A Look Back Review: The Order 1886

A Look Back Review: The Order 1886

In a World of Monsters and Men, the Real Terror is QuickTime

Back in 2015, studio Ready At Dawn decided to grace us with a cinematically beautiful but flawed game The Order 1886. Teased to be a monster fighting game in which a secret society in London went out and saved the unsuspecting world many times over. However, this was a whole bait and switch, because what we ended up with was a mediocre shooter, taking down mainly rebel humans who are fighting against current society with maybe a total of 7-10 half-breed werewolves.

This wouldn’t be such a problem if it hadn’t been shown off in all the trailers as being a sort of Van Helsing esque organization hunting down werewolves and kicking monsters asses and taking names. Yet the spots that were released were pure thriller vibe where the werewolves were constantly on the offensive and you and a group of NPCs had to hold your own. The game doesn’t even try to instill that sort of terror into you when you play, from the beginning it is slow, cinematic, and focused solely on bland shooting against humans. You know, except for the prologue, that is simply the game beating itself up early because it knows it messed up.

The Combat is… Meh

What makes a basic shooter?

  1. Cover Shooting
  2. Some Sort of Melee feature
  3. At least 4-6 different types of guns (each with random variations)
  4. Stealth sections
  5. Shooting from the Hip

The Order has this in spades, that isn’t exactly horrible but it can be depending on execution. With that, I can safely say that The Order doesn’t reach beyond its means, it is a standard shooter with just enough flaws to keep it from being anything better than bland. The melee is a quicktime button press and you have to be close enough for the prompt to show up to be able to do it, where stealth kills force you to time the attacks with the same type of button prompt. These prompts, in stealth mode, result in instant death by the guards you’re taking down, this also includes you getting spotted from halfway across a courtyard covered in bushes.

Where it shines are the gun variations, from rifles, pistols, and shotguns to interesting inventions made by the one and only Nikola Tesla as a young man. The weapons he hands you come in the electronic shock type rifles, Thermite Guns in which you ignite thermite when you launch a flare, as well as grenade and rocket launchers. Each of the generic weapon types also has a handful of different variations, though sometimes the differences are really hard to spot, leading to some pretty bland weapon cycling.

It’s as basic as you can get with a shooter and yet it still manages to feel bland and uninspired. The science weapons feel interesting till you use all the ammo and have to switch back to standard weapons.

Though that’s the whole feel The Order has, it feels like it could be something fantastic but somehow falls short. The best example sits on the overall graphical power that it holds.

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The Two Feelings I felt while playing this game

Beautiful Looking But Hard To Look At

The Order is gorgeous in all aspects, I can’t say enough how amazing it looks. It’s cinematically impressive, pushing the bounds of how games that early in the console cycle. They even went so far as to force a wide screen theater mode and put the black bars on both the bottom and top of the screen (which can truly be irritating).

It felt like Uncharted levels of beauty that not many companies have been able to implement into even current gen titles. And if any of those paying attention to this whole thing, this game was made in 2015. Every aspect of the game was stunning, well designed, no true flaws other than the black bars and the somewhat smog effect that seemed to cloud most areas in the game.

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Somehow, Gray can see far away what we can’t see close up

Even though it was without major flaws, something that did manage to take away from one of the biggest highlights of this game was the forced inspection mechanic. While you are forced to slowly walk around most of the levels when you’re not shooting people, you will come across random items that adds partial background info (which most of the time you’ll easily ignore what they say or see any real meaning in them). You’ll be tasked to pick them up and rotate them around in your hand with no real rhyme or reason. Most of these can be skipped, unless you want to platinum the game then you kinda have to, but the ones you’re forced to do have no meaning, just trying to show off what details they worked super hard to fit in.

When you get handed new weapons, they force inspection to imitate you inspecting an actual gun with the ammo and and the slide works. It also kind of does the inspection deal when having to overpower terminals, but it is really just a timing section. And unfortunately this just kills the pace of the game and ruins the absolute beauty of The Order. Having to sit still and turn junk around in your hand for a big portion of the game just makes me want to scream, and only takes away from something that really made the game shine.

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Touching in inappropriate places, Sackboy knows this all too well.

Well that and the fact that most the conversations in the game are really stiff and you can even notice the other characters feel uncomfortable. The writing seems to be coherent in most places, like conversations going on between characters in cut scenese and even NPCs in the background have decent dialogue marred by weird repetition if you move forward just a little bit further ahead. However in a handful of scenes, the conversations between characters are cut short, making everyone feel awkward, and you can read it on their faces. What makes it more awkward is you can’t skip cut scenes like that, which is a bummer when you know the scene isn’t going anywhere at all.

The True Monsters

The gimmick of QuickTime Events have been around for a long time, stretching as far back as the 1980’s, becoming more popular in late 90’s and early 00’s. Some of the games associated with QTE would have to be Shenmue and Resident Evil 4. Most of those games pulled off quicktime events in such a decent fashion (even though some of RE4 caught you off guard because they were seamless with the cut scenes).

This brief history lesson was easy to setup my horrible attack on the asinine amount of QTE in this game is RIDICULOUS! It’s pretty much integral in progressing in the game. From the opening level, you have to mash buttons, time slowed down button presses, or move down directional sticks to grab weapons, punch someone, or dodge an attack. To say this game had a combat system would be lying, it has a QT system outside of gunfights and even then during stealth missions it tries to leak in to gunplay.

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The True Title of The Game

And it wouldn’t be so horrible if done properly, but it isn’t! It is just awful, it’s done almost every five minutes, it is not needed and breaks up how the story and action flows, and it adds a horrible grainy filter to simulate in their own way ‘time distorting’. It just breaks everything that is good or could have been good about The Order. If there was anything to be saved from this game, it was crushed by QTE.

What makes it worse is that the 2, count em, 2 boss fights are nothing but carbon copy QTE fests where you dodge and strike. Nothing screams doomed for failure than your final boss being a QTE.

Coming To Order

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The Other  Council Members Debating

With everything about this game coming to a head, it’s time to put The Order 1886 to the Council’s vote. With such a beautiful looking game with mediocre shooting combat, pared with forced observation and limited exploration in what could have been an expansive world, this Look Back seems to be not worth the peak over the shoulder.

The best about it was it looked great and had passable but overdone combat, with a story that was there but left by the wayside. The things that killed it was the ridiculously overused QTE mechanic, forcing you to examine objects on end for no reason, and a horrible short play time, as well as a slow moving pace when you’re not firing on enemies.

The Order 1886 felt, like many who came before me said, a giant prologue to a much bigger game. The ending felt like there should have been more to it, as if we missed something along the way and possibly a large portion of the game was cut due to time constraints. 6 hours to finish the story (closer to 7 if you want to Platinum the game) and so much going wrong for it, make the things that went right just didn’t shine bright enough.

Postives:

  • Graphically Impressive
  • The Environment Is immersive
  • Gun Play Passable and sometimes Fun

Negatives:

  • QTE Bogs Down Everything
  • Story Bait and Switch
  • Horribly Slow/Sluggish
  • Incredibly Short (6 Hours)

Looking Back I’d say The Order 1886 should get a 5 out of 10

Honestly I’d go lower but I can’t fault a 2 year old game that tried hard and made the best of a bad situation.

 

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ThanksGaming: A Thoughtful Reflection on 2017

ThanksGaming: A Thoughtful Reflection on 2017

Holy Shit, It’s been almost a month!

A whole month of procrastinating. A whole month of medical issues. A whole month of adjusting to new work schedules. A. Whole. MONTH.

I have had one hell of a time adjusting to a whole lot of bullshit during this past month. I can’t begin to apologize to everyone who has ever read my posts. I have been so close to writing.. well anything at all but something came up and I found myself either fast asleep, in horrible pain, or just to frustrated to write anything coherent.

In order to make up for the lack of content, I decided I would try to satiate some kind of reader interest by doing a Thanksgiving special of sorts, and also let you know what and when then next article will be up to read (psst it might been sooner than a month!).

What Being Thankful Means

The word ‘Thankful’ gets passed around a lot during this month and the month to come, with a holiday revolving solely around the idea of being thankful. But what does it mean to be thankful?

Is it just saying thank you for anything to anyone who does something remotely nice?

Or is it being appreciative towards the things you are given, the blessings in your life, and the people who you are close to?

I’ll go with all of the above, because in all honesty, it’s not only about respecting and appreciating things in your life, but also expressing thanks where it is due. Letting people know you appreciate them/ thank them for all they do is an important part of the process of growing and helping others keep act kind/helpful.

Video Games Deserve Thanks Too

As weird of a statement as that may be for some, there are plenty of reasons why we should be appreciative of what video games and their devs bring to our homes.

They give us the ability to go on adventures on far away worlds, without making us leave ours. They give us a sense of badassery that we may or may not be physically inclined to do normally. The can give hope, inspire others to do great and kind things, they can even help people cope with major illnesses.

The games and the creators behind them make all this possible for gamers in need or just those who want to relax after a hard day. Developers, voice actors, project coordinators, animators, audio masters, everyone involved deserves a huge thank you for helping you to experience all these amazing things.

Video games pretty much raised me in my early years and helped support me even now when I have a rough day at work or need a distraction from my messed up knee. I owe them a huge wave of Thanks and so much more.

To all developers and anyone associated with video games in any capacity, THANK YOU. I appreciate at it is that you do and have done for me!

What’s Next?

A continual run of background music with repeated “thank you”s should be playing in the background for all those people who deserve it.

Now that I’ve expressed my gratitude for those who deserve it in the gaming industry, in other facets of life there are plenty of people who deserve thanks as well, but right now is not the spot for that. What it is a spot for is the next article and when it will be coming out. I recently just finished The Order: 1886 about as quickly as everybody warned me I would. I’ve been tinkering with a new review system, a review system titled “A Look Back” where I obviously review older games (it can stretch back to retro games if I get the chance).

Usually I don’t get to afford these games when they come out, only able to get them on sale, or when income tax comes rolling in and even after that, it’s no guarantee I can play them to completion when I have zero time. Hence where my look back reviews will periodically come in. When I finally finish up a game and have taken enough notes, I can write up a LBR on the weekend after. Or on holidays, which will be the case with The Order. 

So keep an eye out for that later this weekend, after I roll over from the food coma from the coming festivities.

For now, I just want to say to all those reading, Happy Thanksgiving and hope you and your loved ones enjoy your holiday! 

 

My Top 5 Video Game Creepypasta

My Top 5 Video Game Creepypasta

Horror/Paranormal Media Has Always Had A Deep Impact On People

Sometimes the effect is more prominent in some rather than others. I was recently scrolling through my Facebook feed, trying to do my best to find some scrap of video game news to write an article on this weekend, when I stumbled across a weird report about a horror movie, Annabelle: Creation. Apparently a woman in Brazil, while watching the horror flick, starting to act weird around what is apparently the scariest part of the movie. (I wouldn’t know, and never will as I am not planning on watching this movie about a haunted doll. Me and paranormal stuff is iffy at best). Her friends said around that scene, she began acting ‘strange’ and then after the movie, she started screaming and punching herself while throwing herself on the ground. A bystander filmed her screaming on the ground and coughing uncontrollably, but no punching is seen.

While my wife thinks she is doing anything for attention, but I don’t concur, at least I don’t think the 20 year old woman is just seeking attention by beating the shit out of herself. Some people might do self abuse to gain attention, I’ve met a few in my life and have subsequently wondered aloud “Why the hell would you do that?!” That aside, I know from experience that psychological horror, the terrifying levels of fear layered in most games seeking to make gamers wished they’d worn their brown paints is truly effective. Even VR games right now are borderline heart attack inducing, the Resident Evil VII demo had me losing my shit, but I also got freaked out by my own virtual shoulders but that’s a story for another time.

That’s the powerful effect of media these days, it cause people to experience super heightened states of terror, causing fits, screaming, at base levels, and even at more historical levels, the merging of reality and fiction by seeing or hearing things from the game in your everyday life. Many articles have been written about how horror games effect the brain, both for the good and the bad, and I can’t find a official word or diagnosis for what I experience when I continually get cold chills and get super paranoid about what lye in wait for me. Maybe just increased paranoia for me. Who knows.

Regardless this sparked within me the idea to post up a list of some video game creepypasta, you know that weirdly colored noodle dish that your mom makes, and you’re almost certain she isn’t using Ragu but human blood for the sauce but never want to call her on it? Yeah I would have liked to do a more thought out topic this week but I’m the process of moving and dealing with a whole hell of a lot of personal issues so in depth research on any of the topics I want to touch is super difficult to do with NOOOO time to spare. So I’ll list behind my Top 5 more interesting Creepypastas about video games while giving briefest descriptions about them. Some of these get creepier at night, but most we know are just fiction. Still has a weird effect on my brain but I can’t figure out why that is. Maybe I’m fear intolerant, if that is indeed a thing. Anyway Let’s move on!

Polybius

5. Polybius

While this is one of the oldest and more commonly covered story of the Arcade cabinet that was implemented by the government, and caused psychological effects like insomnia, the need to play it over and over again (addiction), and in many worst case scenarios, suicide. The story was always said to be placed in a local arcade in Portland, everyday men in black (not Will Smith unfortunately) came in, collected a data read out from the machine and leave. Players who experienced the night terrors, the headaches, and so on would, as mentioned, either commit suicide, or, as the creepypasta wiki states, quit playing video games all together. That part doesn’t make sense to me and is rather new information to me. But the really interesting thing is that about 5 years ago, YouTuber MatPat of The Game Theorists posted a theory video talking about it and many shady government activities that could have feasibly been tied to the idea of this “mind controlling” video game. I’ll post the video below for a reference if you’d like to get your collective conspiracy theories in order on this one.

You can read the basics on this here and see the weird but strangely horrifying extension of it here

4. Fallout 3: Numbers Station

This one is new to me, but has some pings of deja vu, in a way that maybe I’ve heard it before but I for some reason or another blocked it in my mind. I wouldn’t know why, it’s not even that terrifying.

So the idea is that in Fallout 3 (one of my all time favorite games btw) has an area, basically have to be in a very specific spot to pick up this radio signal. This radio signal is hosted by Three Dog, or what some people speculate is his voice actor Erik Dellums not in character repeating a set of numbers, always a string of different and seemingly random number followed by sets of Morse code. After years of speculating, people translated the code and found relationships to the numbers corresponding in dates, some or most being in our future.

Some of the decoded messages were:

“The Queen has died today. The world mourns, as on days like these, we are all Brits.” 4:2 March 19th, 2014.

“Have you watched my YouTube video yet, I uploaded myself kicking bums in the nuts.” 24:16 December 24th, 2012.

“I can’t believe Britney’s actually won an Oscar!” 21:33 February 27th, 2023.

“I can’t believe they’ve actually done it. Not long left. They were warned, but they just had to keep pushing the boundaries of science. The noise. I can’t take the noise anymore. And the light, dear God! The Universe is slowly unraveling around us. I’m not going to wait for death. I have a pistol in the attic.”

The only one that got me feeling terrified was the last one, but I get the sense I’ve heard this before. Again I feel this weird sense of deja vu but I included this one because of the weird prophecies that were listed and coming from the Fallout Universe. Better than the creepypasta about Novocaine in air vents playing out the events of the beginning of Fallout 3, where they claim it’s just a hallucination. I also couldn’t find a good, clear auido recording of this GNR Number station, so if anyone can find it where I can actually tell it’s Three Dog. Let me know. Read the story here

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3.  Jvk1166z.esp

This Morrowind mod seems to be popular and generally the overall popular stuff I tend to avoid because… well is my nature to hate what is popular. Sue me. Regardless while reading this one, I was pretty well creeped out. I always have this weird feeling when the games can actually bring the real world into the virtual, in this case where the game brings the real world skyline in. This story is basically this mod prevents you from finishing the games original main story as all quest givers are dead. Most the time the NPCs will look up into the nights sky and repeat “Watch the Skies”. A new main quest is added in, which also added in a new character not seen in the game before. Basic stuff of creepypastas, right?

Well as the players go on this new quest, heading to a place called the Citadel, this new enemy is constantly following you, dubbed The Assassin, you will constantly lose health, and if you sit around to long, you’ll catch glimpses of this guy, before he screams loudly at you and disappears. As you progress, the game grows visibly darker, the NPCs will move from the towns to the caves causing you to not be able to fast travel their locations. Most of them will stop talking at all, and eventually you’ll see skittering NPCs in the corners of you vision but the more you move towards them, they move away. The kicker is the skyline, as I mentioned, some how took the mapping of the night sky from our world from 2004, and would progress in in game time.

This pasta mentions that their is some door and the writers friend said he still hadn’t seen the door open but had some vivid dream within a dream about the game. They were told they were soon to see the door open. Then, as all creepypasta stories end, the friend was never heard from again! And the call came from inside the house! And He had a hook for a hand!!!

Check out the full story here!!!

WARNING: These next 2 hold sensitive material, even for just being creepypastas. You’ve been Warned.

merrywood

2. Escape from Merrywood

I was scrolling through the titles of these pastas and I was drawn to this one, because it seemed like this random sunshiney rainbow experience that would maybe suck people inside the game.

That was not the case. By god was I wrong. This one revolved around a game experiment that big company Konami released in a limited market with no marketing campaign, just to test people’s reactions. Escape From Merrywood stars this chalk drawing monster that looked like a 5 year old drew, within the first scene chases and can attack and kill you in an instant. You have to run away and are greeted by a village, which apparently you reside in. You then get told that the beast is named Merry, who only attacked you because you broke curfew (he will also attack if you basically try to escape the village forest). As the game progresses the NPCs inform you that Merry is friendly and he is the “happiest thing alive”. Then you realize soon that your objective is to kill Merry in order to beat the game, but there is a twist!

Merry can’t be killed by you. He can only be killed by…. himself.

So the goal of the game is to get the happy go lucky beast to kill himself. Let that sink in because that is dark as fuck. Basically you go around and find “happy shrines” and destroy or defile them. Then you also find out what animals he likes to talk to and communicate with and then manage to not be seen killing them while he watches.

I told you this was dark as shit…. I… I can’t describe how horrified I was to finish this one but I pushed on through.

So once you reached a certain point, you find a teddy bear (belonging to Merry) an old photo, and a lighter. You then exit the town, which normally results in a cutscene where you die instantly, you are met with a quicktime event. You hold the bear up and he stops in his tracks. He says he knew it had to be you and didn’t understand why you had to make him so miserable. You then get the attack prompt, which makes you rip apart the bear and then light the photo on fire and set both items ablaze. You’ve broken the beast, he has no will to live so you get the option to hand him whatever weapon you have and then he offs himself.

This whole story just… it’s terrifying to think that if there was any trace of truth, the implications that someone designed a game so horrible that instead of tackling depression and suicide in a positive way, someone wanted to see how someone felt making someone reach those depths.  It’s disturbing and hits me personally as I suffer from depression, it hurts people and it has caused issues in my life. Reading this destroyed me for a little bit, but felt this needed to be mentioned. I don’t approve of it but it warranted people hearing about it.

Read it in length here

1. Akarui Mirai

This one that I found interesting and the most plausible because of it’s subject matter.

The basic story is about this kid who was programming in RPG Maker, wanting to make a game with him and his friends. He was about halfway done, when one day he loaded up the file to work on it and yet it was completed. 100% Done, and the kid had no idea how that was even possible. So just like any smart people do when they find something already finished for themselves, he played the game instead of trying to find answers.

The game looked great, the exact way he and his friends had envisioned it. Though as he kept exploring, he found more and more NPCs repeating a line about how they were sorry for what happened to someone named Mirai. Having no clue what that was a bout and being disturbed about just how perfect this game looked, he searched around and found an area he never planned for. Heading to this area, he investigates this Mirai, and is basically directed toward a graveyard. Among the graveyard was a small crypt, which he just so decided to investigate.

I’m cliff noting the story, leaving out major details, but click here to read it in length.

As he enters the crypt he is stopped three times, feeling an odd sense of deja vu, like he knew about this Mirai name and what it was trying to tell him about this part of the game. He is stopped by the wandering spirit of Mirai, she has black hair, red eyes, and burnt face. She keeps calling to him, asking why he wouldn’t play with her, why didn’t he save her, talked about how she was burning and couldn’t breathe, then refers to the player by his name. After exploring the crypt the guy goes outside and finds out the story.

It talked about how she was a kid who was dejected by the player and his friends for some reason, so she ran home in a huff, crying and not paying attention, she tripped and fell into her fire place. Her face was horribly burned and the town medic came in and examined her, then said not to move her that he’d be back. So what does every kid responsible do, instead of listening to the medic, the kids take the girls “body” and bury her to honor her. Once the medic finds out she was buried they rushed to the graveyard, dug her up and found she tried to claw her way out. She was still alive but died before they couldn’t reach her.

This story took it’s toll and the player, and the ultimate feelings of deja vu finally catch up to him and remember this all happened. In his world. That he had a friend named Mirai and how she had this same accident, that somehow he blocked it from his memory because he and his friends were to blame for these events. When he confronts his parents, they are at first shocked but realize he has remembered and take him to visit her grave.

The only reason this one sticks out to me and I saw it is plausible because people’s minds have a unique filter to block certain traumatic events from their mind, while subconsciously leaving clues so you can eventually reach the point where you can cope. The situation where he finds his game completed could have been the time in between when he just so happened to cause this accident, so between when he started and when he finished this took place. Hence the time skip. He coped by developing the game and leaving behind the memory so he would remember Mirai one day and realize just what he had caused, accident or not.

 

And With That A Palette Cleanser

After working on these, I realized I put more time than expected when writing, but I am glad I could get something fleshed out. I know my posts have been rather weird and all over the place, but with all the shit hitting the fan lately, I’m in a personal tail spin and looking to find my way out. I will put more time and research into larger topics that mean something.

Or maybe I’ll just post up more random bs when I get the chance. We’ll have to see but thanks to all of you who have stuck with me through these basic posts

-ProdigiousJ

Pokemon GO Fest: Should Have Seen This Coming?

Pokemon GO Fest: Should Have Seen This Coming?

Pokemon Go has always been kind of a… trainwreck.

I say this because I still play it and at times enjoy it. I am objective in my own way, since I love Pokemon as a whole and had high hopes for Niantic when they put this out. I also knew after a week or two, they dropped the pokeball as it were, and left us in a lurch.

That being said, today was the Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago, where Pokemon Go trainers from around the Chicago area, to try and catch pokemon, do raid battles, and spin Stops in order to build bonuses for Trainers all around the world after the event. This would all lead up to the “Mystery” event, which we all knew it was going to be a Legendary Raid (don’t lie).

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Or at least that was supposed to be the case, but players poured in complaints about connectivity issues, unable to log on and do what the entire event was all about. Things got so heated that when the CEO of Niantic, John Hanke, took the stage to address the issues, he was only booed off by the crowd of angry players. A little while later, those same players began to chant “We Can’t Play!” in frustration in while at the event.

Who can blame them?

People flew in from outta state and out of the country to participate only to show up at the event where they couldn’t do a damn thing. Thinking on the plane ride over, “Man I can’t wait to see what rare pokemon they have for us that I don’t have at home?” only to show up and start admiring the load screen because they aren’t getting past that any time soon. “I could have a gym in another country/state!” then the only thing they get to do is sweat in a crowd of people in another country/state. pokemongocrwd.jpg

Some players even wasted money to travel there, some spending money in game for items to help them for the event. This dawned on the Niantic team and they recently offered a refunds to ticket holders, and added on the bonus of a $100 in coins in game. This also doesn’t mention the lines to get inside the event still going on, who also can’t connect due to cell networks being congested.

To say this event was not well planned is an understatement but we shouldn’t be surprised. This kind of event bombing as hard as the infamous Dash Con ballpit (yeah pulling out an oldie) is expected from the company who didn’t plan ahead on the games release. Announced many features that have just recently been released, a year later, many of which were said to be either on release or close to it. Like I talked about in my other article about my re-addiction to the game, features being removed and “fixed” returned months later, removing fan made services on the pokemon locator systems and etc. I wont dive into it again, but just circling back to say I’m not surprised.

pokedash

The Good Coming From This

Not much, besides an awesome display of chanting by Pokemon fans, but the two important things are the first two Legendaries were announced, Lugia (Yes!) and Articuno (Meh), and that the players hit the goals they were shooting for, which is rumored to give us bonuses after the event.

Lugiafake

Will these bonuses happen, maybe who the heck knows if they will be able to deliver but I will be hopeful indeed.

Other than that, nothing much came from the event, that I was partially excited for. Other than the acknowledgement that Niantic will continue its trend of not thinking ahead, letting down people’s expectations because of poor planning, but the most important thing, bringing people together.

That’s right, what is looking to be close to 20,000 players gathered from all around, were brought together by the love of Pokemon and the desire to play the game they made. The idea that some say Pokemon Go is dead doesn’t seem so accurate. I was surprised when the app first came out, I was hesitant to go out to local parks because I have horrible social anxiety, that so many people showed up to catch Gen 1 pokemon, kids, adults, and even some in their late 50s or 60s.

This game maybe a train-wreck sometimes, but it is always keeping people on board no matter how bad things fall apart. Not many gaming franchises can have their CEO booed off stage at a failed event, while maintaining such a huge fanbase. I continually find myself bashing Pokemon Go, going to the point of weening myself off, only to come back when some subtle features, or some larger ones with the Raids, show up and then I’m jumping right back in. I’ve even started a second account just so I can help with gyms or raids if I can actually figure out how to use it separately. If only I could find my spare older phones.

Either way, I’m not surprised by the failure of the games devs when something fails or bombs miserably. Yeah it’s harsh but every bad thing has a silver lining. Niantic’s is that they can still manage to reel people in and keep them playing. Meeting new people, building teams for the new raids, joining/creating social media groups to keep contact, the devs have picked the one property that even if they mess things up, people stick with them.

Kudos to Niantic for trying, I guess. Though as of me writing this, they have done a bit more than just refund the ticket and $100 coins for players who went to the event. Legendary Pokemon Lugia gets added to the trainers who participated in the event (or tried to) and extended the pokestop events for the players in Chicago around the park by 2 miles. So hey quick response to the problem, good on you. Maybe next time have a plan to avoid this, work with the cell companies or something along those lines.

Either way, the event was a success of some kind ways and people who could get in to play actually came out on top, maybe stocking up on balls, or just getting the chance to get a Legendary for free.

Can’t lose for losing it seems.

-ProdigiousJ

Why Games Are Easier Now Than Before

Why Games Are Easier Now Than Before

First I want to apologize for missing this past Saturday, life has been pretty chaotic and led me to absentmindedly miss it. My post may be sporadic over the next few weeks because of these unforeseen issues, but I’ll try to get one post put up when I can.

Thank you for understanding!

Today though, I want to talk about how game difficulty has evolved over the years, specifically difficulty levels through the ages.

As a very young gamer, being born a little after the advent of video games, I know games that now most gamers call ‘retro’, but I knew them as brand new or pretty close to it. Super Mario, Donkey Kong Country, Sonic The Hedgehog, and even Duck Hunt, these titles shaped my early childhood. These inspired me to find the beauty and grace in most things video games. Unless you count the Atari 2600 games.. I’m still getting reoccurring nightmares from Superman and E.T. Yeah I know without the Atari we wouldn’t have games as we know them, but all I can say is they have not aged well at all. They are some ugly looking fuckers if you ask me. But that is the curse of being born a bit after gaming because popular and began evolving but before the creation of the powerful tech devs use to create stunning graphics, stretching beyond 8 Bits.

To me I will always be spoiled by the over arching development games  have gone through, so I’ll be jaded when it comes to comparing graphics.

The Difficulty Of It All

That aside, being someone who played a lot of the old school/Retro games, both as a kid and recently as an adult, it has given me some perspective on what you call difficulty levels. What inspired me to bring up difficulty is that with the recent release of Crash N’Sane Trilogy, with it being a “new” title,  many Youtubers, friends, and random internet people are playing it. Whether they are doing a let’s play or just running through it during their personal time, a common occurrence I’ve seen is plenty of people complaining about how hard it is to play it. Watching people getting flustered and rage quitting over a game that has been out almost 21 years now, it got me thinking.

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Is Crash Bandicoot… hard? Not sure if it was as hard as everyone else makes it seems to be when I played it. It was all about timing and platforming, a few levels are still memorized and I haven’t played in forever. It never seemed to be that much of an issue for me, then I have to wonder way are so many people having such a hard time?

Then it hit me, and it was so obvious I’m surprised it didn’t reach out and pinch me. Many of these players having such a hard time had never played the originals. They perceived a challenging level as too hard because they may not have played games to 100% in the days before trophies and refined controls. The ability to reach the 2nd level on a very hard game was the reward itself and it made you feel like a certified badass.

Even gamers my age, I’m included on a few games, never played the more challenging games whatsoever. Either from lack of interest as a kid or because their parents couldn’t or wouldn’t buy them for them. Whatever reason they had, the experience of learning these jumping patterns, enemy spawn points, or how to run through an area filled with pits and enemies  without getting hit a single time, all because they had to play the same stretch of level over and over at least 100 times. Limited lives, no checkpoints, no save files or passwords, just 2 lives or less and only allowed to be hit twice before starting all over (Looking at you Ghost N’ Goblins).

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It trained a whole generation of gamers to overthink, strategize, and find the will not to snap their very fragile controllers.

The Crux of Difficulty

Games like this were the proving grounds for both devs and skilled players. Game success meant a future career for designers, a future game meant another challenge for the player to conquer. Slowly the difficult games became more difficult, if they weren’t already at maximum. Games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pitfall, Megaman, and Contra were already challenging, but as they ramped up the difficulty, those gamers seeking fun more than a challenge became quickly discouraged. I can be counted as someone whose become discouraged over certain titles.

Fun Fact: To this day, I have yet to beat a MegaMan game, I’ve been getting progressively better through the years, but never made it past two of the bosses, maybe 3. These games seem challenging, but also have a mix hint of sadism yet have a set of basics to follow in order to win. It’s hard to say the game isn’t beaten by many, as I know quite a few, but it stands to reason that there are people like me who couldn’t beat it.

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Yes it goes back to skill and will, but this also ties into the idea of titles existing that maybe too difficult while trying to be challenging. Battletoads, Ghosts N’ Goblins, Ninja Gaiden (Original), these are all examples of games that seem to number low in the amount of people who actually beat them. How many times have people shoved these games in a drawer in frustration because they couldn’t get past level 1 or 2. There is a very fine line between challenging and ridiculously insane barrages of enemies and bad controls, this then brings us to where games began to ease up (after a long run of keeping the challenge in small bursts).

The Decline of Crap Difficulty

Time’s gone on and tech has improved by leaps and bounds each console generation. During each one, a set of challenging games have filled the void for the old school skill based ones. Though with each generation, the definition of challenge has changed, diminishing the quality of what games used to be.

Those upset by Crash’s difficulty now would find it much easier if they sat back and compared it to games like Contra, GN’G, or Mega Man. Heck if they had beaten Mega Man  in the years before and then went on to play Crash, they’d probably be able to breeze right through it. That’s the problem with developers as gaming has aged. They began to focus in the other aspects besides the challenge, ideals like fun, story driven games, and voice acting, which aren’t bad things. Devs tried to keep the player on their toes, but picking Hard Mode in a game pales in comparison to the only mode in certain games from gaming’s yesteryear. Anyone who looks back will realize we definitely have it easier now than back then.

Then again there is the Souls series and they hold the staple for the Hardest games of our current generation. I’d rather spend hours trying to beat a Mega Man game with hours of failure than try to beat a Souls game at all.

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Guess It’s all Perspective in the end.

-ProdigiousJ

A Stat Reroll: How I’m Changing My Norm

A Stat Reroll: How I’m Changing My Norm

I’m Usually one for lofty speeches

Though as of late, it hasn’t been as consistent for me. I’ve grown to resemble more of a closed book than an open door, keeping people from understanding my contents, my truths, while giving out only enough information to keep people just close enough. I’ve become more of a silent man who walks in the background, a NPC that nobody really needed to notice but got along just as well as he could.

But something hit me the other day, the day of someones birthday, the birthday of a man who I’ve never met before. A Youtuber who I’ve come to admire and respect, who usually has some uplifting message every few months, hell maybe once a week.

Markiplier was not someone I followed back when he started, but rather someone I came across a few years back. Throughout the vast library of videos he has, many of them have helped me get through a hard time, and many who have inspired me to do great things.

Unfortunately, I have never fully acted on that inspiration, never working, living, or playing as hard as I can to become the best I can. Doing what I can to make the world a better place in the best ways I can. I always feel a pang of sadness when I realize I have yet to reach that exciting moment when I fulfill that promise of bettering myself.

But back to the day in question, Markiplier was going on about his birthday and watching older videos of his and reacting to them. He then began to reminisce about how small his channel was at one point, how his life was totally different in the beginning. He talked about how he felt guilty for asking people to share and like his work, and even more so when he had his channel banned and had to re-upload all his videos. There was a moment where he reflected on the instance he almost gave up, almost never went on to restart his channel, and could have decided his limited run as a Youtuber was over.

The World Can Always Change

However, he went through with uploading them all, individually on his “mom’s old internet” he said after his friends convinced him to keep going. He then had to ask his followers to go and individually like, share, etc, his old videos to get the Youtube algorythm to register him better, or however that system actually works.

The basic point of it all was that he changed his life by actually going forward and putting forth the effort to entertain and achieve all that he sought to do. Be better, do better, make the world better. I could be blending that reaction video and his keeping promises video but the message was the same and all too inspiring.

So I decided that day I was going to make a change. Given the situation I am, I have to work harder to get by, I have to schedule better to get to work in all the things I want to do and be. All that I have strived to be since I was a kid, I have to actually work harder than I have to reach it.

This blog, for those few of you who read it, is something I hope makes a better life for someone else out there  as well as for myself and my joy of writing and video games. As is a podcast I’ve started to try to host on with a few work buddies. These are the things that I’ve always wanted to do to entertain, to inform, to reflect and these are now things I need to work on to better reach the success I want.

What I Plan On Doing

I want to work on a new writing schedule for this blog, write when I come home, and instead of posting it at 2 in the morning, post it the next morning after proofreading it and making sure it doesn’t sound groggy and half assed. I also will be trying to schedule some more recording time for the podcast, and after today’s first recording that looks to be an uphill battle. However, I want to keep going and learn from the experience. I want to grow, I want to help and entertain people, maybe brighten a day just like Markiplier does on a daily basis. I don’t seek to be him, but I seek to emulate his enthusiasm to change the world for the better.

My new writing schedule will be Wednesday and Saturday. Sometimes I may include a Friday post as well if something comes up I want to write about. I will keep myself accountable so I will be successful in what I do and how I attempt to help the world around me. I also will happily welcome readers and friends hold me accountable, at least a simple reminder, just to keep me honest. So from now on, expect posts on the most inane, the most beautiful, and the most hilarious (to me anyway) subjects every Wednesday and Saturday.

To close, I’d like to say what Markiplier might try to say at the end of one his inspirational speeches. Guys, for those few who do read, just try to be the good you want to see in the world. Make someone smile, tell a friend a crappy joke when they are feeling down, but do it all with a smile and never give up thinking you can’t change yourself or the world around you. Be strong and always aim to be better every day because if you don’t try to better yourself then you can never grow and you can never learn.

-ProdigiousJ

My E3 Top 10 and Runners Up

My E3 Top 10 and Runners Up

The event I love has come to pass once again, and it left us all wanting a bit more.

This years E3 was a bit underwhelming, most of the conferences seemed a bit lackluster while other reveals and previews gave us high hopes for the next year (or later this one). A mixed grab bag of emotions when it came to the video game industry, and each person has a take away from the show of best of show and even those that were worst of show. Below I walk through my Top 10 favorite reveals or trailers for the coming year.

These are NOT in any particular order, so the number may not indicate my excitement level for each game.

  1. Anthem: Bioware revealed to the world it’s new IP, as if Titanfall, Destiny, and Horizon Zero Dawn merged together with a fusion dance triangle. From what we saw, other than the forced in game chatter between players, this game could be a very interesting and is gorgeous to boot. Sure this could have all been a tech demo and the final game could end up being a mess at release. Yeah I loved Mass Effect Andromeda but it wasn’t a completed project. The faces, however, looked perfect so hey, an improvement.
  2. Beyond Good and Evil 2: Ubisoft surprised a whole hell of gamers by announcing something we long since thought was dead. BGE2 is still far from release, as most people have pointed out the trailer was made specifically for the event annnnd the only thing to play on the show floor was a tech demo that may not even end up being in the final game. Which could take years to make it to release. Oh god… this is like Half-Life 3 now.. Still excited either way! beyond-good-and-evil-2.png
  3. Metro Exodus: I fell in love with Last Light when I discovered it years ago. It had everything a post-apocalyptic shooter needed, mutated creatures, like the gorgeously deformed bear in the trailer for Exodus, and underground civilizations barely surviving without turning on each other. I never played 2033 but if I get a chance to play the Redux for PS4, I will definitely play it to warm up for Exodus. The trailer looked gorgeous, with dynamic environments (I hope that translate in gameplay). I guess I just have a thing for post-apocalyptic game and this reveal hit the sweet spot. Here’s to 2018!
  4. Spider-Man: Insomniacs take on Spider-Man looks fantastic, decent gameplay and reminds me a lot of the Spider-man 2 movie tie in game, which in my opinion was one of the better Spidey games out there. The story seems to be interesting, and the nod at Miles Morales being even mentioned in the game is fantastic for comic fans like myself. The graphics are beautiful and it doesn’t seem to be a Homecoming tie in, so that’s always good news.
  5. The Evil Within 2: Bethesda showed of their video game “amusement park” and besides the glorious Skyrim milking, The show was stolen by The Evil Within 2 announcement. The reveal trailer and some minor gameplay showed just how terrifying the game will be, reminding me of the feel of P.T., and I never played the first game (Now I plan to), so I can’t say how much like the first installment it is. It is stunning and had chills running down my spine. Definitely on my watch list.the-evil-within-2
  6. Dragonball Fighterz: This came as a surprise to me, I absolutely dislike fighting games, mostly because I’m horrible at them, but Fighterz made me excited to try another fighting game. Hopefully I don’t end up just spamming the cheapest fucking moves, but old habits die hard. The reveal showcased three heroes and three villains, Goku, Teen Gohan, Vegeta, Freeza, Cell, and Majin Buu. It is 2.5 D with destructible backgrounds. It was basic but I still want this on my shelf one day.
  7. Far Cry 5: Though we all knew about this game long before E3, the gameplay trailer shown was the final nail in the coffin for me. I was on the fence, not because of the petition going around I wrote about a while back, but because it seemed like the plot might have some holes in it about structuring supporting characters. With the introductions of Guns for Hire, Fangs for Hire, and Friends for Hire mechanic, I feel a bit better about the game structure, also the action was bad ass. I can’t say no to something that makes you looks so bad ass.
  8. Metroid Prime 4: Just a Title card and the classic warping sound effect we are used to hearing with the Prime games. No more information is given but this was another game we’ve been dying for for years, never expecting an end result just false hope. This E3 has given hope to a gaming future we can enjoy.metroid-prime-4-e1497381058373
  9. Super Mario Odyssey: We’ve seen enough before the show to know the game was going to weird, but the new E3 trailer had much more evidence to show someone at Nintendo is on acid. Using Mario’s new hat friend, he can now possess people, objects, and even dinosaurs much larger than Yoshi, that being a T-rex. Different outfits and showing off I think at least one new location, this trailer gave me high hopes for SMO. 60nchk9wxkxjxvtnnf6bqxopeiheyvf7bdvnymfflvmwmhcpzcfsdxmagngimny8.gif
  10. Pokemon for the Switch: A core Pokemon RPG game for the Nintendo Switch was a mind blowing moment. Sure it wont be out for “more than a year” and we don’t even have a title card or anything to go off of. Hopefully this isn’t a port of one of the current Pokemon titles, crossing my fingers till they break on this one.

Runners Up:

  • Mario+Rabbids (yeah it’s growing on me)
  • Hidden Agenda (Seems like an interesting title)
  • Vampyr (Seems it needs some work, but reminds me of Blood Omen 2 in a way)
  • Shadow of War (The aussie orc seems awesome, but I’ll need to buy the first game in order to play this one)
  • Shadow of the Colossus remake
  • Kirby (Kute Puffball)
  • Wolfenstein 2 (This looks fucking insane but again I’ll need to play the first to play this one)

All in all, E3 2017 wasn’t exactly the blow away show but it was still full of exciting reveals. It has added many older games to my must buy list just so I can keep up with some of these sequels. I wished some of the press events had bigger bangs and less dancing around mostly known games and a few major reveals that weren’t exactly unexpected. Nintendo walked away from the show on top with the most upcoming titles, and even managed to convince me to get in line for a Switch when I can.

I was hoping Sony was going to have another “Hold my Beer” moment like in years past but they disappointed, showing off new trailers for already announced games, a deeper look at God of War and Spider-man. I was left feeling somewhat empty after all the other shows this year. I can only hope that this was just a lite year for gaming news, that it was a fluke.

I can dream anyway. So what was your top 10 games of the show, or at least Top 10 moments of E3 2017? Let me know, maybe there was something I missed during.

-ProdigiousJ