|John "Totalbiscuit" Bain|
1984 to 2018
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
|Despite being a one man show|
Angry Centaur Gaming is your
best bet for reviews these days
One of the most blatant examples has to be "youtube bait," titles like Goat Simulator, I am Bread, or Surgeon Simulator. They're all fun for a short time, but quickly start to suffer from shallow mechanics and poor controls. A corollary to this are screaming-into-the-mic games such as Five Nights at Freddy's or Slender. Their fast tension-building-and-release jumpscares tended to be a good way to attract a certain kind of fluid viewership, which in turn means raised awareness and ultimately higher sales figures...despite being pretty mediocre from a design perspective. I doubt most of the aforementioned titles would have been commercial successes at all, if internet video content producers hadn't gobbled their gimmicks up so eagerly.
This ties into another problem - trend chasing. I get that viewers are interested in whatever the new hot thing is, but if every youtuber and twitch streamer is playing the same game (or couple of games) then there's no benefit to be had here in terms of viewership. Fortnight, PUBG, Rocket League and perhaps the originator of the me-too games coverage Minecraft, are all examples of games that got an oversaturation of coverage simply because they happened to be in-vogue at a particular moment in time. I'm not saying watching or making videos about popular games in bad per-se. I just think homogenization is antithetical to the whole point of having internet games coverage. There are a few channels (such as Accursed Farms) that go out of their way to only really play older more obscure stuff, often carefully editing footage to not waste the viewers time. Marshall Dyer is another, albeit somewhat different, example in that he tends to play lesser known indie titles...and even then only after any post-release hype around them has died down.
|Don't be "Brad" at games|
I should wrap this up by saying that even though I use youtube and twitch as my primary examples, the problems I've mentioned aren't exclusive to those to sources of video games coverage. Dedicated websites made up of supposed "professionals" can (and do) suffer from a disinterested staff, unwilling tackle the challenges of mastering the mechanics of whatever it is they decide to play. Guys, you don't have to give up on your passions to be "successful"...in fact it's quite probably the opposite.
Monday, May 14, 2018
Harebrained Schemes' Battletech has a robust selection of mech types as well as variants and customization options. Still, there are a few more designs I find myself hoping they'll add eventually such as the Raven, Javelin, and Cyclops. Then there is the Annihilator, the only other type of 100 ton mech to canonically exist in the Inner Sphere. Although, if you ask me, its design is more battleship than battlemech. Other than that, some more combined arms stuff like VTOLs and river gunboats might be cool. Aerospace fighters, while probably too complex to implement in their entirety, could still be used to vary mission dynamics by making the occasional battlefield strafing/bombing run.
One last thing, I want to mention is all the little nods this game has to older Battletech properties. I got a kick out of seeing the training simulators on-board the Argo (they look just like the machines used at Virtual World Entertainment Centers). The "power business suits" worn by independent merc contractors (complete with padded shoulders and brightly colored fabrics) are a nice reference to the 1980s influences on the visual style of Battletech. My favorite call back though, has to be the display readouts on in-game monitors. Whenever the player goes to check on their battlemechs or mechwarriors, direct copies of the record sheets used in the tabletop wargame and RPG can clearly be seen in the background. Great stuff!
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Between the two Crescent Hawk games there was also another game released, a pseudo-sim called Mechwarrior that put the player in the cockpit of one of these towering warmachines. Aside from the first-person viewpoint, Mechwarrior was also innovative in that it allowed the player to take a much more open-world approach. It was, in fact, possible to ignore the storyline entirely and simply travel the Inner Sphere as a mercenary. The game always started with the player only having a lone Jenner to their name. After slowly accumulating C-bills (money) though from mission payments and a cut of the salvage (paid in cash) the player could expand out their roster. One way I used to speed up the early game was to take a base defense mission against a lone enemy mech (the bigger the better). I'd waive the standard payment in lieu of a larger cut of the salvage. Then, during the mission, I'd hide out near where I knew the enemy mech would have to pass through to get to my base. Right after the mech would go by me I'd come out on its tail and blast a leg off. In the original Mechwarrior losing just one leg meant that the mech was out of action. No risk and hundreds of thousands of C-bills in salvage. What's there to complain about? Well...there were only eight mech types available in the game; Locusts, Jenners, Phoenix Hawks, Shadow Hawks, Marauders, Riflemen, Warhammers, and Battlemasters. Sadly, there were no variants or customization options either. Maximum team size was a standard lance of four mechs. The player would have to buy and maintain each machine along with having to hire pilots for each of them. Usually the first real landmark would be getting a buddy in a Locust to help you in missions, but eventually your team would expand and upgrade to the ultimate goal of a Battlemaster quartet.
So which game is my favorite (curious readers of the this blog might ask)? Actually, it's the Kickstarter version by Harebrained Studios. In some ways it feels like the history of Battletech video games has come full circle. We're now back where it all started though not entirely...I will get into the new game in the next post I make, but for the time being I'll simply say this - Like its predecessors, it's a game about 31st century combat, but it has a decidedly 21st century design aesthetic.
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Waypoint did a recent podcast wherein they discussed games that were fun, but not for the reasons that the developer(s) perhaps intended. I'm sure we're all familiar with speedruns, but there's also challenges involving self-imposed handicaps like only using the starting cutter weapon in Dead Space or going with the thief class in Dark Souls 3. A couple of person examples I want to share here go back a couple of decades.