Tag Archives: Wing Commander

Slamming the Game makers

There are many games that get released, there have been titans that we still yearn for and even as several games are upcoming or just now released, there is no denying that the gaming community at large have been anticipating the arrival of Mass Effect. YouTube is getting swamped by groups of people, some are utter idiots, trying to get traction in viewers, so the least said about them the better, some have outspoken opinions on the game, which is fair enough and some of those videos are actually decently insightful and some give us a view, but they do not give the game away. One of these very good reviewers is JV2017gameplay. In that regard, the video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGdGEqYYJjA), gives us a backdrop on the game in relation to the original trilogy. The video is well worth viewing. Seeing this before the game is launched is a very good idea, yet not essential. We get to see some of what we will see in the game, yet we are told explicitly, the video holds no spoilers, which is really good, because I like my surprises to come from the game, not from someone’s video. I have to admit that there were two issues in the story shown, but there could be a very good explanation. This movie and one other (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7hs5cu43Ck), which is about exploration show one element in absolute clarity. That is the fact that Mass Effect Andromeda is clearly arriving 5 years after the previous game for a very good reason. This game shows to be a massive leap forward from the last two games. There is a level of familiarity when we see the interfaces, so those whomever played it before is likely to get a quick handle on the game play. Two videos that show us that Bioware has taken the game to a new level, one that seems to be trumping the sum of both Mass Effect 2 and 3.

I am not going too much on the videos, you will just have to watch them, which is a good idea if you are serious about getting this game. What is important to me is that this game is one of the earlier games that is upgraded so that you could enjoy the maximum that either the PS4pro of Xbox 1s has to offer. So if you have the right TV, you would be able to enjoy this game in 4K resolution, which is great. My issue (in the positive) is that Bioware shows us, not unlike Bethesda did in recent past, that good games do not get released on an annual bases. I truly hope that Yves Guillemot learns his lesson from this. A second lesson that I hope he will learn, is that a game that has all the elements of different games, will not add up to be an excellent game at all.

Now, some will see this as my slamming Yves Guillemot, yet I disagree, although, if Yves proclaims to not agree with this assessment, he might not be 100% incorrect #JustSaying. It is my view on the creation of mediocrity. Yet, are all bad reviews correct? Here I feel that more than one person has not been fair against all things Ubisoft, which needs to be stated as well. You see I do disagree with the vision that James Marvin gives us on how adaptations of movies from films seem to consistently flop, this with the reference to the Assassin’s Creed film. What constitutes a flop? You see with a Production Budget: $125 million, a movie making $238,396,337 is in my view a success. I give $125 and I get back $238 that is 90% profit! With banks giving you 5% if you are lucky, that result constitutes a good day’s work. I will say that I did not consider this a great movie, yet it is not a bad one either. Anyone who saw the remake of Point break 2015 will happily agree with me. The AC movie had a good cast, the cinematography is actually a little overwhelming at times, but the filming shows to be slightly too chaotic and too many jumps to Michael Fassbender in virtual device mode, which is pretty much it. As it was a financial success blaming Justin Kurzel is equally unfounded, but here is part of the issue, it is the vision that was given. I think that the error was to some extent as stated earlier, not the greatest visions, making it less a success than it might have been.

This now reflects back to Mass Effect, because the game has one thing as it went from game 3 to game 4, it shows vision, the eternal platinum trump card that makes a game an instant classic and the 90%+ success rating that really good games get.

What should overwhelm you are the ‘upgrades’ that Mass Effect offers. Looking through windows showing the actual space where you are, which is a little overwhelming. Like the AC series, the voices have been taken well care of with Clancy Brown is the voice of ‘your’ father, an actor that the younger player will recognise as Mr Krabs (a SpongeBob square pants production). Others might recognise him from Cowboys and Aliens and the classic sergeant Zim from Starship Troopers. You, as the player will be voiced by either the stunning model Fryda Wolff, who weirdly enough has not seen too much camera on TV or the big screen (hinting towards Michael Fassbender here for his next production), but has been active in games like Civilisation, Final Fantasy 13, Call of Duty, Fallout 4, XCom 2 and the Technomancer, and if you are playing the male character by Tom Taylorson who is actually new to this level of work. Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones, the Tudors), Gary Carr (Downton Abbey) and several others. Oh, and to be fair, Assassins Creed 2 had no lack of actors and actresses either. They gave us Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Alex Ivanovici (X-men, Mirror Mirror), Lita Tresierra, who sadly passed away (the Factory), Carlos Ferro (Dominic, Gears of Wars series). So this is what both sides took pride and effort in and there has never been anything but the highest praise for both game makers. Also it is the graphical side that was never a flaw, you only need to look at Assassins Creed Black Flag (which has other issues), to see what the Ubisoft graphical department can do when they set their mind to it, they really got the sense of the Caribbean right, it almost felt like I was actually there in that time, or so I would believe it to look like.

Getting back to Mass Effect 4, the entire game as shown so far seems to be nothing less than Mass Effect 2 on steroids. The exploration, the graphics and large land masses, the fact that a map has several fast travel points give rise to the facts that the planets are a fair bit larger than ever before. This will be the game for anyone who loved the original trilogy, anyone who has a need to shoot things and for those with a reverence to role playing games. Now, as this game is not out yet for another 7.61 days (roughly) we have no idea on the amount of hours of game play that this game brings, the actual amount of planets you can land on and explore and so on. In addition, the Mass Effect series, like some others have always lend their design for additions (DLC’s) and season passes, so I wonder if more would come. I cannot state whether this would come with the overwhelming value that the Fallout 4 season pass gave us, but we can hope, can we not?

The power of games is at times great to experience, especially when we see a game like Mass Effect Andromeda. True, several good games have been released, but when we focus on the 90%+ ratings, over the last 12 months gives us Nioh, Dark Souls 3, Dishonored 2, Deus Ex: Mankind divided and Overwatch. 5 games over the last 12 months (Witcher 3 GOTY edition is also making the cut, but the original was released in 2015, which is why I omitted it). So as you can see 5 (or 6) great games a year. Now, there will always be games that did not make it to the 90% level, but we still want to play them (sport games), those games are niche games, but consider how many games you play per year and how many of them were in that 90% plus range? Now consider Horizon Zero Dawn from Guerilla games, which is one of the newer players on the block (2000), Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 (2002), which is CI Games first attempt to produce an AAA game, or Elite: Dangerous, who is now entering the PlayStation 4 field, a game originally made on a BBC Micro B in 1984 (a machine with 32Kb RAM). Last I want to mention Subnautica by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, which is a company that has 20 employees. Its founder Charlie Cleveland shows what vision can bring, in his case an ‘open’ world survival game where you are adrift on an ocean after crashlanding on a water planet. What happens after that is up to you, so as the radio tells you (when you get it fixed) that you can wait 99,999 hours, which amounts to 11.4 years, or make a life for yourself. This starts a very different game which you need to see to believe. I hope that the PlayStation people get to experience it as well, because the game will bring you a hundred hours or more of challenges, entertainment and visual wonder. This is visionary on a new level! There are a few other surprises in this game. You have not lived until you tried to get anywhere in this game in hardcore mode (1 life). In this I would slam both Ubisoft and Electronic Arts. I honestly cannot state whether it is complacency or what I would call an adherence to mediocrity. The two makers who bedazzled us with greatness have been regarded as below par too often for a little too long. This visibility comes out even stronger as we see how great Mass Effect 4 could be (Electronic Arts) and Ubisoft who basically has not produced a 90%+ game since Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013). When did spreadsheets overrule the need for excellence? When we all expected that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands would give back some confidence in Ubisoft, we see reviews that hardly make 80%, which is a really bad thing for Ubisoft. When I see the review comment ‘Writing is terrible and it’s riddled with bugs, but there’s fun to be had with friends‘, I wonder whether the second part was given there to be soft to make sure that Yves Guillemot would not cry too loud. Yet the truth we also see is “Of all the publishers out there, it’s Ubisoft that has most affectionately embraced the open world” should have been the driving force that could have given Ubisoft a super seller (a slice of Skyrim anyone?), yet the reviews imply that it is not to be. In addition the reviewer (Sam White) shows the lesson I tried to impart on Ubisoft more than once “that is when you realise that Ubisoft has taken collectibles too far“, a lesson they should have learned before Assassins Creed Unity was released.

When smaller places like Unknown Worlds Entertainment and Hello Games surpass you with each less than 25 staff members, you need to seriously wake up. I am actually surprised that Ubisoft Still exists, because to be honest, they should have imploded with no funds left by 2015 (so you see, I can be wrong too!). The question is how such places stay afloat. Marketing only make up for so much, in the end it is the product that matters!

The question is where do gamers go to next? In all this, I too need to keep an open mind. I have a specific desire for games and even as I admire Dark Souls 3, I know I will never actually finish it. I am not that great a slasher. I am all for stealth games, which is why Styx was such an amazing experience and challenge, so as we are about to get its sequel, I too join a group who will accept a lower than 90% game (which shows that there is more than just high ratings). However, we do know that Ubisoft has had its successes in that genre too: Blacklist and Conviction are both 90% games and they delivered (apart from one annoying issue in blacklist) and I cannot wait for a new instalment of that series. Here too we see that when we look deeper that there are lines of games that could result in new 90% versions, not just because the player group is large enough, but because developers like CI Games are showing that there is interest in getting a stealth game that is a serious challenge (Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3). Will this statement remain true if the reviews scores are barely making the 80% grade? I believe so, I believe that quality games will always find a home and I also believe that the proper attention will drive new players, especially if the reviews and scores correctly reflect the quality of the game. This is what I meant again and again when I stated towards Ubisoft: ‘A game that is based on a matrix on how to not make a bad game, will reflect that and not be a bad game. Yet in that same setting it will also never become a truly great game‘, Mafia III, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Watch Dogs 2 have proven me correct. On the opposition, those who made it (like Witcher 3 and its additions), excellence is more than merely its own reward, it creates a following and it sets a milestone for others to strive for.

In the same way that I see stealth games, I see that ‘open’ world games like the ones Bethesda produces, gives us options and replayable versions unlike most other games, which now give rise to the question why can’t others get there? Oblivion (2006), Fallout 3 (2008), Fallout: New Vegas (2010), Skyrim (2011) and Fallout 4, all of them 90%+ games. With two of them given a 100% score by more than one reviewer; that is what makes them essential games to own (for those not hating RPG games). I think we can agree that there is a fairly sized group of people who are not into RPG’s and that will always be fair enough. In that same view, I am not, and am unlikely to ever become a GTA fan. Yet the RPG group is growing, so I wonder where these two players go. You see, living on Mass Effect alone will not aid EA in its growth, who actually was one of the innovative distributors of one of the pioneers in this field (the Ultima series), so why not seek in those revamps? In that same light Wing Commander and Privateer brought the light of space flight, now they will have to compete, but our love for these games have (for the most) not diminished, so where is the IP on that? Eidos gave us Soul Reaver a game that could be rebranded in something awesome (even though the originals were actually pretty good). Yet, here I go on in the remake directions. What I hope is that these two once great development houses will seek visionaries to give us the next batch of (hopefully new) true visionary game play. If crowd funding took only 9 days to get the minimum requirement to get the relaunch of System Shock started, do you really think that RPG and tactical games are on the way out? No, most gamers are looking towards the thrills we once had and some are looking for that next new original challenge. Perhaps the makers need to start looking into the Comic book dimension. Marvel might be booked solid, but there is a league of comics that might never ever make the light of day outside of its own clique following. Even if we look at what has been tried before, an actual good Buffy video game would draw millions towards the shops. An actual good version would ensure large lines in front of a game retailer. The Darkness, what I considered to be a fine game (not great), but a good reflection of the comic style which I considered to be essential. Series like Witchblade (awesome artwork, yet awful TV series), or perhaps Michael Turner’s Fathom. You see, the ‘non-failure’ spreadsheet of Ubisoft might not allow for a game based on Fathom to be created, yet Subnautica seems to be proving them wrong at present. So as the elements of Fathom with ‘members of a race of aquatic humanoids called the Blue who possess the ability to control water‘ give rise to very interesting settings (as well of the majestic unknown that we call the seven seas). The idea of a game, open world or not (more like large levels) where we need to think in three dimensions when playing calls for quality gaming, if properly executed, we could see an entirely new level of game play one that does require next gen consoles and powerful PC’s. Consider that in 2015, the sales of comic books surpassed $1,000,000,000. Now also consider that the market size of comic books was estimated to be $280-$200 million market in 1998, and even though we have seen a decade of hard times, this market has never stopped growing from 1998 to 2016 (source: http://www.comichron.com). Is it such a leap to not seriously consider that market? And in this case, I am specifically taking DC Comics and Marvel out of the equation.

Visionaries are worth their weight in gold. So if EA and Ubisoft have any, then give them a 6′ stack of comic books and see what they can come up with. I reckon that these two players waste more money on some brainstorm lunch with BI executives, so that expense should be easy to justify. For me? If this results in them each producing at least two 90% plus game within 3 years, we all end up winning. Is that not a beautiful consideration?

 

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A citizen of the stars

There is a game in development, the title is ‘Star Citizen‘, I am unlikely to play it at present as I am a console player and I do not have the PC needed for decent gaming. Yet, I have always had a good view on games and gaming. As the news on this game is getting hyped in a weird way, it is time for me to step in and let me give you, the people (the readers) a view that matters.

First of all, my initial exposure to the game Star Citizen was about 4-5 months ago. The game seemed decent in a graphical way. It showed to be buggy as hell (read glitched), but in itself that is not a fair assessment. You see, the game was still in development, it was not even an Alpha version. I kept that in mind as I was looking at what I call to be, a product that is not in a reviewable position. The first view you must take comes from Bluedrake42 (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0pqkf8WXPE).

You need to see this to the end, because there are a few views that matter. Like him I understand game development. He goes on about Cry engine versus Unreal engine. I stand in the middle, yet his view ‘they made massive progress‘ and ‘they are close to making a decent finished product‘. This is a view from October 4th 2015 (yes, World Animal Day). He then compares towards Elite Dangerous and No Mans Sky. His view: ‘it will be good in its own right‘, which is a fair assessment. He moves towards the issue of the expectations of the people. I personally think that he is trying to address the hyped expectations of an emotionally pushed audience, which is not the same. That is the part we cannot win, because it is an illusionary view that is not in league to the things that matter here.

So what to think of the views, the scandals and the illusion of the funded crowds.

For that we need to take a view on Forbes (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2015/10/04/star-citizen-developer-threatens-lawsuit-against-the-escapist-demands-apology-and-retraction/). It refers to the escapists issues that seems to be an issue on several levels. When we step back, there is an issue on communication and project management. When we take a step back we can see that there is an issue. The question becomes, do we keep on building or do we finish a part and then move on? David Braben opted for solution 2 with Elite Dangerous, which does not invalidate option one. I am not having a go at Chris Roberts or at Cloud Imperium Games. Why should I? I play on consoles and I am happy that universe based games are growing. You see, with Star Citizen around, both No Mans Sky and Elite Dangerous will up their game to make that game an even better game and I the gamer will win, you the gamer will win too.

So what is this about the escapist?

The following quote matters: “Star Citizen is an ambitious space simulation title from industry veteran Chris Roberts. The game began as a passion project, drawing inspiration from Wing Commander and Freelancer. Star Citizen promised a triumphant return to the space-sim genre by combining a huge universe with multiple gameplay options, a massive variety of ships, and no subscription fees“, this sounds interesting and it seems a little like Elite Dangerous. That part matters when we consider the next two quotes on the article “It’s never been done because it can’t be done. – Several sources” and “The popular consensus among most of the people who reached out is that Chris Roberts is not intentionally a con man; “He doesn’t set out in the morning to screw anybody over. He’s just incredibly arrogant,” CS2 stated“.

Now to take a look at the previous two quotes. You see ‘it cannot be done‘ is the first part we can burn down. Not only is Elite dangerous doing what Star Citizen is achieving (when you include Elite Dangerous Horizons), the parts that were promised can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ccKp1n13jQ. Which shows things that Elite Dangerous cannot deliver at present. In addition, what the movie shows is pretty amazing. Star Citizen shows an overwhelming approach Elite could not do when it was initially made (48Kb is not enough resources). Elite Dangerous is trying to get close what the current video is delivering. I will not step away from Elite Dangerous, but what the movies show makes me want to have a decent gaming PC.

It is the second part that is now an immediate concern, which is “consensus among most of the people who reached out is that Chris Roberts is not intentionally a con man“, so is this about defamation? ‘Most of the people who reached out‘ is an issue now. You see, the game has been in development for 3 years. This is no longer a mere simple space game. The FPS part of the game is like an upgraded version of Mass Effect in first person view. Better stated it is a very much upgraded version of Half-Life in space. So yes the game is still in development, it is in an Alpha version and it shows elements of Elite Dangerous, elements of Half-Life and elements of Mass Effect.

Have things been overpromised? It is hard to tell; when I consider the progress that I have seen over 4 months, that part is massive. An open sandbox of the universe which could be seen as a true open space MMO is pretty amazing. In opposition the allegations against the team and more important Chris Roberts is pretty far out there. Especially when we consider the growth, the evolution and what seems to be working at this very moment is just too overwhelming. So why is there a growing anti-Star citizen here?

It is a crowd funded game. The fact it drew in well over 80 million is a little big, but the game is growing towards the levels we are not used to see. At this point, the alpha looked better and more stable than Assassins Creed Unity did after it was released. So why the anti-CIG mode? There are all kinds of allegations out there, yet actual evidence is still to be shown. CIG has been very communicative (as far as the pages show me) and in addition, Sandi Gardiner and Chris Roberts have been on a mission to create something unique and so far the intense growth makes me wonder where the anti-movement is from. The fact that this independent product is coming from crowdfunding, whilst several triple A developers have not been that successful either, apart from the usual examples I have used makes it all more questionable. In this case I would like to mention Drive Club, a Sony game that was supposed to blow us away in 2014, which is likely to end up becoming the free PlayStation Plus game no one wants to download.

In my view, No Mans Sky will be the amazing product we hope it is and the designers will unveil it when they are ready and this is stated to be in June 2016. I will await that moment. Star Citizen is the game that will be released at some point and is already showing to be an amazing experience. Elite Dangerous remains my choice and it delivered the upgraded game on a massive scale that the CBM-64 version could never deliver and in all that the game experience transferred in an amazing way. The movies show Star Citizen to be on par with other space game Sims and I feel that it is decently certain that whomever crowdfunded this will end up with a copy of the game that they will love (from the game-play movies I saw), which makes it a game that might become a legend in its own right.

In all this, where does the escapist magazine remain? Well, there remains the view that the article shows (if no proper evidence is shown) that they could be in a defamation mess. In this, additionally I must state that there is enough evidence out there that that the game will become a reality, which does not mean that serious questions should not be asked. Yet, is that bad?

You see, through crowdfunding they needed 2 million and it seems that they ended up with ninety million, so the scope of the game has grown almost exponentially, this is not a bad thing. It does however come with a new dimension in problems. You see a 90 million game would be massively different in scope than a 2 million game. This implies that you the reader should keep a massive amount of skepticism in view of the allegations, especially when no one is willing to put a name with those claims.

As a game reporter, I have issues. I am not a fan of crowd funding, yet Elite Dangerous was done through that and is the success the players are loving. There are a few other successes, but for the most it is not a stable choice to make. Now Star Citizen is likely to be next success. With that we get another game where we get to become gamers who become citizens of a star system far far away, something many of the big developers were never able to do.

So I am ending with one more side, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gawRjeZisYY shows a pre Beta game with responses from gamers. A 1st person part that is amazing (remember: pre Beta). Just one ship, flying around, walking around, which indicates that, even though delayed, the people who are on the Star Citizen train are about to get an experience that gaming has never delivered before, is that not what gaming is about? I will remain an Elite Dangerous fan, yet I can clearly see that this game will end up with a fan base that is massive, I have no doubt about that. Consider all the titles I mentioned in this article, how many of them allow to EVA to a derelict spaceship? None of them!

Realise that and consider where any of the valid anti-Star Citizen arguments remain.

Consider the elements:

  1. A crowd funder has no rights to decide the company’s course.
  2. A crowd funder is entitled to a finished product.
  3. Crowd funders are entitled to updated communications from the makers.

And if there is one valid part of opposition in all this, than it is the part on management. Yes, as far as I can see, errors were indeed made, errors in the scope that are made all over the world on a daily basis. When you suddenly learn that you got an additional 88 million to grow your game, you will make a few more errors. Yet these people are not that ‘vocal’ when it is not ‘See Eye Gee’ that is making the errors, but another three lettered company that has had its share of bungles and screw ups all over its corporation (costing millions in the process), It is called ‘Eye Bee Emm’.

Cloud Imperium Games has done element three, it is working on element two and so far we see can see element one is not in play. So please do not give in to hypes (positive or negative) and  consider the sources of any scandals implied and keep whatever thoughts you have and await the playable demo that is either Beta or a final version. I can only wish Cloud Imperium Games the best of luck and I look forward to take a real testing look at the finished product.

 

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Get the right info to choose.

I have always believed in this, a person has to make a choice and it is up to the informers to make sure that the people are given the true choices. This is always hard, there is no denying this. You see, we are all biased to some extent. I fell in love with Elite in 1984 and with the coming of Elite Dangerous, that passion returned. So when I read ‘Will Elite: Dangerous Be Wiped Out by Star Citizen & its Beautiful Ships?‘ (at http://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/07/23/will-elite-dangerous-be-wiped-out-by-star-citizen-its-beautiful-ships-3406342) I just had to take a look.

For me there were two reasons, the first is that as a previous passionate Elite player, I am very aware of the game and I feel that I am in possession of expert knowledge to counter most attacks on Elite Dangerous (without having played the game until my XBN1 arrives next month). I know next to nothing about Star Citizens, so when I hear that a game like No man’s Sky and like Elite is out there, I will take a look (I believe that there is a place for all three games if they are up to scrap).

The first quote that got to me is “It’s a beautiful game, but it can also be isolating and boring. You have to be prepared to invest a lot of time into Elite: Dangerous in order to benefit from its gameplay” which was preceded by “it’s held back by numerous irritations“, which got to me just on the go. This all linked back to a previous article. From this I wonder what level of investigation Kenny McDonnell did to begin with.

Now his allegations from the previous will be addressed shortly.

Can also be isolating and boring

Is that true? The game has Solo Mode (just you), Private mode (just you and your friends) and Open mode (you, your friends, soon to be new friends and all unmentioned wankers), so what do you mean isolating? Now the XB1 version is still not finalised, so this is still coming, for now that version is solo only (well decently dependable solo). There is no denying, that version still has bugs because it is not finished yet and if that is not a real bother you can get the game for $31, which is AWESOME!

Prepared to invest a lot of time

Well, is that not what a game is about? For the record, the game has several trainings missions for you to get into the game, I reckon that this will take a little over an hour to get it all done, if you also watch the attached trainings videos to help you get the best out of it all you can complete the trainings missions a little under 55 minutes (rough guess). Now, if you want to know the truth, you should watch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rtajDGnqAo

This is by far the best intro video made. It is the work of Troa Barton, watching it is a must. In one hour he shows the beginning highlights. In that time he gives a short explanation and shows more than I bargained for, so I was hooked again in 10 minutes. In that time he kills half a dozen opponents with the ship you get at the very beginning of the game. So you get a good start in 1 hour, which is again AWESOME!

So is there any truth to ‘prepared to invest a lot of time‘? Yes! You see there are 20 ships and 10 more coming. Ships fall into different categories and some will cost up to 200 million to buy and outfit, you start with 1000 credits, so this is not a small game it is a massive journey and you get the universe to traverse and grow. Some will like mining, some will prefer hunting, smuggling and piracy, some will prefer trading. All options, whatever YOU decide.

Some parts can be boring especially when you are trading, however, boring is good because some trade ships are not that good in fighting, by the time you have earned enough outfit an anaconda, which sets you back over 200 million, you have a ship that can devastate loads of opponents and carry 260 tons of goods, which at 15K per tonne per haul nets you a quick 3.9 million. So all this is not boring at all.

If you are a feistier person where you can tell the opponent that he/she is no ‘2B’ (and kill that person) you are in charge of choosing what to do.

Now we get part 2 with the quote “However, there’s another game on the horizon. One that promises players a space sim like no other; Star Citizen. Star Citizen may have a release date in 2016, but I can see it excelling on the PC“, so Kenny (not the ‘oh my god they killed Kenny’ person), is dissing a game in a bad way against a game that is not out for another year? Odd, because he becomes all speculation for a game that is not even out yet. And let us not forget that Elite (the original) was an established level of excellence in 1985 and now again from all the videos you can see online, this game does it again.

Then he states “We’ll have first-person space combat, mining and trading, all colliding with first-person shooter elements in a massively multiplayer persistent universe“, which is what Elite Dangerous on the PC already is (in space flight). So what’s the beef?

Then we get “Personally, I can’t see Elite: Dangerous performing well under the pressure that Star Citizen will bring to the space sim community on PC“, which is fair enough, it is his view and as such he is entitled to think this. I personally believe that Elite is already bringing the pain of great gaming now!

Now I need to step back for a moment to look back at his previous article which is linked in the article I linked at the beginning.

The price of minerals is too low and therefore not profitable or worth doing.
 – Really? True that your first ship is not equipped for that, but the later ships are and you can get a few millions per trip down the track.

Exploration data could also be upgraded as the player isn’t given enough of an incentive to do so – other than the universe is pretty.
 – Really? Larger ships have great exploration options, but you need a large ship and several components costing millions.

A small point that someone on Reddit made I completely agree with: Lower the scanning range on planets, so while exploring the player has to go close to the planet to scan them, therefore providing better visuals and experience.
– That might be a fair point, I cannot comment on that.

A greater variety of missions for those that aren’t Elite would be much appreciated.
– Again a fair point, yet Elite is still growing on the PC, so that is an option, further the power play option in the game has several goals to achieve and you get to select yourself HOW to achieve them.

More merits for getting cargo or resistance pockets – they’re not really worth the hassle in the game’s current state.
– I actually do not know (so again this might be a fair point)

An improved in-game chat feature
 – true, for now it is one on one, unlike the XB1 edition where you would have group chat as the system is made for that.

Now, some points here are valid, yet this game is still growing and the game offers 100 times more than the original ever did and it is currently in state ‘released’ something Star Citizen is not.

In addition, the current article had to mention for Star Citizen:

Over a hundred star systems in game which will be hand crafted and will include heavily themed, scenic landing locations from day one unlike Elite: Dangerous.
– fair enough but that game is still a year away, in addition, a hundred systems versus billions of systems is a far stretch of competition.

No procedural generation could lead to less boredom when traversing space.
– So far people opposing ‘procedural generation’ seem to not understand it, for that part just look at many no man’s sky videos. Procedural Generation does not imply boring iteration, that has been shown in No man’s sky a few times (will get to the Elite side shortly)

Far more freedom in terms of ships and their customisation.
– Possible, yet Elite already has 20, 10 are upcoming and there is no information that it will end there, in addition there are all levels of customisation, which is about the ship, not the look.

Superior graphics and more well-designed worlds.
– That is massively subjective, on the PC what I personally saw, some of the sites are beyond amazing and let’s not forget this is a space game, space is overwhelmingly black.

Better control over your ship, with improvements like yaw and more focus on first-person shooting mechanics.
– That shows that Kenny did not do his homework, the instruction videos on the PC show all that, including advanced lateral movement, strafing and so on. I reckon that it requires a decent HOTAS to enjoy (in opposition of the keyboard), so as I expect the XB1 to have the same options, I have not personally seen that.

Now let’s take a look at Star Citizen, the work of Chris Roberts.

Important is that he was one of the people behind Wing Commander, which I played intensely, so I know that this was a good game. So the person behind all this is not a newbie or a wannabe.

Now even though Star Citizen has had its share of Scepticism, we must remain honest. This is a crowdfunded game and it is well funded at present. In addition, a game like this is not an easy feat, yet also, the person behind this has proven his merits with Wing Commander. So as this is a 2016 game, my first view is that whomever start nagging and whining before October 2015 is an absolute idiot and should not have crowdfunded this (or just shut up until the beta is out there in its full potential)

So as we take a look at Star Citizen we need to keep an open mind. From the first go we see something very well done, but this is a trainings mission, if the rest of the game is on par than this game will be well worth it. So apart from walking around, the game definitely looks good (as it is) but the game has a long way to go (several glitches were shown, but as I stated, this is a beta at best). This was an April video, so I can assume that the game has processed from that point. I will not judge the game on what I saw, apart from the fact that it looks good, in addition there is no way to correctly assume that this game will outdo an established game like Elite Dangerous, but I feel that if the game goes on with the level of views that I see now, there is nothing stopping this game to become the third game next to Elite Dangerous and No Man’s Sky. There is no way that it overtakes either based on the information I currently have but that does not stop Star Citizen to become an equal game with a growing fan base.

Now for some future Elite expansions (as per the Elite Dangerous Wiki)

Landing / driving / prospecting on airless rocky planets, moons & asteroids.
Walking around interiors and combative boarding of other ships.

The first two are nice and adds to the experience of Elite

Combat and other interactions with other players and AIs in the internal areas of star ports.
Accessing richly detailed planetary surfaces.
Availability of giant ‘executive control’ ships to players.

The rest is nice too, but I hope that these extensions are not an attempt to add a ‘Mass Effect’ mode to the game (although walking through Space Stations could be an awesome experience.

So both games will have their own moments in where they excel. I do not agree with the view that Kenny McDonnell has regarding Elite Dangerous, but he is allowed his own view. I believe that there is space for both games.

The additional question becomes why must all games have all the options?

I believe that the lover of No Man’s Sky will love Elite Dangerous and there is a decent chance that they will love Star Citizen too.

I see that Star Citizen (from the training mission) is a more serious attempt to create a space flight flight simulator, it seems more on a ‘military’ approach to fighting than Elite Dangerous is. If I would compare it to other games than Elite Dangerous versus Star Citizen in that regard relates to Privateer versus Falcon 4.0, so from what I see now, the people who love more realistic fight flight Simulators would push themselves towards Star Citizens (when it arrives), so feel free to have fun with Elite Dangerous until that game arrives. That is from the little I saw from Star Citizen now, but that is not a guarantee that a more basic flight and fight options would not be available. Star Citizen is, as I see it at least a year away. So in all this I personally have a few issues with the article Kenny McDonell wrote.

From my view, you the reader, if you are into these kind of games, watch the Troa Barton video and decide from that whether you would give Elite Dangerous a go, as it will be one year until you can start the discussion whether you want Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous or both.

Just make sure in the end it was your choice due to receiving the proper information!

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The future of gaming

My life, for the most have been about gaming in one way or another. My fascination with computers started when I was just a young man (an annoying brat to be more precise). I saw the magic of computers when I saw my first Star Trek Episode, which was around 1972 or 1973 (Dutch Television). Computers were magic from that point onwards. You, the reader will not believe or imagine this, but in those days, computers were massive, there were actual career sessions on becoming a Computer Operator. I would not get my fingers on a computer until 1981, but it was more than just love at first sight. Whilst everyone around me was looking at it, if it were a dragon that needed to be carefully prodded with a stick, my journey started in earnest. I could go around the systems in mere minutes. Where sergeants were destroying their own work by not remembering the difference between the ‘write in’ and ‘write out’ buttons on their text processor (Oce), I was circumventing the Defence servers by entering specific parts of the entire logistical system giving the ‘MDETnnnn’ commands at the system prompt. Whilst some were sitting at their desk with their ‘bankgirocent’, holding on to ‘keys’ for their keyboard, so that no one could start certain programs. I was going around the entire system with the entire defence logistical system to explore. But it was not all me, often I was sitting in a corner, listening to a Colonel, who was at that point working on a project called ‘VAB3’. I was helping out, his sergeant; a rather pretty woman thought I was after her. If only (she was really good looking). No, the colonel was the first person where I ACTUALLY learned from, the man had insight and was brilliant, It took me a few days, but then I had a clear grasp of the entire Defence payment system, the codes, the settings and the individual programs, the microfiches taught me the rest.

There was no want for money, for wealth. It was simple learning and exploration. We all learn and grasp in our own ways. Do not worry; it is all still linked to gaming!

My weakness is that I never had any commercial inspiration; I never cared too much about money (other than paying my bills). I was always interested in the Puzzle! In my time I have designed my applications, I made them for friends, I made them as assignments, to make a little cash. I once had the option to automate cinemas, but after one afternoon I dropped it. Not because I could not do it, but because it was too easy. I had solved all parts in less than three hours but I did not write it as it had become a mere exercise. It was my only real flaw and to the smallest extent it still is.

I did actually also do other things (like actual work) with mainframes and at times, with those dinky weird contraptions called PC’s. The IBM PC was bulky, and had two boxes the size of the Google OUYA flat side forward, one slot was for the 360Kb floppy the other slot was for the 10 Mb disk drive, which was priced at $2999. Yes, I did say 10 Megabyte! On the disk was a program called Lotus Symphony version 1.1, which I used to create a program to manage the numbers and information of dangerous cargo on container ships (in those days the fines for too much IMCO 5.1, whilst entering Singapore were truly massive). It took me 3 days to work it out and after that they could find the information in minutes, which before that moment took hours and sometimes up to 2 days to check the containers of a carrier at times having a load of almost 1750 containers. So, I did achieve plenty, but it was always the puzzle that pushed me forward.

masterelite1 So, how does this relate to gaming? To get this, you have to consider the days of non-graphics, where a game like Elite was high resolution graphics (in those days).

It was the first game I actually played for some time on the BBC micro B computer (which was not mine), but I was hooked ever since. I moved from Vic-20 (second hand) to a Commodore 64 and from there on, whatever work I did, it was the console at home that satisfied my need for ‘puzzles’ and exploration.

This now comes back to the game we see getting more and more attention. The game is called ‘No man’s sky’ and the person giving it the visibility it deserves (and more) is Danny O’Dwyer (at http://www.gamespot.com/no-mans-sky/). This game takes me back to several games. First, there was Elite, where we travelled the cosmos, trading and shooting wars from Harmless to Elite. The game is at times mindless get through it, simple, but the trades, the encounters, the jumps to a new place and especially in the beginning, docking with a station, had me and many like me glued to the screen. Later on the Commodore Amiga, some German person made something that looked like a Star Trek simulator, where we could fly to planets, get into orbit and (that was it at the time, the game was not complete). After that Origin (the people behind Ultima and Wing Commander) give is a higher graphics version of Elite and they called it Privateer. Later still Peter Molyneux gave us Black and White, a god creation game. I could go into a lot more detail, but I do not want to bore the reader with my gaming life.

There is one reference that is missing. In the 80’s, there was a comic strip in a magazine called ‘Computer and Video Games (CVG)’ about a ‘god-creation simulator’. Here we have the elements of the puzzle. Here we see the elements of No Mans Sky united. The exploration of a planet, from there we can see and visit the planets in the cosmos and grow in wealth, menace and trade as we find larger and better means for travelling. This game has all the elements of gaming I always loved and this game is close to giving us the almost perfect exploration game, where we are mere travellers in all the freedoms we ever wanted. We are not limited by the confines of Tamriel or Sosaria. This game is close to promising a journey where our own imagination is slowly becoming the only remaining limit in gaming.

That would make this game the most enticing form of gaming we are ever likely to meet and see. It is quite literally Minecraft on an epic scale!

We will always want our Scribble Shooter (or its smoother brother Halo), but gaming is more than a race, a fire fight or even a quest. No Man’s Sky is trying to meet the promise some of the older gamers have waited for, for a lifetime. Will we get that experience? I truly hope so!

I have had good days, even great days in many of the games on nearly all of the platforms. Even today, as we see new games trying to fend for the ‘top’ spot of gaming, some gamers are still yearning back to the games that actually delivered a sense of wonder. Whether it was one of the Ultima games, a Metal Gear Solid, the original thief or even a game like System Shock (both one and two) delivering that sense of joy. Some will desire the days of Mass Effect and would want to walk around the Citadel beyond the few levels we saw. No Man’s land is currently implying that it will offer all of that. That makes the days of Danny O’Dwyer one of the sweetest jobs around, because he could be sitting on the hottest gaming potato of an entire generation of gaming.

Time will tell whether NoMansSkyFieldSean Murray ends up being the greatest marketeer or the greatest game developer. I am hoping for the second one. The only critical view I have (for now) is that it is good to know that it is coming, the fact that the game is still more than a year away is less interesting if we get to see too much of the game so far in advance.

 

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