Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Ship & Thinking about Bioshock Infinite

So I just bought The Ship, an awesome multiplayer game centered around murdering and trying to stop yourself from being murdered. It's only $5 on Steam currently, but the sale should be ended on the 29th with the rest of the indie games sale. If you see this before then, I suggest you grab it while it's on sale, as it's usually $20. It's well worth $5.

Right after buying, I went ahead and played it for a couple of hours. I had a blast and it was very easy to get into. It's one of those games that is simply incredible to play with friends in skype/TS/Vent/Mumble/Etc... I haven't gotten the chance to test this yet, but I am 100% sure it is. I can't really think of any other games like it, but I'm pretty sure I've seen similar mods for HL2 (and the game is based on the Source Engine).

Basically, you spawn as a random character. You can choose to be a hunter (where you need to hunt someone while someone else hunts you) or a passenger (where you just roam the ship and hope you don't get stabbed in the back, but do your best to defend yourself if you can).  While you're hunting/being hunted, you will need to do stuff to keep your character happy and healthy. This included using the bathroom, cleaning yourself, eating and drinking, reading, getting some entertainment and even sleeping. It makes for a pretty interesting experience, trying to kill someone while your bladder is almost ready to burst.

I streamed all of my first play of the game, and I plan to stream some more when Kay is online. I went ahead and gifted her the game, so hopefully we'll get a chance to play for an hour or so tomorrow. If you're interested in seeing my hour and a half of gameplay, click here to watch it. Feel free to follow me on my Twitch, as I stream daily and usually for several hours. From around 4pm until 6am. Anywhere between there.

As for new Bioshock game, I am really thinking about buying it. I haven't bought myself a single player game in a while now. The last single player game I bought was Skyrim. I put a good forty hours into it and haven't played it sense. Well worth the $60, but I don't think Bioshock would have that much playability.

Generally, I just watch livestreams or youtube Lets Plays, as what I really want from the single player experience is the story. I did watch about two hours of gameplay of the game on youtube and now I want to play myself. I did a quick google search and someone claimed there was eight hours of content with just the main storyline alone. I'm not sure how accurate that is, so I will be asking around a bit more before purchasing (if I do purchase it). I might just continue to watch gameplay on youtube instead and save myself $60 I'll never get back.

Which makes me wish that it were possible to resale games you buy on Steam. I can understand why developers and publishers don't want to give you the ability to do it, but it's annoying not having that option like you do with console games. I don't know if that $60 will be worth the "eight or so" hours of gameplay I will get. Someone said it could be up to fifteen hours of content if I do all the side quest and stuff, but again, is it worth it?

I love steampunk, which is why this Bioshock game appeals to me so much. 2013 seems to be the year of the steam. There's City of Steam going into open beta later this year, Bioshock, Guns of Icarus Adventure Mode up on kickstarter, and there's probably more that I can't think of right now. It's going to be a pretty good year for gamers who enjoy the steampunk theme. Anyways, thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thoughts from Dragon Prophet Taiwan

Unable to control my excitement for the up-and-coming Dragon's Prophet, I decided to play the Taiwanese version of the game. Right now, the Taiwanese version has just finished up the first (open) closed beta. They had originally planned to jump straight into Open Beta after this, but have decided that they will instead do two more closed betas. I think this is an excellent choice because there are a few major bugs that needed to be squashed still, and a lot of polishing to be done. I will detail these later on in this post, though. I took several videos and a lot of screenshots so I could share with anyone else that is interested in the game.

Before I get started, I will sometimes put (Theory) before something. This means that what I have posted has not be proven (at least to my knowledge) and could be wrong.

First, let me say that despite having put in several hours into the Taiwanese version and gotten to above level 20, I have yet to scratch the surface of the game. I was not able to get into crafting, except for a bit of guessing around. I was not able to figure out how to level up my dragons (though I have a theory on how to do it), and I was not able to get into the player housing or "Frontier." Needless to say, I missed out on a lot of the game. Fortunately, however I did get a pretty good idea of what the lower level experience is for a new player, and I can share that in great detail.

Lets talk about what I did find out concerning the game. I do know that there are several types of dragons. By types, I mean the way they look as well as the kind of dragon they are. Dragons are attached an element, but I have yet to gain an understanding on just what this element means besides giving a vague idea of what kind of terrain the dragon is good with. Each dragon is spawned with a random set of abilities from a pool that the type of dragon it is has available to it. Some of these abilities are useable by you, some are not. Examples of these abilities are buffs that will raise your total HP, give you damage bonuses, give you damage reduction, healing over time abilities that have an area effect (good for team fighting). And that's just the few I came across as a new player in the lowbie zones.

Not all dragons can fly, as is obvious if you watch the trailers. Some can swim, some cannot. Some can run extremely fast on the ground, while some will crawl at a mind-numbing speed. Basically, that means there's a dragon for every situation. A dragon that can only fly at the speed of someone who is sprinting on the ground may not be helpful in a flatland type area, but would be a life saver in a hilly, jungle type area. I also know that some dragons cannot be used for fighting, but I have no idea if some dragons can only be used for fighting and cannot be mounted. Another thing I noticed is that you can have up to five (or maybe it was six? I have a screenshot of it somewhere) dragons with you at a time, while you can only summon one at any given moment.

In the screenshot above, you see the Dragon Stable (or sometimes called the Nursery). In this place, you can store spare dragons, (theory) put your dragon through training regiments to gain them experience for leveling up, set your dragons stats (after they level up), (theory) combine or transfer skills between two different dragons, and a few other things I have no figured out. Just about every town or settlement has one of these, and they all seem to have a fairly unique and interesting design. One of the first thing I do when coming to a new town is check out how the stable looks. Another thing you can notice is several "locked" slots. These can be unlocked by spending diamonds (cash shop money), I believe it was 30 diamonds for each slot.

Dragon taming is done by jumping on a dragons back and fighting for control by playing a mini-game. There are a few factors that go into your chances of success. 1) Your level in relation to the dragon. Obviously, if you're a lower level it will be harder, and if you're higher level it will be easier. 2) (Theory) How full your SP bar is (the yellow bar under the Health and Mana bar). SP is gained by attacking things. 3) (Theory) How much you've damaged the dragon before attempting to tame. And 4) How skillful you are while playing the minigame. It all plays a part in your chances.

Dragon taming

The taming mini-game is pretty straight forward. You control a dragon head icon with the WASD keys. The goal is to keep the dragon head icon within the inner-circle, which will cause the red bar on the right to go up. Whenever the dragon head goes out of the inner-circle, the yellow bar on the left to go down. You want to get the red bar into a certain threshold before the yellow bar runs out. If you do, you tame the dragon and he is now yours. This can be hard, though, as you can see from the video.

As I mentioned earlier, dragons have several uses. They can be used as a mount, or as a fighting companion. Whenever you use a dragon as a mount, you can have him out for as long as you please and can summon him whenever you like (as long as you are not in combat). However, if you want to use a dragon as a fighting companion, it will consume your SP while it is out and fighting. This means that unless you generally only have a limited amount of time to make use of your dragon in any given combat situation. I'm not a fan of this, and from what I've read on the Taiwanese forums, not many people are.

Speaking of combat, it's pretty fun. Some people have said it can feel "clunky," but I don't agree with this. There are times when I have a lot of lag (but I'm connecting to Taiwan from the states, so it's to be expected) and it can feel very difficult to work with, but most times it felt smooth as can be. The combat system itself is somewhere between a targeting MMO (where you select opponents and then use abilities/attacks) and a free target (kinda like Tera). It's hard to describe, so you'll just have to watch the video I am putting under this, or try it out for yourself. There are a couple of glaring bugs with the combat at the moment, though. The first is that sometimes opponents will randomly become unable to attack you, and you cannot attack them either. This doesn't stop them from trying, though. The other is that when fighting near elevated terrain or buildings/props, your attacks will not connected with whoever you're trying to fight. I only tried playing as a heavy warrior which has large sweeping melee attacks and lots of AOEs.

Dragon\'s Prophet combat as a warrior

Another thing worth mentioning is the character creation. I found it to be more than decent. Not as advanced or in-depth as some games, but there is definitely a lot of freedom with it. I played around with it and was able to create some pretty nice (and horrible) characters. The video below is of the male character creation, but I also play with the female character creation in another video on my channel.

Dragon\'s Prophet character creation

That reminds me of another glaring bug I came across. I'm not sure if this was due to an actual bug in the game, or because I was running a client meant for Taiwanese computers on my computer. Or maybe it was my connection to the server that caused the issue. Either way, the problem is that sometimes textures would fail to load, or would load only partially, or wouldn't load correctly. Here are a screenshot showing examples of this:

I'm going to go ahead and close up this post by mentioning one final thing. The Taiwanese version of the game seems to be more than a bit cash shop heavy. Just about everything can be made a lot easier by use of diamonds. You can upgrade equipment with a much larger chance of success with them, or come back to life with full health and mana right where you die with them. I am hoping that Runewaker and/or SOE decide to change this before it comes to NA, as it may be a game killer for some. You can buy some sort of gear, but I have no idea if it's good or not. Judging by some of the numbers (you can see them in the screenshot), the gear is middle or middle-high grade. That's compared to the level 20 gear I've looted.

I'll end with this: Remember that everything I post about is from the FIRST closed beta of the Taiwanese version of the game. Things can, and probably will, be a lot different and more polished by time you get a chance to play the game. So do not judge the game completely on what I've posted. In fact, do not judge it at all. Just use this post to give you an idea of what the game will be like. Thank you for reading.

Click here to visit my screenshot album for screenshots of the Taiwanese version of the game.

Guns of Icarus Online - Steam Sale and Contest

One of my all-time favorite games, Guns of Icarus Online, is on sale for $5 on steam. Or $11 for a four pack for you and your friends. It's a great deal. Such a good one, in fact, that I went ahead and bought a four pack so I could give away three copies of the game. You can enter the giveaway by visiting the OnRPG thread where I am hosting it. It has a big of a spin to it, but anyone is welcome to enter.

As for the game itself, I was introduced to it when I was asked to review the game. You can find that review by clicking here. It's fantastic, whether you like steampunk or not. It's a really great team-based game that absolutely required teamwork for you to succeed. Whether you like being a captain, a gunner, or an engineer, you can do it. Each person has an important role on the ship.

In the future, the devs have expressed that they plan to release a DLC/new game that will offer not only the team-based arena gameplay that the current game does, but an adventure/RPG mode. I am looking forward to this a lot. Hopefully we'll get it in a year or tow. I've got almost nothing but good things to say about the game (the only thing I could complain about is the concessional lag spike...but every game gets that).

Anyways, he's some gameplay I recorded a week or so before the sale started. Also, some links to the stuff that people have posted as part of the giveaway.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dragon's Prophet

Today I purchased the $40 Founders Pack for Dragon Prophet NA (by SOE). Had a nice discussion over at OnRPG before I decided which pack to go with. I was on the fence between the $90 and $40. At the time, it appeared that there really wasn't much bonus (at least for me) to getting the $90 pack over the other two. Unfortunately, later on after I had already purchased my pack, the buy page was updated and it was clarified that you also got a house with the top two packs. This sucks for me, because I would have bought the $90 pack if I had known I would get a large house with it, rather than the small house with the $40 pack.

I might contact SOE and see if I can upgrade, but to be honest, I don't really feel like it anymore. Oh well, I start with a small house. I should have the ability to upgrade to something nicer later on. And if I join a guild, I will probably do what I always do when I join a guild: Focus on the guild rather than my own stuff. It took me years before I finally decided to build my own house in Wurm, and I still have yet to have my own house in Mortal Online (tho I did briefly a year or two ago, didn't last long however). I only had a small house and a bunker (gotten from the Mustafar expansion) in SWG.

Anyways, when I do get into the NA beta for Dragon's Prophet (should be on the 29th), I have a pretty good idea of what I should be doing. I plan to play it semi-hard, even if everything will be wiped. I am hoping the closed beta wont last long, though. The Taiwanese closed beta is supposed to last for two more closed beta events and then transition to Open Beta right after. SOE will probably do the same. Though there is a disclaimer at the bottom of the buy page that says that it could take up until December 2013 for the Open Beta to come out, and we don't get the Founder's Pack items until the Open Beta.

Until the 29th, I will probably be playing mostly Neverwinter, as I just got a beta key for it from Click here to see if there are any keys left. It doesn't start until tomorrow (the 22nd), though. I'll be splitting my time between Neverwinter, Smite, and sometimes Tera until Dragon's Prophet on the 29th (or later, if things get delayed). Anyways, thanks for reading.