Weekend Gamer–September 30, 2018 Edition

So, I’ll keep these gamer updates on the smaller side as they are some of the least popular posts on the blog.  I’m not really sure why as video games have become as intricate and as narrative-based as any movie or novel.  For me, they represent the “third pillar” of the trifecta of popular culture/entertainment.  Sure, the controller looks complicated and adds a layer of abstraction that many non-gamers find daunting, but truly, many of the abstractions in the video game world exist elsewhere–we just choose to ignore them because they fit our paradigm (dice and playing pieces in board games and role-playing games, complicated rules and exceptions for card-based games). Oh well, to each his or her own–if video games aren’t really to the taste of the mainstream, then I’ll just continue to play them and talk about them, but not evangelize them.

This week, a couple of smaller games went on sale that I’ve desperately been wanting after seeing them profiled on YouTube in various places.  I’ll only talk about them briefly and save a full discussion of them for a full blog post.  Both games are ones that hope will help me with writing projects down the line, so not only do I hope they will be fun, but also inspiring.

Sine More EX

This is an arcade shooter (in the same vein of the old school game DEFENDER) and is one that I hope will help me define the setting of Project Skye a little bit better.  You take the controls of a pilot of a retro-futuristic plane out for revenge.  You blast your way through wildly inventive levels with unique and varied bosses.  I only managed to get through the first level and part of the second so far, but I found it to be a fun romp so far (if a bit serious and heavy-handed in terms of the plot–a WWII analogy with dropping a nuclear bomb on a civilization in an arcade shooter).  Still, this is one I’m playing mostly for the setting inspiration than actually playing for the plot.

 

Battlechasers: Nightwar

This is a game based on the graphic novel series, Battlechasers which I happened to pick up a local used bookstore.  I really liked the graphic novel and I’ve been a fan of the artist Joe Madureia every since I picked up a random issue of his work on the Uncanny X-Men several years ago by chance.  I’ve been following the development of this game since its announcement and really wanted to get it on its release, but discovered that it would probably be better suited for a sale.  The game has actually gone on sale several times already since its release earlier this year (as recent as about 2-3 weeks ago), but something would always come up and I wouldn’t be able to get a voucher code to add funds in time before the sale went away.  I recently decided that I should just do that every time my balance dropped below a certain amount, and lo and behold it is was back on sale this week, so I snatched it up.  It is a turn-based RPG in the style of the older Final Fantasy games, but so far, I’m really enjoying it.  Playing characters based on a graphic novel that I like really helps, although their voices don’t quite match the vision that I had in my head, but that’s really a small complaint.

Well, again, keeping is short as people don’t really read the gamer updates, that’s all for today.  Have a good one!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 28)
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Chromebook Nation

Chromebooking It

I was able to, at the beginning of the semester, to get a Chromebook and it has really helped me to be far more productive.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still an Apple MacBook Pro fan. However, for general web browsing and research, the Chromebook has been a godsend (something I should have gotten over the summer and I would have been far more productive, but hindsight is 20/20).  A Chromebook, as long as you use web-based apps, and have an internet connection, is a perfect, cheap, alternative to most computers.  Is it as sophisticated and versatile–no, it isn’t.  However, it does the one thing that I need/want it to do: basic access to the internet and web-based platforms WITHOUT having to use Microsoft’s Windows.

Alternatives to Windows

Basically, until Microsoft stops 1) criminalizing users of its Windows Operating System by making them register copies of the operating system with a license that they can’t alter and 2) forcing draconian licensing agreements on users of its X-Box systems, I will NOT support them in ANY form (to the best of my ability).  In the age of corporate conglomeration, it is almost impossible to truly boycott a corporation’s products in order to affect change in any meaningful way.  However, Microsoft (along with Electronic Arts) is the poster-child for corporate machinations that I simply do not agree with no matter how much money their shenanigans make for their shareholders.  As such, I refuse to purchase Microsoft products or products that I know will directly or indirectly benefit Microsoft (and to a lesser extent, EA).  As such, I use Macs and Chromebooks because they 1) do what I need them to do, 2) allow me to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish and 3) they DON’T benefit Microsoft.

Basic Web Browsing

My school (MTSU) uses a web-based platform (D2L) to help students and professors move into learning in a digital environment.  Since my wifi adapter no longer works on my 2008 Macbook Pro, it is very difficult to find places on campus where I can use an ethernet cable to “plug in” and find places where I can help my students become stronger students through grading and discussions online. However, the Chromebook helps me to achieve this as it is robust enough to handle the web-based nature of D2L.  Also, since most “apps” now have an Android app and/or a web-based presence, it is much more useful than one would think it might be based on the specs alone.  The true strength of the Chromebook is that, as long as you have an internet connection, it is pretty much a full featured computer and analogous to its “bigger” brothers–Windows PC/Macs.  Now this is really true if you’re not into gaming or any other processor intensive tasks, but if most of what you do/use it for is web browsing, streaming, light audio-visual, then it functions pretty much as (at least for me) a fully functional computer–allowing me to leave my MacBook Pro at home.  I’m able to MOST everything I want to via the web or web apps, it has long battery life (up to 2 – 3 days of medium to heavy use on 1 charge cycle), and it is highly portable, so it is the perfect solution where I have WiFi 90% of the time.

This isn’t a permanent solution, but it is A solution.  One that is helping to at least stay current in my graduate school and creative writing lifestyle.  Without it, I would be losing ground instead of treading water.  So, I say, until I can Macbook Pro it, I’m going to continue to Chromebook it.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1, Currently on Script Page 25)

 

 

 

1st Try

So far, I have only sold one story on the first try: Dragonhawk One of the reasons why I believe that it was so successful is that even though I had the plot for the story in mind when writing the story, I also used (for the only time time since I restarted my writing “career” by buying Storymill and then later Scrivener) the Character Sketch Template Sheets provided by Scrivener.  One of the things that the character sheets forced me to do was to think about my characters from the external and the internal

External

So, on the Character Sheets, there is a place to fill out all of the external characteristics of the character.  What do they look like, what is their background, etc.  All of the things you might ask yourself when filling out a biography for a character.  Sure, it isn’t much, just spaces where you can write a paragraph or so, but I did that for both of the main characters in the story: Kelfryn (the young man who was a Hawkrider, but wanted to be a Dragonrider), and Scryfe (his mind-bonded hawk, who didn’t understand his rider’s obsession with dragons and dragon eggs).  It really didn’t take that long to write out each one–maybe half an hour to one full hour for each one.  However, when it came to describing the characters and knowing the history, my mind was able to weave a narrative around them that made them seem (to the editor who bought the story, and hopefully his readers), well, alive in some undefinable way.  It also made it easier, for me, to come up with a reason why  he was doing what he was doing that seemed both rational and in keeping with the character.

Internal

Perhaps the most important point is the fact that the character sheet provided a place for internal conflicts–i.e., what is the character struggling with internally.  For Kelfryn, he wanted so much to be a Dragonrider of old and to have the status of a Dragonrider.  His great grandfather had been one as had countless generations before that and in the world I created, even though there were no more Dragonriders, there was still an air of mystique about them and a reverence.  Even though he knew it was forbidden in his culture, his desire to bring them back trumped his good sense and he (pardon he pun) “hatched” a plan to steal an egg, thus setting the story in motion.

Concluding Thoughts

As I said earlier, this is the only story which has sold on the first try–and I didn’t even like the story all that much (the kid learns his lesson while I wanted a fun adventure story).  While I may never have another story accepted on the first try, this incident is trying to tell me something: good characters need both internal and external conflicts.  To help me, I printed out several character sheets.  My goal, of course, is to use them for each of my projects to help get at the inner conflicts and to create well-rounded and dynamic characters. I’m starting this with The Independent.  I’m working on the 2nd Draft now and I’m hopeful that a Character Sketch Sheet will help me to create Ryn (the protagonist) into a round and dynamic character.

Perhaps, one day, I can even reach the rarefied heights of getting back to getting a publication on the first try.  It’s something to shoot for anyway.

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue #1)

Still Life with Stop Signs

speedbumps

On the Road Again

So August 2018 has been a complete wash for me in terms of pretty much everything that I do: writing the blog, writing creatively, reading, video games, etc.  The Work-Life Balance needle swung waaaaaaayyyyyyy to the work side of the meter and I pretty much got nothing done in terms of my own personal projects.  Sometimes its just like that–there’s just nothing that I can do about that except work, work, work.

However (partly due to the holiday and partly due the fact that I bought a Chromebook and I’m now “untethered” from my Ethernet cable of my aging Macbook Pro), I should be back on track for my more creative endeavors–as evidenced by this blog post.  At some point, I’d like to get one of the new Macbook Pros, but right now, the outlay of money for the technology just isn’t worth it.  When I start selling stories, graphic novels, novels, and scripts to make the investment worthwhile, I will, but right now, all I really need is 1) a basic laptop with wifi access, 2) basic word processing, and 3) basic internet surfing.  For this reason, this Chromebook should give me what I need for just the basics and then I can use the Macbook Pro to fill out the more important computing functions that I have.

OtherWorlds

So, during this time, like a lot of YouTubers that I watch, I found myself wondering if what I am/was doing had any merit.  You see, earlier this summer, YouTube changed the payment “scale” for content creators so that basically on those with mega-channels or those with a LOT of followers (millions) were seeing real revenue.  There are YouTubers who used to be able to it as a day job or a hobby job and see real results for their efforts–not anymore, however.  More and more channels are disappearing or changing format and I, like them, wondered if I should change as well.  The answer is, no, Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the genres that I love.  Writing is something that I want to do and documenting my highs and lows (mostly in the writing arena), but also in life in general, and Science Fiction & Fantasy in particular is something that I really need and want to do.  So, I’m keeping OtherWorlds mostly the same.  There will be some slightly changes, but nothing major.  I’ll probably focus on Popular Culture and little more than I have been and I (may) do something with the scholarly blogs that I’ve set up for class (which means that I may try to keep up this as a general genre blog and set-up a more “professional” site and not mix the two as I sometimes do, but I’m still formulating this idea.

Avengers: Infinity War (Part I)

Over the holiday weekend, I got a chance to watch several sci-fi movies.  Some (most), I’ve seen before, but one in particular that I got to see was the latest Avengers movie, Avengers Infinity War.  I will write a review and put it on the list of Marvel movies (the ranking list) later, but I just wanted to let you all know that it was coming.  I still have to process this movie as it does not follow the traditional Marvel movie “form.”  More on this one in the upcoming week.

Hopefully, I’m back to a more regular schedule.  I’m going to cut it short now so that I can save some time for “writing.”  See you on tomorrow’s post (hopefully)

Sidney


 

Microsoft HATES Cross-Play Too; They Just Don’t Want You to Know It.

crashfm

CrashFM logo.  Image Source: UStream.com

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Independence Word Count: @3500 words
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Cleaning this up–I’m only going to list the ones that I’m currently writing (actually putting words on the page).  Expect to see 2-3 projects per month at the most.
Goal = 170 words (5000 words by July 1), added approximately 200 words.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 750s in terms of page count–more than half way finished.)
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy atMTSU’slibrary and I’m reading it now.   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.

    Still working my way through–I’m trying to clear out a province a week, but because I’m catching up from E3 so I only got to clear about ½ of the province I’m currently working on.  I was planning on finishing that province today, but I have far too much to do today, so I’m not going to get to play it next week.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”I got further along, but now I have a decision to make: do I let the “creepy” best friend die, or do I let the character’s potential girlfriend die.  I decided to stop right there.

Microsoft Doesn’t Like Cross-Play Either

So, this post has been building for long time, but I’m finally sitting down to write it based on the internet “hate” Sony is getting for its stance on Cross-Play this week.  For those who don’t know, Cross-Play is the burgeoning idea that their should be no “borders” between gamers and that certain popular games are allowing their players to play with other players on other competing platforms.  This console generation Sony doesn’t want to do it as they are way ahead and they want to control over their ecosystem and Microsoft has been accrued a ton of goodwill as they’ve jumped on the Cross-Play bandwagon as a way to promote their Xbox over the Playstation.  But in the past, Microsoft hasn’t really liked Cross-Play either.

Burnout Paradise Podcast Reveals All

What gamers this console generation don’t realize is that Microsoft isn’t as altruistic as they appear.  They HATE the idea of Cross-Play as well.  Early in the Playstation 3/Xbox 360, the developers of games were really into podcasting and many devs had some sort of podcasting presence.  Burnout Paradise developer Criterion Games was one of the many devs that had such a podcast.  It was called CrashFM after their famous (or infamous) fictional “radio station” inside the game.  You can find out more from this wikia post: http://burnout.wikia.com/wiki/Crash_TV.  Most germane to this post, on one of the episodes, the devs were discussing how hard/easy it was do Cross-Play between the two systems.  I distinctly remember him saying in the podcast that  it was extremely easy and here is the important point.  The devs said that it was so easy that Microsoft had language in their CONTRACT THAT PROHIBITED Cross-Play and they had to ADD IN CODE to prevent it from happening.  He went onto say that interestingly, Sony did not have any language in their contract either way or the other (not a direct quote as I no longer have access to my iTunes subscription with these podcasts to do my due diligence to provide a time-stamp for this assertion–I’m doing this all from memory).

So, wait, Microsoft, that paragon of telling players that they LOVE Cross-Play,  had language in a contract (allegedly) that prohibited Cross-Play?  Methinks, I smell a rat here.  Yes, I understand that positions change over time, but for the fans and the media to rake Sony over the coals for something that Microsoft has (allegedly) done in the past is more than hypocritical on Microsoft’s part.

In Microsoft We Trust–Until They Screw Us Over

Microsoft has been getting a lot of love lately and I just don’t understand it.  Have we forgotten how Sony was able to get a big console lead this generation?  They wanted an console that would need to be connected to the internet at least once every 24 hours so it could validate your games.  Their idea of game-sharing was abysmal and they were $100 more expensive even though their system was “less powerful” than the Playstation 4.  This is the future Microsoft wanted for gamers.  They tried to do the same thing as last generation by locking down Titanfall (what they thought would be the new conception of Halo).

I may be coming on thick here, but Microsoft is all about control.  This morning, I walked into our Graduate Teaching Assistants’ office and found a Windows computer complaining that its Windows version might be counterfeit (this is a LARGE university–I’m pretty sure their licenses are up-to-date).  All the way back to Windows 3.1Microsoft has tried to legislate how users of their software will use it and not counterfeit it.  With Win 3.1, they tried to this with a “cardstock” license, but the Xbox One was just the same ideas revisited, but with actual technology to enforce their dictates rather than words written on cardstock.

Sony may well deserve the censure that their getting based on what I seen/heard about the latest controversy of them locking down accounts that have been associated with their Playstation account–not cool.  However, Microsoft does not deserve the amount of praise that gamers are heaping on them as it will just encourage them to retry their dictatorial licensing practices at a later date.  Gamers keep shooting themselves in the foot by allowing themselves to be swayed so easily by Microsoft’s tactics in regards to Cross-Play.  Gaming sites like IGN and gaming pundits such as Jim Sterling aren’t doing the gaming community any favors by over-emphasizing Sony’s stance without doing research to find out what Microsoft’s history on this matter is, both current (positive–now that they are behind) and historical (negative–when they were ahead).

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

E3 2018 Conferences Review

E3

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3365 (+324)
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

Changed the way I write.  I moved back to Scrivener in order to utilize the word count tracking feature in the program.  I tried to find a web version (& I did), but it seemed silly to try to wrangle three different websites when I have an all-in-one solution in Scrivener.  Once I did, I was able to to get writing done.  I also reconfigured my workspace so let’s see if that helps.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Daily (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3) (somewhere in 700s in terms of page count–more than half way finished.)
  • For School:
    Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’slibrary and I’m reading it now.   Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing); Updated Weekly (Mondays)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.

    Still working my way through–I’m trying to clear out a province a week, but because I’m catching up from E3 so I only got to clear about ½ of the province I’m currently working on.  I was planning on finishing that province today, but I have far too much to do today, so I’m not going to get to play it next week.
  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”I got further along, but now I have a decision to make: do I let the “creepy” best friend die, or do I let the character’s potential girlfriend die.  I decided to stop right there.

Bethesda

Fairly disappointed in Bethesda’s conference as the games that I really want to play are Starfield and the next Elder Scrolls game, Elder Scrolls VI.  Both were teased with basically an environment and a logo, but did not show anything even remotely like a cinematic or gameplay.  They are also at least another year, probably two years away.  Their main game this year was Fallout 76, an online game in the Fallout universe.  That means that there have been (or will be when F76 comes out) two games in the Fallout universe this generation and none in the Elder Scrolls universe.  While I don’t begrudge other players their Fallout high, I’m not really a Fallout player.  I’m intrigued by Starfield as it is a new IP in what seems to be a Sci-Fi (spacefaring) setting, but as it is an unknown quantity, it is hard to get too excited for it.

C

6/19/18 Edit: I forgot that Bethesda also released a trailer and gameplay for the game Rage 2.  Having played the first Rage, I found it fairly interesting so I’m looking forward to this game, so I’m raising the score from its original C- to C.

Square Enix

So, the new Tomb Raider game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks pretty good as did the trailer for a new IP called The Quiet Man.  I’m also interested in the new Dragon Quest game as I’ve not yet played a game in that series.  Still, it was a short conference (half and hour) and its main claim to fame, Kingdom Hearts III, already had a trailer to drop before E3 started, so it was a bit of a let down.

C

Ubisoft

I though Ubisoft had a particularly good showing.  Their conference was fun and had a lot of energy and they had a mix of games that I’m interested in playing among the ones that I’m not all that interested in.  The Division 2, The Crew 2, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey are all games that I’m looking forward to playing, although I’m one Assassin’s Creed game behind and I need to catch up.

B+

Sony

So, Sony showed the best games and gave the most detailed look at their upcoming portfolio for their various studios/projects, but they only went into detail about four games: The Last of Us, Part 2, Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushumia, and Spider-Man.  Each of these projects got an extended look and they all look fantastic.  The problem is that Sony only showed these four major games (in addition to several lesser trailers with Control being the highlight of these trailers).  None of these games are listed as coming later than 2019 (although a couple had no date whatsoever, but I have a feeling they will also be 2019 games).

I’m guessing (and ONLY guessing) that Sony’s strange conference is due to the fact they will probably be “reloading” in 2020 with “next generation” games (perhaps even hardware–aka the “PS5”–as the system will be six years old in 2019 and seven years old in 2020).  My best guess is that 2019 will be the last major “swan song” for major releases for the PS4.  Bold prediction, perhaps, but that is the only thing that makes sense given both the age of the console and the paucity of gaming announcements at Sony’s conference.

B- (A- for the in-depth look at the games, but C for the overall showcase in general).

Winner

Ubisoft–while I didn’t like all the games Ubisoft debuted, they had the most eclectic mix, the strongest conference, and provided the most fun out of all the E3 Press Conferences that I watched.  Hopefully, Sony will get there act together next year (hopefully, with next generation games/hardware)

Sidney




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I earn a small commission on the purchase of these items.

EA Play 2018 Conference Review

EAPLAY182_ComingSoonNet

EA Play 2018 (Fifa 19, Anthem, Unravel Two Game images).  Image Source: Coming Soon.Net

Word Count (What I’m Writing)

  • Project Paradise Word Count: 357
  • Project Skye Word Count: 1617
  • Project Independence Word Count: 3041 
  • Project Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel Page Count: 12

0.  Zero. Nada. Zilch. That’s my level of production since Tuesday of next week.  What happened?  Bad day on Wednesday and a realization that I’m still not focusing on enough on characters when I sit down to “plot” out my stories.  To be fair, school and reading for school interrupted as well as I should write after class (about 4:15pm), but usually end up spending the time in the sun outside watching YouTube videos instead.  

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading)

  • For Fun:
    Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy Novel, Stormlight Archive Book 3)
  • For School:
    Rhetoric in the European Tradition by Thomas Conley (A Book on the History of Rhetoric)
    Rereading the Sophists: Another book on the history of Rhetoric
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)

I wanted to read Oathbringer over the summer break before classes started again, but BS said that it might be helpful to read a Novella entitled, Edgedancer, before starting on Oathbringer.  I finally found a copy at MTSU’s library and I’m reading it now.  X gives a history of Rhetoric.  Great Aircraft of WWII is a book that I’ve had in my collection for sometime–I’ve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover.  Now, with Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Game Mode On (What I’m Playing)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Ubisoft Multi-platform): Open World, Third Person Tactical Shooter–About ¾th of the way through.  Special Ops/Military combat in a fictional Bolivia taken over by a Mexican drug cartel.  Difficulty is auto-leveling to its hardest difficulty (Tier One status) and it is slowing down my progress in the game as enemies take more hits to die, but you take far fewer hits to die.  Difficulty is currently set to ADVANCED–the game’s doing, not mine.  Very irksome when all you want to do is finish the game.

  • Until Dawn (Sony PS4 Exclusive): Third Person, Horror– branching storyline game that features a variety of choices that affect the outcome of the story using a system call the “Butterfly Effect.”  As I’m writing this, I haven’t put any time into this game as of this weekend because of E3.

Beginning of E3

So, while “technically,” E3 doesn’t begin until Tuesday (June 12), Saturday marked the beginning of the various E3 Press Conferences from the major game publishers to showcase their new products for the upcoming year(s).  As I type this, Electronic Arts (EA) is the only one to have shown their press conference as of yet (although, by the day this goes live, all of the major platform holders will have presented their shows).  I will wait until next week (June 18th) to start reviewing their shows, but since EA started a day early, I can talk about their 2018 show.

Battlefield V, Indies, Sports Games, and Anthem

While EA debuted and talked about many more than what is in the header above, their show basically broke down into these 4 main sections, with these four areas serving as the main topics of discussion for gamers.  Battlefield V seems interesting, but not nearly as revolutionary as 1) Battlefield One, their WWI game, or 2) as the designers seem to think that it is.  While being a part of the Norwegian Resistance is a novel concept, it doesn’t seem as if they are really invested in “doubling down” on that story to tell a truly “gritty” WWII drama (although it remains to be seen).   There were two notable indies talked about during the press conference, Unravel Two and Sea of Solitude.  While I didn’t play more than a demo of the original Unravel, I didn’t mind it.  It was okay . . . but I’ve played many games like it, so I decided to wait until it was on sale at a very low price (or hope that it would come to the “free” PS Plus games program).  U2 will probably go the same way.  Sea of Solitude (SoS) looks interesting, but as a poor college student, I’ll probably end up passing on it as well.  The sports games all look fine, but EA has pushed me out of the sports game market.  I used to be a heavy sports game enthusiast, but with the inclusion of “franchise” modes, “story” modes, and “ultimate team” modes (virtual trading cards purchased with real currency), I find that I simply can’t play the game like I want to–take my favorite team, play 1 “season,” and see if I can win the championship, and rinse wash and repeat each year, so I stopped buying them.

Anthem

Closing the show was a “deep dive” on the game Anthem.  I’m actually going to save the discussion of Anthem for later as I plan to do individual posts for the most impressive game reveals/game trailers of E3 like I did for E3 2017.  Basically, I’ve heard some position Anthem as a Destiny/Monster Hunter World “clone.”  Long-time readers of the blog know that I’m a hardcore Destiny fan.  However, after the crap EA pulled with Mass Effect Andromeda, while I do plan to “preorder” the game, I will be waiting on reviews before I actually “purchase” it and will switch my money to another game should the reviews be anything less than stellar; I prefer to wait for a significant price drop in the summer and/or as a holiday game rather than pay full price for a game that is less than stellar these days.  Fool me once, EA.  I’ll be waiting on the reviews on this one.

Overall Grade: C-

So, I went back and forth on this one as I really think that this Conference was an improvement to last year’s EA Conference (mostly due to the host Andrea Rene) and it was an example of a “old school” type of conference that was fine in the PS2/PS3 era of gaming.  The problem is that it could have been so much more.  As the unofficial start of E3, everyone always hopes that EA will do better than it does, but EA refuses to actually do what the gamers want–less developers and more gameplay (and more diverse games).  You have the Star Wars license, please show us Star Wars games.  EA has the licenses for the Army of Two series, Battlefield series, Burnout series, Command & Conquer series, Crysis series, Dead Space series, Dragon Age series, Mass Effect series, Medal of Honor series, Need for Speed series, Plants vs. Zombies series, Rock Band series, SimCity series, The Simpsons series, The Sims series, Skate series, SSX series, Star Wars series, Titanfall series (list pulled from front page of Wikipedia).  

They only talked about Battlefield (newest game), Command and Conquer (mobile game–wrong venue as E3‘s audience isn’t really comprised of mobile gamers), The Sims (in pre-show), and Star Wars (and they couldn’t even release a logo/trailer/etc from the newest Star Wars game which isn’t even releasing until holiday 2019).  That’s it.  All those licenses listed above and that’s all the EA showed, knowing full well that gamers want gameplay.  Hopefully, Bethesda, Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Sony will be much more exciting and will feature the games/gameplay that gamers crave.

Here is a super-salty, but condensed version of the press conference that is only 5 minutes long (clean, but very dismissive–probably more than I would I have been, but the summary is on-point):

Well, that’s all I have for now.  Have a great day!

Sidney




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