Tag Archives: things

Publishing: Hitbit, when design meets retrogaming

We decided to give retrogaming a new look, using quality design and new technology. Retrogaming is a new trend in the game industry, and many adults who used to be gamer kids in the 80’s are out there today waiting for a new old-school game machine in their living rooms. Playing retro games was easy and simple in comparison to the contemporary video games with their advanced technologies and over-complexities.

While those new video games keep attracting many people today, there is also some people who appreciate simplicity and “classiness” of the retro games like still many people today prefer music such as The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. That is why we decided to give retrogaming a new look with quality material and modern design, yet maintaining its vintage feel. And we powered it up with the newest hardware and wireless capabilities: HDMI, Bluetooth, WiFi and 2400 MIPS CPU. All of them with hassle-free configuration and the possibility of emulating thousands of classic games available in single/multi-player mode. It also integrates with modern wireless joypads.

You can find out more at their Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/537956042/hitbit-when-design-meets-retrogaming

Official website: http://designofthings.it

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/designofthingsmilan/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/designofthingsmilan/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou4PMoQMHpE&feature=youtu.be

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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.

999

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: Are digital downloads really a benefit for the market?

steamos_2_web-100055303-large_thumbAre platforms like Steam and Origin really a benefit for the games market? Must everything now go digital or is that something that might doom the market? Let’s think about it. I think that this movement is a double-edged sword. It’s good but there is a big “But”. Cap was intended. I can’t deny that platforms like Steam and other have many advantages. But clearly, I have also a blaming finger to raise. I talked and discussed with many of my friends about this. From people in ButtonSmashers, Arpegi and outside of both of them. And after many rewrites, I think it’s time to voice my view on this. Feel free to debate with me on this in the comments. Flame comments will be removed of course. 

My biggest problem

Many people see this as the way of the future. Everything needs to go digital. It makes things so much easier. Yet, there is a big issue that comes with this. Security. Think about this, that your account is hacked and you lost all your progress and games. Or worse, they got your bank information. I have no doubt in my mind that this is something hackers in the future will be able to achieve.

Another issue is the fact that privacy is gone. Some people want to hide that they game since for some companies that are a big no if you want to be hired. Gamers have a big reputation thanks to some events that the media blew out of proportion. So, you have to hide. In addition to that, you can’t really hide your “guilty pleasure” games anymore. You know, those games that make your reputation of “hardcore gamer” go poof as snow for the sun.

And don’t get me started about abusing the system. There are some many ways to cheat the system and make fake money that can be used to buy games then. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good percentage of the sales on those digital platforms are actually illegal purchases gone undetected.

Android market feel

 

Best-Free-Android-Games-Of-2013I’m not going to lie, I bought a ton of games on Steam the past month. But I really man, a lot of them. And my fear got actually confirmed. I felt like being in some online app store. Where you can easily download games and install them. And I kept playing a part of the game and when I got a bit bored of the game, I downloaded the next one.

Isn’t that a bit harsh? There can be boring moments in a game but when you wouldn’t have this Steam or Origin, it was your newest game and then your motivation was higher. At least in my case.

Also, as a retro gamer, I saw that nearly all the games I played in the past are on Steam as well. I’m afraid I won’t survive any sale if one happens of a game on my wishlist.

My point here is that it became too easy to find new games and you start to think less about your budget. It’s not new that I hear people say that they got a ton of games from a sale but if you really look to it, how many games are actually played and or finished from the ones they bought? Probably not all of them.

Big dogs smelled money.

Before I explain my next point, I want to talk about another thing. I’m a big-time collector. If I’m at a garage sale, my mood is like: “Buy all the games!”. If I had the money for it, I would. Yet, going to a garage sale and trying to hassle or look for a game. That feeling of going home with a new stack of games felt so rewarding. And that’s a feeling I have lost with Steam and Origin. You just push in some numbers and do one or two clicks. You can’t hassle or try to lower the price. And looking for a game is just a search away.

But this is actually a nightmare for collectors. Physical copies are a thing of the past. I love being able to hold a game in my hands and showing it off to my friends and being like: “Hey, look I got this new game.” That might be a bit bragging but hey, who doesn’t do that from time to time?

But what in the name of the good games are big companies like Atari and Square doing on Steam? Selling their big titles like Call of Duty, Final Fantasy and various other franchises. Honestly, I don’t think it’s good for that. If I would be Steam, I would have only allowed indie or start-up developers to make their big entree in the market.

Scary

I’m also afraid that the ease of DLC for developers on Steam might slowly be the new norm. The satire game DLC Quest might become the future reality one day. In this game, you can’t even go left at the start of the game. You have to buy the DLC for it when you have enough in-game coins. And I have this one game called Tomb Raider that has a big load of DLC and yeah, I bought it all. Just because I hate when I don’t have the complete package.

One of the final issues I can come up with is maybe one of the scariest things. The fact you and those developers become independent (Edit: Thanks for noticing my mistake here BloodCat.) from one company. Image how big of a catastrophe it would be if Steam went bankrupt. Or when they couldn’t handle the server load and much data is lost. Scary thought no? Or that they become so big that local game stores go out of business. Many jobs lost.

In conclusion

I can’t deny that platforms like Steam or Origin are great things. Many indie developers can show off their games. You can also buy games that your local game store might not offer. And if those stores are too far away, you can easily buy them on those platforms.

But if you look at it, there are big flaws in this system you can’t deny. I won’t go explaining them again since I talked about it in this article. I’m sure that I forgot some things in my article but I’m sure that I got the most crucial written down.

Maybe a good message is that you shouldn’t forget that there are retailers and various other things to get your games outside of Steam and Origin. It’s such a nice thing in our gaming culture so let’s not go to a culture where we sit in front of a computer and don’t much a muscle to get our games since you can easily get them on Steam.

Review #015: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity (3DS) ~ Dat Ending.

PMGTI

Official website

It has been coming. After a long time I finally finished the main story of this game. This game is actually the game that started off my rants here on my blog. I talked about the cuts and adds that this game did. Feel free to read it here. But I’ll address most of it in this article. This review will be a big one? Why? Well, I have a lot to talk about! Plus, this game actually did some things why I hold this game high in my list of best games ever. I thought a lot about special things to do for this review. From me being trapped in a dungeon and that each floor was a part of the game that I wanted to review but no idea really worked out the way how I wanted. So, that’s why I settled down upon a normal style review. I remember till this day pre-ordering this game. I was so excited that there was going to be a 3DS entry. It was a long time since this series saw an entry. The Japanese people got lucky with a WiiWare title that never saw international release. But ChunSoft gave us this game now. Yes, this game is not only made by GameFreak & Nintendo. ChunSoft actually has a great influence in this series. Anyways, let’s look at this game. Is it really worth the praise I give it or is it just that some elements really make me want to play this game? Let’s review! (Oh, and feel free to post a comment about my review and/or your views on this game.)

Paradise.

pmd_gti_ss6Let’s first tackle the biggest thing of this game. The story. In this game you wake up in a forest without knowing that you suddenly turned into a Pokemon. But this time they take things differently. Instead of the obvious thing to join a big rescue team or to become one, the main focus is actually somewhere different. The main focus is on you making a paradise for the Pokémon in Post Town.

And this is already a great improvement in my eyes. The story feels extremely fresh. And I actually really enjoyed the story. The characters were great, the writing is well done and I barely made complaints on the story while playing. There were some close calls of a Deus Ex Machina (for those who don’t know the word, it’s a sudden solution that comes out of nowhere and solves everything.) but lucky for this game, they were avoided.

The only thing is dislike a bit is that they removed the personality test at the start. I actually enjoyed it and never really cheated my way towards the Pokémon I wanted to be. You actually can directly select your Pokémon that you want to be now. This makes the game feel less personal but this short coming has been made up big time by something else.

But, I am not done yet with talking about the story. Where this game wins some big marks is the fact that for the 3rd entry in the game, the ending actually made me tear up once more. The ending, while it’s highly similar then the previous entries, is written in such an amazing way that it manages to to it’s job. I won’t spoil it but for emotional people, this will be a tough one. But that’s not all. The biggest marks are won with the addition of a story after the credits. I was so surprised when I saw that “and now you play as your partner to see how the story concludes.”. This gives the game a bigger reason to keep playing after finishing it.

Downfall

imagesBefore I continue with praising the game, I want to talk about what made this game not that much fun for me. Which elements made me want to avoid this game?

First off, there is DLC! Why? Just, why? Downloading additional dungeons is fun, but asking a small price for them is just silly. You basically download a dungeon with a name and some new textures. As if the extensive list of already available dungeons wasn’t good enough already.

Also, I know it’s meant for the safety of your health but the message: “You had a great adventure today. You should take a rest before you continue to play.” is just silly. I’m bummed out that there isn’t an option to disable this message.

Also, this game doesn’t like you checking the message log. The way to look at the message log is so hidden, it really makes me irritated when I want to check something I missed.

Something I really like is the fact that when you take a weak level Pokémon with you, it will grow to the level of the other Pokémon when you enter a high level dungeon. Take that your Pokémon are all level 30 and you take a level 10 with you for the ride. It goes to level 30 right away. But here comes something extremely annoying. You must go through all the moves the Pokémon can learn with that high level jump. One by one. Yes, one by one. That’s no fun at all. Why couldn’t you just program in a list for it?

Inventory management has also a small issue with it. When you want to take something out of your box, you can only take one item. Unless you first press “R” to input the amount you wish to have. This is an additional step that shouldn’t be there. When you select an item that you have multiple times, you should be able to directly say how much you want of it.

This game makes also one major mistake. One of the biggest flaws in this game is the fact the you only can do one mission each time you set out. And that is such a pain. This really pulls out a lot of the fun of doing multiple missions and trying to survive a dungeon because you need to do another floor.

A nitpicky thing is, and this might just be me, is that the running isn’t endless anymore. After a short while you stop running. And this is really annoying since you need to let go and press the B button again. Also, the running is a tad bit to fast. Running around corners is such an annoying thing in this game.

And this might be just me as well, but I felt like the final three bosses where way to weak and easy. Or I might just have grinded my Pokémon to a pretty high level and/or had a great inventory to beat them.

Before I forget, I want to add this to the bad list. A TM can be used multiple times. I liked the way of the previous entry more where you had to collect certain items to repair it before you could re-use it.

Great.

pokemon-mystery-dungeon-1At first I was really doubting to put this in the bad thing section but then I realized something. You can play as one of your team mates to take a break from the story. Yet, thanks to a box system, you can transfer over items from the companion mode to the main story mode. This gets rid of the annoying being stuck in a hard dungeon with no good items. Yet, it makes the game a bit easier. But it doesn’t get too easy either. You really need to finish requests to get those items.

In addition to that, good items are rather expensive and not always available in the shops. This makes creating a great inventory to finish bosses and/or beat big dungeons that more rewarding.

I touched upon the fact that you can do only one mission at a time. Such a big deal isn’t it really since the rewards you get are sometimes enough for expanding your paradise. The fact that you can upgrade, recolor and put more things and you have space makes the replay value high. Also, in the paradise there is a lot to do. Prize tickets and even two mini-games I know of. And they are extremely fun to do.

The hunger system is gone in this entry. But something else came in it’s place. The so called “V-Wave”. This makes a certain type more stronger and therefor more dangerous. You can change the “V-Wave” from a certain point in the story but I never did. I enjoyed the challenge.

The gameplay is still the same as before. You explore randomized dungeons and you try to get to the top. Using your attacks at corners is still extremely buggy. Speaking about attacks, they made an amazing change that is extremely helpful in this entry. When you press the “L” button you directly get an overview of all your Pokémon’s attacks! And you have to simply press the according button to execute the attack. This saves time since you don’t have to go into the menu to change your attack and you also see how much PP is left.

Also, attacks get stronger over time. The more you use them, the stronger they will get. But pay attention, the attacks of the enemy’ll be stronger then as well. So, if you upgrade tackle to level 2, the power of tackle of the enemies will be level 2 as well.

The dungeons are improved as well. Some dungeons have an “overworld” part where you have to cross a bridge or solve a small puzzle before being able to continue to the next floor. Thanks to this, dungeons are way less boring then in all the previous entries of the series. Inside dungeons there are also shortcuts. But I can’t tell more about them since I hadn’t been able to have the right key for unlocking the door.

Another great improvement is the fact that you can save everywhere you want! The menu system is better but not perfect. The fact that it’s not anymore a simple text box menu but something in the lines of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl where the buttons are on the button screen after a press on the menu button is such a great feature.

Visually this game is a masterpiece. It’s the best I have seen in the whole series. I actually regret not putting the 3D slider to max at certain points. This game really benefits from the 3D. It looks pretty. The rare cut scenes look amazing and are a marvel to look at. It’ll really stick with you how some area’s looked in 3D. And with great visuals comes one of the best animation I have seen in a while. Nothing bad to say about that.

The sound design is well done. It really pulls you inside the game. There are no Pokémon cries in the game but that’s actually a great thing, since this makes me enjoy the amazing soundtrack of the game at it’s full glory. Some tracks in the previous entries really got on my nerves after hearing them multiple times. But not with this game. This game really nailed it.

And I think I’ll leave it here for this review. Skipping the multiplayer and the possibility to find new dungeons around your home, it’s time to make a conclusion for this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Attacks at corners don’t work.

– The running is a bit broken.

– One mission at a time.

– The end bosses are a bit too weak.

– DLC.

– “You should rest.”

– Leveling up too fast makes for an irritating move learning “5-minute”

– TM can be used multiple times.

– Inventory management needs some minor tweaks.

– Removal of the personalty test at the start.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Visually amazing.

+ Great animation.

+ Randomized dungeons = high replay value.

+ Overworld parts in the dungeons.

+ Great sound design.

+ Benefits from the 3D.

+ Multiplayer.

+ Companion mode.

+ Sharing inventory makes the game way better.

+ Great controls.

+ Story after the credits.

+ It’s not only dungeons you can do in this game, the paradise opens up so many possible things to take a break from the dungeons.

+ Improved menu’s and combat.

Final words:

This game made some major improvements when you compare them to the previous entries of the series. Some things had to be payed for that, but actually in the long run, the game strong points really make up for it.

The game isn’t less fun, it’s as much fun as the previous entries but for a totally different reason. It still feels rewarding and fun but now because you make an amazing paradise that’s unique to you. Since you can choose a lot.

It really surprises me that this game really expanded on the previous entries so much. You have a lot more to do, to keep track off. And there isn’t only more depth to the game! They addressed issues to make the game more fun to play.

This game is one of the best spin-offs of Pokémon period. And I’m so glad that I finished this game and looked passed the flaws since then you see where this game actually truly shines. And then this game, you don’t want it to be over soon. But the length and replay value will keep you busy for a long while.

So, too long didn’t read version. Is it worth all it’s praise. Yes, if you don’t compare it too much too the previous entries of the series but take it as a new reboot-ish game of the series.

Score: 85 / 100