Category: Gaming


Story Time: Planetside 2

So, I promised a Planetside 2 article. Awhile ago, actually. But here’s the problem: every time I sit down to write one, it never comes out good. I just can’t get the nuances of game play down properly, or accurately describe how much fun base to base fighting is. So after thinking about it for a while… I’m just not going to do that. Instead, I’ll tell a simple little story about one random day where I was flying a Scythe and wound up having the time of my life.

So, it was the day after a big patch, and I was pretty eager to get some practice flying. I’ve always wanted to be a pilot, just for how sick the Scythe looks, but lacked a lot of certs for it and couldn’t afford a secondary missile pod. So when I finally got my pods, I decided enough was enough with the waiting. Slotted in a Scythe Spawn implant to cut the cooldown as low as I could and took off.

My first few attempts went pretty much like you’d imagine. I’m pretty sure there are a few Scythe-sized holes in the cliffs around the then-Vanu Warpgate, but eventually I got the hang of it. Mostly I’d just grab a Scythe and fly around Vanu air space as low as I could, having to dodge terrain and buildings for an hour or so until I felt comfortable flying. Then it was time for the real fun to begin. Dropped a marker over Zurvan and started making my way there.

Real combat was far, far more than what I had ever anticipated. Reavers and Mosquitos were prowling their own air space, and whenever one came close, flak would churn the air. I managed a few kills over the course of a couple hours, and lost an equal number of Scythes. But the real fight was just about to begin.

By now I was running out of Polymers to spawn more fighters, and we were starting to lose ground to the Terran Republic. Figuring it’d be my last one for a while, I grabbed a Scythe and went hunting. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the most delectable treat flying away into New Conglomerate space.

A Galaxy troop transport and Liberator gun ship, flying around without any escorts.
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Planetside 2 Stream

So, I know I promised another article on Planetside 2, but honestly I don’t see it coming yet. Written four different bloody ones, and each one was terrible and did nothing to really showcase what Planetside 2 is really about. Wracking my mind for a week to come up with something to give you guys to show how incredible the game can be when it finally hit me… why not stream it for a bit?

So I’ve been trying to get FFSplit and Planetside 2 to work properly over the past few days. I think I have it, but latency is still a problem when trying to dogfight. If I can, I’ll bring you guys aerial combat. If I can’t, then I’ll make up for it with more amour play on the ground. The stream will start at 3pm EST tomorrow and go on for a couple of hours over at http://www.twitch.tv/bloodyselene. Tune in if you want to know more about PS2!

I’ll try and keep an eye on chat to answer any questions, and if you guys enjoy it, then why not make it a weekly thing? Make sure to let me know. See you on the battlefield!

Review: Wanderlust: Rebirth

So, hell has semi-officially frozen over. Yes, it’s true. I’m doing an actual review. Kind of. Saying it right now; no, there will be no score at the end. It’s a retarded trend that is plaguing the industry that you can attach a numerical value to how much someone subjectively enjoyed a game. There is no objectivity to it. So don’t go in thinking I’m going to sum this all up with a number, because that’s not how I roll. There will be words though. Lots of words.  Second, this is mostly because Wanderlust happens to be a fairly short, enjoyable game that I’m able to do this. Don’t ask for reviews on other, bigger games unless you want the love-child of insanity and a college thesis. Right, we’re done with that, we can look at the game itself.

Gameplay:

Control is very simple, movement being WASD and then using the arrow keys to use abilities for three of the four playable classes. Each one has a fairly unique play style with a couple of different styles. If you’re sadistic or boring Alchemists and Warriors can just stand behind enemies and spam basic attacks to wrack up massive combos and give the various wildlife some serious lower-back problems. Warriors can spec in to tanking or just bludgeoning things to death. Alchemists can be the back-stabby rogues or use a variety of potions to blow-up and debuff enemies. Clerics have the hilarious ability to heal and damage with basically anything they do. Specializing for one or the other makes it better, of course, but it’s hilarious to see my friend’s Cleric who was built solely to heal our party through missions run around beating everything to death with the power of healing. And no, not just undead things. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen someone heal a bear to death.

I wish I could be that cool.

Special mention goes to the Elementalist, the mage with the most ridiculous gameplay of the four. Unlike the other three, the Elementalist can only ever have 2 spells active (used with Right/Left mouse instead of arrows, you have to aim spells), but every spell is composed of runes that have varying cooldowns and combinations. Fire can inflict Burn, which sets and enemies Frost resist to zero. Boulder is a line-shot that penetrates and hits everything in a line. Every element you can pick from has a summon-able pet once you put in enough points to that skill.
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The End

WARNING: Major spoilers for Wanderlust: Rebirth. First and only warning. Read at your own risk.

So a friend of mine recently got the four pack of this game and I got a copy of it (special thanks to ThirtyThree for the game), and I have to say it’s been… fairly decent. Balancing is a serious issue and the game suffers hard from Linear Warrior – Quadratic Wizard syndrome. But overall it’s not so bad, combat can be pretty fun and the continue system means you can pretty much brute-force your way to the end if you so desire, though it’ll be a grind since the levels won’t be awarding any points.

My allies are doing more damage than me. I’m a very sad wizard.

And that ending will utterly ruin the game. I’m not even joking, I went from elation to annoyance to outright seething in no time flat. So here was the run down, we were playing four-player co-op and made it all the way to the last level. Pretty fun all things considered, and the boss had some fun mechanics and was pretty well done. However, due to a mistake one of our dps died. Then I died because the ‘Critical!’ box is massive and I couldn’t see myself standing in the fire. You’d think two years of WoW would train to avoid it, but alas I died and we didn’t have the damage to kill the boss.
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The Appearance Problem

EDIT: Riot, you know how to set my heart aflutter. Just today had Diana announced. I’m not going to pretend to be less angry about Zyra because the next female champion is well armed and armored (but Zyra != Diana, and I will be ecstatic for her), however…  if this is a new initiative to bring out a broader range of characters, then I can accept where Zyra went (somewhat, still not entirely cohesive). I’m eagerly watching. I have high expectations because, in the end, you guys don’t let down. I know Riot can put out phenomenal quality work.

 

Let me preface this with the dual warnings of vehemence and yes, once again, we’re talking about Zyra. Specifically, how flat and boring the character is because Riot opted for the ‘eye-candy’ approach instead of fleshing out the character in a meaningful way on top of her mechanics and back-story. And as a further warning, there will probably be harsh language in this post for the first time ever. Why? This is why. This is a fucking problem and you should care. But we’re not going to talk about that first. First it’s the obvious problem of Zyra’s graphical design in-game.

Now I know this first part is probably going to ruffle some feathers, but it needs to be said so pay attention. Zyra is a boring and uninteresting character. Whats even worse than that is Zyra is thematically in-game a worse plant character than a damned skin for another character. Who? Blackthorn Morgana. Yes, you read that right, and it is completely sad. A recent skin for a very old champion is a better plant mage than the plant mage Riot was trying to make.

Now, that is a pretty bold statement, so let’s break it down a little. We’re going to mostly compare the two characters in thematic sense, both with spell details and character details. No one bring up the spells themselves, it’s very obvious Zyra wins out here, however it’s the subtle addition effects where she loses to Morgana. First we’re going to the more obvious visual effects on each character. Keep in mind from here on out, I’m only referring to in-game models, not the lore, design, or mechanics of the characters just yet.

Blackthorn Morgana, Riot Inc.

Blackthorn Morgana is an obvious elemental of Nature, specifically Fall or early Winter. This is evident all through the character as the eye rests on her most prominent features, her “dress” of roots and thorns, and the wings on her back. Depending on what team you spawn on, the wings can play an even greater visual component, but for now we’ll just assume you’re looking at her from the front. Her dress of roots is constantly shifting as Morgana moves around, especially on a subtle level as the roots that comprise it slither and shift slowly drives home the feeling of a living creature. Her ‘clothing’ isn’t merely there as a covering, it becomes part of the character and brings a holistic and living aspect to what once was mere cloth and metal. This is further exemplified by her idle animation, as the tips of the roots will constantly push under the soil, as if they were searching for a place to take root and draw sustenance from.
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Really Riot? This crap again?

Okay, I know I promised Planetside 2 today, but Riot officially released Zyra. And holy crap, “disappointment” doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about this. Zyra looked fantastic in the teaser Morello posted, but her main artwork looks utterly ridiculous and lazy. How bad is it? Well… we need to have a little talk, Riot. Just for a few minutes, and I promise it won’t hurt. Much. I bite sometimes. Sometimes. So sit down and flip a coin while I get started.

Zyra went from being a must-buy to an extreme disappointment in the span of about 12 seconds to me, but not just because she’s naked. Because I know Riot can do better than this. I know you can draw an attractive female character without having to rely on cheap booty-call images to get the point across. How do I know? Simple! Zyra’s own artwork!

Sex Appeal vs. Sexiness/Seduction:

Okay, so what’s the problem? First, the teaser photo Morello uploaded was far and away better than the whole thing. Here’s why- In the photo her entire body is unseen and Zyra’s face is obscured by her hair. This creates an alluring sense of mystery, of speculation that draws a viewer in. I wanted to know more about Zyra. I wanted to see what she looked like. Her “clothing” such as it was gave even more of a sense of appeal, in that it clearly wasn’t fabric or manmade. What kind of clothing style is it? Elegant? Detached? Sultry? The possibilities are endless and serve to increase the mystery about her.

See for yourself. This is as good as it’ll get.

Taking it a step further, her hand coupled with the flowering ‘clothing’ creates a distinct sense of ‘not-human’, a character that has a humanoid form without being ‘human in a funky dress’ because of the mysterious air about her that we just covered. THAT is sexy, that is seducing the viewer through teasing hints and subtle displays.

And all of it is ruined by Zyra’s “full” artwork. All of that mysteriousness is removed because, why should we care to speculate? We know exactly what she looks like now. You’ve removed the allure of the strange and unseen. Yes, her face is still obscured, but now it doesn’t matter. The mystic appearance to her “clothing” is stripped away, because she isn’t even wearing any now. So it’s a naked human female with some off views.

Wait, but didn’t I say she wasn’t human before, just given a humanoid form? Well yes! I did. But that illusion is shattered by showing her full (and almost completely naked) body. Shes lost almost all of the mysterious appeal, and that has removed the sense of other. I’ve seen the image throughout writing this and only just now discovered she has 2 sets of ‘ears.’ And that’s still not enough, the illusion of difference has been scattered. Zyra has turned into a naked human with odd bits of her, not something other that happens to look human.

Now, this is where the old, tired, and pointless phrase “but it’s not flesh! she’s not human!” comes into play. And I’m dismissing it now, because it doesn’t make any sense. You can say whatever you want, if the character doesn’t have the visuals to back it up, no one will care nor will they believe you. After seeing that Riot could tell me Zyra was made entirely of sentient cats that fused together like Voltron to form Zyra and it wouldn’t make any difference. The appearance of non-human has been removed and replaced by “human with weird bits.”

Look me in the eye and tell me she’s anything more than a naked woman.

So what am I getting at?

I’m not going to lie, at this point I feel like I’ve been insulted. Riot has the talent to make and display truly sensational characters across tons of dama… err… appeals. They have the capacity to do so much amazing work, it really does hurt to see a character fall back to the tired and borderline lazy approach of “let’s make a sexy champion. Draw her almost naked!”

Sexiness is not a problem. You can have sexy, sultry champions. Hell, look at Ahri, she’s a great example of allure and charm that’s presented perfectly. She doesn’t have to have two square inches of cloth covering her breasts and crotch like Janna to pull it off, she does that in appearance, speech, and subtle positions in artwork and animations. Drawing a character like that isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work to get everything to work, to display a truly seductive champion, and I think Riot nailed that with Ahri. I think Riot nailed with Zyra too, but went overboard and wound up dispelling most of the magic that was there.

So this is the point of it all, and pretty much a plea to Riot. Please, don’t fall back on cheap and easy “sex appeal” by just having a character (male or female!!) be mostly naked. Give them personality, have them be alive and grow. Plant the idea of a vibrant and living character in out minds and let them expand from that. If seduction and sexiness is supposed to be a part of Zyra, then make it work better than this. Have the character plant a seed of desire in the player.

I’m not going to say “Scrap it and start again!” or “make her wear X style/cothing!” to get my point across. But I am going to ask you keep this in mind in the future. Scantily clad women just for the sake of it are everywhere in the industry. Stand apart from that, rise up to the next level. If you want to make sexy, make it good and make it grow on us. Let those vines of desire dig deep into us as players, not shallow appeal by having more flesh than clothing. That’s all I’m asking. I know it sounds like a lot, but I know you can do it. You’re Riot, one of the best game design companies I’ve seen. Your product is one I’ve spent tons of time and effort in, and enjoy every single game. Go to the next level, make it better. Make it the best you can.

I really want to like Zyra. I really, really do. But I don’t think I can take another “sex appeal for the sake of it” character. Best of luck Riot, I’ll be waiting for the ability details and spotlight. Not to see if you’ve changed anything, but because Zyra intrigues me. She just does so far less than she had before.

Oh happy day!

Very short one today, mostly just so I can squee over how amazing Planetside 2 is shaping up to be. How amazing, you might ask? Well, besides looking at Totalbiscuit’s videos, we finally got to see something I’ve been very interested in. Care to guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint.

For those of you who don’t feel like clicking a link, let me just show you why today is one of those rare days where I get to be in a good mood:

NC Female

Looks good, right? It gets better.

TR Female

Really? Really? She looks like shes outfitted in military gear! You know, what the TR are famous for. Oh man, I’m so excited for this… wait, what about the Vanu?

VS Female

Nope, nope. I can’t stand it anymore. I have to have this game. Keep in mind this is only the Light Assault armor. There are more armor models for Infiltrators, Heavy Assault, etc. But with everything looking this good already? SOE, you stole my heart. I can’t stand not playing this game now! Very eagerly awaiting beta.

Oh boy. Oooh boy. I’ve been  waiting on this. The newest addition to League of Legends, provided by the one and only Meddler of Riot Games. I was eagerly awaiting this champion, because Meddler also made Ziggs. Dying to know if that was a one-off or if he’d keep up the same quality of work. And did he ever nail. Meddler’s now sitting with Xypherous a favorite designer, and that’s about the biggest compliment I can give. Now, with that out-of-the-way, let’s take a look at how Varus actually functions, and break down his playstyle.

Varus, The Arrow of Retribution:

(Passive) Living Vengeance: Varus gains attack speed for a short time after killing a target. Minion kills grant Varus 20% attack speed for 3 seconds. Champion kills or assists double this, giving Varus 40% attack speed for 6 seconds.

Piercing Arrow:  (first cast) Varus draws his bow back, charging up a powerful shot. Range and damage are increased as you charge, up to a cap. If the spell is held for too long, Piercing Arrow is cancelled and refunds half its mana cost. (second cast) After charging, Varus fires a long-range attack, dealing damage based on how long the skill was charging, up to a cap. This ability does diminishing damage the more targets it passes through.

Blighted Quiver (Passive ability): Varus’ arrows apply blight to any target hit, along with a small amount of bonus magic damage. Blight stacks up to three times, and can be proc’d by any of Varus’ other abilities, dealing a percentage of the target’s maximum health as magic damage for each stack of blight.

Hail of Arrows: Varus fires a hail of arrows at target location, desecrating the ground under it. Enemies on desecrated ground suffer a move speed penalty and receive 50% less healing.

(Ultimate) Chain of Corruption: Varus fires off a tendril of corruption, binding the first champion hit. This corruption will spread to any nearby enemy champions, rooting them in place if the tendril makes it to them. This effect can continue to spread until all no targets are available, but can not spread to the same champion more than once.

Varus excels at poking and long-range harassment, even more than most other carries. His Piercing Arrow ability has the single largest range of any non-ultimate skill shot when fully charged, and hits like an absolute truck at full charge. Varus has an insane amount of tricks up his sleeve, allowing for truly impressive play. With proper vision, Varus can easily snipe red or blue buff, dragon, or even Baron Nashor with a well placed Q, easily granting himself and his team a large advantage. Hail of Arrows applies a decently sized area that slows enemies and reduces healing, making it an essential skill against enemies with sustain, such as Soraka or Dr. Mundo. His ultimate can easily change a team fight, spreading out and binding an entire team if they clump together.
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Tera: The good!

Whoops. Seem to have forgotten to actually get this out last week. Let’s just blame Varus and call it a day. I’m seriously putting Meddler up with Xypherous as my two favorite designers. But that’s enough about angry-bow-man for a while, he has his own post coming up. Now it’s time for TERA! All the good things I’ve been waiting to say, it’s time to put to light.

First, and most obvious, is the combat. I know, I know, I harp on this all the time, but trust me, it truly is worth it. There is no such thing as tab-targetting or “spell-hit/accuracy” or whatever. If you want to hit it, you have to aim at it. There are a few auto-lock skills, but these are mostly in the realm of healing or AoE skills, like archer’s volley, oddly enough. Monsters actually take direct location into account, it’s very easy to dodge some attacks simply by moving away. This is easy to practice in the start zone, watch for the telegraphed attack and then walk back a few feet.  Unlike all it’ contemporaries, monsters in TERA will miss if they do not physically connect with you.

Aggression from players also carries positional based rewards. A lancer has the largest melee-attack range in the game, but at its longest you’ll only tap an opponent once. Attack when they’re in your face? The lance will proc up to three hits on that target. And any other target you hit, there is no “damage  cap” that reduces outgoing damage. If you can line up one-hundred minions (and not die), you’ll nail all of them for the same damage as any other, with any melee weapon. Caster’s have their attacks stop at one target, but gain powerful long-range abilities to compensate. There are literally endless combinations of play-styles, classes, and monsters to interact with in the game. No two players will ever approach a problem the same way, even if they are the same class! I’ve seen tank and damage lancers who are soloing, and those that augment different skills when dungeon running. The possibilities are endless.
Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I utterly adore the combat. What other game would I go out of my way to kill something just because I want to? Well, besides Monster Hunter, smart alec. Really, I would never do something like… this:


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TERA (belated) Tuesday: Archer Class

So this was delayed because of my little whinge on Tuesday, because that’s kind of my thing. I like picking apart games, especially ones that annoy me to figure out why. But now that I’ve got all that ou of my system, I can move back to enjoying the game. Seriously, despite all that I’m still playing the game happily. So next time will (finally) be all the things I enjoy about the game. But for now… the Archer!

Archer:
Role: Damage
Difficulty: [***]

The Archer is TERA’s answer to a long-range sniper class, although it’s a bit wonky. It does feel like you get to play a long-range sniper if you would so desire, but they still have the same basic attack range of the other classes. However, this is toyed with in an interesting way; quite a few of the Archer’s skills do increased damage the closer you are to the target. Which would make sense, being that you’re shooting straight ahead, so that arrow is as strong as it’ll ever be right as it leaves the bow. Alternatively, magic. Magic did it. For a good comparison, consider this: The Archer is the physical version of the Sorcerer, only where the Sorcerer has insane burst and crits, the Archer deals steady ad consistent damage.

Skill wise, Archers get a few fun things to play with. The classic “hail of arrows” and “piercing shot” are all here, and you get those pretty early on. But, do remember what I said before, most of your ranged skills do more damage the closer you are, so knowing how close to be to something is the key to perfect use of your skills. The targeting on Arrow Volley can be a little weird at times, but the skill is still alright for aoe-clearing. Like a certain other game I could name (or twelve), Archers in TERA also gain access to several traps to help out. These come in various flavors, ice-burst slow, big area fire, and so on, and can be fun to use and set up in a chain. Thankfully they also have a close-range smack with a chance to stun, giving you all the time you’ll need to hop away from the fight, rounding out their already fun skill kit.
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