Friday, July 1, 2011

Tribes: Ascend Gameplay Trailer Analysis

Gameplay teaser slowed down

At the very start, we can see Blood Eagle logos on some crates.

Plasma turret. It's shown later on in the video with a blow glow at the tip of the barrel, so I'm fairly certain it is indeed a plasma turret.

HUD explained, or at least my best guesses. I don't really get the point of the speed indicators, if they're even that. The community over at the T:A forums came up with it, and hasn't been confirmed. They only show up when moving through the air.

The laser rifle does not use energy. We never see the actual sniper/laser rifle(s) model in this video, only the zoomed-in view, so the ammo count is likely on the gun itself. As far as I know, every gun has its ammo count on the weapon somewhere, as opposed to somewhere else on the screen like in previous Tribes game.

This part of the video would seem to confirm the base auto-repair statement from an anonymous playtester. It's seen a few times throughout the video, only when either of the energy/generator icons are faded out.

Double flag icon. This is seen a few times as well throughout the video, and I can't quite figure it out. There are really only 3 possible flag positions: on the stand, off the stand, and in the posession of a player. The single flag icon is shown the most throughout the video, leading me to believe it means the flag is on the stand. No flag icon at all, which is also shown in the video, likely means it's been taken. So there's really only one option left for a double flag icon: not on the stand. Who knows.

This is a zoomed-in view of another gun. It's the exact same display as the laser rifle, so every weapon likely has the exact same zoom in view. I originally thought the laser/sniper rifle zoom would be different, but this says otherwise. Also note the object at the top left; likely a type of grenade. It doesn't look anything like the one we see towards the end.

Player with flag. Nothing to analyze here really, just a snapshot of someone with the flag. Sure does seem pretty damn big though. He is killed a second or so later in the vid, and nothing on the HUD changes, so I dunno what's up with that. Then again, alpha...

Regenerating health?. I don't like this picture for several reasons. 1. The damage effects shown when getting shot. 2. Note the health bar. This is a Light armor player, who has a maximum armor of 800. He was shot, and was dropped down to 480. However, instead of his health bar going black, there are faded blue sections of health shown. This could mean 2 things. 1. His health will regenerate to that point over time. 2. It merely shows how much damage was received, and will turn black over time. Who knows. Also note the orange bars above his (empty) grenade icon. This is seen several times in the video and no one seems to know what the fuck it represents.

And finally, here are some shots of the sticky grenade at the end of the video.

Also worth noting is that in several images you can see those large, long ships. On top of them are what I think are rocket/missile turrets. Not positive since we never get a close up look at them, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Freemium: The concept that just won't go away.

In my last post I talked about F2P games and their bullshitty-ness, and hoped that the trend would be gone within the next 5 or so years.  Unfortunately I doubt that'll happen after today's big announcement from Valve.  In case you haven't heard, Team Fortress 2 is going the F2P route, which honestly isn't terribly surprising after the popularity of hats.  I myself am not a fan of the game at all, though I might reinstall it one of these days to see if I can finally 'get' it.

With such a large company joining the Freemium bandwagon, it really doesn't help to sway other publishers from going the same route.  Just last night I was skimming through the front page of N4G and stumbled upon an article about the new Star Trek game.  I believe this was first announced either at PAX or E3, and intended to read up on it but never really got around to doing so.  I love Star Trek, and remember having a pretty fun time playing one of the games for the PS1 (I honestly can't remember the name).  However, I found out it's going the F2P route as well, which obviously disappoints me.

While the developer tried to make it clear it won't have any real effect on gameplay, he did explain that you could simply buy experience points to get to higher levels.  Honestly, what's the point in that?  Manually leveling up consists of actual, you know, gameplay.  Buying your way up to the top just doesn't sound all that fun, and an obvious advantage over those who either refuse or just can't afford to pay for the same experience.  With Valve's decision to make TF2 free-to-play, it wouldn't shock me one bit if they did the same for Dota 2.  If so, SMITE is even more fucked.  Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at the games that went F2P this year alone:

Age of Conan
Champions Online
City of Heroes
Global Agenda
Fallen Earth
Team Fortress 2
Battleground Europe
Ragnarok Online
Pox Nora
Pirates of the Burning Seas
Lego Universe
Blacklight: Retribution
Hellgate: London
APB: Reloaded

I'm sure there are more, but those were the ones that stuck out the most when I did a quick Google search.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Random stuff about games.

The following are drafts I never got around to finishing/publishing, along with some new stuff.

It's no surprise to anyone who has read this blog that I like Tribes.  I've been playing the game on and off since 98, more-so over the past 5-6 years.  The main reason I've been playing for so long, besides the overall fun and addiction to the game, is that throughout my life I've never really had a gaming PC.  I stuck with a beast of machine for far longer than I should have, with hardware that made pretty much everyone laugh when I gave them the specs.  This held me back from being a modern day PC gamer, and meant Tribes and any other game made pre-2003 were the only ones I could play.  I was mainly a console gamer until 2006'sh, when the Xbox stopped being relevant and decided to skip on the current generation of consoles.  I was in a grey area left playing games from the past.  While frustrating at times, I enjoyed what I had.

Games like The Sims, Freelancer, Day of Defeat  and Tribes have such an immense amount of replayability that it wasn't a huge issue that I couldn't play modern games.  Sure, I would've loved to try out games like Crysis and Bad Company 2, but I didn't make a fuss out of it.  I stuck with the games I had and played them to death.  So after receiving this laptop in September of 2010, I started looking more closely at modern games such as Mass Effect, Bad Company 2 and even Half-Life 2.  But then I started noticing something that quite honestly has me scared a bit.  Over the past few months I've seen posts on Reddit from people in similar situations asking a question that I find hard to comprehend: "Does Bad Company 2 still have players?"

The game came out in March of 2010, and people are asking if it still has players?  Do today's games, even ones as popular as BC2, have such a short life-span that people are asking these kinds a questions just a year after release?  After playing the same game for over a decade I guess I've been spoiled by such a dedicated community, and just assumed all big-name multiplayer games have decent-sized communities that last for at least 5-10 years.  While I have no doubt BC2 has a good number of players, it just feels really odd to read a question like that, and I'm seeing it more and more these days.  I had the same reaction shortly after the first Section 8 game came out, and someone reported it only had 15 players on at one point.  Even Prejudice has low numbers apparently, and that received generally favorable reviews.  Anyways, onto my next topic.

Enter bizzaro land: I'm sick of free stuff.  I want to pay money for games again.  At least, that's my general attitude towards free-to-play games, which is seemingly the 'in' thing to do nowadays when your company fails harder than InstantAction at trying to make a profit.  The main reason I'm sick of F2P games is because they're full of shit.  And lies.  While they may be free to play, they aren't free to enjoy for any decent amount of time.  Every F2P game has that sweet spot the developers put in place to stop you from enjoying the game, and requires some sort of financial investment.  This is why I have zero interest in Hi-Rez's SMITE, and a dwindling interest in Firefall and whatever the hell Valve is up to(likely Dota 2, which I wasn't interested in to begin with).  The same goes for Battlefield P4F, Global Agenda, Champions Online and the most recent F2p game City of Heroes.  They all eventually turn into subscriptions which I absolutely refuse to pay.  Make a game, require a one time $30-$60 fee, and I'll be happy.  I weep for a future void of F2P games, and hope this is merely a passing trend that'll pop within the next 5 or so years.  Next topic: Legions.

I'm so confused with Legions at this point.  At times I love it, other times I hate it.  Right now I'm faced with some pretty crazy realizations about the game and where I thought I wanted it to go.  For quite a while now it's been apparent that Legions will take on more Tribes-like gameplay elements such as inventory stations and base assets.  Normally I'd be more than happy with such a change, and would welcome it in a heartbeat.  I've defended their decision to do so several times on the forum without actually experiencing said changes.  However, after a recent 'change' in gameplay I'm starting to doubt my original thoughts.

The developers recently implemented an inventory-like system, and it certainly raised a few eyebrows.  In short: you spawned in a default loadout and could only change classes at ammo stations, opposed to whenever the hell you wanted via respawning.  It's a feature I just didn't like, mainly because it slowed down gameplay.  For someone like me who always plays as the default loadout the developers selected, it didn't affect me one bit.  But I still didn't like it because I knew it affected many, if not the majority of others.  It took away the one thing from Legions I prefer over Tribes: speed and ease of access.  It's so easy to just hop in a game of Legions, pick your class and go.  There's no inventory station to deal with, and more importantly there's no wait for the inventory station.

The developers, along with a few players, keep throwing out one very special word: depth.  "Legions needs more depth" they keep saying, and claim adding inventory stations, deployables and generators will do just that.  Added depth it might provide, but it'll certainly come at a cost, namely speed.  Unless of course they have some genius plan to retain the fast-paced nature of Legions, which is mainly due to how damn simple everything currently is.  If they could somehow add depth to the game by focusing on making the game even faster, things could get interesting.  One proposed idea, which started out as a joke, would be to implement a Quidditch-type game mode.  Whether or not it'll actually happen is anyone's guess(mod support would take care of that...), but it certainly makes me chuckle at the thought of it happening.

Thankfully it seems they aren't solely focusing base assets and have recently introduced Rabbit, but again there are problems.  In Tribes, there are specific maps with specific spawn points for Rabbit, where as Legions uses existing CTF maps with  not-so-friendly spawns.  While Tribes has you spawning either in the sky or on a hill so you can gain speed, Legions places you on flat terrain, making it impossible to actually match the Rabbit's speed without rocket/grenade jumping, which of course takes away health.  It's yet another balancing issue that plagues Legions, and makes me think if the game can actually become fully balanced.  Even the sniper, which launched with the game in 2008, is still getting tweaked to this day.

Well, I think that about sums it up.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hi-Rez Studios: First look at SMITE?

Oy vey.  Where to even begin with Hi-Rez Studios.  I've been meaning to write a few posts responding to the information we've been given over the past few weeks, but it's such a touchy subject that I've decided to take the 'wait and see' approach until we get more information.  Modding, credits, consoles, ranks, leveling.  There's a lot to bitch talk about, and I'd rather have more details before going on the attack.  One thing I will say is that I'm pretty disappointed at their general lack of activity on the Tribes forums.  Their community manager visited the forum yesterday for the first time in two weeks.  I thought perhaps the company was busy with creating a centeralized forum or with the games their developing, but if you visit their Global Agenda forum you can see the same CM posting on a daily basis.  It's pretty disheartening, especially after the Todd Harris interview when the community went absolutely ape-shit.  That's when your companies CM should step in and do his job.  But I guess I should be used to receiving nothing but silence from game companies these days...

In other news, I believe I've spotted our first look at SMITE.  A recent intern at Hi-Rez has updated his demo reel, which showcases a quick animation of a character with a mighty large hammer, along with a Hi-Rez Studios logo at the bottom right.


Skip to the 30 second mark for the animation.  While Hi-Rez has posted a few concepts from the game, this is the first video/animation.  To be honest, I have very little interest in SMITE, but I can never pass up the chance at leaking something.  I wouldn't be too surprised if the majority of future posts mainly consisted of hatred towards their CM.  God knows I'm used to it...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

M&B Warband: Alone Again, Naturally.

I've lost it all.  Everything.

The day started out great.  My main goal had finally been accomplished: joining a faction.  This was my goal ever since I first played the demo over a month ago, and it finally happened.  Unfortunately it wasn't the one I wanted(the Nords), but I wasn't going to be picky about it.  Not only was I finally part of a faction, I now had actual enemies to kill rather than wasting my skills on sea raiders.  Hell I even had my own flag.  Shortly after joining an army, I had my first battle.  And it was glorious.  As I said, no more sea raiders.  These guys were actual soldiers on horseback.  Gone were the days where I took on 10-20 sea raiders.  Now I was taking on over 100 men at a time, alongside 100 other men.  Joining this particular faction pissed off one of the Nords, but I didn't mind.

I took a glance at my notes and saw I was supposed to meet up with another general to take on an army of assholes.  His last known location was 4 days old, and it was a good 2 days away.  Alas, it was the best place to start looking for him.  I actually put off this meeting for a while, because I didn't even remember receiving such orders.  I made my away to his last known location, only to find a trap.  The general wasn't to blame.  He was likely long gone, busy tackling another battle.  The castle I entered was under siege, and I had no choice but to fight them.  It was just me and 54 of my men, against their 200+ army.  Needless to say, I lost.

But not only did I lose the battle, I lost all of my men.  And my horse!  I still have my armor and some money, but I'm honestly thinking about starting over.  I know what I'm doing now, so it shouldn't be too hard to get back on top.  Then again, I still retain all my skills and strength.  I have no idea if I'm still part of this faction; I likely am, but I might just ignore it.  I have the entire world in front of me.  I could either get a few more men and take on the sea raiders as usual, or try to build up another army and take the game a bit more seriously.  Time will tell.

Oh, and this is Thera.  I have no idea where we are at this point, and I might just give up on her as well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

M&B Warband: Bitches Be Teasing Me

I've decided to start playing Mount & Blade: Warband's campaign again tonight, and ran into some interesting situations.  For quite a while now I've been carrying 10 prisoners with me wherever I go, unable to find a place to put them.  Every castle has a prison, so I thought I could simply drop them off there whenever I wanted, but you can't.  After doing a quick Google search I found my answer, and sold them off to a slave trader in a town called Tihr (which turns out is a pretty happening town).  After gathering a decent number of men (30), I set out and took on a few battles.

After winning several battles I decided to return to Tihr, sold off a few more prisoners, and headed to the castle.  That was when I met Lady Thera, the only one of four women who would even consider holding a conversation with me.  At this point my name was well known amongst everyone in the town, with many saying I "struck fear in men", so I thought getting a woman wouldn't be all that difficult.  After being rejected 3 times in a row my expectations slowly dwindled until I met Thera.  Apparently she likes strong, bold men like me, and I managed to create a relationship with her.  Unfortunately I was told to come back in a few days, because she felt things were moving too quickly.

After waiting several days, slaughtering a few men in the mean time, I returned to Tihr to see if I could progress things a bit with my new lady friend.  Apparently she's rather high up on the royalty chain, or at least in that castle's, so the guards weren't too happy to see someone like me asking for Lady Thera.  I was told that her nurse would find a way to sneak her out of the castle to see me.  Fantastic.  She actually wants to see me, enough to sneak out of a damn castle.  Marrying her should be a cinch...

I finally make my way to her and we start chatting it up, and ask if we have a future together.  She informs me that I'm not the only man looking for a future with her, so I demand to know who the other guy is.  After some persuading, she finally gives a name: Jaral Gerald.  I ask her nurse where I might find Gerald, and I start my search for him.  I quickly find him and challenge him to a duel, which he accepts.  We draw our swords and commence dueling, and I beat him within seconds.  The man fought like a coward, and I'm offended he even offered a future with my Thera.  I quickly race back to Tihr, but my lady is no where to be seen.  I ask for her location and am told she is was last seen in a nearby castle just a short horse ride away.  I pack my things and commence galloping.

I arrive at the castle and am again greeted by frowns by the guards, but luckily her nurse thinks otherwise and arranges a secret meeting for me and Thera.  After a good first impression, dueling another man, and even reciting fucking poetry, I'm thinking this is it.  I'm asking this bitch for her hand in marriage.  I again ask about her future, when she informs me that, basically, I need to have a better name for myself.  At this point I didn't know what to think.  Right now I'm actually playing the game, finishing up a few side quests until I can meet her again.  I just delivered some cattle to a small village and am on my way to see Thera, when her nurse met me in the field and delivered me a letter.  Basically, this bitch wants to see me pronto but her father won't permit it.  Still, she conjured up a plan to the two of us to meet somewhere.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011