Panels, Panels Everywhere: MAGFest 2015

Panels, Panels Everywhere: MAGFest 2015

And so much knowledge to take in.

MAGFest was not only a sell-out hit but it gave me more to think about than ever expected. What I thought would be one long round-up is going to be so much more because of how much it gave me to think about, not to mention some new writing ideas.

Now what could there have possibly be to think about in a place meant for congregating with other gamers for fun, frivolity, and fandom galore? Well, down in MAGES room, away from Settlers of Catan, DDR, and animal hats were two conference rooms with topical discussions, Q&As, and lectures. After a couple of bloated panels lead by personalities who I love but filled with non-content, I was looking for something more satisfying. And what turned from my one stint for a diversity panel turned into my hiding out there the entire weekend., the only downside being fewer Streetpasses.

I made it to four panels down there in between my large, spontaneous purchases in the marketplace, and I’m going to break them down here.

That Diversity Panel
With: James Portnow, Arthur Chu, Lindsay D. Chase, Luke Peterschmidt, Elisa Melendez, and Sujan Shrestha

This was the first panel I went to and one I did not expect to be filled with positivity. With the varying opinions having cropped up in the last year, I was afraid of the conversation–at least from the audience–sounding like a live-action Twitter account. But here I heard breath-taking stories about cultural divides, found out about thought-provoking games, and got to hear (and ask!) questions to real people with faces instead of the dark void of the Internet. To hear so many voices from people who care like I do about being heard, not just being loud. To have a blog where I have felt specifying my gender would somehow skew my reader’s opinions or my audience entirely, this felt refreshing.

When the panel is posted online, I will link to it on here since I sadly have poor notes after getting sucked into the discussion, but I do have a link to a wonderful game I heard about not only hear but at another Q&A:

http://blackwhitegame.tumblr.com

Black-White is a game where the only way to discern your allies from your enemies is their behavior. There is no predetermined enemy race, gender, or wardrobe, only your interactions with them. I haven’t had a chance to play it but plan to write about it when I do.

Now that’s it for panel coverage for the day, but stay tuned for more panels, indie game coverage, and pictures of my purchases!

Panels, Panels Everywhere

Panels, Panels Everywhere

And so much knowledge to take in.

MAGFest was not only a sell-out hit but it gave me more to think about than ever expected. What I thought would be one long round-up is going to be so much more because of how much it gave me to think about, not to mention some new writing ideas.

Now what could there have possibly be to think about in a place meant for congregating with other gamers for fun, frivolity, and fandom galore? Well, down in MAGES room, away from Settlers of Catan, DDR, and animal hats were two conference rooms with topical discussions, Q&As, and lectures. After a couple of bloated panels lead by personalities who I love but filled with non-content, I was looking for something more satisfying. And what turned from my one stint for a diversity panel turned into my hiding out there the entire weekend., the only downside being fewer Streetpasses.

I made it to four panels down there in between my large, spontaneous purchases in the marketplace, and I’m going to break them down here.

That Diversity Panel
With: James Portnow, Arthur Chu, Lindsay D. Chase, Luke Peterschmidt, Elisa Melendez, and Sujan Shrestha

This was the first panel I went to and one I did not expect to be filled with positivity. With the varying opinions having cropped up in the last year, I was afraid of the conversation–at least from the audience–sounding like a live-action Twitter account. But here I heard breath-taking stories about cultural divides, found out about thought-provoking games, and got to hear (and ask!) questions to real people with faces instead of the dark void of the Internet. To hear so many voices from people who care like I do about being heard, not just being loud. To have a blog where I have felt specifying my gender would somehow skew my reader’s opinions or my audience entirely, this felt refreshing.

When the panel is posted online, I will link to it on here since I sadly have poor notes after getting sucked into the discussion, but I do have a link to a wonderful game I heard about not only hear but at another Q&A:

http://blackwhitegame.tumblr.com

Black-White is a game where the only way to discern your allies from your enemies is their behavior. There is no predetermined enemy race, gender, or wardrobe, only your interactions with them. I haven’t had a chance to play it but plan to write about it when I do.

Now that’s it for panel coverage for the day, but stay tuned for more panels, indie game coverage, and pictures of my purchases!

MAGFest XIII!

MAGFest XIII!

So of course I still haven’t nailed down my new work schedule and how it should mesh with my new writing schedule, or as it is more accurately called, an excuse my intense procrastination.

But hey, I make the rules, right? Because cocky power abuse is the best way to gain a loyal following.

But now I write to say I will be absent for a great reason–MAGFest! I’ll be living it up in Maryland until Monday, gazing at Youtube stars from afar, listening to bands I may or may not have heard of, and letting my inner arts school child run free. If anyone is going to be there, hit me up! I’ll still be checking here regularly, so let me know!

Also I may be geared up for a Dragon Age LARP, so if you read through all of that nonsense, you deserve a little fun.

See you next week and stay tuned!

No-stall-gia, Part 2: Final Fantasy

No-stall-gia, Part 2: Final Fantasy

Or otherwise called, who needs cohesive and sequential posts?

I’ll start off with a confession: when it comes to gaming, I am an entitled U.S. citizen. Whenever another country makes a game, I get bitter when they don’t localize all of the content. How dare they feel the need to save money and and prioritize their distribution process?

I don’t know if a particular country came to mind for you, but I’m talking about Japan. With my love for JRPGS and every single thing I’ve played on my Vita (Persona 4 Golden may have received more quality time than my family this holiday season), I hate hearing about earlier local releases and abhor Japanese-exclusive content. I’m also too cheap for importing, so you could also call it a personal problem.

I also don’t know if a particular company came to mind, but Square Enix, I’m looking (typing?) at you.

I was introduced to the Final Fantasy series late in the game–Final Fantasy X, actually. It is the first time I remember a game ever having such an involved story. Despite its simplicity in message, I was playing through it not only blind to the story, but also any tropes that might have made it predictable. The moment I found out the pilgrimage’s true end goal, I dropped my PS2 controller on the ground. So often I played generic good-beats-evil games. Even with captivating characters, the only unpredictable parts of those games were what wacky thing they would say next (and some one-liners you could see a galaxy away).

Also new to me? The overwhelming amount of optional content. With the extra summons, celestial weapons, and monster hunting collect-a-thons, up to fifty hours of my first game file was spent flying around in the airship, procrastinating on that silly thing called my destiny.

With all of these sidequests, I have a hard time understand why they chose to cut out the biggest challenge in the game: the dark aeons. Here you get to battle summoners who sided with Yevon, convinced Yuna and the gang were the sacrificial lunatics. These are quite possibly one of the biggest challenges I have ever come across, and with the HD remake, the United States finally got to feel the pain.

I’ll be honest, I only beat a few of them before I ran out of useful places to grind, and they are long and painful without the right exploits and leveling. Here instead of having elemental weaknesses, elemental magic is completely useless. As you might have guessed, an all-out assault is also not an option. Here you need to always have Yuna for her healing and two others. The game guide I bought–I take this shit seriously–said that you have to plan from the start who you want to have fight the dark aeons so that you fill out their sphere grids the soonest as well as give them all special stat and ability boosts.

Now I’ll be honest–this is about it for the differences. If you are not as in love with the story, characters, and battle system the way I am, there isn’t much more replay value here than there is in the PS2 original. But with the addition of this one feature, it reshaped my progress in the game. Finally I could feel justified in favoring some characters over others in battle and not feel guilty for ignoring some of the ultimate weapon quests.

A poll to the masses–has anyone out there actually dodged the two hundred lightning bolts it takes to acquire Lulu’s weapon? If so, let me shower you with virtual gold, jewels, and loose women and men.

Overall I had just as much as I did every other time I’ve played this game, but it is also one of my absolute favorites, making me easy to please. Would only one or two additions be enough reason to replay a game you have a middling opinion of? Or even one you really love; I’m a fountain of curiosity tonight.

Now I only have one more game I really want to talk about, and it is the biggest difference for me, both in how I played it and the content added.

Also I will hopefully have more information on my upcoming weekend stream here, so that you can tune in. Hey, now I can say, “Stay tuned,” and mean it literally.

So, of course, stay tuned.

No-stall-gia, Part 2

No-stall-gia, Part 2

Or otherwise called, who needs cohesive and sequential posts?

I’ll start off with a confession: when it comes to gaming, I am an entitled U.S. citizen. Whenever another country makes a game, I get bitter when they don’t localize all of the content. How dare they feel the need to save money and and prioritize their distribution process?

I don’t know if a particular country came to mind for you, but I’m talking about Japan. With my love for JRPGS and every single thing I’ve played on my Vita (Persona 4 Golden may have received more quality time than my family this holiday season), I hate hearing about earlier local releases and abhor Japanese-exclusive content. I’m also too cheap for importing, so you could also call it a personal problem.

I also don’t know if a particular company came to mind, but Square Enix, I’m looking (typing?) at you.

I was introduced to the Final Fantasy series late in the game. My first one was also what I would call one of the last ones worth playing–Final Fantasy X. It is the first time I remember a game ever having such an involved story. Despite its simplicity in message, I was playing through it not only blind to the story, but also any tropes that might have made it predictable. The moment I found out the pilgrimage’s true end goal, I dropped my PS2 controller on the ground. So often I played generic good-beats-evil games. Even with captivating characters, the only unpredictable parts of those games were what wacky thing they would say next (and some one-liners you could see a galaxy away).

Also new to me? The overwhelming amount of optional content. With the extra summons, celestial weapons, and monster hunting collect-a-thons, up to fifty hours of my first game file was spent flying around in the airship, procrastinating on that silly thing called my destiny.

With all of these sidequests, I have a hard time understand why they chose to cut out the biggest challenge in the game: the dark aeons. Here you get to battle summoners who sided with Yevon, convinced Yuna and the gang were the sacrificial lunatics. These are quite possibly one of the biggest challenges I have ever come across, and with the HD remake, the United States finally got to feel the pain.

I’ll be honest, I only beat a few of them before I ran out of useful places to grind, and they are long and painful without the right exploits and leveling. Here instead of having elemental weaknesses, elemental magic is completely useless. As you might have guessed, an all-out assault is also not an option. Here you need to always have Yuna for her healing and two others. The game guide I bought–I take this shit seriously–said that you have to plan from the start who you want to have fight the dark aeons so that you fill out their sphere grids the soonest as well as give them all special stat and ability boosts.

Now I’ll be honest–this is about it for the differences. If you are not as in love with the story, characters, and battle system the way I am, there isn’t much more replay value here than there is in the PS2 original. But with the addition of this one feature, it reshaped my progress in the game. Finally I could feel justified in favoring some characters over others in battle and not feel guilty for ignoring some of the ultimate weapon quests.

A poll to the masses–has anyone out there actually dodged the two hundred lightning bolts it takes to acquire Lulu’s weapon? If so, let me shower you with virtual gold, jewels, and loose women and men.

Overall I had just as much as I did every other time I’ve played this game, but it is also one of my absolute favorites, making me easy to please. Would only one or two additions be enough reason to replay a game you have a middling opinion of? Or even one you really love; I’m a fountain of curiosity tonight.

Now I only have one more game I really want to talk about, and it is the biggest difference for me, both in how I played it and the content added.

Also I will hopefully have more information on my upcoming weekend stream here, so that you can tune in. Hey, now I can say, “Stay tuned,” and mean it literally.

So, of course, stay tuned.

My Year in Time Travel the Third: Sly Cooper

My Year in Time Travel the Third: Sly Cooper

Trophies and achievements are still a big motivator for me. Whether they are guaranteed through the story or require me to go out of my way with no in-game reward, I will usually at least try to get them all. Every time I’m hunting one down though, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have them on the games I played as a kid.

Lucky for me, Playstation is determined for me to know.

As you all know, I am a huge Sly Cooper fan. If you didn’t know, click here for my self-imposed credentials. As I might have also mentioned, I played through the HD collection this past summer. And even though pickpocketing vultures and sliding on jungle vines never gets old, it could have had new content.

In Sanzuru’s defense, they were not the original publishers. They got permission for Sucker Punch to put this collection together. That means they might not have been able to get away with making many changes. It also negates to opportunity for previously-unreleased content. But with how true they were to the source material with Thieves in Time, I wish they would have taken more creative liberties.

I mean, the game still had the awkward fourth-wall-breaking of Bentley asking if you want to put on the 3D glasses that came with the third game without any actual 3D mode. The smoother graphics and controls were excellent and appreciated by a longtime player, but Sanzuru didn’t even take advantage of the one system they had complete control over: trophies.

Roughly ninety percent of the trophies could be achieved just by completing the game from start to finish. Then the only extra trophies were completing the few in-game challenges and finding the collectibles. There are so many intricate platforming mechanics and minigames that they could have gotten more creative. Sly 3 at least did the work for them by creating its own challenges and time trials for Sanzuru to use, but this should have given them ideas for how to apply this concept to the previous two titles.

Now for another Sony-exclusive Playstation 2 platformer: the Ratchet and Clank games.

These are games I never played before the HD collection, so any differences I talk about were only figured out through roaming the Internet, not firsthand experience.

This series’ fresh take on extending gameplay makes you think Insomniac was psychic and able to see achievements coming down the pipeline years before they ever heard a peep. Each game has its own challenges which consist of time trials, collectibles, and odd tasks you would never think to do. In one game, you have to speed through a hoverboard race, destroy literally everything on a planet, and use your weapons to shoot down birds that you’d think were only part of  the scenery. Not all at the same time, of course, the variety is outstanding. Completing each of these gives you a skill point which you can spend on artwork and dressing up Ratchet in a tux.

Of course this game also translates to the modern trophy system more easily than Sly Cooper, and granted, none of them introduce new content. But for example, the first Sly game had some of the most painful speed runs I have ever encountered and yet you didn’t have to touch them to obtain the Platinum trophy–or a hundred percent if Sony’s lack of numbers is at all confusing to you. Here you have to get a majority of the skill points, weapons, and still have a billion bolts leftover.

Speaking of which, considering the best weapons are locked behind insane pay walls (one million bolts? Let me just pawn Clank instead. I’ll buy him back eventually.), it lets you experience all the game has to offer with New Game Plus which I enjoyed more than the first playthrough. Now I could breeze through the main gameplay and focus solely on the hidden secrets and the golden weapons.

Of course you all know my bias, meaning my high expectations for the Sly collection and next to none for Ratchet and Clank has affected my perspective. They are both great ways to experience old games, but I wish game developers would look at adding more content to these releases. Some have done that exceptionally well. That is at least localizing content previously exclusive to Japan. But again, more on that next time.

Stay tuned.

My Year in Time Travel the Third

My Year in Time Travel the Third

Trophies and achievements are still a big motivator for me. Whether they are guaranteed through the story or require me to go out of my way with no in-game reward, I will usually at least try to get them all. Every time I’m hunting one down though, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have them on the games I played as a kid.

Lucky for me, Playstation is determined for me to know.

As you all know, I am a huge Sly Cooper fan. If you didn’t know, click here for my self-imposed credentials. As I might have also mentioned, I played through the HD collection this past summer. And even though pickpocketing vultures and sliding on jungle vines never gets old, it could have had new content.

In Sanzuru’s defense, they were not the original publishers. They got permission for Sucker Punch to put this collection together. That means they might not have been able to get away with making many changes. It also negates to opportunity for previously-unreleased content. But with how true they were to the source material with Thieves in Time, I wish they would have taken more creative liberties.

I mean, the game still had the awkward fourth-wall-breaking of Bentley asking if you want to put on the 3D glasses that came with the third game without any actual 3D mode. The smoother graphics and controls were excellent and appreciated by a longtime player, but Sanzuru didn’t even take advantage of the one system they had complete control over: trophies.

Roughly ninety percent of the trophies could be achieved just by completing the game from start to finish. Then the only extra trophies were completing the few in-game challenges and finding the collectibles. There are so many intricate platforming mechanics and minigames that they could have gotten more creative. Sly 3 at least did the work for them by creating its own challenges and time trials for Sanzuru to use, but this should have given them ideas for how to apply this concept to the previous two titles.

Now for another Sony-exclusive Playstation 2 platformer: the Ratchet and Clank games.

These are games I never played before the HD collection, so any differences I talk about were only figured out through roaming the Internet, not firsthand experience.

This series’ fresh take on extending gameplay makes you think Insomniac was psychic and able to see achievements coming down the pipeline years before they ever heard a peep. Each game has its own challenges which consist of time trials, collectibles, and odd tasks you would never think to do. In one game, you have to speed through a hoverboard race, destroy literally everything on a planet, and use your weapons to shoot down birds that you’d think were only part of  the scenery. Not all at the same time, of course, the variety is outstanding. Completing each of these gives you a skill point which you can spend on artwork and dressing up Ratchet in a tux.

Of course this game also translates to the modern trophy system more easily than Sly Cooper, and granted, none of them introduce new content. But for example, the first Sly game had some of the most painful speed runs I have ever encountered and yet you didn’t have to touch them to obtain the Platinum trophy–or a hundred percent if Sony’s lack of numbers is at all confusing to you. Here you have to get a majority of the skill points, weapons, and still have a billion bolts leftover.

Speaking of which, considering the best weapons are locked behind insane pay walls (one million bolts? Let me just pawn Clank instead. I’ll buy him back eventually.), it lets you experience all the game has to offer with New Game Plus which I enjoyed more than the first playthrough. Now I could breeze through the main gameplay and focus solely on the hidden secrets and the golden weapons.

Of course you all know my bias, meaning my high expectations for the Sly collection and next to none for Ratchet and Clank has affected my perspective. They are both great ways to experience old games, but I wish game developers would look at adding more content to these releases. Some have done that exceptionally well. That is at least localizing content previously exclusive to Japan. But again, more on that next time.

Stay tuned.

A Much Needed Update

A Much Needed Update

So I am back from my extended holiday vacation (which might be obvious from the fact I’m writing this post). Ironically it was my job that was so busy during the holidays, leaving me with twelve-hour workdays and little sleep in between them. Training was stressful, but actually starting the position has been all-consuming.

This is why with the new year comes a new writing schedule. With my last position, if I wanted to sneakily write on company time, I was only causing myself extra work. Now if I waste any time, it puts my entire team behind and can’t do that in good conscience. This added with the aforementioned long hours, I am cutting back to writing twice a week. Think of it as turning the schedule inside out for now I will be writing on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting tomorrow. But I am also venturing out and trying something new during this season of change: streaming.

Each weekend—the exact time is yet to be determined—I will be doing a livestream on Twitch.tv of whatever PC game I’ve been playing. The idea of playing live is a little scary for me, but I’m looking forward to this plan. If you want to be awesome and take a preemptive strike and follow me, my username is heycrumbles because who needs universal branding when they already have an account?

More details on this will come later this week as I prepare for my first stream with words coming out of my mouth instead of my hands. Woah.

Stay tuned.

P.S. For sake of love for the idea, I’m still continuing my re-release posts. Expect one tomorrow on the HD Collections of Sly Cooper and Ratchet and Clank.