapow, crash, wham, and sploosh but without the graphics, it tires really really fast and that is what the game designer needs to fight, nearly all the time. When an action sided RPG launches, most of us focus on the perfection of form of the characters, and most forget the room they are in, the helmets that fall to the sky when you hit them, and perfect that ‘ding’ sound when an arrow hits a helmet, even as there are no cymbals in that village, there is a much larger setting here and when you revisit the God of War you see it all, the lack of glitches, bugs and weird issues (we are ignoring the blue dwarf in this case). What is a larger setting is the fact we ourselves need to take heed to not put our idea on a platform and if we do (not the worst mistake) we need to be willing to grab the nearest maul and reduce that pedestal to rubble if need be.

It comes with the territory. 

And I am still a little overwhelmed, I wanted to replay a great experience before the sequel is out (optionally in 2022), the amount of thoughts and the stages (some I had actually forgotten) that I am confronted with is more than I expected and my mind is taking notice of a lot of things more seriously now. 

That last part is not entirely due to myself, the option to compare mental notes to released perfection is rather rare, I named 3 titles, two of them had the smallest needs for alteration (if any), three in a stage of hundreds of games. Metacritic has 3 PS4 games that are 95% or higher (same amount for Xbox One), as such you can see just how limited that list is. And we need to take heed, plenty of games had good ideas, some had great ideas and did not follow through, no matter what the reason is. In this Ubisoft is that shining example. When we consider Far Cry 5 with a 70% score whilst Far Cry 3 had a 90% score you might see a first reason, how much money did Ubisoft deny itself? Because the PS3 was superior to the PS4, or because the game maker did not hold that candle up to its own reflection? I am guessing part two, hence the need to compare to something as perfect as possible (and perhaps not rely on repetition as much). 

There are more examples in other places too but you get the drift, we need to aspire to something bigger and get closer to this to be counted and too many do not. You can copy the idea of others, stay on iOS and hope that the micro-transactions do it for you and as money goes, doing that once is not the worst idea, but it does limit your future as what some would call a legendary game maker. I do not pretend to be one, but I hold their example to the light as much as possible, hoping that the ideas I have can be transformed into something that no one has seen before. If I do that and I end up a mere 70% developer, but if I see the verdict “new and unique” I know I am on the right track, the 70% part might be my lack of experience, we all go through that, not doing it because of that reason is just silly.

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The quest for tea

As we sit in the teahouse we wait for the visitor to come. There is a cup of tea in front of me and I take a careful casual sip, there is also a tea kettle in front of me. The house is empty, it is still early, the villagers will not come for a few hours, as such I am relaxed. I look at the room with merely an old man in the front, the caretaker of this establishment. As I take another sip I see the man relaxedly walk towards me. Hello [questor] he states. I look up at him and noticed him smile. It is getting late, you should try and sleep and his voice slows down even more, I want to react, but I cannot and my eyes close and everything starts to turn. 

It is already nightfall when I wake, the man is still in front of me, but I am somewhere else. He is asking me to relax, take a sip of this, it will waken you up more quickly, he takes a sip first and hands me the drink, it is cold goat-milk. He nods “I am the pottery master. You will learn a lot here. You were invited by a person who requires anonymity for now, yet I must train you. I accepted this, you will accept too, there is a lot to learn and it will take time” This is the intro to the first artisan quest line. The quest of the potter. Pottery is a lot more important in this RPG. Some clays will strengthen toxic properties over time, others will dull them, knowing which pot does what matters, some will inhabit the inner part of a wooden pot, others are flasks, but the ceramics matter. Toxic, healing properties van flourish in one kind and be lessened in another. Some ceramics can withstand heat others cannot; some are great to keep reagents in, others are not and there are rules for liquid and solid ingredients, you will learn them all. In nearly all cases your accuracy will improve and that is a direct result from the skills I will teach you. 

In this game and many others range fighters require accuracy (dexterity) and some arcane skills require that element to be higher, potter covers them all and it also allows you to make fire bombs, stink bombs, sleep bomb and much more. It is a natural progression and as you master this part you will be more apt in many departments. This part will rely on some of the historical ceramic sides we see. Celadon, Tang blue and white, Murano flasks, we will discuss and make them all, it will sharpen your skills and they need a lot of sharpening, let us begin.

This is merely the introduction of the first part, a stage that drives the next two artisan quest lines and you will have to make a choice, that makes the game enticing to play again and again and in the end you will leave your comfort zones a little more and you will desire RPG games even more, because the discomfort zone overcome makes for a much more fulfilling form of RPG, it is not what you are good at, it is where you become good that is where the challenge is faced, some RPG makers forgot about that and I want to rectify it. Consider all the RPG games you have seen, where was pottery a factor? We see alchemy and cooking, but we forgot that the cooking pot is also a factor and generalising that part got them a generic boost, but I am trying to fond a way to get a boost over the whole line. As pottery, masonry are added, we can tweak forging in another direction, one window closes and another one opens and when the player needs to climb out of one window, he might overlook the fact that the door was too generic a choice and now that player is in charge to set the stage of gaming, we can adapt the game to quite a different stage, one with short term benefits and long term costs, because not all choices are a plus, some have quite a nice collection of negatives, it is the total of the game offered that makes us a winner at the end of all those choices. and lets not forget, it is all to make a new and better PS5 RPG game, the others can fend for themselves.

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River of choices

We all have these moments where we contemplate things, you me, we all do. When I am in that stage I tend to play a game to clear my mind, let my subconscious work out what I cannot voice, most of us have a mechanic of sorts to work through this, and I am not different. As I was considering a game, I returned to Dragon-quest builder, on Switch, the second game. I never finished it, mainly because some of the quirks got to me. Let me be clear, I was talking about quirks, not bugs or glitches, although we can argue on glitches. I got the demo which gave us much of the first world and it enticed me, it was fun to play and the word fun os overbearingly important. A bad game is a bad game, a fun game is for the most never ever a bad game. It might not be a great game, some are optionally not good games either, but fun works out the kinks in your armour every single time, so now that I have worked through the kinks, I am going back to the game. You see, I have issues to work through, issues on the RPG my mind devised (and put online in these articles), yet I need to make sure it is about the game, there is no hatred towards Bethesda, lets be clear if you have a program (or a few) what would you do if you were offered eight point five billion? I would do the same. I have a natural disgust towards Microsoft, but that is on different grounds. 

So as I was playing Dragon-quest Builders, my mind worked out a few more settings in the RPG. The stage where you either build a house, or buy a house, a house is for most our most powerful possession, so let’s make it a house of power, a house of family and where you set it has benefits, no matter where you set it. Consider that Bethesda’s Oblivion, in your game you could own a house in Anvil, Bravil, Bruma, Cheydinhal, Chorrel, Imperial City docks, Leyawin and Skingrad. So how many friends do you have who have 8 houses? But what happens when the house becomes a stage of power? Not merely houses that have more or less (and therefor more affordable) power, but different kinds of power. To coin a phrase, in Greek terms, what if the house in Leyawin is blessed by Hades, as such a necromancer would have bigger abilities over time and more powerful as he is in his house more often, as such the child born there would have increasing benefits. But in this RPG there is no Hades, but the idea still sticks, and it was not done before, so enjoy adding that part in your Playstation exclusive RPG.

Yet it does not end there, houses is one part in ones life, the setting is what is added and it is important to be unique, or at least not as much as a copy of true originals as some others are. The houses are just the beginning, as we get into the game, the house itself will optionally be the giver of quests, which does not mean that all houses should be owned, you can at each time only own one and the quests will not come until the next generation is there (born in the house). There is also the stage where one third is some form of copy, so if there are 7 houses (random number), the 21 quests will be there, but 7 will optionally be a revisitation. It allows for replayability of a game, giving it a much larger stage to play, in all the game requires at least one replay as we have three generation and 5 arcane houses, and 5 mundane houses (still working on that), as such you cannot play them all in one play-through, as such there is the evolution of towns over three generations, so the game will be much larger, I had some sort of version in my initial view of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, but as they are now Microsoft, I can incorporate the few dozen ideas I had there to fit this RPG, so you have a lot more coming your way.

Consider a game with 5 main quest lines and dozens of side-quests. A station of consideration and in that river, we must make choices, if we listen to marketing we get the vile ‘This should be enough’ and ‘what if we copy that idea, it is easier to replicate’, and that is not false, but that is why the top 10 of best Ubisoft games are 1994 or older, that is 26 years ago. Personally that list is fine, but I would have places AC Origins in there at some point. Ghost Recon Breakpoint had 52%, Ghost Recon Wildlands 69%, games that should have been 85% plus games didn’t make it, why is that? A game that tries to appeal to all, will in fact please none. A lesson that Ubisoft never learned. And that is where I am not going, as such I am relying on a different course, to envision a different RPG that pleases all RPG lovers and if some want to take a leap there they are welcome. Yet some will not like it, they rely on racing games, FIFA and other games and they are welcome there, I wish them the best fun they can handle, and some are totally nuts about FIFA, I am more of an NHL player myself. We all have fantasies and mine is to be an NHL goalie (as sports go). So as I am taking a view on the mundane quests, the economic stage of the island, I want to set a larger stage of bartering, we al needs stuff and let’s face it, cola caps make for lousy food, so how to go about it? We can return to the age of Rome and get paid in salt, but I reckon that in most villages the need for hides and tools will outweigh the need for jewellery (but not always), so as I look into the stage of artisan quest lines I leave you with the thoughts I had. Do not consider out of the box thinking, throw that limitation overboard and make the consideration if my thought had to fit in a box, what shape would that box have?

It is just a thought to entertain.

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Then the bite

In support of the previous article, I add a little more. We were talking about the creation (on Sony) of new RPG games, I gave part of that setting in that article but the largest station is not merely the game, it will be the story. A stage where we game away generations, we need the setting of a larger stage, a larger story. The story needs to be bigger than us, or bigger than any person could fit. Not exactly Disney’s ‘Once upon a time’ but you get the idea. It is there that we need to set the storyline.

  1. The drive. Bethesda was pretty good in starting with the prisoner part (Oblivion, Skyrim) and even as that seems appealing, I needed a larger stage (and avoid copying Bethesda). I wanted more than a steeplechase of serving (or servicing) others. In this upcoming poverty tends to be a decent stage, we all avoid that and we tend to van more or less ethical constraints. In addition there is the need to be more than one’s expected self, I tried it, it is mesmerising. In the age when too many people stated that I would never amount to anything, I ended up with a Master degree, the first in my entire family tree, so trust me, it is mesmerising, and that is also the push. If you can relate to a push, the story becomes a lot easier to write.
  2. The Narration. On some early Monday in my youth I actually worked (freelance) for Playboy for a short time and the editor gave me the biggest wisdom in writing that any person had given me in decades. ‘Write like you are talking to a friend’, I have taken that to heart for training manuals, for articles and for other writings and I believe I became a better writer because of it. The narration is more important then the dialogue, the narration sets the foundation, the atmosphere and the chase.
  3. Bullet Points. Yes, I do hate them when they are in some memo, but to get the story train rolling setting up 1-2 dozen bullet points of what you need to cover in a chapter tends to be a decent golden rule, it keeps you on track, it keeps you focussed. For me, whilst pondering the concept TV series ‘keno diastima’, it helped me focus on what was important (at that moment and that part of the story), and if it works there, it will work in a RPG game as well.
  4. Realistic. Yes it is an odd word to find in an RPG, but the realistic approach still matters, sometimes when the bridge is out, it ends, swimming across the stream seems nice, but the rules of thermodynamic are no joke and that is before you get introduced to Mr. Salty, he tends to be where you do not expect him and you never expect him in the first place. In other news, realism also applies when you try to kill an enemy the size of a main battle tank with a dagger, Daniel Boone is the only one who actually pulled it off, if the stories are true. That is one in thousands over the last 200 years, the odds are not good my friends, they are not good indeed.

In previous stories I gave something towards that storyline, but in the end, you are the best storyteller, you need to be, because you are making an RPG, and that is one play-style that cannot survive without narration. In this there are two ways, keep the stories separate (always good) and try not make them intertwining too soon, when you have enough of a narration, you can start to see if they can be combined or intertwined. It is a lot easier to have 12 small stories (300-400 words each) and after that see if and how they can connect, than trying to be clever and make one story of 5000 words that goes nowhere (i tried this earlier in life and failed dismally). 

And there you have a decent winning combination into the storyline for an RPG. Have fun Playstation programmers!

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First the sting

Yes, it happens, we get stung every so now and then. It is one thing when it actually happens, it is another when it is done for secondary reasons, which were the main reasons. Forbes gets us there with “Yesterday, there was a roundtable with Xbox and Bethesda folks talking about the recently finalised purchase of Zenimax, with the biggest news being the reveal that more or less every recent Bethesda game you’ve ever heard of was now being added to Xbox Game Pass as soon as today”, we get it it is a reason but a secondary one. There is also the exclusivity reason which is equally secondary and it is given as well with “a bunch of future Bethesda games, likely including the big ones like Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield, are going to be Xbox exclusive”, but it also gave us “on any device that can access Game Pass”, which will be their secondary Xcloud push. The article ‘Microsoft Stuns With Reveal It Bought Bethesda For Xbox Game Pass’ (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultassi/2021/03/12/microsoft-stuns-with-reveal-it-bought-bethesda-for-xbox-game-pass/?sh=27455bf8fa48) is more than that. The PS5 has broken all records and at present we get that over 4 million were sold in 2020 and it will rise to an expected 17 million in 2021. There is some conjecture because Microsoft is scared of the numbers, but it seemingly amounts to 2:1 on average sales two PS5’s for every Xbox series X sold, and it will likely rise to 3:1 when Sony stocks are globally replenished, these numbers scare Microsoft, which is why Twitter is drowning in XCloud advertisements. I also believe that it scared Microsoft enough to pay $8,500,000,000 for Bethesda. Bethesda has a loyal following and they hope that enough Playstation fans will drop the playstation to go wherever Bethesda is, the bandaid with the timed exclusive of Deathloop on the PS5 is merely a bandaid to deceive the minds, any gamer knows that the power of gaming is Elder Scrolls and Fallout. That is what Microsoft needs and that is why I had placed the setting of a new RPG as freebee for any Sony exclusive designer. I am about to add to that. And it might upset enough board members at Microsoft when others get for free for what they had to pay 8 billion plus, I am all about the sarcasm, unless it backfires, then it becomes irony.

You see, the largest challenge was that I am trying to avoid some Elder Scrolls replica, which is why I took the path I did and I added the generation stage, there is only so much exploring a person can do in one lifetime and I had the improvements for Assassins Creed to consider. So I created an altered stage for the player. 

The stage is set in phases, but I had to consider how to set the stage

Path APath BPath C
Path AXX
Path B1X
Path C2XX
Path D1

The story has a number of paths, we map the ones we take, but in this I am also allowing and setting the stage for the paths not taken, as long as the path has been discovered. To illustrate this, perhaps we can think back to Fallout 4, the first place you emerge from had a cold weapon at the end, but you have no skills to get there. So how many have forgotten that weapon? I certainly did the first two times I played that game. Yet it is about more than just a chest or a location, I wanted books, scrolls and tomes to be much more profound, I also wanted to make sure that you cannot carry like a mule and that the chest in your house does not hold a container full of stuff. Most RPG players are hoarders, as such I will need to change that premise too. As You see in the table, the first person (path A) will take paths B and C,  this is where the shoe gets a new style, there are two outcomes, the person dies before betting back home, in which the next generation has no idea where to seek, other then follow the same map to find his parents remains, this is a limited chart as there are only three options, but the stage is seen when the parent goes home after path A,2. Now as he is home the next generation gets their diary and tomes filled, more important, some of the skills are automatically gained. As such the next generation will not start from ground zero, and whilst that person has every option to take skills into new directions, it will be up to the player to do so. The second part is the map, I made mention of it in an earlier story, but what if we take what Assassins Creed does to a whole new level? There are dozens of RPG’s and they all map similarly, what if we change that? Each generation is at least a decade apart, we get to evolve mapmaking and transcribing maps during the game, so consider the AC2 map of Venice, going to the top of a tower fills it in, yet there was no learning curve. 

I want that time is an equaliser and evolving stage here, as such generation one will give entrances to a place with roads but not much more, all whilst generation 3 will map out roads, hazards, and also give rise to dangers AFTER you visit it, not before, unless the diary had given out the dangers in a place. These are just a few additions, or alterations to current RPG games. Like the blowpipe, I needed to get away with the bow and arrow, optionally crossbow. I wanted the blowpipe and later allow for something like a catapult (slingshot) to be introduced to keep range weapons alive and to give something new to the game. As one goes away a new portal opens and that was the intent all along. As evolution becomes a much larger stage in this game, we are confronted that death is pretty permanent and it allows for a new dimension if you play it in permadeath. In the end the stage is around these parts, but the story is still the most important aspect. So take the previous stories as a template and see what happens when generation one goes into one area, but as generation two you can travel in opposite directions, to set the land to that contrast requires a larger map, more options and different kind of hurdles. And there we see the initial part, with well over half a dozen stages that Bethesda never considered (or optionally rejected), and now it is in the public domain and we can show Microsoft what it feels like to spend eight point five billion on something that looks and tastes like a lemon, but that is merely because they thought it would solve all their problems and I am happy to add to their misery (I have to do something). So let’s make games and set the bar of Sony versus Microsoft to 5:1 or better, gives those Micro$oft people something to cry about, most of us will like that part anyway.

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RPG Arms race

Yes, I had not forgotten my promise, so before I start resetting the Saudi Airforce from the American options to either the BAE Typhoon or the Chinese Chengdu J-20, all whilst bagging myself a rather nice (and large) commission, I have a promise to keep. It took me a whilst, yet when Bethesda made the Elder Scrolls, they had the alone stage for Fantasy RPG and they grew it rather nicely, close to perfection. Yet I am no ones second fiddle, as such I thought it would be nice to change the game. In the setting where you are a ranged ‘fighter’, or a stealth type, I decided on the Indonesian blowpipe. It has the benefit of stealth, speed, some distance (not overly large) poison dart options and a few more, as such the blowpipe would be in, there is the Trisula (Indonesian version of the Japanese Sai), the Gollocks, yet they also have swords and spears, so there is a whole range of new weapons giving the RPG lover a new set of discoveries to make in how to best give the realisation of mortality to your enemies. And as I was taking a look at the weapons, I came to the conclusion, that as I spread the power of magic, the same could be done to the weapons. Even as we might like all weapons (some people do), giving them the power of one (agility for the blowpipe) removes strength for the sword and spear. It is a little more natural that way. Stealth still has knives and blades, but that person would be less in other weapons, the other way as well, those adapts and better in swords and spears are lousy in the precision of the blowpipe, they can still use knives for stealth parts, but not much more, the stage to reply is set. As I set the stage of magic and weapons, the third need would be there.
The support of the craft of artisan. The agile are good at pottery, but slow and less able to be the armorer or blacksmith, the blacksmith would be less of an alchemist and pottery person, item can always be bought and the fighter can still be a good alchemist in nearly every way, yet the division pushes a person to become passable and average n all directions, or set towards excellence in one or optionally two directions. Too many RPG’s are about inclusions, the ‘you can be all approach’, yet as I have stated towards Ubisoft for the longest time, a game that states it pleases everyone, in the end will please no one. That setting set a larger stage, a stage where you can reply the game, optionally multiple times and face the stage where you see new things at least twice over, it makes for longer joy in a game. 

And all whilst doing this, I got the inside idea of yet another game, based on a golden oldie. It was done by Melbourne House in 1985, yet not unlike the older version, you have to grow your skills, go to places and unlock abilities and unlock moves. So what happens when the stage is not all, but you get one night to do it, you get 5 hours until the final showdown where you are the challenger, and every time you play the game, the powers are somewhere else, so no running to the 6 points to get the max character, you get a stage where the skills you acquire are the skills you have for the final fight, yet the stage is not who presses the button faster, it is more like Nioh, a tactical challenge, we keep on forgetting that the old games have actual diamonds in the rough (sorry Disney), actual gems that can shine, even now on the PS5 can bring joy to millions of Playstation gamers (as such all ideas are always free for Sony Playstation exclusive games). 

So as I finished the ideas of fighting, artisans and magic, it is time to think of a storyline, a main story where we need to set a new level of adaptability, because if you are in one place in one chosen group, you will not face the same story, so what happens when the main storyline is not one story, but there are 5 for you to find? How to go about that part? I can tell you one thing, that has never been done before, I wonder why not?

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The new setting

I had a partial start on Bethesda’s Elder scrolls, but not one for their Fallout series. You see, you do have the right to sell your IP to a third party (Bethesda to Microsoft) and set the agenda of forcing a million dedicated players into the arms of what I personally see as a disreputable solution for gaming, but I am entitled to create IP free for Sony exclusive solutions that offers the people an alternative. The idea that I am handing out free dedicated IP for Sony developers was probably not in consideration for Microsoft (who paid $8,500,000,000 for Bethesda software), yet the idea of me handing out free lollies was not on their mind either, and PS5 directed IP even less so. 

As such here I am watching Jason Bourne on Netflix whilst my brains is considering a larger stage for a radiated world to survive in. Yes, I can’t just be like any other normal guy enjoying porn, no my mind has to create puzzles and RPG settings, life can never be simple, can it?

Whilst I was starting all that, there was a larger (read: additional) stage I wanted to create. A longer stage. An idea to interact the PS5 with both (read: either) Android or iOS device, creating mini games that give an additional stages to the game. It can all be done on the PS5, but I considered that some games are interesting if an element gets added (for free), so here I am considering my old NBC knowledge the decontamination parts that were not really in the Bethesda games. Yet that part could be a stage in the game, finding the plans, creating the solution and managing it. Even if it is part of the game itself, management parts of that game can be set to automatic (after the elements are set), but if we create management apps, giving the player an added 30% return on doing so, we create interest, the need to participate. 

The game needs an enticing environment, yet we have seen so many games in the US, What if the stage is not there, but the setting is Stockholm? It is relatively close to a lot of places and what if we use that setting to create a haven, not like in other games, but one that requires fresh water, fresh meat and of course a red wire collecting images of the Swedish bikini teams between 1975 and 2175, fair is fair, and if you play a girl, you get to find the collector cards of Swedish fireman and park rangers (fair is fair). We just know (read: assumption) how you ladies want to see images of Alexander Skarsgård and Peter Haber, fair is fair after all. Yet we need more than simple alternatives for snow globes or pip-boys, but the setting is one that needs adjusting. We need more than a race from item to item and that is not by creating places to are to, but by creating a narrative that goes beyond what w expect, that shows the larger stage of the repercussions of radiation, not by taking pieces away from the adventure, but by adding to it, by creating an additional awareness, one the previous games only hinted at. I am not blaming the games, they were and till are fine games, but I want to create something new, not by creating a copy, a copy is second rate, yet if we skate on the fringe, if we add to the narrative we et something new and that is the are for the gamer, that is the race for those who love to play games, to get more, not to merely get more of the same. The difference is distinct and gamers know this, I know this, so we get create more as we create something new, something that differs and is different. 

That is the challenge, that is the perspective we require, one we have not faced before. It is how I got to think out the Palyar prerogative playing in Amsterdam, that is how I got the previous answer to a new IP, holding an answer to Bethesda and the Elder Scrolls and over the setting of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, which I came up with in the past. A setting to Watchdogs IV and a few more ideas, all new IP, all in advanced concept stages.

Life tends to be about new settings, for the most it is about adapting to them, for some it is about creating them.

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The moneymakers

Corporate Earth loves moneymakers, they shelf their resources on what makes the most the fastest and that is how businesses run, but what happens when the ruling council is off the ‘Fake it till you make it’ category? That is the question that matters, because the people are now following whomever has the coolest look, whilst quality takes a second turn back. For the most this is nothing new, it happens all over the place. We now have Apple and Google adding up to the next gaming war, whilst Prime Gaming is starting to get noticed. All whilst Forbes gives us ‘There Is A Belong Gaming Area Coming To Your Town’, gaming has become the 100 billion annual industry and in this age everyone wants a bite. Even as we merely accept “Vindex bought Belong Gaming Arenas from London based GAME Digital. Vindex plans to open more than 500 Belong locations in hometowns across America, and another 1,000 locations outside of the U.S. over the next five years” then we get “Esports doesn’t act like a traditional sports business—game developers have a lot to say. In esport, the playing field is the intellectual property, and it’s owned by game developers”, yet how many people realise how powerful the data is that these gaming interfaces collect? It seems all a case of ‘conspiracy theory’, yet consider the following:

Microsoft said it would be unable to launch its game streaming service on iOS due to the restrictions on gaming apps” and “Earlier this week, Microsoft said it would be launching its xCloud gaming service as part of a subscription service called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on Sept. 15. But the app, which lets users jump into an Xbox game on their smartphone or tablet, will only be available on devices powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system, not Apple’s iOS”. A stage when Microsoft needs to get its own mess under control, they are screaming about making a mess somewhere else. The funding by larger brands is not merely about visibility, it is about getting the largest dat slice, as much as possible and as fast as possible. In an age where it is about branding, the two larger players are about “Microsoft and Facebook have lashed out at Apple for restrictive App Store policies”, there is a reason why people have lost faith in Microsoft and Facebook. I myself removed Facebook from my mobile, why would I want them to cater to my mobile gaming needs. Why would I allow other Facebook junk on my mobile, draining my battery? Similar issues exists with Microsoft, in January 2017 I wrote ‘Taking Xbox to Court?’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/01/30/taking-xbox-to-court/) and it was ignored by the bulk of people. It was all my imagination, yet the specified bill was not on their side. In 15 days close to 6GB was UPLOADED and the Microsoft Xbox support stated the this was with my provider, really? My Xbox uploads data without my permission and it is the internet provider? How much data is Microsoft about to get access to, how much data will Facebook capture under the seemingly innocent stage of cloud gaming? If data is the new currency gamers are the prime clusters to get, some gamers have a following of thousands and Microsoft and Facebook are screaming murder because they want into the game and a protective Apple is something they can do without. I am not proclaiming that Sony, Apple and Nintendo are innocent, but they are showing themselves to be less guilty, Nintendo and Sony are banking on the fair play approach towards gamers, they expect it to play out in their favour and I believe that this will be the true path. They expect data to be a by-product, not the direct goal, Microsoft and Facebook have (from my personal view) a more direct approach to the benefits of data. In all this Google is not innocent, but their approach was data from the very beginning, from search to linking and to other means, data became the currency that allowed people to have free services, but the truth is that nothing is free. Facebook made the same steps in the beginning, but data took over and now as we see that TikTok is actually getting into the face of Facebook and capturing the margins and more we now see ‘TikTok Begins Doling Out $1 Billion Bonuses To Top Creators As Facebook Tries To Lure Stars’ and it is about to be worse. Even as Google Stadia is in a position to grab a larger margin, Facebook is up in arms to create the larger benefit, because the reality is that cruise liner Facebook is losing more steam and propulsion, the waves of TikTok is adding up and Apple is not Data friendly to the likes of Facebook and Microsoft, in all this the voice of emotional gamers is all that is left to them because they are running out of time and there is a larger stage where Xbox series X will underperform just like its predecessor, and that is the fear Microsoft fears, they are in a stage where they could soon be regarded as powerful as in the age of their first Xbox, they threw that much away and a lack of trust is not helping them any. That is the stage we are looking at, but I have to be. honest, the fight over gamers is one that I never saw coming, not to this degree and even now as I have seen within me the IP of several games, I wonder what these game corporations are doing, because the evidence is all around them, they merely have to open their eyes. So why are they not doing that?

Even as we see that the current situation is not the greatest stage for any business, books, movies and games help in a lockdown, so why are others faltering? I personally see it because they see games as nothing more as a springboard to ‘real cash’, yet games should be about games and about the edge of what is new and innovative, that was proven in the days of the CBM64, CBM Amiga, Atari ST, PC, N-64, Gamecube, Wii, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Xbox360,  PlayStation 1, 2, 3 and 4, and as Apple and Google enter this domain, we will get a new stage, now with 5 players and one would think that this would benefit the gaming dimension, but as I see it, Microsoft is more about Azure and data, making it a universe of 4 (which is fine too) but when gamers catch on, when the Marketing BS comes to a halt, Microsoft will only have themselves to congratulate. Anyone stating that the fight between apple and Google is over, is mistaken. I reckon that this fight will take until 2022 to settle and in the same time Sony and Nintendo will fight for larger domain of the gaming pie, but their worlds only partially overlap, so they will set another fight and they will coexist, in this Google and Apple will slice out a part and they will be more fiercely competitive than Sony and Nintendo ever was (well they were in the age of PlayStation 1 and Nintendo 64). The fight is far from over, but all the gamers out there need to realise that not all the moneymakers out there have the welfare of gamers in mind, merely the data they give rise to. And when the gamers figure that out, some lame excuse from some wannabe executive will no longer hold water, when that happens a lot more will be lost to them. I expect that to become a reality no later than the second half of 2021.

 

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Sources of negativity

We are all binomial in origin, we like yes/no, we dislike yes/no, we hate yes/no and we love yes/no, yet most of us hide this in long winded excuses of reasoning, we all do that (including me). I partially hate Microsoft for what they did, for how they destroyed something that was pretty fabulous, I am upset with Ubisoft or how they squandered excellent IP and hid into the woodworks and made a quick buck, destroying the IP they created in the meantime. And as such as I was looking online for a few more tidbits as we approach the demise of Xbox, I came across a few items that puzzled me. 

I love Bethesda, I do not love all their products, which is fine. I am no lover of Rage, but others are, and that is fine. On the other hand I love Fallout, but was never a fan of Fallout 76 and that is fine too. I prefer my games not online and single player. Still, I accept that this is a pathBethesda went on, we all have growing curves and there is a collection of people (a large one) who do like Fallout 76. Perhaps the evolution of Fallout 76 will turn into Fallout 176, Fallout 276 and whatever comes and I will like it at some point, but the barricade that is out there is not one that Bethesda created. In another story we see the interaction, ‘Call of Duty: Warzone console players are turning off crossplay to escape PC cheaters’ it is merely one reason why I hate online play, I do not really hate it because I loved online Mass Effect 3, I was addicted to it, but the world has enough cheaters, when I game I want to get away from that and play on a level playing field, as such I focus on single player only, and in that my taste goes wide. 

As time went by I must have invested tens of thousands of dollars in console gaming, I agree when people say that it is wasted money, but that was my choice, I had a good job, my last ‘true’ vacation was in 1998, so when I get home I need escapism and puzzles, or challenges all at the same time and the consoles provide. It got me to the first issue on consoles, the pricing YouTubes are a little redundant and obsolete when you realise the origin.

When I look back, I started with the VIC-20, then the CBM64 ($1349) with disk drive. Overtime I evolved my systems. CBM Amiga ($700), Atari ST ($700) and there was the PC to use (I’ll get to that soon). As a gamer and reviewer I had made some waves, as such the Sega Dreamcast was free (christmas present from Sega), the Sony Playstation (I forgot what I paid for it, but it was less than the N4) The Nintendo 64 ($699) and after that I pushed towards the Sony PSX-II ($899). It was followed by the Nintendo Gamecube, a machine I loved. After that there was a small lull, I got the Xbox at the end of its lifetime for free with my mobile and it brought a few highpoints. We are now getting close to the time where everything changed. I was happy with my Xbox, the controller was a little bulky, but I have large hands, so it was a blessing in disguise. I played several of the games and Time Splitters 3 was an awesome trip, so good that I got it completed to 98% in hard mode. Then Microsoft upped the game, the Xbox360 came and I truly loved it, it was close to perfect in many ways, the 20GB drive was a little small, but you could upgrade it to a 120GB and within a year I did. Gaming life was close to perfect. I mentioned Time Splitters and it matters, there was the clear claim of backward compatibility and I fell for it, yet soon thereafter I learned the hard way that it was not and I never got Time Splitters 3 to 100%, the first annoyance was created. In all honesty, it is close to one defect in its life cycle. I too received the red rings of death and Microsoft replaced it, as such I was 3 weeks without my 360, but that was not an issue, the replacement was faster, the resolution was clearly better and gaming was at an all time high. Microsoft was a clear player in all this. The next step was the PSX3, Sony had always been great but I was not drawn to the third version, I was actually still enjoying the PSX2 (as well as the GameCube). So it was a nice relief when I bought a new TV and the PSX3 was part of this as a bonus, to be honest, I was not drawn to the PSX3, I did love the games I played on it, but overall, until Metal Gear Solid IV, games of the patriot arrived, I was not madly gaming it. As such, when it did the shift was starting to happen. 

Before that time the Xbox360 had 70% of my time, the GameCube 20% and 10% was for the PSX3. MGSIV was the first game to attack that pattern. Sony would give us more games on that system that impacted the consoles.As Sony got more adapt in exclusive games, the PSX3 would consume time: God of War 3, Infamous(1 and 2), Ratchet and Clank, Beyond two Souls, Gran Turismo and the end there was the Last of Us, Sony was reacquiring the timeline. Even as I had Oblivion and Mass Effect 3 on my Xbox, the timeline had shifted to 40% X360, 40% PSX3 and 20% Gamecube. Sony was back through great games, just like it did before and Xbox was not to blame. In all this I did not mention PC Gaming and that was on purpose, from 1989 onwards my PC was for gaming and I had more often than not the best of the best. A soundblaster card? I had it and when the first games came needing the better processor I had that system. Unreal Tournament, Black an White, System Shock(1 and 2), Wing Commander (1,2,3), Red Alert, Populous, Ultima, the list goes on, it was when Thief came that I ‘woke up’, I had a really good Diamond card yet Thief forced me to upgrade to the Diamond Viper 2 (no regrets) and the realisation set in (around 2003). Gaming is about the graphics card, sound, storage and the processor and at that point a graphics card was $600, the soundcard $500, and storage came as is. As such a console was a lot cheaper and my need for gaming was fulfilled. Only two years later a high end graphics card was $999 and as such console gaming was becoming increasingly cheap.

This all matters, when we are confronted with the pricing of the Xbox One X and the PS5, we forget that what came before was a lot more expensie and offers less, it was also the time that we started to realise that we need increasingly more space, the Xbox360 and the PSX3 already taught us that, as such the faults in the Xbox were more than merely stupid. Sony solved it by letting people selecting a larger drive and replacing the old drive, Microsoft had not caught on and would not catch on for the entire life cycle of the Xbox One, it is only now that they are seeing the light and their other flaws (always online) are showing that they are no longer to be the trustworthy system and trust is everything here. 

So when I see this tyrade of options and systems and whether I (and many other gamers) are willing to pay only $500 or are willing to pay $550, I wonder if these people realise that they are continuing a consumer base that goes into pillions and they have spent a massive amount of money. Microsoft is also making the mistake to hunt towards the most powerful systems whilst good games is where it is at, so where are the great games?  This is where Ubisoft comes into the mix, exclusive or not they went from great game maker to mediocre game maker and you merely have to look at the exclusive sony titles to realise that. Whilst the creation of titles gave them 90+% games, we now see that 80%+ is the best they can muster and for the most pushed deadlines and marketing promises that cannot be kept are the cause. The lack of proper testing is another matter where they failed and it impacts the choices of consoles we have, because whether we want to accept it or now, Ubisoft is a big deal in console gaming and as they fail, the exclusives are where it is at and there Sony wins, it is a landslide win. To get the greatest games we need Microsoft and Ubisoft to get back to the top or we need someone to replace them, it is that simple.

Players like Bethesda, Capcom and others help, yet the more the merrier (in the high end gaming cycle) and we are all starved for good games and the consoles are a driving force.

Let’s hope that this gaming force is driven to the max at the highest peaks for years to come by as many players as possible, for in that setting the gamer truly wins, no matter who tops the bill.

 

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And the laurels go to

It is that time of the year, with 13 days to go and no new titles in sight it is time to look at what I consider to be the best games of 2019. This year I particularly look at value, graphics, sound and gameplay still matter, yet in the past value was underrated, in my mind the re-release of Tomb Raider is still the cause of this, a game that is truly a Tomb Raider game, yet way too short, the graphics the sound it was all sublime, yet I am not paying $99 for a game I finish in under 10 hours in hard mode, that is just not on. The makers made a massive miscalculation there, whilst the feel of the game was great. As such value needs to be a massive factor nowadays, it is also the reason why I never touched any of the sequels.

Resident Evil 2 (Remake)

I had a few issues with adding this title, I played the original on the (very first) Sony Playstation, as such I wondered whether it should be allowed to go in, yet the changes in the game, setting up barricades, having limited resources and the fact that you always need to look behind you made a jittery boy out of me, I believe that some puzzles were easier (to get into), but the overall need in the game makes it a Resident Evil Plus edition, it rips your nerves whilst you play, and I personally advise you not to play that in a dark room, especially if you brothers and sisters in the house playing a game of let’s give that player a heart attack, you will piss your pants (believe me you will). The atmosphere is coming with an attached level of graphics and decent music, the sounds are amazing (or awful pending on your point of stress). Capcom outdid itself when it decided to re-release the original Resident Evil 2, you can play as either Clair Redfield or Leon Kennedy and they are basically two games, there are some changes and the two issues that bothered me the most is limit of ammo and managing your inventory, which by the way is the central issue in survival, so it works out nicely for all you survival fans. Considering that this is a remake of a 20 year old game made me realise how perfect the makers had the game in the old days and I never appreciated it to that degree, even as I gave it one of the highest scores in those days. Resident Evil 2 (remake) is pretty much a must on every PS4 (pro), if you like the genre, if not keeping it around to give your dad a try into gaming (and a heart attack) is a solid second reason. 

Sekiro: Shadows die twice

I had a go when it came out and I loved it, yet budget reasons made me leave it off my ownership list, now that the game has been made a GOTY title it becomes an uppassable need to own, the graphics are great yet it feels very non-western, crouch walking in the shrubs gives it stealth and the setting where we attack from behind also gives the edge to the fight, I like the entire stealth part, yet the idea that I was 50% above the shrubs whilst no guard saw me was a little unsettling, the game is actually more than that, the gameplay is very much intuitive and makes for a much better experience, there is also the feeling that I missed a few things on every level IO played and comparing that to time played gives rise that value is well set. The fights themselves from the very first level give rise to a larger stage where the button mashers will not live long, not even after the second attempt make the game more testing and keeps it closer to a Bloodbyrne experience, but let me tell you now not to compare them, the same with Nioh, they are all set around a tactical approach and Sekiro fits in there nicel, so those who loved any of those games will see a fight style they love, you are at times (quite often) attacked, and even whilst you can not avoid them, you can dodge them and you will have to if you want to stay alive, the game relies on counter attacks and second actions to give you the upper hand, a stage I found refreshing compared to Nioh and Bloodborne, Sekiro feels more tactical that way, the choices you make have impact, the considerate and cautious fighter tends to win, seeking out WHEN you make your move is important and Sekiro has gone to great lengths to make it close to utterly perfect, so good luck finding some AI flaw and exploit it. Breaking the oppositions posture and position tend to be winning choices and there are several bosses, all very different in how they attack, each a puzzle in its own right. Oh and it’s important not to lose your focus in this game, I did so once (my phone rang), that one second was enough to get killed, Sekiro is unforgiving that way and for me that was half the appeal. This game is near perfect and one hell of a journey (as far as I got). 

The outer worlds

I am in my heart an RPG lover, I never made any secret of that and this game delivers. I am not making any attempt to hide my discomfort regarding that one person who made a 12 minute YouTube on how to get the game done in that time, any person who sees that as a solution is not really an RPG lover, it is like running all over No Man’s Sky, a real RPG lover looks at where he is and takes in the views he /she is offered and the Outer Worlds does not disappoint, I personally believe that too many views are colour tainted or look too non-terran for the impact and that is a little sad, but in the story it all makes sense. I did like the steampunk feel the game had, it was fun to be in that world (too many RPG’s stay away from the steampunk vibe). The game has humour, good looks and decent ploys in the game, there are often more than two actions you can take and even as you forget option number three, it could be the one placing you in best position. Important is that this comes from the makers of Fallout: New Vegas and their fingers are on the button often, you see and feel that yet what you often forget is that this is not a main development house, a B-level maker that is giving you a AAA game that is much better than a house like Ubisoft has given us in the last few years. That part matters, because when we see graphics, value, sound, music and gameplay, we see that Outer Worlds passed a test unlike any, I regard it as a beautiful game, I personally like the fact that the game adjusts and appreciates the stealthy player (me) and there were some nice benefits there, overall the Outer worlds is a good game for RPG fanatics and actually a decent game for those who never dabbled in RPG, the learning curve is good that way and the game seems to like all kinds of gameplay. 

Those are the three titles for 2019 hat I found worthy of being a game of the year, I will say here that I have not looked at Death Stranding yet (budget), and there are a few more titles out there, as some papers give you a list of 20, I personally do not regard some as they were either not on console, or I merely looked past them, these three titles are well above board and well above gaming standards to stand out. Even when we look at last year we see a small drop in new titles, I get that, there is every chance that the large houses are focussing on the two new consoles, apart from Ubisoft releasing such a disappointing game, a AAA releases an actual bad game, the 40% rating that it got is a specific one, yet there was also a 3/10 and metacritic had a mere 55/100, Ubisoft had dropped the ball to THAT degree. The fact that this game is supposed to have actual DLC is laughingly inappropriate, it shows that there is a new wave of gaming required and I hope that some of the Indie developers take up that challenge. 

Nintendo has always been the odd duck out, yet they gave us two/three games that should be in this list. 

Pokemon Sword/Shield

Pokemon Shield/Sword are the first two. For anyone that has played a Pokemon game there is a joy of changes and adaptations coming their way, the Switch was pretty much maximised for that experience. using the switch to lob balls at the Pokemon, the graphics look larger and the 3D view we see make for a much larger experience and all that whilst the game did not change its core. Now as we see the pokemons in the grass and the environment, we can avoid random fights, we see what is coming our way and we can search for the specific Pokemon in the location, a massive plus, the entire region you see in 3D is still a lot larger than before, so we have more to travel, the fights are like the Gamecube Colosseum had, which is really nice, all that and new pokemons too? Yup, so there is a lot to look forward to, the entire experience made it more fun to play, the initial feeling that we get when we try another Pokemon game (like Ruby in 3DS) was not here, the look and the game was different enough to feel invigorated to play this game, from the very beginning this feeling comes across the experienced pokemon player, so there is that to look forward too. I found the overall look and feel comforting and there is no beating the value of a Pokemon game, even as some might be able to finish the game in 30-40 hours, we see that these people are running to the finish line missing the point that every Pokemon game has had since I started on the Gameboy Advance (sapphire), the game has more than a mere quest and missing out on any side quest because it is not the main quest means that you limit your options and miss approximately 40% of the game. I was especially surprised on the amount of Pokemon’s I had never seen before. Yet another point of consideration to get either of these games. In light of all the enhancements that this game has, it is an absolute must for anyone with a Switch.

Luigi Mansion 3

Another must for the Switch players (and my persoal favourite of the year) and here Nintendo does not (has never) disappointed its players when it comes to sequels, here humour takes a large limelight in this game and even if it does not play in a mansion (its a hotel), even as I missed the second game, I did get the original one the Gamecube and this game is a lot (really a lot) larger, as well as a much larger combination of puzzles and other options once you use a person named Gooigi, the man is too much of a scaredy cat to be a ghostbuster and still this game is the best ghostbusting game I ever saw, the approach to humour in this game is often practical and is without a doubt a setting where this could be the funniest game that Nintendo ever released (crazy bunnies eat your heart out). It is without any doubt in my ghost stricken heart that this is an absolute must for any Switch owner, and I almost forgot about the graphics, they are good, above good. It is like playing a pixar animation game, the switch outdoes an Xbox in no uncertain ways, each floor having a theme look on it and the game took it to a new level, basically a level you have never seen before in this kind of game. In addition the setting where it does not take you to THE next floor, but from level one you go to level 5 for example gives it a nonlinear feel and there is more to find, so like the Mario odyssey game you will revisit places. If there is one part that I missed is the option to upgrade my vacuum ghost sucker. Overall this is an amazing achievement every time I think of this game I want to run home to play it for an hour or so, that level of addiction in gaming is one I have not felt for a long time and needs to be accentuated as well. Nintendo still knows what makes us gamers tick and they show it.

There are two sides to all this, there was no intent, let’s be clear about this, yet the titles I illuminated on consoles have two PS exclusives and the Nintendo exclusives are there too, with this in mind, we see that Microsoft seemingly stayed away from all this, now there might be a clear reason as they are now in the final year before their next console comes out and there is every chance that they want to rule it (which is fair enough) and whether that is the actual reason is not for me to say, but it seems that 2019 was ruled by Nintendo and Sony, which is partially sad and partially just the way it seems to be. Yet overall 2019 was not a great year for gaming, yes there were 5 great games, there was also Jedi: Fallen order and Call of Duty Modern Warfare, which is an alternative that kicks Breakpoints ass. I did no consider either as best game yet they are not bad games and worth consideration, especially when you are a Star Wars fan. I found 2019 to be a little disappointing when it comes to gaming, I accept it as the two new consoles are now a year away and it implies that both Sony and Microsoft are taking the new consoles serious, which implies that release day games on either should be interesting. 

What was your choice in gaming in 2019?

 

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