Video Game Tuesday: An Amazing Community Project

Hey all I’m back with a more brief article than usual for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. It’s all about An Awesome Community Project!

What project?: Well user Aelrindyl on the Final Fantasy XIV subreddit had made a post asking for the game’s community to send in images and birthday wishes for the games director, Yoshida Naoki. They’d be professionally bound and printed and sent to him for his birthday. I sent in a submission myself, although I made a mistake on the email address so it didn’t get to Aelrindyl for the project. Nonetheless the book was over 250 pages of printed birthday wishes, thanks and many, many screenshots from the community. It was an awesome project and frankly I don’t remember anyone doing something as awesome as this for a game’s director.

Why not?: Most game directors tend to be reviled or tolerated at best, but Yoshida is universally well liked and is best known in the community by his nickname Yoshi-P. The time he gives the community and the humble and eager manner with which he deals with all issues is frankly amazing. He took a game that was universally disliked and remade it into one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world. Despite all that he still gives nearly monthly broadcast sessions he calls “Live Letters”. These Live Letters often touch on upcoming features for Final Fantasy XIV, or things that people are asking about. Are people upset with a certain game design choice? It’s most likely going to be discussed and explained in the next Live Letter.

So special shout out to Reddit user Aelrindyl on making such an awesome community project, here is the link to the thread where Aelrindyl relays the dev team’s thanks and messages after Yoshi-P got his birthday present. And once more a Happy Birthday to Yoshi-P!

Video Game Tuesday: What Makes Good Seasonal Events

the_rising_2015

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic many MMO players will recognize! It’s all about What Makes Good Seasonal Events!

Seasonal Events?: I mean stuff like Brewfest in World of Warcraft, or The Rising in Final Fantasy XIV. These events come up every year and celebrate either a real holiday or a game related one, Brewfest is WoW’s version of Oktoberfest, and The Rising is FFXIV: A Realm Reborn’s launch anniversary holiday.

Okay so what’s an example of a good Seasonal Event?: Last year’s The Rising was an amazing event that brought the players and developers closer together than any other in game event I’ve ever participated in. To give some context, I did the “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been” Achievement in WoW, twice (Switched mains right after Wrath launched.)  But more importantly it needs to allow spontaneous engagement and disengagement depending on the player. Having to wait to participate in the event sucks, and should be an open world thing. Not something locked behind a Matchmaking tool.

What’s an example of a bad Seasonal Event?: Sparrow Racing League from Destiny is a great example, to get anything useful out of the event, other than having fun, it took tons of races to unlock even decently relevant items and the dreaded RNG still might screw you over (I know it did for me!). Not only that, but SRL hasn’t returned since it’s one and only launch, despite constant requests by the community to reactivate it. Oh and it didn’t fulfill the above requirements, at all.

Here’s a list of my favorite in-game events: 1. The Rising, for reasons I linked above. 2. The Wrath of the Lich King Pre-launch event, aka The Zombie Plague (Yes it was a one time thing, but damn if it wasn’t some of the best fun I had in that game outside of ICC25H.) 3. Children’s Week, Because I loved to hear people complain about bringing the orphans into PvP for the achievement (Pro-tip: Do it on the very first day of the event, although I think they made it a Feat of Strength and it doesn’t count towards What a Long Strange Trip anymore.)

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! Are there any fun Seasonal Events you love? Leave a comment below!

 

Video Game Tuesday: Games That Make You Reflect

heavensward

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m doing a bit of reflection. It’s all about Games That Make You Reflect!

What do I mean “Reflect”?: Well I’m not talking about returning attacks or bouncing things back like Pong. I’m talking about games that make you really ponder about various things wether it be as simple as the story of a game or even as far as your own life.

Why am I talking about this?: Well with the most recent update to Final Fantasy XIV one major plot thread of the Heavensward Expansion came to a close. After completing the main story of this latest patch, a sidequest opens up. Doing the sidequest leads your character on a journey of reflection regarding their journey in Heavensward and all the various people you’ve met and adventures you had. It was very oddly reflective for an MMO, and while some people will complain that it’s merely a go and talk to various people quest, those people are completely missing the entire point.

What is the point?: It’s to take a step back and look at what has brought you to your current place in life. The entire quest lead me to think about how I got to where I am today, and it’s not less winding a journey than the one my character experienced in the game. I took Japanese in High School, a choice that ended up completely reviving my love of learning and leading me out of a really bad point in my life where I seriously hated myself and wanted to die. I also took the class Tech Support and Programing and learned that while I understood how to code, I lacked the creativity to make code myself. Later as a High School Senior I started to really write and found that I could enjoy a thing I thought I’d always hate, because my own handwriting is terrible I had always hated writing reports in school.

After graduating I chose to move to SoCal and attend an art school to learn how to make games, and learned all about how to use Photoshop, and 3D Studio Max and learned all about how to design games. It was a interesting period because while I enjoyed learning about it, my issues with my gross motor functions prevented me from successfully completing the most basic of art classes that required me to draw everything by hand. Further complicating the problem was that a mere 7 months after moving down to SoCal I learned that the school would cut a lot of various 3D Modeling classes, the main reason I was there. So I moved back to Oregon and transferred to the local branch of said Art School. There I found that they taught a completely different program, Maya, and that I had the same issue with modeling that I had with programming, the lack of creativity that allowed me to create something new.

However I still tried to learn and even took some Political Science courses. After having yet another run in with depression I transferred to the local university, and started learning Japanese again. Unfortunately for me I shouldn’t have chosen said university as the program there for Japanese was 35 years out of date, our text books talked about the USSR for god’s sake, and that their way of teaching was completely different from the way I had learned in High School. A few years pass and I decide to leave that university, then after taking another year to deal with yet another bout of severe depression, I started writing a blog about something I had a true passion for, Stories. Six months of uninterrupted daily posts later while I’m on vacation with my family I get an email about posting my blog posts onto a site called gameindustry.com. The rest is history.

So yes, I seriously enjoyed and appreciate what this simple quest did for me. I did all this reflection because of a single rather simple side-quest in an MMO. I even wrote a blog post on my thoughts about it.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! Are there any games that have made you have some serious self-reflection? Leave a comment below with the game and, if you feel like it, your own reflections.

Video Game Tuesday: Practice

nightstalker

Hi all to celebrate the release of Dark Souls III I’m covering a topic that should help any newcomers to the series, and will help in pretty much any game, for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. It’s all about Practice!

What do I mean by Practice?:I mean to repeatedly do something in order to learn how best to play for you. This will certainly come in handy in Dark Souls III, however it’ll also come in handy in any game. There are two main aspects to practicing that I’ll focus on. Muscle Memory and Spatial Memory.

Muscle Memory?: The process in which something becomes instinctually engrained in your subconscious to the point that you can repeatedly do something without thinking to hard. This works great for pretty much any game, and especially well in MMOs and Fighting Games. However to properly build-up Muscle Memory takes hours and hours of work. For example in MMOs like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV:Heavensward in order to properly build up muscle memory I’d spend hours whacking away at a training dummy in order to memorize instinctually my abilities the way I set them up. This is especially necessary for any damage dealing classes, as you tend to use abilities in rotations or priority lists. With Rotations it’s merely a process of remembering which buttons to hit in which order. It’s not as simple with priority lists, as you need to pay attention to certain things that occur to your character in order to determine when to use abilities. However it’s still good to memorize where the buttons are so you know without looking where that particular button you want is. Despite how much of a time consuming process this particular type of practice I find it’s still less than is required for Spatial Memory.

Really Spatial Memory?: Yes I find the process in which I personally memorize Spatial positions to be a much more time consuming and more involved process than Muscle Memory ever is. For me it’s all about repeatedly doing something until I can judge instinctually without conscious thought where to stand or where to go in order to successfully perform game mechanics. Spatial Memory is incredibly important for Action RPGs, MMOs, and not surprisingly Platformers. In fact the easiest form of spatial memory for me to memorize is where to go if it’s not a random order. I was the “Relic Runner” in my Destiny raid team for The Taken King, and I got to the point where I could start moving to where the next platform would be without it actually having formed already. It took incredible timing on the part of myself and of my team mates in order for them to be where I needed in the proper order in the time I needed. I eventually got the entire process from start to finish down to about 20 seconds consistently, however that took ridiculous amounts of practice for me to be able to do. It actually all stemmed from the Crota’s End raid where I was the swordbearer and had to get in and out to hit Crota without dieing. That particular encounter was eventually done consistently for only the normal difficulty, due to bugs and the inherent bullshit that was the gear system at the time I was never able to do it consistently for Hard mode. But to do it consistently I would load into the boss arena and practice jumping from floor, to rock to platform repeatedly. I did this for hours and hours while I listened to books in order to make it instinctual.

So what does this all mean?: If you keep practicing eventually you’ll be able to get stuff down to the point where you don’t need to think about how you move or what to use at what time and instead focus on other things like boss mechanics. If you want to beat Dark Souls games this is what you’ll need to do for every enemy and boss. It might be frustrating and boring, but it is a great skill to learn.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! Have fun in your gaming and hopefully this post will prove useful to those who intend to tackle Dark Souls III!

 

Video Game Tuesday: FFXIV vs P5000

sephirot

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering the stupidity that was the uproar over a piece of music last week. It’s all about FFXIV vs P5000!

What’s this all about?: Well last week Final Fantasy XIV had their patch 3.2 launch with a new boss fight, Sephirot (no, not the long white haired dude), and some random YouTuber thought that the second phase of the fight’s musical score sounded familiar. Well it turns out it did sound familiar to some song by a band I hadn’t ever heard about, nor do I even care about still, Powerman 5000. The band in question made inflammatory remarks on their Facebook page.  The game’s director Naoki Yoshida, Yoshi-P to players, responded the next day with the remarks that he had heard about the uproar here in the States and said flat out that the sound director had not copied it.

My take on it?: It’s utter bullshit. It might have sounded similar, however it also wasn’t copying the song in question and it sounded similar to every other song in that genre of music. Another thing that I’ll point out and I’ve done so before, is that Plagiarism is the basis for all artistic activities. No one reinvents the wheel unless they are beyond stupid, and using musical techniques that others have used before isn’t stealing from them. It’s a technique not an IP that you can copyright. Powerman 5000 has no right to even bitch about this, let alone even pursue legal action (which they’d lose).

That all being said I actually enjoyed the hell out of the boss fight in question, it’s quite fun and the music is enjoyable, but I’m not going to go downloading Powerman 5000 because it’s in the same genre, I’ve never heard about them prior to this.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday!

Sensate Saturday: For Sian Blake

yugiri

I really didn’t want to have two somber Sensate Saturday articles back to back. Unfortunately Life doesn’t give us that option always, so this week is in honor of Sian Blake.

Sian Blake and her two sons were found murdered in their home this week, and while I’d normally talk about Video Game related stories in my Tuesday column, the news broke on Thursday. I’m not going to say much, since so many other people will say it better and more eloquently than I ever can. But Sian Blake will be missed and Eorzea and many other places and stories will never be the same without her. Some notable works include EastEnders and voicing Yugiri Mistwalker in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward.

That’s it for this week’s Sensate Saturday, I hope to be covering something more jovial next week.

For those interested in the full story read here at the BBC.

Video Game Tuesday: The Best and Worst of 2015

nightstalker

Hi all this week for Video Game Tuesday I’m going to be looking back at the last year. It’s The Best and Worst of 2015!

The Worst:

Destiny: Taken King might have revitalized the game, but after months of PUDs prior to and then further PUDs after it’s release Bungie has shown time and again over the past year and 3 months that they can’t be trusted with anything. They consistently backpedal on issues like Patch Note inconsistencies and mess with unnecessary things while refusing to budge on their own stupid quest to achieve “Balance” while fucking up the game for the majority of the players. I’m sick of this shit, and so is most of the Destiny community. This coupled with the fact that real bugs that affect gameplay, hello “random death to landing funny” bug, take months or at this point over a year for the one I just mentioned, to get even acknowledged is pathetic and shows serious lack of staffing that Bungie shouldn’t have. Destiny has destroyed the company that brought us games like Marathon, Oni and Halo. It’s pathetic and shows lack of foresight by the leaders.

Launching Broken Games: Wow, I thought 2014 was bad for this with the release of the Master Chief Collection, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, and Destiny. But the crap that’s occurred with Batman Arkham Knight topped it all. The PC release was launched bugged and still has issues to this day, half a year later. Can’t we agree to stop launching shit that’s broken and take our time with making games and do it right the first time?

Konami: Boy did Konami shit all over the community with their near slavish work conditions and their handling of Hideo Kojima. I’m seriously disappointed in the company, nearly as much as I am with Bungie. Removing his name from the series he made and barring him with legal bullshit from accepting an award he earned for it is unacceptable and I refuse to buy a Konami game from now on.

The Best:

Final Fantasy XIV: I started playing this early this year after being fed up with Destiny and I’ve never regretted that decision. It’s got a real storyline with excellent plot, characters and enough stuff to do to last me a lifetime! Heavensward has only raised the bar of expectation for me and many others, with it’s storyline being some of the best we’ve ever seen from Square Enix, or Squaresoft for that matter. The gameplay is also pretty good, even on a PS4 using a controller.

Rocket League: This game came out of nowhere and has pretty much shown what a small team can make with a simple idea, some good programming, and artists. It’s probably the best small Indie game I’ve ever played and is the only PS+ free game that has stayed on my hard drive through the year since it was released via the service. It’s fun, simple and competitive. Gaming at it’s best.

Tales of Zestiria: I’ve gone on and on about how much I love this game, but despite it having a significantly smaller development team than any recent Final Fantasy game, it’s the best JRPG I’ve ever played. Also Rose is freaking awesome and I love her character. Naysayers can go twiddle their thumbs.

That’s it for this year’s Video Game Tuesday! I’ll see you all in 2016!