Video Game Tuesday: Graphical Mods

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic that get’s overlooked by most console gamers, myself included. It’s all about Graphical Mods!

PC MASTER RACE!: Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that before. It’s an old and tired shtick, and console gamers are pretty sick of it. There are downsides to being a console gamer, but there are also upsides. That being said, that’s a topic for another day. However there is one thing that warrants special mentioning. Graphical Improvement Mods.

Graphical Improvement Mods?: Yeah, so there are of course custom 3D model mods out there for all sorts of games, like Skryim or Grand Theft Auto. However this isn’t what I’m talking about, not exactly. I’m talking about mods that completely improve your entire visual experience of the whole game. Stuff like NaturalVision Remastered. Go check out the video I’ve linked. I’ll be waiting, and it’s definitely worth a view.

Done?: Great, so these sorts of mods are huge projects and I have immense respect and admiration for anyone who does this sort of work. It’s incredibly difficult and you rarely see something of such high quality like NaturalVision Remastered. Honestly the person behind the mod deserves to be hired like immediately into the industry. They are an amazing artist and coder who understands gaming engines and graphics to a degree that I can only wish I had even a tenth of their skill and knowledge. Of particular note is that the original NaturalVision mod aims to be as intensive as the base Grand Theft Auto V game. That’s an incredibly difficult goal, but they did it for the most part.

What goes into such a mod?: Well for a big part of it, it’s all about improving the textures to a much higher resolution and detail. That’s not an easy goal, not at all. You have to literally work on every single texture used in the entire game and improve them. That’s a massive undertaking by itself. However that’s not all, mods like NVR also tweak the physics and lighting systems and those are not any easier to deal with. The fact that the mod is attempting to do all of that and still be only as intensive as the base game is nothing short of a masterwork. Like seriously Rockstar, or any company with a decent reputation, you need to be trying to hire this modder.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. Are there any favorite graphical mods you like and I didn’t mention? Leave a comment below!

Video Game Tuesday: Playing to Win isn’t Always Fun

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m back with a topic that is about how being super serious isn’t always entertaining. It’s about how Playing to Win isn’t Always Fun!

What do you mean “Playing to Win”: Well I mean that pretty literally, sometimes it’s just more fun to just goof off in games, and in fact some games don’t have set objectives and are made purely for goofing off in.

Like what?: Well Minecraft for one is a perfect example of a game that’s made purely to goof off in, you can create amazing things in the game including working calculators, but it’s really mostly used to just goof off and make stuff. There’s a reason why Rooster Teeth has a weekly episode of their Let’s Play crew just playing Minecraft. It’s got pretty much endless potential to just mess around with friends.

What do you like?: I personally keep Grand Theft Auto V always installed on my PS4 just to load up on days where I’m stressed to just goof off online. I go around creating havoc and just having a blast destroying other players. Sure it’s not always a nice thing to do, and I tend to do it to people who aren’t doing special activities like the Motorcycle Club stuff, but just going around and goofing off is pretty fun.

So what about playing to win?: Well I tend to avoid the PvP aspects of games because I personally don’t find them much fun as people take it way too seriously sometimes. League of Legends is a pretty great example of people getting way too invested in pick up games. Now I’d understand if they were playing in ranked mode, but if they are just playing casually I’m not expecting someone to be perfect. PvE activities for me tend to be more fun as it involves either the plot, or just good old team work oriented gameplay with other players.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. What are some of your favorite games to just mess around in? Leave your answers in the comments below!

Video Game Tuesday: Character Customization


This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic that is a bit contentious. It’s Character Customization!

Character Customization?: Yes, the ability to change your player character’s appearance either during creation or later in the game. To make yourself look unique, or like a famous person, or yourself, or just plain ridiculous.

Give me examples of good customization!: Well there’s always MMOs, with more recent ones getting some pretty awesome character creation abilities. Final Fantasy XIV has a fairly large character customization feature, and you can even go back and change some of it later on. Other games like the Elder Scrolls games have always had a pretty good customization ability.

Some bad examples?: Earlier MMOs had some okay character creation screens, but they limited a lot of options. For example, World of Warcraft had an okay system, but frankly every race choice was limited to a single height, no options to change height were available. They said it was due to PvP limitations, but frankly I don’t know if that’s an okay response in todays market. I’m leaning towards no, but I’m not certain on that. It was certainly useful to be able to call out “Kill Undead Mage” in flag room in Warsong Gulch for example.  No one would get confused about not killing the giant Tauren Warrior instead of that smaller and skinnier Undead Mage. An example of a bad single player character customization are examples like Sword Art Online Lost Song, which had such a terrible character customization system that it might as well have been removed to allow for something more useful.

Variety: I personally think having a great variety of options is always great, but some people find it overwhelming, while others love spending hours upon hours making the “perfect” character for themselves. Personally I’ll spend a bit of time on it, but if it gets past the 15 minute mark, I’ll start to hurry it up.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday! What are some of your favorite character customization in games? How long do you typically spend in character customization? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Video Game Tuesday: GTA 5 vs. Watch_Dogs, A Study in Design


This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering the differences between Grand Theft Auto 5 and Watch_Dogs and what makes one super successful in the long run and the other not so much.

GTA V vs Watch_Dog’s Landmass: First the world of GTA V is probably bigger, if in no other dimension than in the Z axis which is sadly miniscule in Watch_Dogs. In GTA you don’t just have the island of San Andreas to drive around or boat around. You can swim under water, and more importantly fly through the air. Want to get on that really tall building to have a look at the cityscape? You can do that easily by taking a helicopter or just jumping out of a plane and parachuting down. You can’t do that in Watch_Dogs and while you could access certain rooftops easily by climbing I feel that it would’ve been in Ubisofts best interest to make this game a modern Assassin’s Creed and allow us to climb up any building. Who didn’t want to get on top of the Sears Tower and just look out at the city? (yes it is called something else now, but I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment.) Winner: GTA V

The “Livelyness” Aspect: I would’ve said that Watch_Dogs had the more lively city, at least on the current gen console systems, but then Rockstar pulled out their trump card and remastered the game they just released a year before and put it out on the same systems. Not only did San Andreas now feel much more alive than Watch_Dogs ever did, but there was so many more people on screen than before.  Winner: GTA V

Storyline: It’s not even a close contest. Watch_Dog’s might have had some of the best writers in the industry working on it, but the fact that Aiden felt and played like a less neat Batman was just disappointing. In contrast GTA V has three main characters that are all varied and entertaining, from the younger Franklin to the ever psychotic Trevor. I’m not even going to touch upon the huge amount of side characters that GTA has over Watch_Dogs. Winner: GTA V

Gameplay: I would’ve liked Watch_Dogs a hell of a lot more if the cars didn’t drive like a piece of soap on a wet floor. The fact that I had to resort to using a motorcycle for pretty much the entire game sucked. Not only that, but there weren’t any NPC’s driving them, which when you were invaded by a less skilled player you could easily tell where he/she was. Sure he could get away from you a lot faster, but that doesn’t matter as it would count as his loss as long as you found him. That being said the invasion aspect of Watch_Dogs was easily one of my favorite new systems I’ve used in a game in years. I loved hacking other players and seeing them scramble around to find me while I hid right under their noses. I even got to the top percentile of the player base in invasions and tailing. Winner: GTA V

Customization: Again not even a close contest, GTA had you able to customize not only your clothes but choose completely different outfits for each character and change their hairstyle and add tattoos if you so desired. Not only this, but you could customize your vehicles. Winner: GTA V

Multiplayer: Like I mentioned above the invasion system of the game was easily one of my favorite systems, but that was only two game modes and the others were sadly lacking in depth. Racing was always a pain in the butt due to the crap driving system, and the Team Objective mode was also impacted by that. GTA on the other hand has been regularly updated with new content, and that’s not even counting the creation system where you can make your own maps for each game type, plus the online lobby system in the remastered versions is 30 players, and that may even be bigger in the upcoming PC version. Winner: GTA V

Graphics: Hands down not even a contest. It’s GTA V and this is prior to the 4k resolution that the PC game will have. The 2012 Watch_Dogs looked amazing, but the full game didn’t live up to those standards. Winner: GTA V

Sidequests: The sidequests in GTA are just more interesting than any in Watch_Dogs, and that’s a pity because if I had to pick only one sidequest in each game I’d say that Watch_Dogs had the best sidequest with the ctOS server stations around the city those were lots of fun to do. Unfortunately those weren’t repeatable and I don’t feel like replaying the game to do them again. Winner: GTA V

Overall: Watch_Dogs had some really interesting systems in place, but they weren’t expanded upon enough to beat the sheer amount of content that GTA V has at it’s disposal. I love to see players run around looking for me, but I can only do that so many times before it get’s boring or too easy. Variety is the spice of life and Watch_Dogs had no spice.  Clear Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5!

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