Minecraft for Switch

I've said multiple times that I was done with Minecraft. I've also said tht I am not interested in Minecraft on consoles.  Minecraft is a game that I've purchased many times. More than I care to admit. There is a reason though. It's a fantastic game. I've spent many hours in Minecraft worlds digging away at the earth, building the raw materials into something that might resemble a house in the nightmares of architects. It is fun.  I've built nuclear reactors in the sky using mods for th elc version. So why would I go back to vanilla for the Switch?  I very much prefer the mouse and keyboard interface and available mods on the of version. 

My son however prefers to play on the console. I got him the game when it came out.  I feel Ike of all the games Minecraft is the one that is best for kids. It fosters creativity and abstract thinking. Plus he loves it. He has been asking me if  I'm going to get it for my own Switch, I replied no of course.  I've played enough Minecraft. I'm ready to leave it behind.  Still something was bugging me, a tiny Steve in the back of my mind telling me to try it out.  Alas this morning I folded and I now have Minecraft on my Switch as well.    

So, what do I think of it?  It's Minecraft, nothing surprising here, it's the same game that we've played on the PC , the Xbox the PS4 the Wii U, your phone, refrigerator.  Okay I made that last one up, but I'm sure that someone has done it.  I'm really excited to play the game with him,  no more fighting to get our computers to talk to each other.  Just load it up on the Switch and do wireless. Hopefully it will work.  I'll let you know. And because we both have our own, no more split screen, where I can't tell what's happening on the screen because everything is so small.  I hated split screen Minecraft on the Wii U, and Xbox 360.

I haven't actually sat down to play with him yet, so let's talk a bit about what's I don't like. I wish they had included the features specific to the Switch.  Like HD rumble, and motion controls. The game would play so much better if they just rip off Nintendo's work on Breath of the Wild motion controls.  Having HD rumble built in where as you are mining it vibrates more and more until there is a satisfying thunk as the block pops out of a wall would be awesome.  I don't like that they tacked on the $10 Mario pack, I don't care about it, I don't want it, if I do want it let me decide that rather than permanently attach it to the game.  I'm sure it makes fiscal sense for them to sell the game this way, I just feel like it is just a bit anti-consumer.   The game currently runs at 60 FPS 720P in both docked and handheld mode.  Though this is supposedly a bug according to some reports.  This certainly isn't a deal breaker, as Minecraft is always pretty pixelated by design.  

So what now?  I hope my issues with the game get patched, and I'm currently waiting for a Steve or Creeper Amiibo, come on Nintendo / Microsoft, you're sitting on money right there.  I'm full of ideas that one is free.

Tumbleseed Review

Every time you play Tumbleseed you’re going to have a brand new experience.  This is because the game is a roguelike, meaning that it is procedurally generated, from the enemies that you encounter, the layout of the levels, the town that you start in, even the power ups that you can pick up along the way on your adventure.  

Tumbleseed in action

Tumbleseed in action

Tumbleseed has some fantastic game design, the game is all about risk vs reward, and is filled with non stop decisions that you have to make that could spell your doom if you choose poorly.  The most common decision that you’ll have to make is what powers to use.  You get the same four powers every time, as well as random powers that you end up purchasing with the game's currency (not real money).  The first power that you get is called Flag seed, flags are your checkpoints, if you fall in your adventures, and you will. You’ll only ever fall as far as your most recent flag.  You plant them in diamond shaped gardens as you play.  In order to plant one you have to have crystals that you have to roll past to pick up while you’re playing.  There are things like caterpillars and dragonflies that will harm you if you run into them undefended, the next power that you’ll pick up is called Thornvine.  This also costs crystals to plant, but unlike the flag, these come with you.  You can have up to 3 thornvine at any time, and you can use thornvine to kill enemies by running into them.  A defeated enemy will grant one or more crystals, and your thornvine will break.  Run into an enemy without thornvine and you’ll lose a heart and fall to your most recent flag.

There aren’t enough crystals on the board for you to use your powers non stop, so you have the Crystal power, this lets you pick up shards of crystals at gardens.  When you hit 3 gardens two crystals will spawn at your location to pick up.  Finally there is Heart Vine, which allows you to regenerate hearts by hitting 4 gardens with the power equipped.  The trick to the game is, that when you use a garden, it's used up, so you can’t hit it again.  This means that you constantly have to decide which power is best to use at which time.  Do I replenish my hearts so I don’t get a game over?  Do I get more thornvines to defend myself against the dangers of the mountain?  Do I plant a flag to keep my progress should I make a mistake.  All of these powers rely on your ability to generate crystals quick enough.  If you’re all out you have no choice but to use the crystal power to replenish your stock.  

In addition as you play the game you’ll unlock shops where you can spend crystals on other powers that spawn randomly in the game.  Some powers will have Tumbleseed firing projectiles left and right as you move up for a time, others may make you invisible, or plant a turret that fires homing missiles at enemies.  Spend too many seeds on a level and when you get to a shop you won’t be able to pick up the new hotness in seed city.  

The art in Tumbleseed is really fantastic.  They have put down the graphics in layers, like the Lost Woods in a Link to the Past,  You can see the shadows of the clouds moving over the background, while creatures are zipping back and forth across the screen.  The game is filled with bright colors that really stand out, but I feel like there is just a bit too much to look at and distract me.  So many shiny things!  The sound design is also spot on, rain and wind sounds great, and the sound effects of the various creatures and obstacles that you encounter along the way have a great cartoony vibe.  The music is cool and soothing, but I ended up turning it off.  I needed something that I could sing along with to distract my brain so I could let my thumbs take over the controls, because the more I thought about it, the worse I tended to do.

While we’re on the subject, controls make or break this game.  For me they broke the game.  Tumbleseed feels like a fantastically designed gem of a game, hidden behind infuriating controls.  You don’t actually control your character directly, instead you move the left and right sticks to move the left and right side of a vine up and down.  This controls the angle of the vine, and Tumbleseed rolls back and forth in response.  It is very difficult, and very precise.  You can control the deadzone, but I personally was not able to find a sweet spot.  You have to avoid enemies and obstacles, while picking up crystals and planting gardens, and the game refuses to allow you to react quickly enough without losing control.  This might seem weird, but I ended up playing backwards.  Instead of pushing Tumbleseed up the mountain, I found myself letting him fall backwards.  I wasn’t holding the controls differently, but it felt like the feeling you get when you’re backing up a truck with a trailer attached.  I don’t feel like this is a case of bad design, it's more that the control scheme just didn’t click with me, and your experience might be very different.

One thing that I’d like to point out is that this game does not use motion controls, some might say that it would be perfect for them, but I think the degree of precision that is required to successfully navigate the mountain, wouldn’t be achievable with motion controls.  I would have liked a difficulty slider to reduce the number of baddies or obstacles on the screen.  This would allow me to build up to the level the game starts at, because it is very difficult.

In addition to the story mode the game also has non-procedurally generated levels in the daily challenge, which is like a high score game of sorts, so you can find out who can get to the end the fastest.  I’d bet that Tumbleseed is a speedrunners dream, with new content every day and real skill involved in order to succeed.  

Ultimately I feel like Tumbleseed is a fantastically designed gem of a game, hidden behind frustrating controls, I recommend you check out a demo of the game if possible before plunking down your hard earned money on it, as the game has potential to blow you away if you’re good at it, but if you’re not amazing at dual stick games, this game will lead to some broken controllers.  That being said,  I don’t doubt for a moment that this game will be popular with a segment of the market, I’m just not part of that segment.

Special thanks to RoguesPortal for asking me to write this and supplying the review copy.

First Time At Pax! Ooooo Shiny!

I find myself sitting at my computer most weekends saying to myself “Man, I wish I could go do something, but I really want to play video games”. Have you ever felt like that? Your friends want you to come hang out, but the buzz of the computer calls to you, with open arms and a Steam library full of games. The possibilities are infinite! My imagination is the only limit! But still, we yearn for that person to person interaction that computer screens just can’t give us, no matter how social we may be in the world of video games and online media.

 

Enter PAX East. It was my first time going. I really only went to meet a lawyer who calls himself the “Video Game Lawyer” because I want to work for him, but I discovered so much more at PAX. I dragged my boyfriend Chris with me because I wanted someone to go with, but even he ended up having a good time, even though he isn’t as big of a gamer as I am. The people were incredibly friendly. You could engaged in conversation in just about any line, play games together, or geek out about whatever you were about to play. For me, I found that the most random of times is when I engaged in conversation. I met a pair of dudes in line to enter a post-PAX party on Saturday that we found were from our home state and were really cool dudes. After the panel with said Video Game Lawyer, I met a slew of people who were also interested in whether StoneHearth is a game that should be sued into oblivion by Blizzard or whether the character from Paladins is copyright infringement from Overwatch. The friends I made are going to be invaluable contacts going forward, and I honestly didn’t expect to do such networking at PAX, but I not only networked, but made friends out of these amazing people.

The expo floor is a huge monster and the best part about PAX. Here is where you go to play ALL the games! There were also a number of services or products there, too. Steelseries, Corsair, Newegg, LG, Intel, Discord, Twitch and Samsung were all there, just to name a few. If you’re in the market to buy something for your computer, PAX is a great place to buy with all the sales they have going. They even sold little bitty desktop computers that I saw a lot of exhibitors using for PAX.

Tabletops were heavily represented this year as well. Past the PAX Arena where they held their esports tournaments, there were a slew of tabletop games to play. A lot of the shops even lent you some games to play at the surrounding tables if you wanted to try something out before you buy it. I did end up with a game called Sushi Go!, a cute little game about building sushi and gathering points. Otherwise I didn’t play too many tabletop games, but if that’s you’re thing, PAX is having a smaller version of itself and is holding a tabletop only convention in Philadelphia later this year. It’s called PAX Unplugged, and it takes place at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Center City November 17th - November 19th 2017. More info here.

On to the best part! The games. This is the bread and butter of PAX, held in the heart of the expo hall, and always crowded. Getting through at times was difficult, but I understood why one would move so slowly through the aisles, because there were games everywhere! Others and I described it as “sensory overload” the entire time I was on the expo hall floor because there were so many things to do and see. As a gamer, it was like every direction there was something shiny to look at. I spent most of my time at the indie section of the floor, checking out all the games that people had worked so hard on. Most booths had developers there. Even Shovel Knight, which is one of the most popular platformers out there right now, was filled with developers from one side of the booth to the other. The one Chris was talking to was an intern, but when we went to the counter for some merch, the guy we were talking to was the main creator of the game! He was really passionate about his stuff and was really happy to talk to everyone who loved his game.

Another one Chris really liked was called Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. A really cute platformer about a kid chasing after his diabolical uncle. I didn’t really get a chance to play it, but it was cute enough for me that I would totally pick it up, and Chris really loved playing it. They weren’t sure of a release date yet, but had said it would be finished sometime in 2017.

Enough about him, though, let me tell you about what I played. My two favorites were Snake Pass (March 28, 2017 release) and Crash Bandicoot N’ Sane Trilogy (June 30th, 2017 release). I knew going in that I was going to love Crash Bandicoot. It was like the old version of the game, but better. I know that sounds vague and undescriptive, but when you play it you’ll know what I mean. The graphics got an overhaul and the controls are easier to handle than what I remember from when I was a kid. The challenges are still there and even the easiest level proved difficult if I wanted to get all the boxes. I’ll definitely be buying it when it comes out on the PS4.

Snake Pass was a game that totally surprised me! In this game, you slither around like a snake, moving your controller stick left and right to create a slithering motion in order to move faster, and you have to complete a sort of obstacle course. You must slither up around around poles, climb up mountains, and collect the little bubbles, coins and gems all over the world. The first level took me about 30 minutes to complete and was interesting and very challenging! There’s definitely a learning curve on how to control the snake and get him up the things you have to climb to get to the objectives. This game won best indie game from two different gaming reviewers, so you know this game was a hit. I was surprised that such a simple and cute game would be my in my top two! Check this game out, you won’t be disappointed.

For my first time at PAX, I had an absolute blast. I learned some things that I’ll put to use next year, but it’s an absolute certainty that I will be back next year for the networking alone. The video games are an added bonus for me, but kept my time very occupied and even though we were there from almost open to close just about every day, I still feel like we didn’t see everything. It is comforting to know, however, that one weekend out of the year, I get to feel satisfied in both IRL and behind-the-screen interactions, play a ton of video games, make a ton of friends, and find people who are just like me. I can’t wait for PAX next year.

Jess can be found at https://www.twitch.tv/paralegalprincess

Final Fantasy XIV - Impressions so far.

Final Fantasy XIV came out back in release date. I was a Final Fantasy XI player so I was in the alpha I believe it was a while ago so some details escape me at this point. I had a pretty expensive computer at the time and my first experience with the game was that it was a sluggish mess.   the User interface was very ugly. Unintuitive. And apparently all filtered through the server an incredible lag fest.  A mouse and keyboard were unusable at the time, combat was confusing, the game barely ran, and overall I was incredibly disappointed. I quickly uninstalled the game and when it came out to lackluster reviews I wrote it off as a mess that could never be fixed.

A couple years later when the game relaunched. I assumed that there was nothing that could have possibly been done to save this epic disaster of a game. I of course knowing that it was a trash heap promptly ignored it.  I'm sure I was neck deep in some other MMO at the time though I bounce between them so much it is tough to say which one.  So returning to Eorzea was low on my priorities. 

A few months back I was watching a friend of mine stream FFXIV and I was very interested in what I saw. The game looked great, it always had. And the UI was. Very much improved. Combat looked really fun. I had noticed that there were an inordinate number of abilities in the hotbar and that was enough to keep my wallet at bay for now. I also didn't like the idea of paying a subscription fee again so I waited.  About three times a week I would find a twitch stream of the game. Ask the streamer a few questions. And feel the barrier between my wallet and the game weaken. Then of course a steam sale happened and the last straw broke. The contents of my wallet rushed forward and I was now the proud owner of a FFXIV account. It was finally time to give this turkey another chance.   At least I thought it was. 

It turns out that I was afflicted with a fairly common patching bug that prevented me from downloading the game files. After a bunch of troubleshooting and many days passing I finally had the game installed. I proceeded to make my character.  I got into the game and played a lot for about a week. Then something distracted me and I stopped. I jumped back into World of Warcraft for a bit.  I tried playing Wildstar Elder Scrolls. Pretty much any MMO I could get my hands on. None of the. Were holding my attention. 

I decided to try out FFXIV again in hopes that it would draw me in, and it did.  I've re-subbed for a second month and I have been having a blast.  The game is very well made and Yoshi P has done an amazing job turning the game around.  When they said that they were rebuilding the game from the ground up, they weren't kidding.  The combat is great, the graphics were as beautiful as they always were, but now that I'm on even better hardware the game runs like a dream.  I may not lock in 60FPS when I'm streaming, but if I'm just playing the game I do.  Let's talk a bit about the pros and cons of the game.  

  • Pros
    • One character any job - This is one of my favorite features of the game.  My main character is my only character, I can switch between any job I want at any time with a click of the button.  While I'm still leveling and I only have one job unlocked, I can see how this can really make for some flexible game-play.
    • The Cutscenes are very well done.  
    • Classes feel unique  - Nuff said.
  • Cons
    • The dialogue - There is just so much talking.  I will say that the localization team did a great job and the dialogue is filled with many references to pop culture 
    • DPS queues - Square has to do something about the inordinate queue times when waiting to do instanced content on a DPS class.  I usually have to wait 20+ minutes for them.  On my tank or healer character from when I first started playing my queue times were instant.  I think the best way they could combat this is to dynamically increase the difficulty of the combat based on the number of DPS characters in the instance, then increase the number of DPS characters per party from 2 to 3.  It isn't ever going to go away because less people want to tank / heal.  In fact it is only going to get worse because the Stormblood expansion is introducing two new DPS classes.  I guess start crafting or working on your sightseeing log while you're waiting for queues to pop.
    • Subscription - I have to pay every month for this.  I very much prefer the GW2 method of monetezation, but if the game is worth it, I'm willing.
    • Getting a character on a populated server is a huge pain - I was on a very popular server with some friends.  But my son couldn't get a character on that server.  This meant I couldn't play with him, which was very frustrating as we game together often.  We tried for days to get him a new character on the server, but it was constantly locked.  So I switched servers, I left my 30PAL/30WHM behind and started fresh on a server he could make a character on.  This isn't the ideal way to do things.  But I'll stomach it for a good game.

Overall I'm unabashedly impressed with what the new dev team has done with FFXIV:ARR and I can't wait to get to Heavensward content.  With the next expansion fast approaching I've got my work cut out for me.  

Making more by charging less.

There are many out there that think that the Nintendo Switch is priced too high.  There are some pretty good reasons for this.  

  • The PS4 and XBox One are cheaper
  • They are more powerful
  • There is no pack in
  • People believed the rumors

While some of these are good points, I still think that the $299 price tag is justified.  Why?

  • You're getting two controllers with the system
  • There is a lot of tech in these controllers
    • Each one has its own bluetooth radio
    • NFC in the right
    • Each one has HD Rumble which could turn out to be nonsense, or it might be amazing.  People that have used it have said its the real deal, but only time will tell.
  • You're getting the option to take this console on the go very easily.
    • You're getting a screen, no TV needed

I think this all adds up to a very justifiable price of $299 even without a pack in.  That being said I think Nintendo could have sold this system for $229 and made even more money.  At this point I fully expect people to be wondering about my math skills, but rest assured, this is going to make sense in a moment.

First off we have to look at how Nintendo is marketing the system.  Nintendo is a very conservative company, that also likes to take risks.  They like to take risks with a Plan B in thier pocket just in case things don't go the way they anticipate.  They are saying The Switch is a console first handheld second.  I think this is because Nintendo is looking to the 3DS to save them if things go awry.  They have done this before.  When the DS was announced they said the Gameboy wasn't going anywhere and we all saw what happened there, the DS gained massive adoption and Nintendo washed its hands of the GBA.  

Let's look at the comparative power between the Wii U and the Switch.  The switch is definitly better.  We can see this in the frame-rates and resolutions that Breath of the Wild for Wii U is pushing compared to the Switch version of the same game.  But in passing the non-discerning gamer might not even notice the difference unless looking at both at the same time.  Now lets compare to the 3DS, That is a massive difference in power.  We're going from 240p to 720 minimum, and if you connect it to a TV 1080p!  That's a really great selling point.  However $300 is kind of expensive for a handheld system.  What to do?

Well, if you want to sell this thing cheaper you have to cut something out of the equation.  What could Nintendo remove to lower the price?

  • Tablet
  • Dock
  • Joy-Con X 2
  • Joy-Con Grip
  • Joy-Con strap

In this list I see two things that aren't essential.  The Dock and the Grip.  The grip is a hunk of plastic with some cheap LEDs in it, and I think is there to make some games a little more comfortable to play.  It's probably insanely cheap to make, so cutting that out isn't going to lower the price of the system enough to make a difference.  

The Dock however is totally unnecessary!  You can get every ounce of fun out this console without it, sure a lot of people are going to primarily play this on their TV, hell some Switches, may never even leave the dock.  If we look at how much they are charging for the dock, it seems like a pretty hefty part of the sticker shock.

What if Nintendo showed a little less trepidation about ditching the 3DS.  What if they said, screw the Wii U, screw the 3DS, we're going ALL IN on Switch.  Then they sold the Switch in 3 different bundles. 

  • Portable bundle $229.99 comes without the Dock
  • TV bundle $299.99 comes with the Dock

This gives customers more flexibility.  

  • I'm only going to play my Switch on the train!
    • (Okay you get the Portable bundle)
  • I'm only going to play my Switch on my TV!
    • (Here is your TV bundle with the Dock)
  • I'm not really sure how I'm going to play my Switch
    • (Buy the portable bundle now, and pick up the dock later, or for a little less jump right into the TV bundle)

Doing this would have dissipated a lot of the sticker shock people were experiencing.  It would have prevented a lot of bad press that Nintendo has received since unveiling the Switch.  Not all of it of course because you can't please everyone and some people aren't happy if they aren't angry.  And in the long run, more people would buy it at launch (if they can find it)  Meaning a faster growing install base and happier 3rd party developers.  For every person that gets the portable bundle and then later "upgrades" by purchasing a dock Nintendo now makes more money off that sale.

So what do you think?  Is this something Nitnendo should have done?  Let me know.

 

 

Super Mario Run Online! Why are we surprised?

Nintendo recently announced that they are requiring Super Mario Run to have a constant online connection in order to thwart piracy of their game.  Mashable scored an interview with Miyamoto and asked him about this.  

For us, we view our software as being a very important asset for us. And also for consumers who are purchasing the game, we want to make sure that we’re able to offer it to them in a way that the software is secure, and that they’re able to play it in a stable environment.

We wanted to be able to leverage that network connection with all three of the [Super Mario Run] modes to keep all of the modes functioning together and offering the game in a way that keeps the software secure. This is something that we want to continue to work on as we continue to develop the game.
— Shigeru Miyamoto

Then when asked if "security" risk of piracy Miyamoto said "That's correct."

If we look at Nintendo's history, we shouldn't be surprised that they would make a move like this.  Nintendo has always been a company that dreaded piracy.  This was due to the video game in the early 1980s.  Over 30 years ago home consoles like the Atari 2600 and its clones were flooding the market with really bad games.  So much so that people started returning the games.  This was back when the customer was always right, so stores just took the merchandise back and shipped it back to the manufacturer for a refund.  This decimated the video game industry, and eventually thousands of cartridges were buried in the desert.  Nintendo looked at this while developing the NES and decided in order to keep this from happening they needed to control their market. 

They made sure that the NES would look for a specific chip in a cartridge and if it wasn't there the NES wouldn't play the game present.  This was called the 10NES chip or.  Then they limited game companies to 5 games a year on the NES so they wouldn't push out shovelware.  In addition your titles had to be exclusive to the NES for two years.  This was a good idea at the time, because it stopped developers from pushing out anything that Nintendo deemed of low quality.  

Fast forward to the Nintendo Game Cube.  Nintendo stuck with cartridges for a long while, but when they finally made the jump to disks, they again made a decision based on fears of piracy that hurt them.  The disks for the Game Cube were small, most CDs / DVDs were larger, and could hold more data, but the Game Cube couldn't accept a full size disk.  This meant that it was much harder to pirate Nintendo Games, the downside being that the disks were too small to hold some games.

Nintendo is a very Japanese company, and sometimes they design things with Japan in mind.  In Japan internet access is everywhere.  and the population density is rather high.  This means things like street pass on the Nintendo 3DS work really well over there.  If you don't know Streetpass is a system where two 3DS's come in close proximity to each other will trade information about what games your playing, and sometimes the games you have will use this to give you access to something new in the game.  In rural America however Streetpass is a joke.  We're all just too far apart from each other.  

Clickbait reports have come out that say it uses 75 MB of data per hour, but I'd take those with a grain of salt.  We'll see how much it really uses when the game is out.  my guess is it will be a lot less than that.  Because that's a lot of data.  But it is a good thing the first few levels are free.  My recommendation, if you're angry about the always on connection, vote with your wallet and don't play the game.  I'll try the free version and I'm going to keep a close eye on my data and battery.  Nintendo's first foray into mobile was Miitomo.  Which was a massive battery hog, and I won't be buying this game if it behaves anything like Miitomo.  I totally understand Nintendo's fears of piracy, but they have to stop treating their customers like thieves.  The pirates will find a way around this limitation, and it will only serve to frustrate paying customers.

Steel Series Arctis 7 gaming headphones review

A few months back I decided that I wanted to get a decent pair of wireless headphones for my gaming PC.  I wanted wireless, and an optional microphone, as I have a really good microphone for podcasting and streaming.  Having a logitech G502 a Logitech G13 and a logitech G7100+, and being of the mind that all of these devices are awesome.  I decided to pick up the Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum.  The day arrived, my headphones were here.  I plugged in the dongle and slapped these bad boys on my head.  I was very disappointed.



First off lets talk about the sound.  it was great.  Really nice speakers are in these cans.  and I think that logitech did a great job putting that together.  I already had the logitech gaming software on my computer for the G13 and others.  So it automatically detected the headphones and I could configure them.  No problems there, although I didn’t like the fact that the headset had I think 5 buttons on the back of the left can.  That’s the end of the good for these though.  These things were very uncomfortable.  I felt like my head was in a vice.  My wife often jokes that I have a giant head, but these must have been made for a child.  I just couldn’t wear them.  They were too tight, too heavy, and the cans on the sides were comically large.  My wife took one look at me wearing them and laughed for a solid 20 seconds.  Looking at myself I would have laughed for longer had the headphones not cut of circulation to my head.  On top of that, the headphones also kept cutting out.  As if I were too far away, sound would stop, I would have to restart the headphones.  Luckily for me. Amazon (who I love) has an awesome return policy.  I simply said why I was returning them and shipped them back. 



The day that I shipped them back I started looking for another pair.  It just so happens that Steel Series had announced their Arctis 7 line of wireless gaming headphones.  The mic could be slid away back into the left can.  I knew some people that had Arcits series headsets, and they all said that they liked them.  They weighed half as much as the logitech ones and the cans looked a lot smaller.  This seemed perfect.  I ordered them and the waiting began. 



They finally arrived after almost two months, and as soon as I put them on, I knew I had made the right decision.  These things are comfortable.  They have a ski-band on the top that is very stretchy, when you pull the headphones on, the skiband streches just enough so they headphones sit perfectly.  No adjustments needed.  I installed the software and fired up a game.  The sound was just as good as the Logitech ones.  But these were comfortable.  The first day using them I didn’t like that I couldn’t hear myself talking very well when I was streaming.  I was used to streaming with a pair of apple headphones plugged into my computer for audio.  So I could hear myself just fine.  After looking through the software though, I found a side talk option.  This takes the audio from my microphone and pumps it into my headphones.  (this audio does not come through on stream). This means I can hear what’s going on around me even with the headphones on.  A big plus for me since my wife/son often come in when I’m on the computer to talk to me about one thing or another.  No more pulling a earbud out, or moving the can off my head. 



The headset has DTS surround but I never really liked surround sound.  I never can appreciate it, and it always seems to sound like I’m listening to something in an echo chamber.  I ended up turning that feature off.  The transmitter even has a line out jack on it, so when I turn off my headphones the audio automatically starts going out the speakers.  Prior to this (and with the logitech set) I had to right click my speaker icon, open playback devices and change my default audio device to what I wanted to listen to, this is a huge improvement and definitely a feature I’m happy with.



In addition to the volume slider on the left can, the right can has a mixer.  The device acts as two sound devices, one for Discord/Teamspeak and one for game sounds.  So on the fly you can change how things sound.  I think this is a fantastic feature as I raid in Guild Wars 2,  Sometimes I might miss what someone says because of music or game sounds, and being able to quickly change it without going through multiple settings is really great.



TLDR. If you’re in the market for a pair of really good wireless headphones for your computer, I highly recommend them.

2016 Game Awards

The Game Awards have come and gone, winners have been crowned, and trailers have been dropped.  I’m not going to go through a list of the winners because there are literally a billion sites that are doing that.  What I will do however is talk a little bit about the trailers that we saw.

 

The elephant in the room is Zelda.  I was fully prepared that we would get more of the same, but the places that they showed in the two videos yesterday were definitely from a new area (at least it seemed like it to me).  I was prepared to be underwhelmed when I saw this footage, but I wasn’t.  I figured after the deluge of footage from Zelda at E3 this year, they really couldn’t get me excited again showing footage of the game.  I don’t need to see more, I’m already going to buy it, I just need the damn thing to come out. 

 

 

Boy was I wrong.  Seeing this game being played again, totally pulled me in, I immediately pestered my wife that doesn’t play video games, but lets me yammer on about them and feigns interest, look how cool this is!  I had forgotten that Link’s weapons break and he can pick up stuff on the ground and use it as weapons.  I had forgotten how beautiful this game was, they were clearly playing it on the Wii U.  So I’m hoping the Switch version looks even better (fingers crossed). 

 

 

The big downside to yesterday's trailers was that again no date was given, which makes the rumors that Zelda isn’t going to be a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, suddenly a lot more believable.  I’m okay with delays, but good god, I’m so hyped for this game I can hardly contain myself.  I may just burst into a form of yellow energy like in Dragon Ball Z. 

 

 

Death Stranding looks interesting and creepy, but it doesn't show any gameplay so I couldn’t care less.  I really wish that game companies would release only gameplay footage.  Of course I’m a giant hypocrite because everytime a certain Star Wars MMO releases a new video I watch them because they are so amazing.  I’m not sure why it is okay for them to do it, but not Death Stranding, I suppose I’m perpetuating a double standard here. 

 

 

I’m very excited for Mass Effect Andromeda.  I played the first two, I did miss out on the third one, just because I couldn’t play it on my TV with my son around, it isn’t a game for kids, and I don’t want to have to kick him out of the living room so I can play a game.  However this time around I’ll have a PS4 hooked up in my office (hopefully) so I can play the game without inconveniencing  the rest of the family.  I have thought about getting the 3rd game for the PC, but it has been so long since I played 1 and 2 that I feel like I would have to start from scratch, and I know myself.  That isn’t something that I’ll actually be able to finish.  I’m really happy that this new one has nothing to do with the old games, and I can jump in without any feeling like I’m missing any key information.

 

 

TellTale Games has just been killing it lately. They have had the oportunity to put thier unique spin on so many existing franchises recently, and while I haven’t played all of them, I really thought Back to the Future was great, and my son adored Minecraft:  Story Mode.  I still want to play the Batman game, but I’ll wait for humble bundle or something, I’ve literally got too much to play as it is.  That being said, Guardians of the Galaxy was announced.  Here I should repromand them for putting out a non gameplay trailer, but the double standard lives on, as we all know what these games are going to look like, we know exactly how TellTale games play, so I’ll give them a pass and just say, this is going on the wishlist.

 

 

Halo Wars was an anomoly when it came out for the 360.  People didn’t think you could design an RTS to be played with a controller, but Microsoft pulled it off.  I think the game was very well recieved.  I didn’t play it because RTS games don’t resonate with me.  I’m just plain bad at them, and get bored pretty fast.  MS announced a sequel, I’m not sure if it was something that we knew was coming or not, but I was surprised.  I’m sure it will be great, but I won’t play it.  This is another game trailer that doesn’t show you what the game play is like though, and that bothers me more with this than with anything else that I’ve talked about today.  There are multiple types of Halo games.  RTS, FPS, I’m sure there are some that look at this and have no idea that the original Halo Wars was a departure from the series norm.  These people might be confused by this trailer.  But I’ve gone on for long enough about non gameplay footage.

 

 

Specter of Torment the prequel to the fantastic Shovel Knight was ALL gameplay footage and it looks fantastic, there isn’t much to say here other than I can’t wait to play this, and I really need to get back to finishing the original.  Yacht Club Games totally nailed what it was like to play a game back on the SNES, and captured a kind of awesome humor that is definitely unique to their game.

 

 

Prey is a first person shooter that I don’t really know a whole lot about. I know the original Prey game had something to do with being a Native American in modern times captured by aliens.  I don’t feel like this is a continuation of that story, this feels different to me.  The trailer showed gameplay footage and it looked really cool, you could become innanimate objects to solve puzzles, which is very intereesting.  We’ll have to see where this goes.

 

 

Cliff Blizinsky the guy behind the Gears of War franchise surprised eveeryone earlier in the year (or was it last year) when he announced lawbrekers a new game that he’s been working on with his new studio.  The game looks pretty fun, very Overwatch-y.  The game is currently in Beta.  The graphics are great, but I personally don’t need more than one competitive shooter in my life so I’ll stick with Overwatch.

 

 

Bulletstorm is another first person shooter, this one from Gearbox Publishing.  The game comes out on April 7th, I guess if you pre-order the game you can play the whole game as Duke Nukem, I suppose I might care about that if it was 1997 or something, but Duke was a product of his time, and he just doesn't hold up for me. The game looks fast paced, and frantic.  I totally would have ignored it, but the idea that they had Vacation by the Go Gos playing during the trailer pulled me in.  It looks really fun, They announced it for Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4, but they didn’t mention Steam.  I won’t buy shooters for console, and I won’t buy anything from the Windows Store, so I hope it comes to Steam.

 

 

Rocket League is adding a new arena YAY!  Not much more to say about that.  It’s free.  If you don’t have that game, go buy it now, it is amazing and very fun to play in quick bursts or long sessions.

 

 

Dauntless is the last game trailer that I’ll discuss.  It is a free to play co-op Monster Hunter homage, for the PC, I would have ignored it as it shows no gameplay footage, but it has devs from BioWare and I love BioWare.  I just hope their monetization model doesn’t affect gameplay.  Please just have cosmetic stuff!  Please!!!

LEGO City Undercover is coming to the Switch (and elsewhere)

For those of you without a Wii U, there are a lot of games that you've missed out on over the years.  Most of them have been first party titles like Splatoon, or Mario Kart 8.  One amazing game that was exclusive to the Wii U was LEGO City Undercover.  LCU is basically GTA meets LEGO but you're a good guy.

I've never been a huge fan of the LEGO series.  I appreciate that they are well made, and often quite humorous. but overall I just find them to be dull.  Similarly I've never liked GTA either.  (Other than Vice City that music pulled me in)  I don't like the way they control, and the subject matter is always a bit racey for my taste.  I've got an 8 year old, and I try and keep my games pretty 8 year old friendly.  (Not all of them though).

Today WBGames announced that they are bringing LEGO City Undercover to the Switch.  Now even though I'm not a fan of LEGO games, or GTA there was something about LCU that clicked with me.  I didn't finish it but I had a lot of fun playing what I did.  The humor was spot on, and I like that they weren't trying to tie things into a known franchise.  I feel like it gave the writers of the game a lot more freedom to make some really hilarious moments happen.

In addition to The Switch  the game is also coming to the Xbox One and PlayStation4 as well as Steam.  If the Switch wasn't on that list I would probably be picking it up for the PC to play on Steam.  However now I have a bit of a dilemma.  Do I buy it for portability on the Switch, or on Steam where my library follows me from computer to computer forever.

Are you interested in LCU?  If so which platform?

Chasing down bad guys

Chasing down bad guys