Why I am not against microtransactions.

Wait a minute, before you for the reply button, lemme explain. I’m not against microtransactions in mobile gaming. In PC gaming, oh yeah, I’m right there with ya. Bring out the pitchforks and the hay and lighters.

But in mobile, it’s quite a different story. Why? Well, let’s back up a bit and take the entire world as a stage.

In Asia, mobile markets are HUGE. I once heard a report that most people in China don’t even own a PC or a laptop, preferring to use their smartphone for everything.

And many Asians are fine with P2W mechanics in their games.

So, why bother? EA, UbiSoft, and Bethesda already have their cash cow, called Asia. It’s not a matter of if, nor when. It’s already taken ahold.

But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna stand by and let them ruin my games with that bullshit.

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Is Steam playing it smart?

About a year ago, I guess, a new launcher was, well, launched. Epic Games Store. And Steam sat there idly by.

Throughout the process of Epic buying up exclusives, including, but not limited to, Phoenix Point, The Outer Worlds, Borderlands 3. Still, Steam remained quiet.

Now, this got me to thinking. Either… And you’ll have to bear with me now, but either… Steam is so sure that future of gaming lies in the hands of the indie studios, or… Steam believes that enough big budget games are coming their way.

Or possibly, both. They could believe that eventually A developers will turn into AAA developers. Like what happened over at Larian Studios just this past week (or rather, just announced this past week). I’ll cut to the chase, they tripled in size.

I personally think so. Whatever Steam is doing is working. And by working on Linux and games for linux, is always a plus.

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Yep, it’s Baldur’s Gate III.

Check it out on YouTube, over at Larian Games.

Looks awesome.

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BG3? Maybe.

So, over at Larian Studios, you’ll find something extremely similar to this.

Impressive, no?

Some people say it’s Baldur’s Gate III. I was kind’a hoping for Divinity Original Sin III, but I’m willing to take whatever they’ve got in the pipe. Larian Studios hasn’t reignited my passion for RPG gaming. That honor would have to go to Mass Effect. But ever since Mass Effect : Andromeda and with their rolling failure Anthem, BioWare is no longer king of the RPG space.

Whatever it is, I’ll be waiting with baited breath. The last time a Baldur’s Gate game came out, I was, I believe, more into FPS games. Well, times, and more importantly my reaction times, have changed and slowed.

Add to this, that Larian studios is also Linux gaming friendly.

It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure.

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Why I won’t buy AAA games anymore

In the past, I’ve discussed microtransactions and my feelings on them. Well, you may have noticed that I was only targeting the big publishers. This was for a reason. Only big publishers wanna make a fast and easy buck.

Let’s just get some terminology straight, at least from my point of view. An “A” development studio is not quite ready for prime time. I’m speaking about DontNod, Volition, Spiders, & HareBrained. I realize that some of you are thinking of independent studios, but that’s not really the case. The truly independent studios are one man studios, like ConcernedApe (Stardew Valley) or Tynan Sylvester(RimWorld).

A AAA development studio is one where you have hundreds of people working together on one game. These include such studios as Bethesda, BioWare, UbiSoft, WB Games.

AAA games are extremely polished. In fact, they’re so well polished, that it wipes away any sense of the heart and soul that were ever put into the game. There’s no blood, sweat, or tears coming off of the game. It begins to wear on you. Or at least it did me.

Single A studios have that in spades though. Life Is Strange, Saints Row 3 (and Four), The Technomancer, BattleTech. All of them are dripping with blood, sweat, and tears. And I love it. I love playing each one of these. (Except for The Technomancer. Get on a linux port!) Each of them for very different reasons.

I’d compare it to chocolate, or take whatever sweets you can imagine. The AAA games are the sweets. They lack any real substance, or calories. The A games are the real meat and potatoes.

Now, I’m not telling you that I will not be buying any AAA games in the future. But the money has stopped flowing out of my hands to these big studios for these games, simply because they lack the grittiness of working on games. They are, simply put, too polished.

They are the New York shyster who will take your money and run.

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The Technomancer and my take on current gaming practices

The Technomancer was a generally not well received game. Make no mistake about it, I loved the story. The characters were well developed, although a tad hackneyed. I like that you could romance somebody. I really liked the ending.

But it was not well received. Why? Well, for a variety of reasons. Number one reason for most people, it was a challenging game. Most gamers these days have gone soft. I’m not trying to throw shade at anyone, I’m simply stating facts. The average age of a gamer has gone up from 8-12, up to about 30-35. With work, a significant other, stuff to do around the house, I get it. I do. You probably don’t want to spend that much effort into a game, especially one as long as Technomancer. Other reasons include, the hackneyed story (and yes, I agree there was some hackiness there), bugs, how difficult it was, etc.

Now, for a bit a segue here. Most game companies, like EA, UbiSoft, Bethesda have put microtransactions into their games. Why? Well, let me back up first and go into mobile gaming.

Mobile gaming is the elephant in the room right now. It has a commanding lead over both the PC and the console market. And I believe even if you combine the PC and console market, it would still lead them.

So why aren’t EA, UbiSoft, and Bethesda making mobile games? Because in order to do that they would have to compete with the tons of crap already on the market. I don’t have any solid figures on this, but I’m willing to bet you if you put out a hundred games, 95% would fail after a month. So it’s a really big payoff, for a really big risk that you’re taking.

Who wants to compete in that? Where you only have a 5% chance of making it? Certainly not me, certainly not the developers. No, they want captive eyeballs. That’s where you, the PC gamer comes in. And I suppose the console gamers as well, but from what I’ve seen of them, they’re willing to accept anything thrown at them.

The average PC gamer has, on the whole, a much longer attention span than the average mobile gamer. You’re most likely the same people. People who play games on their PC are more than likely gonna be the ones who play games on their phones. This isn’t a knock. Again, simply stating facts. We’re gamers, it’s in our blood.

Developers want to bring the “fun and excitement” of mobile gaming to the PC and console market. Note the quotes. When I think of the mobile market my heart just drops. I have three games on my mobile phone right now. 8 ball pool, chess, and a word game.

Developers also want to cram together the PC gamer market, the console market, and the entirety of the mobile gaming market into one big conglomeration of this thing we’re calling gamers. Well, sorry chief, it doesn’t work that way. You’ve got people that have played Candy Crush for 994 hours calling themselves a gamer, and have never picked up anything else. You’ve also got people who have played maybe a half an hour of Scrabble With Friends (and never picked up anything else) calling themselves a gamer.

Here’s the rub though, based upon what it means to be a gamer, both would be right.

So, we’re being punished for having longer attention spans by devs who don’t wanna compete.

wait… wat?

Let me repeat that. You, as a PC gamer, are being punished for having a longer attention span than mobile gamers, by developers who don’t want to compete.

Mobile games are simple, hell, they have to be. Yeah, sure… I’ll spend $2 for another 5 lives, because my train stop is another four miles. And god forbid, this guy right next to me stinks and I really don’t wanna think about where he’s been the previous night. This $2 is my salvation from having to think about all that. I would offer him $10 to get off the train, but I don’t wanna offend him by telling him that he stinks.

Here’s my thing though… I’m not against microtransactions. I’m against microtransactions in PC (and console) games. There is a distinct difference between someone who has played Candy Crush for 994 hours and me. I laugh at those numbers, and I don’t even play games that much anymore.

I’m looking at you EA, UbiSoft, Bethesda, anybody else that puts microtransactions in your PC and console games : If you wanna make mobile games, make mobile games. Put all of your microtransactions there.

Just remember why you got into the business in the first place. To provide a challenge that only a select few can beat, just like The Technomancer. They put their heart and soul into the game.

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ProPro’s and the squeezing of the net

I was reading this the other day, and in that article he claimed to have some issues with the Linux Mint forums. In it, he describes what are some glaring issues with Linux Mint 19.1 and some very serious problems with Linux Mint forum goers.

Of course, we’ve all had to deal with these people. People who think that there can’t be anything wrong with the product. It has to be you. You’re the cause of all of your woes.

Whether it’s a game, a console, PC, hell even a popular cola. (Coke vs. New Coke) I’ve started to call these people propro’s. Product Propagandists. People who think that their company shits gold where ever they are.

Propro’s will twist themselves whatever way they can to justify their narrative. It sounds like the LM forum goers would twist themselves into unrecognizable shapes, simply to prove him wrong as well. I once had someone tell me on the BioWare forums that all money that we spend on entertainment is a waste.

Really? 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Lord Of The Flies? They were all a waste? Srsly?

Over on the BioWare forums we call them BioDrones. People who can’t possibly think that BioWare did anything wrong. I’m sure that other places have other names for them. For now, I’m simply calling them what they are. Propros, or propagandists for products.

Now, I don’t wanna be a Negative Nancy here, but when there are problems, you should identify and fix those problems.

The problem is that when the propros start taking over and shutting down and silencing all dissenters. Worse off, it’s when the company actually starts to believe its own propros.

I actually believe that is what is the problem with BioWare itself right now, as well as any company (or idea) that has an extremely propros-like following.

How can you tell? You can recognize it by any cult like following. You can also recognize it by any person that makes just absolute batshit insane comments. Anyone who stands up to them to tell them just how fucking stupid and dense they are is immediately banned, all in the name of “no bullying”. Also dogmatism plays a huge role here. Have you ever tried arguing with a religious person who was convinced that they were right? Whoah, buddy, there’s a fun argument.

Except, in propros’ case, it’s actually much simpler argument (for them, at least). They’re not arguing for the entire existence of humanity. They’re simply arguing that their product shits gold, and whoever developed it ate diamonds.

If this continues, it will decrease the size and effectiveness of the net as a whole. This will turn each of your forums into places where not only your own people don’t wanna go, but other people don’t wanna visit either. The net will survive, I have no doubt. The net will start to swing back the other way.

I’m just scared of what that’ll look like for millennials, who up until this point have had safe spaces and micro-aggressions. Just wait, it’s coming. I’ve seen the way it used to be, and the way it’s headed if not tomorrow, the day after tomorrow.

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Maybe not downloading ?

I think that some of you might be hesitant to download an *.odt file, some of you may not even know what that is. (It’s a file created by libreoffice, more specifically librewriter, a MicroSoft Office alternative. )

So, I’m just gonna cut and paste. Enjoy.

As the Ulysses set down, Nico sighed. Omega, home to some of the universe’s biggest thugs, criminals, and gangs. If you wanted something that you couldn’t find otherwise, Omega was where you went. From red sand, to hilium (grey sand, distium) (drug that causes you to become catatonic), to weapons, to explosives, to information, and to people. It was at the edges of civilized space, and it showed.

As he and May got off the ship, they saw the binary nature that was Omega. Right next to extremely nice places, were extremely shitty places. Right across the street from massive hotels that catered to exclusive clientele, were slums. Everywhere they looked, they saw disparity. Rich people in their exclusive towers, and the poorest of the poor. What amazed Nico & May was that there weren’t revolutions in the streets.

They already knew the problem. Rich people don’t think of themselves as rich. Rich people just think of themselves as middle class, no matter where they started. Everybody else just needed to pull themselves up, by whatever means necessary. Only Aria ruled Omega with a cold blue steel fist. Whatever she couldn’t get with melee, she would get with guns. And she was a master at getting street justice, no matter what airs she put on. And Aria didn’t like anybody taking shit from her pockets, and she had a piece of everything on Omega.

They finally decided on an accounting place, a place where Tima used to work. A front for a sham. “We’ll buy all of your used titles! Need some extra credits? Sell your titles!” What they didn’t tell you was that they were more than ready to sell you into slavery, either to the Batarians or the “good” type, on Asari worlds.

They didn’t learn much at Cred4Titles. They did learn that Tima frequented a bar in one of the worst neighborhoods on Omega.

Tima relaxed in her special seat, as Nico walked in. She took a long sip through her pressurazation chamber. Sure, it look like a straw. It was atually a complex series of pressurazation chambers. After all, volus did live in a pressure greater than that of most species. A lot greater.

Nico stepped into the bar, and immediately scanned it. He spotted only one Volus. Tima. He recognized him by red stripe going down the center of his helmet, and green lights behind the eyes.

“Tima.” Nico said, as he and Mila sat down.

“What do you want?”

“Come on now, that’s no way to treat a guy who busted you.”

“You’re no friend of mine. As a matter of fact”

“Okay, okay,” Nico said interrupting him. “Well, lets put it this way. I need information, and I think you’ve got it.”

“Information is one of the most deadly things in the known universe.” He took another sip, and emptied glass. He looked down at the bottom of the ice filled glass. He took another pull at the straw, making a gurgling sound. He shook the glass when he was finished. “Information is costly.”

“I’ve got 2,000 credits. Whether your information pans out or not.”

“4,000. The same terms.”

“2,500. You haven’t even asked me what I wanna know yet.”

Tima set the glass down on the table. “Fine. What do you wanna know?”

“You hear about the bombing on the Citadel?”

“Ahhhhhh. Hah. You wanna know who’s behind it.” He said it as a statement. That’s gonna be about 40,000 credits.”

“Yeh. Why so much?”

“I have to look out for myself. If tell you and an info broker at the same time, I can charge you both. But this… this is special. Very secretive, and extremely concise. Only the best hackers and very few people have knowledge of it.”

He pushed the glass away from him. “But if I tell you, and then tell the info broker, that would make me a target of the shadow broker and the people responsible.” He put his palms on the bar, “Not a very good strategy, do you think?”

Nico sat stonefaced. “But if you just tell me, then that will limit your profit.”

“And, I’ve gotta cover my tracks. That won’t be easy.” The bartender brought Tima another drink. He took the empty glass as he left. He seemed to relax. He grabbed his drink sloppily, as some spilled. He settled into himself and sat back.

Nico didn’t have that much. He sat there with a dejected look on his face.

“I just want to find out who killed my mother. I don’t care what it costs. Tell us what you know, you’ll get your money,” Mila said. She sat forward, as if to double down on her point. “Spill it.”

Tima, swirling the ice around his glass, started out slowly. “Well,” he paused, and put his glass down. “Can I get a guarantee that you won’t send me back to jail?”

Nico was honestly surprised by the question. If Tima knew about the bombing, he surely knew about Nico getting forcibly retired? “Uhh, no. I was canned because of the bombing. I’ve gotta find this guy to clear my name and receive my pension.”

“I just want to see the fucker who did this pay.” Added Mila. She inched up in her seat, obviously eager to hear who did this.

Tima finished his drink. “Here’s what I know,” he said in a hushed voice. “There’s a female Batarian who I was in jail with. Council races have no idea what sex we VolClan are. I think it has something to do with what color our environmental suits are.”

“Batarians? I mean, I knew that they were still around, but I thought that they were destroyed during the Reaper War? I mean, I thought their numbers were in the thousands?”

“Common misconception. In fact, so common, it is almost a joke,” as the bartender brought him another drink. He waited for the bartender to leave before continuing. “No, the Batarians had several worlds before the Reaper invasion. Some say that they rivaled the asari for economic greatness, others say that this was held up by the slave labor that the Batarians held. Remove that slave labor, and a pillar has fallen. Ufortunately for the batarians, it was a main pillar.”

“At any rate, they had many worlds. Enael was one of those worlds. While the rest of Batarian space was decimated, Enael held out. They did so by electing a guerrilla strategy, ya know? Hit them where they are weakest, run from where they are the strongest. Or bomb them.”

“From what I understand, they were on the brink of starvation, exhaustion, they were running out of ammo, when the reaper war ended.”

“Huh.” Said Nico, he turned to look at Mila. “You know about any of this?”

“You mentioned a female.” Without turning her gaze from Tima.

“I’m getting there, I’ve gotta give you a history lesson, though.” He sipped his drink, which was empty again. He raised his hand to catch the bartender’s attention, and pointed at his drink. The bartender brought over another one. “Keep ‘em coming.”

“That’s gonna be at least 200 credits. Added on top of the 800 you already owe.” The human bartender said, matter of factly. “You ain’t got that much.”

Tima was quiet for a moment. Tima looked embarrassed, at least as embarrassed as one can look in an environmental suit.

Mila slapped down a credit chit. “He’s good for it.” Nico wondered where she ha pulled it from, much less where she was shitting all this cash.

“Anyway, so Enael survived the Reaper war. But one worlds when the asari, humans, turians, salarians, have dozens a piece.” He slurped his drink. “The numbers just didn’t stack up. Batarian relations with the Citadel and the Council weren’t great to begin with. And they got a lot worse after. They elected an batarian extremist.”

The bartender who was washing glasses, left.

“You ever hear of Balak? Fought with Shepard a couple’a years before the Reaper War.” he said, preemptively interrupting him. “Well, Balak came from Enael… Just to give you an idea of the kinds of people that you’re dealing with.”

Mila had heard about enough, “The female… Now.”

“Name is Navalic,” he continued. “She was the wife of the leader. She got busted smuggling explosives. Maybe for a job like the one you’re after. All I know is that it must’ve been one hell of a lot of explosives, and they were military grade, for the time she got.”

Mila leaned forward, “Batarian?”

“Hah, oh yeah. Do you know wha” was all he managed to get out before the shot rang out. Nico and Mila both ducked for cover.

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Just some fan fiction.

Mass Effect fan fiction.

I think it’s pretty decent. For a first draft. I’m a long way from completing it though.

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The unholy trinity and the modern game

I was sitting here thinking about one post I made on uBSN’s (unofficial BioWare Social Network) forum.


http://bsn.boards.net/thread/14133/anthem-skepticism-thread?page=161&scrollTo=1270084


In the post I hit on three thing: wrong engine, microtransactions, and games as a service. I called them the unholy trinity that would also bring a few studios down. Then, as I started to think about it more and more, I realized that the engine didn’t really have much to do with it. Sure, it does in BioWare’s case, and some would even argue Bethesda’s, but not other studios. I realized that it doesn’t have to be that wide. Let me break down the unholy trinity.

  • Recurrent user spending — This is how much each user will spend. They don’t care if 95% of the player base doesn’t spend a dime, they only care about the 5% that do.
  • Microtransactions — This is the item that they are selling. Note the difference. One is buying, one is selling.
  • Games as a service — The entire thing that bring it all together. The thing that says, “Hey, your friends are doing it, don’t you want in? Don’t you want to play with the ‘cool’ crowd?”

Think of it as a triangle if you want to, with each of these at the angles. If you know something about geometry, you know that a triangle is one of the most sturdy shapes.

This is really the unholy trinity that, I think if it’s not broken soon, will bring down major developers. Games used to be from gamers with a passion. Not about looking out for their checkbook.

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