Gamer’s Thoughts: “Games are a waste of time”

gamedealsHappy Mothers day 2017! A phrase I hear my mom saying from time to time is: “I don’t understand why people enjoy games.”. That question actually made me think. Why do we gamers enjoy games? Why do people who don’t play games see them sometimes as annoying or time wasters? Well, in this article I’m going to give my two cents in the discussion. As usual, feel free to leave a comment about your opinion and/or my opinion in the comment section down below. 

Why do I play games?

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First of all, let me explain why I play games. In an article last year, I tried to explain why I play games. But in most of the article, I talked about why I collect games.

So, why do I play games? Well, I think it’s because of several reasons. The first reason would be because I grew up in a time where playing the Gameboy was the hip thing to do on the school playground. Pokémon was extremely popular when I was in elementary and I was hooked. Then my family took me to various garage sales and flea markets. I bought more and more games on the Gameboy and I got hooked.

The second reason is because it was a very easy conversation topic. When I was on a trip, I was able to talk to other kids easily thanks to games. Phrases like: “What are you playing?”, “Have you played game X” or “How far are you into the game?” are phrases that often crossed my lips as a child. I made so many friends thanks to games.

A 3rd reason would be that I was so interested in reading and telling stories. But why am I less addicted to movies or books then? Well, the interactivity is the biggest reason. The fact I can make a difference in the world the game is so important to me. That’s why I love games that have a great story.

So, in conclusion, I think due to nostalgia and the interactive nature of gaming, I got hooked on gaming and never let go. Nowadays, I even have a 4th and 5th reason. My 4th reason is that I’m interested in how people get entertained by games. If I had the right skills, I would have studied game design.

And my 5th reason is this blog, honestly. I love to share stories of games I played. And writing a blog about them is one of the best ways to share them. The best way is YouTube, but I burned out on making videos…

Why do people play games?

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I’m quite sure that gaming is here to stay. While some hardcore gamers won’t like the next sentence, but due to the casual mobile gaming market, there are much more people play games than ever before.

The fact that gaming is a national sport in South Korea and that people earn their living with playing games are more proof that gaming is here to stay.

I think that the reason why people play games is similar to why people watch Netflix all day or read books in their free time. It’s their way of entertaining themselves. To relax after a (stressful) day at school or work.

People will always look for a way to entertain themselves. Another reason is that the current generation is growing up with a culture where video games are everywhere. Speaking about that, games are becoming more and more accessible to young children. And look at me, when you do something since childhood, it isn’t easy to let go.

Why games can be annoying/uninteresting

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0 When I ask people who don’t play games, I sometimes get a reply like: “I don’t have the time for them” or “I’m not interested in them.” Which are both very valid arguments, in my opinion. But they aren’t good answers to why people can find games annoying or a waste of time.

Well, I have a few theories for why people think that games can be annoying. Keep in mind, this is just a theory. Why I think people find games annoying. Also, let me make on thing clear, I’m talking in very general terms in the following theories. I know that we as humans are a more complex race.

My first theory is that people don’t like the interactivity of the games. They enjoy TV-shows where they can sit down and just take in the content. Or you could replace TV-shows with movies, books, plays, concerts…

A 2nd theory is one I think makes a lot of sense of the older generation. The fact that they didn’t grow up with games but saw children and teenagers grow up with them. In their eyes, games would be a toy for children and for teenagers, so their interest fades away. “Why would something that’s meant for children is any use to me?” is a thought that summarizes this theory. A generation gap if you will.

A 3rd theory is because they don’t see the appeal to games. They don’t understand what can be so engaging in playing games. Also, they don’t understand what additional value games can bring to people since most games are entertainment games. There aren’t a lot of gamers who play educational games just for fun. And I mean, that their favorite genre is educational games.

A 4th theory is the loud toxic minority that gives us gamers a bit reputation. People who do violent things and then blame it on violent video games. I think that media outlets especially can be a problem in this case. Since they give non-gamers the impression that every game is so violent and that it taints people their brain. Maybe we just need to get past the phase that certain styles of music and movies went through.

But, I’m getting off track. What I mean with the loud toxic minority are the people who actually go out their way to make the gaming community look like a bunch of unwelcome jerks. People who won’t help others to play games. Thankfully, there are a lot of forums, websites, and networks that are meant to welcome new gamers with open arms. But sadly enough, it’s the loud toxic minority that sometimes gives communities a bad reputation. And people tend to generalize… So yeah, I think I made my point clear here.

So, that are a few theories I have. I wonder how you guys think about them. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my theories. But please, keep it civil. I’m open to discussion, but I’m not open to flame wars.

Wrapping up

So, should we force people to play games? Well, no. We should ask them why they don’t like games and invite them to give games a chance. I accepted that members of my family don’t enjoy playing games. I don’t enjoy reading that much while my mom loves to read a lot of books.

Before I forget, this whole article has been inspired by the quote of my mother I used in the introduction of my article. So, thank you, mom, for this great idea! I hope you had a great mothers day today!

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Gaming Nostalgia: Where is the skip button?

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0.jpgWe all have these moments in games we don’t like to play. Even when you are playing a great game, sometimes it can throw some very irritating or just badly designed areas. In this article, I’m going to talk about a few things that I wish I could skip or use a glitch to skip the section. But sadly, most of the times, I have to do it in order to progress in the game. Do you dislike the same things or do you like them? Feel free to let me know in the comments. You could also comment on the content of the article and/or things that irritate you and I haven’t mentioned. Oh, a while ago, I wrote a rant about 10 things that frustrated me, and don’t worry! In this article, I won’t repeat what I said in there. 

Rope Jumping Puzzles

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I love adventure games. I love exploring caves and finding treasures. That’s why the Tomb Raider and Zelda series are one of my most favorites series ever made.

But there is something that I wish that I could skip. And that are the jumps you need to make when swinging on a rope. In the Legend Of Zelda the Wind Waker, there is a section to get an important item you have to swing on some ropes. To make matters worse, it’s timed and if you fail, you need to restart the whole thing.

I seriously hate this section of the game. Since the ship also moves, so the ropes move too. This way I can’t always correctly judge the distance between the ropes. I was able to finish this section when I was lending this game from a friend after an hour of trying. Now, I’m at the same section in the Wind Waker HD and I’m currently trying for around a half hour.

But hey, the rope jumps in the old Tomb Raider games weren’t much better. I have heard some veteran Tomb Raider players complain about the pixel perfect rope swinging in the first five games. I have to agree from my own experience. Since the next rope isn’t always visible when you are swinging.

In the past, it was even worse. I wasn’t that good in jumping puzzles of any sort. But after I played games like Mirror’s Edge, I have improved quite a bit. But the rope swings still stay a problem. The weird thing is that when I’m playing a game like Indiana Jones and use the whip, I can swing just fine. In Tomb Raider Legend with the grappling hook, no problem. But dangle ropes in front of me and say I need to play Tarzan and swing from rope A to B… And I’ll be busy with that section for a while.

Jumps of faith & death trap.

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Ah, today I was stuck in a level in DooM II because I didn’t notice one jump of fate you had to do in order to progress in the level. It was in the Citadel level. But here is a fun story. I’m talking about the part where you need to get on a high spot in the citadel and jump over the border into the river, so you can go to the other side to a room that opens to a room with 5 teleporters. If you have played DooM II, I think you will know which part I’m talking about.

Well, I was able to glitch myself there. By running at the corner of the barrier and suddenly, I popped passed it and I was able to progress.

Delver is another game that does the same thing. In some cave levels, there is a certain level geometry where you need to do a jump in order to progress. Like DooM II, Delver doesn’t have a jump button, so you don’t think it’s possible in the first place.

But what annoys me the most are jumps of faith above a death trap. I don’t think I need to explain myself here.

I’m not finished talking about the death traps. In Delver, there are traps like a transporter and a poison trap. But you can’t see the difference between both. While this suits the game better, since it’s a roguelike dungeon crawler. But a small hint on the tile would be nice.

But in some games, like in Star Tropics on the NES, there are secrets that lead to instant death. I made me shut off the game twice since I lost a lot of progress. Since the game sets you back at the start of the area you were at.

Going back to DooM II, a nice example was at the same level I was talking about earlier. There is a barrier that goes down and you need to run passed it. But, when you mistime your run, you get stuck underneath it. Without a way to escape. Man, every time it killed me, I got more and more annoyed.

Wrapping up

Well, I think I’m going to wrap up this article right here. I was planning to talk about more annoying things in games, but I decided to keep those for a sequel to this article. It felt better to talk a bit more in-depth on why I get annoyed at those things.

Also, I have already talked about my biggest frustrations with the gaming market in the past. I have linked to that article at the start of this article.

Anyways, thank you for reading this article and I hope you like it as much as I liked writing this article. I’m looking forward to the comments on this article since I find it very interesting to talk about what is frustrating in games so we can suggest improvements for future games.

I hope to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then… Have a great rest of your day! Game on and take care.

And the Award for Worst DLC Goes To…..

Fallout: New Vegas- Honest Hearts

I know what you’re thinking: this is bad writing. You shouldn’t reveal the answer immediately. Build some suspense! The reason I chose to do so anyway is not because some people like a tl;dr version, or because I’m pretentious and I do whatever the hell I so desire. No, it’s because I’d like to talk about Fallout first, and why this DLC was so disappointing. Prepare yourselves, because I have a feeling this’ll be a long one again.

In all honesty, I have not played the first two major instalments, though I did acquire them through GOG.com a while back and plan to play them some time. My first introduction was with Fallout 3. It didn’t run well, especially its DLC had serious performance issues, but I revered it nevertheless. It was so much fun. The engine used by Bethesda, its developer, has never been well optimised. Not for PC, not for consoles. Not for Fallout and not for The Elder Scrolls. But this is not a performance analysis, so I won’t go in-depth right now.

I fell in love with the world. Set some 250 years in the future, in a world where people in the fifties thought “Well, this is it: he pinnacle of art, style and technology.” Everything is inspired by old technology and the styling of the fifties. Monochromatic computer screens, old jazz and rhytm & blues music, clothing (what’s left of it), … Even futuristic items seem old. It just oozes with charm.

Story-wise I prefer the third instalment over New Vegas, hands down. I plan on comparing the two in a later article at some point in the future, so I’ll keep it at that for now. I even liked the five DLC-packs that were released. Broken Steel continued the story. It wasn’t incredible, but it was serviceable. Operation Anchorage was fun and brought a tonne of nice, new items to the party. Mothership Zeta was interesting and fun, though the story didn’t grab my as such. Point Lookout was my favourite, with it’s unique swamp location, barely touched by the nuclear bombs, and interesting storyline. And The Pitt was my least favourite, though still well above the quality of the DLC in New Vegas.

In New Vegas, we have four DLC packs, instead of the five in Fallout 3. I maintain that I prefer quality over quantity, so I didn’t complain from the start. But neither really rocked my boat. Maybe I felt less invested, because I find the world of New Vegas less intriguing to begin with, but regardless I should have had some investment.

The first two I played were Dead Money and Lonesome Road. The former annoyed me so much, I considered dropping out of the game entirely. Nothing else in both games gave me this feeling, ever, but this story was uninteresting, and the location was highly unappealing. I take it it was the intention to look unappealing, but it should not be revolting or appalling. I was relieved to finally finish and return to the Mojave.

The latter started very promising, in what looked like an abandoned nuclear missile silo. It was slowly paced and there were very few enemies. It almost seemed like this was created so the player would get invested in the story and atmosphere. A mostly non-combat DLC to teach us more about the world. But things quickly turned around once I progressed and got out of the silo. More combat, a mysterious figure that I couldn’t care less about on the radio, and nothing innovative in terms of world building. Like an Olympic diver performing a perfect reverse two-and-a-half somersault and landing flat on his stomach; promising, yet disappointing.

Then there were two more: Honest Hearts and Old World Blues. The latter had an interesting world in which scientists were isolated in a crater full of interesting locations, where not-so-ethical experiments had been performed. The story was decent and the “fifties-mad-scientist” vibe was fun, but after having been let down by most of the rest of the game, I still didn’t enjoy it as much as I probably should have.

 

Which brings me to Honest Hearts. Set in Utah, an area barely touched by the nuclear war of before, it had a decent setting. That part reminded me of the Point Lookout DLC from Fallout 3. What’s the story like? I couldn’t tell you. I beat it and I have no idea what it was about. How’s that possible? I’ll tell you: poor game design.

Let’s go back to Old World Blues (and in essence, every other map in Fallout for that mattar) for a second. Fallout has always been about exploring, as have all the Elder Scrolls games been. You could freely walk around the map and explore. You’d find new locations and some gave me new side quests, but none of them interfered with the main storyline of the game or any of its DLC.

(Map of Fallout 3, with all discoverable locations)

In Honest Hearts, I immediately became confused when the party I was travelling with all died within two minutes of arrival, and not ten minutes after first being introduced to them. I failed about half a dozen quests because of that, so I decided to load my previous save and try again. They all died again and the same thing happened where I failed a bunch of quests. Slightly aggravated and confused, I decided to look up if I was doing something wrong. Turned out it was a scripted event and could not be prevented, which means it was part of the main storyline.

Now why would I fail half a dozen quests for that? Why would the developers give me the impression that all the members in my party had little side quests they could’ve given me? The only quest remaining right now, was (verbatum) “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”, pointing at a location all the way in the utmost North-Eastern corner of the map, with me all the way down South.

Everything felt like this was created by a fan or something, not by the actual developers. A mod, maybe. The writing and phrasing of the quests felt off and confusing. And then, a colossal error in judgement… The maps in the DLC are usually not that big, with thirty or so locations, allowing you to explore them in only a few hours. So as I often did, I explored the whole region first. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Especially considering the only quest available right now was “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”

This has never been an issue. EVER. Not in Point Lookout, not in Old World Blues, not in any of the huge maps of the main storyline of the game. On my travels through the map of Honest Hearts, I encountered a few NPCs who had specific names, not just “Raider” or something else vague. Usually, these are people who are important in some (side) quest. Now in the main game, or any the other DLC packs, if you encounter a place where you find someone with a specific name, they will rarely attack you before engaging you in conversation. This makes sense. It allows you to get involved in some quest or back out of the situation, without killing that person and locking yourself out of a quest.

Not in Honest Hearts, though. I encountered two or three people with an actual name, who all attacked me on sight. I had little choice but to retaliate. They didn’t have any important items on them, like notes are keys to something, so at first I figured they were just minor characters. Why would I assume otherwise, when this game and its predecessor have never worked like that? I figured wrong. They were vital characters; leaders of local tribes. So when I finally explored the whole map and recovered the map of Zion Canyon, my screen went black. I thought the game crashed for a second, until a video started playing about how I had influenced Zion by killing these characters. Tribes disbanded, influences changed, and so on. It talked about everything I had done and I hadn’t done anything yet but explore and recover a map!

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I can’t be the only one who explored before continuing the quest and be surprised by a sudden cut-off. Guess what, turns out I’m not. Turns out more people were kind of angry and confused. Turns out that in the beginning of the story, right after your party members have been killed, a character important to the storyline is somewhere behind or among the attackers and shoots one of them in the back (on the picture above marked with a red box). Me, being all worked up because of the battle, not realising he’s important and since he’s some distance away, I shoot him down. Since this is in the middle of a fight with half a dozen of people at the same time, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that he had a specific name. Killing him causes his tribe to turn hostile and in turn creates a ripple effect throughout the whole community of tribes, causing their leaders to attack me on sight too.

I guess, “technically”, it’s my fault for not paying attention to every single person on screen during a battle and thinking “Ooh, is he an enemy or someone important?”. I apologise for being kind of busy fighting for my life while bullets whiz around my head. I also apologise for having been confused by the demise of my recently acquainted party members, including the leader, who I though would be integral to the story and with me for the most part of the game. I should have played this open-world game more linearly, and I’m equally sorry I could not resist the urge to explore first, rather than ignore the world the developers have so painstakingly created around me, and just hurry through the quests.

Oh wait, no I’m not. This is crap and they should be ashamed.

EDIT: This, of course, is not the worst DLC ever and I’m sure plenty of people enjoyed it, but it felt really frustrating, and I do maintain the beginning of this DLC is highly confusing from the beginning and that little mistake at the beginning ruined the whole storyline for me. That’s what bothers me most and it’s poor design.

Rant: Tetris, mobile versions and the dreaded square block

Tetris is one of my favourite games ever. It’s a practically perfect game. You can play it for hours or just for ten minutes. It’s brilliant in its simplicity and simply brilliant. Everyone knows Tetris. Only mention the name, and the soundtrack will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Now you’d think a game like this would be great for mobile platforms. There’s a plethora of Tetris clones on the Google Play Store, but looking through all of them, I can’t seem to find a good one. I must’ve downloaded fifteen different versions. Either they take up 50 to 100MB (Seriously? For Tetris?) or they play horribly. Most of them use a poor algorithm that doesn’t randomise the blocks well enough and/or often give the same blocks three or four times in a row. That, or they speed up way to quickly.

Tetromino - screenshotThey often don’t show what block is next, have horrendous controls or just “feel” wrong. The “best” version I found so far is called Tetromino, but it’s a looooong way from perfect. Putting that aside and talking about the game itself right now, I abhor the square block. Some people hate the Z and S-shaped blocks, but I don’t. You can rarely actually use the square block and when you do, most of the other blocks can deliver the same effect. Often, when given the square block, you have no choice but to create holes. And I HATE holes.

Rant: Let’s go mobile – please no.

Mobile-Gaming-600This rant might come as a surprise. I also write articles about mobile games and now I’m going to actually talk bad about it. I read an article today and something snapped inside of me. Something just made me sigh so hard, I almost blew over my nearly empty can of soda. I just realized something that will be a grave danger if we didn’t talk about it. Even if this might seem nonsense to you, I’m quite afraid it might happen. Feel free to discuss this in the comments, I’m kind of curious what you guys think. Warning: this rant has been written when I was a bit angry and disappointing by the news I open the next paragraph with. Just a heads up, m’kay. It might be not written as good as I usually write. 

Layton and Fantasy Life sequels go mobile.

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Thank you Kotaku for sharing my opinion. I simply can’t believe that Level5 is making this idiotic move. I have a lot of respect for Level5, since they made some amazing titles. But jumping on the mobile cash train is just making me sad. Extremely sad.

Apart from that, Nintendo is also moving mobile after a lot of complaints. I’m extremely afraid that they might do something stupid as well.

I could rant about how disappointed I am about this, but it might be better to explain why I feel like that actually. There is something going on in the mobile market that is really not good for us gamers.

Moving to mobile

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When I browse the app store lately, I notice that big titles like Final Fantasy and Fifa are appearing on the mobile market. This business scheme is just insulting in my eyes.

Why? Simply because those games don’t belong on the mobile market. At all. Since mobile games are meant as timewasters at the doctor’s office or waiting for a bus. Games that work well on mobile are games that are easy to understand and play. Games that have a simple idea behind them. That’s why Candy Crush is doing so well.

I’m quite sure that some people will disagree with me on this. They will try to prove that I’m wrong with examples of games that did well on the mobile platform. A game that actually did well on mobile platforms is Minecraft Pocket Edition. But then again, it’s a game you can enjoy in short bursts and it’s something excellent to do while you are waiting on something.

Why don’t triple A games belong on the mobile market? One reason is, that a tablet and phones aren’t meant to have long gameplay sessions on. Tablets where originally a decent alternative to a laptop for business men. But phones, they just aren’t meant for it. Think about it, you can’t call somebody because your battery died because you played too much games on it.

Also, because people want to use their phones more and more to do stuff on, where actually a tablet or a laptop is made for, the sizes of a phone gets… just out of proportion. I have seen phones that barely can fit in a pocket.

Target groups

My biggest issue is the fact that the people who play games on their mobile phones are a different group who play games on their consoles, handhelds and/or computers. When I see people play games on Facebook and their phones, I rarely see them play games on a handheld. Also, when I look to most of my friends who play games on consoles and other devices, I rarely see them play games on mobile phone. It’s because most people who play games on their mobile phones aren’t that interested in games to begin with.

I could try to explain it, but let me prove my point. When I went to Minecon a few years ago, the people who played Minecraft Pocket Edition had a separate room. Most of the people there were young mothers, males that did a lot of sport or very young children.

Or another example, the more popular games that started on mobile, get their way onto Steam, handhelds and/or consoles. Weird isn’t it?

Before I forget to mention it, the fact that you have no buttons to play with feels so awkward to me. Not only that, what you see on the screen then depends on the size of your fingers as well. Not only that, when you are in a situation where you need to do some sort of quick action, buttons are just better. Since you can press them and it’s harder to press them by accident.

No tablet for me

So, I’m already seeing some comments in my head. But if it’s on a tablet, it might be better to play on since your fingers take up less space or you can plug in a keyboard.

1379515873Hold the Android there. (Little phone pun, sorry.) First of all, I agree with the argument of the tablet being a better size to play games on. I honestly think that mobiles shouldn’t be powerful enough to play games like Delver or Fifa on.

But the argument of being able to plug in a keyboard or a controller is just, well, it makes for a whole different experience. Out of that idea we got tablet-laptop hybrids and a console named the Ouya.

I actually own a tablet. I use it to watch video’s on when I’m on a trip or in bed and I can’t sleep. It makes less noise and it’s lighter to carry then a laptop. In the end, I actually prefer a laptop.

Anyways, I think I’m going to wrap this one up. It felt quite nice to blow off some steam about this. It’s possible that I look back at this article later and my opinion might be different, but I think that the big triple A games shouldn’t go towards mobile platforms. If anything, they should rename it to “tablet platforms”. Since then my arguments about phones have less meaning.

So yeah, I might write more about this subject but in any case, I hope you found this interesting. While I could have written this when I was more calm and collected about the subject, I feel that, as a writer and creative person, you should allow yourself to publish something you created when you were in a different mood. But that’s a whole other subject. Take care and until the next article. I already have something in mind. ~

What games do you play?

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A friend of mine asked me recently when I was showing him my collection: “What games do you play?”. That question was followed by the most annoying question for me as a blogger, “What is your favorite style of games?”. After thinking about it for a bit, it actually gave me the idea for this article. It’s part a rant and part a gamer’s thoughts. So, yeah. Typically me, trying out new things. Just a side note, this article might be a bit longer then my usual stuff, and it also contains links to previous articles if you are interested in my opinion of the game I mentioned. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the subject with your opinion and or the answer to the questions.

Reply – part 1

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So, what games do I play? The easy reply is anything that catches my interest. But hey, let’s not be lazy here. If you scroll through my blog you see clearly that I play a lot of different sort of games. From adventure games like Monkey Island to strategy games like Europe Universalis 4.

In the past I said that I play games that have a deep story and take you on an adventure. On second thought, that isn’t always true. Since I’m not a big fan of the Walking Dead series which would be a game that would fit my fancy easily.

But I also play other games that haven’t anything close to a story. Like Minecraft or the RollerCoaster Tycoon series.

One thing is pretty clear, I play almost every genre of games. There are few genres I actually don’t like. The two biggest of them are racing games and fighting games. The reason for that is that I don’t really enjoy racing that much. Since I’m not interested in cars at all, I feel that a lot of content and such is… Well, not understood by me.

Fighting games, I don’t tend to play them since I have a bad memory when it comes to sequences. I rarely remember button combinations. When there is a certain order to complete a task in a game, I “program” my brain for it. So, my fingers do the job without thinking. Besides that, I have two other “issues” with the genre. I feel that it’s repetitive to me. Yes, to me. If there are fighting games that offer some variety from nearly always having to battle, feel free to tell me. The other issue I have is that my reaction time is more set to RTS and tycoon games. I can react more quickly in those games instead of fighting games.

That doesn’t mean I hate or don’t play those genres. As a kid, I played a lot of Mario Kart and I have fun memories of me playing Mortal Kombat in a store and a crowd of children gathering around me because I was able to beat opponents that they had trouble with.

A genre I don’t like as well are those games that are either meant to be a joke or have these clumsy physics like Octodad or Goat Simulator. I simply can’t stand them. They are just a novelty thing. As soon as the joke starts to fall flat, the game starts to show it’s flaws. So, I avoid those games like the plague.

I got distracted from the subject, didn’t I? The games I play are games that look interesting to me. Games where you get the feeling that they could be a distraction from life. Ugh, this is such a hard question to answer.

Reply – part 2

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What is my favorite style of games? There is also an easy answer to that. I could argue that my favorite changes from time to time depending on the games I’m playing at that moment. But in reality, there is always a genre that will get more love then others.

Surprisingly, I’m actually able to give a proper answer to this question. I have two genres that get a whole boatload of love from me. If you haven’t guessed it yet, let me tell you.

I adore adventure games like Alan Wake, Tomb Raider, Zelda and so many others. I have a soft spot in my heart for them. I grew up with Pokémon and Zelda. I can’t forget the point-and-click adventure games! Broken Sword and Monkey Island being my favorites.

My 2nd genre has to be the visual novel. Corpse Party, Virtue’s Last Reward or Ace Attorney are just some examples. My biggest hobby is writing. It’s quite true that writers actually read a lot as well. I don’t read books, but I read almost all of the text a game presents me. The visual novel genre surprised me countless times with deep stories, memorable characters and an unforgettable experience.

Kinetic novels, no thank you. Those novels are a cross between a comic, anime and a game. I just miss the interaction. To me, it’s just a story with a skin. I’m not saying that these games are bad, don’t misunderstand me here. I’m just saying that kinetic novels aren’t my thing, at all.

 So, why those genres then? I actually replied to it already. Because the games from those genres had the most influence on me in the past and they haven’t let me down ever since. If I’m writing an article about a game that comes from those genres, it has always an advantage.

s35009_wii_9What where my first interactions with my favorite genres. My first adventure game has to be Zelda – Oracle of Ages. I think, I’m not a 100% sure. Depending if you count Pokémon as an adventure game, I think that it was my first adventure game.

My first point-and-click game has to be the Freddi Fish series. Aw yes, I love those games a lot. When I found out that the studio that made them are still in business, I’m hoping that they create a new entry into the series. In the Freddi Fish series or in any series that they developed, since they are masters of child entertainment.

My first visual novel was Ace Attorney. After I read so much references online, I gave it a try. Man, I wasn’t prepared for that. I played all the games without getting distracted by another game once. Yeah, that rarely happens!

 Ranting

gaming-news-disney-shuts-down-lucasarts_h

So, the annoying side effect of this question is that people assume you like or play every game in a certain genre. I had people who actually said bad words to me because I wasn’t that good in a RTS.

You shouldn’t be judged on the games you play. I admit that I even play games meant for children. As long as it provides me a fun experience, why shouldn’t I be allowed to play it. I actually have a great excuse myself. My blog and my younger relatives are a great way to not make a fool out of myself.

Honestly, I think that the question “what kind of games you play” is actually a bad question. It should better be: “What kind of games you like to play?” Since then you can explain what you look for in a game. If somebody asks me the question what games do I play, I actually use a trick that I learned while I was still studying to become a teacher. Replying with the correct question. I reply, “What games do I like to play… well…”

And now, I can actually give them a link to this article. To explain that I play all sorts of games. From platformers to puzzle games, from sandbox to RPG’s. From adventure games to visual novels. I even play mobile games. Wait, talking about mobile games…. There is actually something that needs to get off my chest about mobile games.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I think I went over everything I wanted to say about this subject, so now I can focus on something bigger. Something that is starting to annoy me to no end. The mobile market needs some good bashing. Prepare yourselves, because next time on my blog, I’ll actually try to explain why I think that the mobile market is going too far…

Rant #010: The New 3DS announcement.

newnintendo3dsIt has been quite some time since I facepalmed with an announcement of Nintendo. This was one of those moments. In my opinion, Nintendo didn’t do the right thing with this announcement. Long time readers know that I’m a big fan of handhelds. I even did a special month about (3)DS games last month. I wasn’t planning to write an article about new stuff, but this just takes the cake perfectly. I do realize that I’m going to get some hate for this, but I’m prepared for it. I do still love Nintendo and I wish them best of luck with their new 3DS, but I think that this is going to give problems in the long run. Because I want to continue blogging about handhelds, I will buy the system for sure. But that won’t stop me from ranting about it. Anyways, I’m repeating myself. Let’s dive right into why I think the new 3DS’s announcement isn’t all that great. Feel free to leave a comment on this article. Be warned! This is my opinion and I delete harsh and trolling comments. 

DS – DSi

1

So, in the previous generation, something similar happened. The old DS got an upgrade. The DS Lite was mostly a visual improvement. The system became much more fun to hold. After that, we got the DSi. Apart from a better menu system and a camera, nothing big changed. Even when we got the DSi XL. Apart from a bigger screen, nothing big changed under the hood.

Because of that, it came as no surprise to me when we got the 3DS XL. Even when they released the 2DS, I expected that. Because the handheld is marketed to kids and for people who can’t see 3D (that well). It’s cheaper as well.

Now, they are going to release the “new 3DS”. When I found out the news, I was on the train home. I actually facepalmed when I was reading the various articles. I was disappointed to hear when people are hyped about this and that they don’t see the issues that are currently at hand.

Let me first start about the confusion that this device will create. Let us first talk about the elephant in the room. The name! The “new 3DS”. I seriously hope that they are going to change the name. Because if they release it like this, the old model’s sales will drop. Not only that, the word “new” doesn’t fit in a title for a console or handheld. It just feels awkward to me.

Visual issues

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Let me get some design mistakes out of the way. The little button you see above the “A”, “B”, “X” and “Y” buttons, is actually a joystick. It’s one of the main selling points of this new system. It will function like a C-stick. Now, it looked first as the power button to me. A small round button like on the DSi. Such a small joystick, well, that explains itself.

They also moved the start and select buttons. So, for what reason are those buttons moved? Why couldn’t you put a bigger additional joystick there? Instead of moving those buttons?

I was about to complain about the Circle Pad addition to the 3DS, but I’m glad that I researched this a bit. It’s now rendered useless. Just great! You bought this additional joystick for nothing! You will be able to use that tiny joystick as a 2nd one.

If you don’t see the problem yet, let me tell you. It’s the size. The circle pad is bigger then the new joystick, so more comfortable to use.

The fact that the buttons now have each a different color, like the SNES controller… Well, I don’t have a big issue with that. It isn’t that visually pleasing in my eyes, since apart from nostalgia, I don’t see the point of it. And why do they to fully color the buttons on the white version and not on the blue version?

Another issue I have is that they moved the cartrigde slot into the front. If the issue isn’t clear yet, take your 3DS and hold it like you would be playing a game like Zelda. Notice where the palm of your hand is? Close to the location of where the cartridge will be. So, this might cause some problems for people who get really sucked into a game and then by accident touch the cartrigde. A solution for this problem might be a sort of latch you can pull to prevent this.

Developer issues

Here is the biggest issue of them all. The new 3DS is going to be a more powerful machine then the original 3DS. It will be able to run ported Wii games. While that sounds great on paper, it has a big issue.

So, image that you are creating a new game for the 3DS. Now, since they are going to release the new system along-side the old model, you will have to make sure that the game runs on the old models. Not only that, you won’t be able to use the power in the new 3DS to it’s full potential. So, what’s the point of the better processor? Faster menu’s? Jeez, how low have we fallen? That a wait of a few seconds is too much for us?

I could try to prove that this is going to create a mess to develop for both systems. But I think it’s quite clear that when you have so much differences in terms of the CPU and such, that you don’t need any further explanation.

Do I think the new 3DS is a bad handheld? Heck no! I honestly think that the new 3DS has everything that the original 3DS should have had in the first place. I just think that it’s a mistake from Nintendo marketing this as a 3DS. I really feel that this should be the successor of the 3DS. The new generation of handhelds. Also, are they going to release an upgraded version of the 2DS in the future?

So, that’s what my thoughts are about the new 3DS. I honestly think that the device has a lot of potential, but there are some flaws that Nintendo should fix before releasing it. I think this article will become a part of a podcast, so we might talk more in depth about it in that podcast. I hope to see you guys then, because I think I’m going to close this article. Thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time!

Rant #009.5: 10 things that I dislike about games. (Part 2/2)

not-sure-if-trolling-or-just-bad-game-designPart 1

Alright, let’s continue this rant. With the picture I used for the introduction at part 1 at the right side, let’s talk about 5 other things that annoy me in games. I started with issues with the control binding, tutorials, invisible walls, grinding and social networks. This second part of the rant has been written before part 1 got released, so I couldn’t add things from the comments. In any case, these things aren’t placed in any order. Since all these things annoy me. And what does it matter that one thing annoys me more then another one? All these issues need to be addressed! To close off this introduction, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of my picks and or your most annoying things in video games. Thanks in advance. Anyways, let’s go!

#5: Micro-transactions of ANY kind

dlcThis stuff happens with DLC as well. I have seen DLC for Assassins Creed 4 to speed up some grinding. But you need to pay a small fee for it. Now these things give people an unfair advantage in some games.

Bravely Default made a big mistake here. There is a special “rescue” type item to save your party that works with micro-transactions.

I can understand DLC. If it’s additional content that you need to pay for. But these things to have additional gems or reduce waiting or grinding time boils my blood.

An amazing parody game is DLC Quest. You will get a kick out of this if you dislike this as well.

Before I move on, I have to mention something. In college, a friend of mine plays a soccer sim on his phone. He got annoyed that people kept beating him because they abused the micro-transaction system. So, this kills the balance in the game. Yeah. I promised him that I mentioned it!

#4: Online “noobs”

Unbenannt-1_3058566Okay, don’t get me wrong here. I have no (big) issues with noobs. There are people who need to learn how to play the game. You can’t expect yourself to be good at any game you play online. By playing the game over and over again, you get better at it.

In Minecraft, if you use a hacked client to make custom maps, I can understand. Yet, then you have a whole range of people who are just killing the online experience. And instead of flooding my whole top 10 here, I took them all under one entry.

I’m talking about campers, hackers, abusing the chat system… It all grinds my gears. Can’t you just play the game like normal?

Rust, is a perfect example of a game that got ruined by people who used hacks for example fly. I have seen YouTubers calling out at each other, and that’s where I draw my line.

Abusing glitches in a game, sure, why not? I mean, I used the “X-Ray” machines to find caves in Minecraft. I have no shame in admitting that. It doesn’t help me finding the best ores. It just helps me finding caves to find those ores or to make grinders work better.

If you’re a hacker, and you need your hacks to play the game, just keep in mind that you ruin the game for others! There is also a chance that you either kill the server, experience or the game for others. In my experience I have seen a server dying slowly because of the hacking.

I think I will leave it here for this entry. But this might be another rant coming where I talk more in depth of this subject.

#3: Flaws in the difficulty

escape-from-monkey-island-cover683213Dear lords, is this something many gamers under us have such a hate for. Games that suddenly throw up the difficulty for the climax of the game.

Escape From Monkey Island on the PS2 made a major flaw here. You have to work out a whole rule set for an advanced rock-paper-scissor game. Now, I don’t have endless patience to figure this all out. So, naturally I looked it up online. And yes, it’s randomized each and every time! Oh lords, isn’t that fun.

I’m planning to write a “game quicky” about custom minecraft maps. But in these maps, they make this fatal flaw as well. When I still made YouTube video’s I had to cancel a series because there were too much spawners.

In CTM maps, there can be a lot of spawners. But they should be balanced. In Super Hostile maps, there are a lot of spawners but it’s possible. Because with enough light sources you can disable the spawners and such.

Now, when any game, mod or custom map throws an overdose of enemies at you that it becomes more of an endurance round, then the game is flawed.

Not to mention that games where the enemies can kill you in a shot or two on the hardest difficulty setting. I mean, it should still be playable. And you shouldn’t be afraid that each monster could kill you with the greatest of ease.  That’s in summary what I mean with this.

#2: Backtracking, most of the times.

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Yes, I’m looking at a game like the amazing 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors on the DS for this one. While you don’t have to backtrack while playing the game, there is a major sort of backtracking here. This game has multiple endings.

Here is the issue, when you saw an ending, you have to replay the whole game over again to see the other endings. Auwch! You might have a speed-up button but still.

Thankfully the sequel fixed this. In Virtue’s Last Reward, you have a tree that follows the different paths. So, that way you can easily go back to one point in time and pick the different option.

Now, about backtracking. In some cases, I can understand it. Like you need to go first to one spot to fetch a power-up. In Castlevania(-like) games I have no problem with it at all. Since you can grind your character meanwhile. That’s clever game design!

But when the game design is so bad that you can easily skip something or when it becomes a big focus, then it’s no fun anymore. Take notes from the examples I mentioned above guys!

#1: Cliches / Bad game design

unnamedNow, my final thing are two things combined. When a game uses too much cliches in their game, the game gets boring and predictable. I hate it the most when it comes to cliches giving the game a bad game design.

From cheap deaths to jump courses you can’t fail… Yeah, it can ruin a game easily. I found a game on Android that demonstrates this to it’s full extend. From impossible timed challenges to moving platforms to spikes… You name it.

While this game goes of memorization, this game has great game design. And it’s rewarding to find the way the developer wanted you to finish the level. This game uses a ton of cliches in the right way and makes an amazing game with it.

For example, I’m not good in jumping puzzles. I fail them a lot. In the Wind Waker, there is a part in the ship that you need to do. It’s a part where you need to jump from platform to platform. When you fail, you have to restart. Man, did I hate that part.

Closing words

So, that was my rant on 10 things that annoy me in games. I know that a lot of these articles exist on the net but I tried to talk about things that almost never get mentioned. That got extremely challenging near the end.

All these subjects would have been a complete rant. But I never had enough material to write a full article about it. So, I’m glad that I was able to talk about it in this article.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I’m really looking forward to your comments. Thanks again and I hope to see you at a next article.

Rant #009: 10 things that I dislike about games. (Part 1/2)

not-sure-if-trolling-or-just-bad-game-designIt has been quite some time since I ranted right? It’s time to change that actually. I have started writing this article multiple times. This was a very difficult article to write. Since I always changed my opinion mid-way. But now that I gave it some thoughts the last few days, I finally came up with 10 things that irritate me in the world of games. Be warned, since this is a rant, this list is highly personal. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion and or your hated things in games. Without further ado, let’s get started. 

#10: Unable to map buttons – AZERTY?

I put these two together since they are problems with the mapping of buttons. I live in Belgium. It annoys me when a game shows me an “Q” when I mapped the button to “A”. There are still a few countries that use AZERTY. But I get really pissed when it’s a big company that has offices in the EU.

There are games I refused to play since I couldn’t remap the keys. I’m very strict about these things. I have a set of keys I always use for playing games. And since the button lay-out is different for each game, I want to be able to change it.

Oh, and a neat thing is when you can add more then one button. But if that isn’t present, that’s fine. The way to change keys is the most important to me.

#9: Tutorials

I don’t need to repeat myself I think. Read one of my previous rants about this by clicking on the image.

programming-tutorial-fi

#8: Invisible walls

So, you want to know what happens if you jump off that cliff? Oh, wait. You will never know since the game designers just placed an invisible wall there.

In some cases, I can understand invisible walls. They can be used to make the world feel bigger then it is. This can help people having a bigger immersion in the game.

Yet, there are games that use this to give the illusion that you are able to explore a vast open world.

But in Pokémon, it got a whole other level of annoying. There are people that stop you from going somewhere. For lord’s sake. Let me experience that I shouldn’t go there. Just don’t force me into a linear way of playing when you set-up a world you can explore.

How to fix this issue? Just put a cliff or something among those lines to avoid killing the immersion.

 #7: Connect to social networks

Farmville nopeThis mostly annoys me in mobile games. Yes, I do play mobile games. I have to admit as well that I played and enjoyed Candy Crush. But when it got updated to the version you needed to log-in with Facebook, the game lost all charm for me.

All these games that require a social network to be played, is just silly. The game relies on how many people accept your requests. The fun is in spamming your friends with requests and invites.

You found a nice item? Well, you can’t open it, a friend needs to do it for you. I understand the idea behind it, but it’s just lame when it’s the main focus of the game.

Thank lords that Facebook introduced a feature where you can block apps. I nearly block every Facebook game. Yes, some got my interest but the fact that you need to connect your wall with it, is just … lame.

Look, you can fix this easily. Make a new social network for these games. Like an online arcade hall. This way you can play to your heart’s content. You can post things on your wall there. It’s meant for that. Other social networks, most of all Facebook, aren’t meant for achievements in social games. Don’t forget that some bosses of companies look at your Facebook profile before you can have the job. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you lost your chance on a job?

#6: Grinding, sometimes

Bravely-Default-CharactersOkay, let me say one thing here. Grinding is the worst thing in games. I understand the idea behind it, that you need to work hard to achieve something, like in real life. But here is the thing, your game progress comes to a crawling halt. Since you do the same thing over and over again.

Now, in games like Minecraft, I don’t mind grinding. I mean here, when you want to grind for XP, you can look for a spawner and set up a farm. So yeah, there are tricks and such that cut down on your grinding time.

When the grinding is fun, I don’t mind it. Yet, I’m very strict in it. I nearly stopped playing Bravely Default because of the grinding. I don’t want to be stopped by a level cap. It feels a too cheap way of making the game longer.

End of part 1.

To avoid that this article gets too long, I cut this article in two parts. I hope you enjoyed reading the first part. I’ll publish part 2 as the next article. I hope to release it as soon as possible.

I’m not done yet with this subject, so keep your eye on part 2.

NekoJonez: Rant #008: Console Wars, a war fought wrong.

CaptureRead more rants for this author.

“The Nintendo 3DS is for kids, the graphics are ugly and the PS Vita is just better. It has way cooler games.”

Really now? Is this how we are fighting the console wars? And is this war even needed to be fought? I realize that I haven’t written an article in a long time, since I’m busy with my college exams, but this is something that got me worked up recently. After a deep sleep of this series, I decided to write a new rant as my return to get this stuff out of my system and so I can continue my life. 

Console wars, are they even useful?

tumblr_lscb2oAwaH1qi9hlso1_500To be quite honest, probably not like you expected me to say, but yes. I do think console wars are useful. But not executed in the proper way.

The use of console wars is to allow the fanboys to get in big heated debates for me to laugh at. It’s an use nonetheless.

In all seriousness, I have some arguments why I think a console war is useful. First of all, you learn the gamer to choose each and every new console release. Since most people don’t have the time or the money to be able to purchase all the systems, you make gamers think about their products. Thanks to this, console developers have to pay attention in what they create. They can’t simply slap something together. They need to make something new or better to improve on their previous product.

In console wars, developers can also learn what works for a certain audience and what doesn’t. With this information, a studio can learn which series they should try to get to their console as an exclusive and which to leave in the dust.

But a console wars, is also extremely idiotic. Think about it for a moment. We discuss about a console hardware and what it can do. This is just plain ridiculous. Take for example the Wii U. Such a great system with amazing potential. But since it doesn’t have great 3rd party support, it doesn’t sell well. And this has nothing to do with the console wars.

My point here is that a lot of the meat and bones of a system is in the software you run on it. I have a crap 2nd Dell laptop that I use to do my research for my blog on and play some low-end games that don’t keep me distracted of my college work for too long.

In addition to that, we compare, like we say in Dutch, apples with pears. The Wii can’t be compared to the PS3. Not in the slightest. We talk about innovation against raw power. Two opposites in the gaming world. Talking about the Wii, why is Nintendo always pushed to the side of the console wars? Oh, and let’s not forget the PC!

That the PC isn’t included, I can understand. Since you can custom build a PC, so you can’t compare it to a console. Since nearly everybody PC specs are different. A computer is personal and actually tells a lot about yourself. But that Nintendo is left out… since it’s more a family console… Err, yeah right. Really fair war there. Leaving out part of the competition.

Look mom, the PS4 is so much better.

imagesThis picture I found while researching explains enough. I started talking about it in my previous part, the console wars is just done totally wrong.

First of all, there aren’t only consoles. You also have handhelds. A console wars seems only to be about the consoles. Why is it never boarder to handhelds as well. I simply don’t get it.

Secondly, a console wars can’t be won. The winner of a console wars is the console(s) you own. And as a hardcore Nintendo fanboy, I admit that I have a PSP and a PS2. And I highly enough them. And if somebody bashes Nintendo, I don’t give a care. Unless they say Nintendo is a kiddy company. Then I have a whole slew of arguments to prove the trolls wrong.

And the final argument is, are we going to ignore beautiful innovations, with a lot of potential like the oculus rift, shifto cubs… Or the Steam box. Oh yes, I’m going there. Apart from being incomplete, a console wars never takes new gadgets in to a count. Such a same.

I think I’m going to close off this article. Console wars really make my eyes roll. The urge to slap somebody in the face when they say that a console is better then another is always big. Each console has it’s strong points and selling points. And in the end, the best console is the enjoy were you enjoy yourself with. And besides, the console wars are always plagued with trolls, haters and fanboys. It’s impossible to make a decent talk about it.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed reading this ranting of mine. Sorry that it isn’t up to quality to my other articles. (In my personal opinion.) And I hope to see you next time somewhere. Oh, and normally I always ask at the start to leave a comment, but now that I’m sure that you read my article, I’ll ask it now. Since otherwise I just get troll and idiotic comments.