Video Game Tuesday: Things to Improve in 2018 Edition

Happy New Year everyone! I hope all is going well and you’re enjoying the first day of this New Year as much as I will be, hopefully. I’m back with a couple topics that could really use some attention for this week’s Video Game Tuesday.

Transparency: Lots of games failed to do this and made the players do this on their own. When games start treating players like tools and walking cash cows, they need to be stopped. Destiny 2 has had repeated failures on this part, and frankly it’s insulting at this point. Having your game limit you and tell you it’s doing otherwise when it comes to something as basic as earning experience points is unacceptable. It’s exploitation of gamers and everyone knows it. Doesn’t matter how many PR sprinkles you put on it, it’s still a pile of horse shit.

Communication:  If you are running a game that is getting content updates, regularly or not (I’m looking at you Destiny and Bungie), there needs to be a lot more discussion into future plans so people can A. Look forward to it and B. Know that the developers aren’t just taking their money and running off. Final Fantasy XIV and it’s Dev Team headed by Naoki Yoshida is an often used example of mine of how to do this right. So again please take some freaking notes!

Loot Boxes: Let’s all agree that these need to follow some simple guidelines in the future. First way of doing this is that all things in Loot Boxes are cosmetic in nature. Nothing earned from a Loot Box affects gameplay at all, in any way, shape, or form.  The second way of doing this is the Fate Grand Order example, where it can affect gameplay, but you just have to re-roll for a decent 5 star servant that you want. However the kicker is that you can’t have any form of competitive modes AT ALL. Finally and this applies to both ways of doing this, it has to be potentially attainable through purely gameplay means, which means that if you grind or wait it out long enough you could potentially get what you want from these loot boxes.

Net Neutrality: I’m trying to make this horse into so fine a paste that it could be sipped in through a fancy twisty straw like those you see used by kids who just had dental surgery. This shit matters, please don’t let it die. And hey I’m not saying riots in the street are necessary, it might be justified but it’s not necessary. Check both of of my two links in the this paragraph to see some simple things you could do.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. Happy New Year!

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Video Game Tuesday: My Games of the Year 2017 Edition

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering my picks for my favorites of this year. It’s My Games of the Year 2017 Edition!

Best Gameplay: Tales of Berseria is by far my favorite JRPG of all time, it’s got an amazing combat system and an equally amazing story with a really kickass female lead who has tons of character depth. Berseria allowed even people with minor physical disabilities like myself to enjoy the hell out of the combat system while still feeling like you were growing in skill along with the characters growth in the game. By the time I was done playing this game I was at the hardest difficulty setting in the Post Game Dungeon beating the hell out of enemies with Mystic Artes Chains while doing tons of damage. Not many games allow for people to really grow into the combat system and still feel like it’s got depth enough to be interesting endlessly. Berseria captured that quality easily, and that’s why it’s getting my Best Gameplay award.

Best Story: This was a close one for me between Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood and Tales of Berseria. However as Berseria is it’s own complete game and FFXIV is somewhat episodic given it’s nature, I had to give the award to Berseria.  It was really close though.

Best Artwork: I might hate everything else about the game, but Destiny 2 was pretty freaking beautiful to look at. However that’s about the only good thing it had going for it. However tying this was Stormblood, it’s got a less realistic art style, but it’s no less beautiful and it had a hell of a lot more locations to explore.

Best Musical Score: Final Fantasy XIV has always impressed me with it’s amazing musical score done by the incredibly talented Masayoshi Soken. The only gripe I have is that the Stormblood OST hasn’t been released yet! I want to listen to the sounds of the Azim Steppes while I’m writing or enjoying the thrilling pace of Stormblood’s exquisite Primal fight themes while on a walk to the store. Needless to say that Stormblood impressed the hell out of me, and while the currently released music of Stormblood hasn’t exceeded the awesomeness that is the Sophia boss theme it’s equaled it many, many times.

Best Mobile Game: Fate/Grand Order wins this one. Sure it’s got some serious grinding going on, Christmas Stocking farming sucked, but the story and lack of any competitive mode made it the top Mobile Game for me. I don’t like PvP modes all that much, so the fact that F/GO doesn’t have one isn’t a bad thing.

Overall: This was a really close one for me, but Berseria beat out Stormblood based purely off the same fact that it’s not an MMO that has content patches. That enclosed experience was amazing, and while Stormblood is without doubt the most fun I’ve had playing a MMO including the days of Tarren Mill versus Southshore on a PvP server, it isn’t a fully enclosed experience. So Berseria wins this one again.

Runner up: Stormblood for reasons stated above.

A Distant Third: Fate/Grand Order, it’s at least upfront about what you’re getting into, unlike a certain space shooter…. even if you have shit luck at anything RNG like me.

GiN Helps a Fellow Gamer in Time of Need

Hey all I interrupt your regularly scheduled Video Game Tuesday with a quick post on something I got some major help with from my awesome colleagues at Game Industry News (GiN)!

What happened?: Well as people may or may not be aware I play Final Fantasy XIV, way too casually to enjoy anything harder than some bleeding edge Extreme Primal fights. When the FFXIV team decided to do their invite a friend back to play campaign, I did so for a friend of mine who I’ve been in the same Free Company (think a Guild from other games) for a few years now. My friend, who I’ll call Garn for the purposes of this article, was unable to play due to being disabled and losing their disability payments from the federal government. So I figured I’d get her back in for a few days so she could enjoy the new changes to the game and enjoy the yearly Halloween event. However I learned that she was still unable to receive disability until next summer at the earliest and that she might not live that long due to heart failure. I’ve been told that it’s not terminal at this point, and I’m praying it won’t be, but I knew she loved the game and that her time playing it allowed her to put her mind off her issues outside of gaming.

What did you do?: I decided to ask for some help from my Editor in contacting Square Enix’s PR department and we sent in an email to see if we could get a free copy of the Stormblood Expansion, which Garn can’t pay for due to medical bills, and if possible a 60 day subscription. That plan unfortunately fell through, but my awesome colleagues after learning about Garn’s story decided to help her out and pitched in to help purchase Stormblood. I ended up getting her a 60 day time card as well, but I definitely wouldn’t have been able to get the expansion as well myself. Now, as of the day of writing this post (November 15th), Garn has just finished getting all the latest Main Scenario quests done and is now thoroughly enjoying her time as a Level 70 Red Mage, which she tells me she loves to play. She also commented on how fun the latest 24 Man Raid was as well, which is a throwback to the Ivalice setting of Final Fantasy Tactics and XII.  So I wanted to formally and publicly thank the good folks at GiN for helping me help a friend in need.

We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled Video Game Tuesday next week, where I’ll probably be writing about my favorite game to bash on.

Video Game Tuesday: Why Ultimate Coil Should Be The Gold Standard

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m talking about the success of Final Fantasy XIV’s latest hardcore encounter. It’s Why Ultimate Coil Should Be The Gold Standard!

Ultimate Coil?: The Unending Coil of Bahamut (Ultimate) is the latest hardcore fight in Final Fantasy XIV. To even enter Ultimate Coil it requires the player to clear the Savage version of Omega Deltascape V4 (The Exdeath Fight). Plenty of players have yet to even clear that fight, and as of the time writing this post (9 days after the release of the encounter) there still hasn’t been a clear of Ultimate Coil. That being said there are no new mechanics to the encounter which features Twintania the boss of Turn 5, Nael the boss of Turn 9 and Bahamut the boss of Turn 13. It’s merely just incredibly unforgiving and hard. If you make a single mistake it almost assuredly will lead to a wipe. This is the type of content that should be present in every MMO out there, the type that is so hard to complete it takes people weeks or months to complete.

The actual fight is said to last for about 20 minutes in total, not terribly long compared to past Square Enix bosses like the 18 hour boss fight of XI’s Pandemonium Warden. People have yet to complete this fight and I find that fact incredibly amazing. There are no bullshit glitches (Crota I’m looking at you, you teleporting bastard), no unknown mechanics, just pure difficulty. The first group to clear this encounter will probably go down in gaming history as some of the best gamers in gaming history. They’ll be up there with the likes of Mionee, a World of Warcraft player who has been soloing the hardest encounters in the game by herself for years.

So Gold Standard?: Yea, if other developers can adopt this sort of fight to their own games it would mean a lot for the hardcore players. Imagine doing a boss fight in Destiny where you not only took on Oryx, but had to deal with Atheon and Crota with all their mechanics at the same time. It’d be insane, heartpounding and a ridiculous bragging point if you and your friends could actually complete such an encounter. Ultimate Coil has a gear reward that matches the same you’d get from V4 Savage, with just an extra materia slot, so for the most part it’s only there for bragging rights, but that isn’t a small thing.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! Do you want to have the hardcore boss fights in your games be like Ultimate Coil, where you just have to be nearly perfect in execution to succeed? Leave your answers in the comments below!

Edited on 11/4: The Unending Coil of Bahamut (Ultimate) was beaten 12 days and 2 hours after release on 11/4/2017.

Video Game Tuesday: What other MMOs can learn from FFXIV

This week for Video Game Tuesday is I’m covering a topic that sets apart my favorite MMO from all others. It’s all about What other MMOs can learn from FFXIV!

What is the biggest difference?: Well it’s really simple, Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) makes you feel like the hero of the story, and not just some passenger to an NPC’s story. No in Final Fantasy almost every NPC knows about you. You’ve killed gods, brought end to wars and taken down dragons. The NPCs you work with always acknowledge that you are the key figure in these fights, that without you none of it could have been possible.

Really?: World of Warcraft has had issues for years where no matter how powerful your character became, you were always not the main participant of the story. You as the player were never the hero in the story. Sure you might have taken down Nefarian, stopped C’Thun in Ahn’Qhiraj, killed Illidan and beaten Kiljaedan through the Sunwell. You might have brought down the Lich King and killed a dragon gone mad with power that tore apart the world, but you never really were the main character.

This problem is highlighted most with the Lich King encounter at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. You bring down Arthas all the way to 10% and boom you and your entire raid die. But Tirion Fordring, breaks from the ice that kept him out of the entire fight, breaks Frostmourne and deals the fatal blow to Arthas.  You the player on the other hand are shoved to the side until you get resurrected and hurry him along to death. There’s no thanks other than maybe a statue of the races of your faction in Dalaran if you killed him first on your server and some shiny weapons. That’s it, you get no real recognition. You may get a few NPCs thanking you, but in general you aren’t proclaimed the hero and lauded throughout the world. You were just there, helping Tirion while he slept in a block of ice until he decided to get out of it and finish the fight you were dealing with.

Final Fantasy XIV doesn’t have that problem and lots of MMOs, including not MMOs like Destiny, could do with learning from how Final Fantasy treats the player. You are treated as a hero, and even other players aren’t treated like you are by NPCs. It makes you feel special and gives further immersion into the world of Hydaelyn.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. What are your thought son the subject? Do you feel like the main character in MMOs, or just a minor actor compared to some NPC hero. Leave your comments below.

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!