I can't really explain it, I just keep losing interest in video games.
And I think the reason for that is, at least partly, because the games being made now are generally not as good as what was being made before.
I hate to say it, but I feel like this console gen isn't going to be as good as the last one. Developers aren't doing the same kinds of things they used to do with their video games, and the market has changed considerably on all fronts. Consumers complain, but they aren't even really sure what they want.
AAA games turn out mediocre and buggy, over-hyped messes that really don't move you the way a much more simple and refined game would have. Indie games turn original and inspired, but usually lack good level design and are more artsy and boring as fuck than anything else. And unless you're into competitive FPS's or free-to-play online games, you're pretty much screwed since these companies have fucked up single-player games and ruined content with DLC.
And don't get me started on how badly mobile and app-store gaming screwed up our pasttime!
The sad thing is, I don't know what to even do about this. Do I just stick with my XBox One and hope it gets better? Do I try out some of the interesting PS4 games coming out? Maybe I was wrong to give up on the Vita and the 3DS? Or maybe now is as good a time as ever to get the Wii-U? ...Or should I wait and see if Nintendo releases this new console soon?
Or do I do some gaming on the PC? Or just kind of cut back on gaming altogether? Or maybe purchase some older console and try to have fun with that?
It's all really kind of confusing. I don't know what I want as a gamer. And I'm not sure how to correct it.
I think the most fun I'm having with gaming right now, is playing Oldschool Runescape. It's a real throwback for me. But otherwise... I'm not feeling it. And it's disappointing because we put so much money into these games and game systems, and don't have anything to really show for it.
Video games can't really fix a person's own problems, anyways. Maybe the truth is I don't feel very alive right now, and I want to go live and see more of the world, and get some fresh air.
My blog from yesterday was kind of vent-y, so I thought I'd do a more optimistic blog as I usually am so want to do.
So last week (or thereabouts) I finally started watching Better Call Saul. Liking it very much, I think just not obsessing over its debut and getting around to it when I was in the mood for it was the right way to go about things. We're already...5? episodes into the show now. (I have not seen yesterday's episode yet, so no spoilers, please!) But it's off to a decent start - the roots are in place for a pretty good offbeat lawyer drama to grow from.
I think paying attention to those so-called Internet "TV show reviewers" is stupid, especially with this show. While one reviewer praised the first three episodes for featuring lots of throw-backs to Breaking Bad, they panned the fourth episode for marching more to the beat of a different drum. Personally, I think that's kind of stupid.
Breaking Bad was a good show. And it's cool that this show takes place in the same realm, and features a similar brand of tone and storytelling. But Better Call Saul is not Breaking Bad. While BB was the story of one man's selfish acts done to feel alive, BCS is a bit more bright and fun. Both shows are about a man making a transition into someone darker; but while Walt becomes a crime lord, Jimmy becomes adept at using his knowledge of the law to stick it to his adversaries.
So I like that Better Call Saul isn't leaning entirely on its origins from Breaking Bad. I hope that the show continues to come into its own, and that every single episode isn't just a nod to another show. That is what makes a good spin-off - that is what makes your Fraisers to your Cheers.
Maybe one of these days I'll give an overall impression of the first season, or something. It's exciting to think where Vince Gilligan could take this show in subsequent seasons - we do know there will be a second one, at least!
March happened. But so far, it's really just feeling like filler time to help progress towards Spring. It still snows off and on every other day, but the weather is steadily getting warmer. I'll take it.
Yesterday I got kind of mad at work, like probably the angriest I've been in at least a couple of weeks. The day was going surprisingly well up until that point, after lunch. And then I stood there and listened to a conversation between a higher-up and my boss, and that was really all it took to put me in a mood. To summarize, it went a little something like this - and I'm paraphrasing here...:
"So I see some of your workers do whatever they want every single day, and well, rather than address their behavior directly, I think we should do something to punish everyone and make everything more of a pain in the ass for all of the workers in your department. See, we're gonna make a board, and people are gonna have to write down what they've accomplished for the night on that board before they leave. Even though, you know, this is all already visible to managers in the system already. We don't really check that shit anyways. But we think things will run more smoothly back here if we put pressure on your people to get more work done for the overnight crew. Even though that's not really your main job, and we just sort of rush you to get your main job done so you can do some of theirs'. We want more work done. We want to make life a living hell for everyone, so if your worker doesn't get X amount of picks done in a night, we will bitch to them about it until they accomplish that and maintain it. And then, as we always do, we will be damn sure to ask them to try harder and get even more done. Nevermind that usually your best workers are the ones who do picks, and do a decent enough job at it for not being pickers. This solution will not address, in any way, shape or form, the problems caused by your lousy workers who don't even really do picks, by the way. But it's what we want so we're gonna do it!"
That is pretty much how I interpreted the whole thing. Look, I'm getting sick of it. It's like this damn place doesn't ever want to leave things well enough alone if they are going fine. No, like every couple of weeks they have to make some major change and shake things all the hell up. They keep changing our department manager. They keep giving us more tasks. And they keep hiring new store managers who I've never seen before, who think they know everything and make these corny-ass suggestions about how to change things around. So we try that for a while til it turns out to be counter-productive.
This board thing. It just pisses me off. Most nights it's just me and one other person doing picks. And usually, for anywhere between 1-3 hours, depending on when we get our other stuff done. My boss assured me I hit my pick expectations for the other night. So if me and only one other person are doing picks, then where is the problem? Is it with the other person? Or am I really the one they want to do more, and she just straight-up lied to my face? Or maybe this is all in preparation for when the lousier workers start doing picks, to help keep tabs on them? Maybe they will finally start making everybody do picks?
Regardless, it seems like a waste of time. We finish up, then what, we gotta write down the exact amount of picks we did for each apartment, and tally it up? Then they will probably get on our case if we come up short. Even if, we ran into problems because we got stopped to do other stuff, or someone decided to take all of the ladders so we had to spend a few minutes hunting for a free one, for example. Or, like the other night, the workers decided to leave a bunch of empty feature stands sitting all over the place in the tiny room and I lost time because I had to play hell moving stuff around to get my pallets of picks to the floor?
It's funny. Everything keeps changing at work. And yet, for all the bitching my boss has done about leaving, she is still there. And, I really kind of wish she would just leave already. Because maybe if she did, things would be better?
I think that whole little conversation I heard was damaging to my complacency at work. I honestly just wish my classes would pay off and I could go find a more exciting and likable job in the IT field. But I still don't feel ready, I don't feel like I know enough yet. And yet, I don't want to deal with all of this idiocy anymore. Idiocy from managers. Idiocy from coworkers. And occasionally, even from customers.
I know that the pendulum swings back and forth all too frequently, but I wish I could sit here and say that I would choose a brighter future with school every time, over a big retailer that doesn't have its shit together. But I know that when you get your hopes up, you're likely in for a big let-down.
I've wanted to do a blog about upcoming games for a while, so here it is. Don't really want to do too much research or delve too deeply into this - just wanna discuss the games and what has me interested about them.
Ori and the Blind Forest
It's hard to believe, but the release date of Ori is only about two weeks away. I've been looking forward to the game since last year's unveiling, and there's really just something so familiar yet refreshing about the whole thing that I like. For starters, it reminds me of the movie The Lion King for some reason, and also like a Studio Ghibli film, if that's at all possible. The backgrounds have a painted look to them, with excellent lighting and shadowing effect. Gameplay-wise, this looks a bit like the SNES Lion King video game, though I'd imagine it's probably lightyears better than that. It's said to have 'metroidvania'-like elements.
Why?: Ori was among the games that ultimately persuaded me to buy the XBox One last year. It helped to show a range of variety in game types that I sought in a new game system. Since I've really been in the mood to play sides-scrolling action games lately, I think OatBF comes along at a good time. And I feel like I owe it to myself to buy this game since I've been looking forward to it for some time. I think the $20 asking price is a bit steep, but I can probably overlook the extra $5 this costs compared to most downloadable games from last gen.
Why Not?: At the same time, a good reason not to jump on the game's release is that I own a bunch of sidescrolling XBox One games already, and need to work on them. There's 1001 Spikes, Volgarr the Viking, Super Time Force, and others like Chariot and Guacamelee which I might decide to play. It might be a bit of sidescrolling-overload.
There's also the question of how much content this game will include, and whether or not I will feel like it lives up to expectations. It's one thing for a game to look pretty and have a great E3 unveiling, but does it play well? These are things I probably won't know until after I've bought it and played it for a bit.
Final Fantasy Type-0
Final Fantasy games aren't what they once were. It was probably impossible to avoid, but the games started branching out and tried doing new and different things after a certain point, and the direction and tone of the games changed accordingly in an attempt to stay relevant. This choice by Square-Enix may have backfired on the company, resulting in a slow decade for the franchise. And, whatever your feelings towards more recent titles in the series, FF has largely changed since the Playstation 1 era.
That's not to say that it's been all bad news. There have been some noteworthy releases since FFX, some of which were better than others. FF Type-0, a PSP game that was only released in Japan up until this point, seemed like one of the more interesting games to come out of the brand over the past decade. You play as a group of classmates, each named after a card in a deck, with their own unique abilities. That is really about all I know of this game, except that it is an action-RPG, and that this release will be a console HD remaster of the PSP game.
Why?: Some part of me wants to give this game a chance. After all, I am an RPG fan, but there isn't much to look forward to in the way of RPGs on the XBox One. And when an FF game looks like it could be decent, that's sort of a rare thing anymore. Factor in the fact that I think this game looks more promising than Final Fantasy 15, somehow, and it seems like a reasonable game to consider.
Why Not?: Unfortunately, it isn't as simple as saying that this game looks interesting. I haven't really done my research on it, and maybe I don't really care enough to. The point is, FF Type-0 is a gamble. It could be good, it could be bad, or it could be pretty mediocre. And I suspect it will be the latter. One thing I really need to start considering is how much space each game I purchase takes up on my system. And I guess I'm not entirely sold on it. I mean, is this really what I want to play right now? Idk.
The Witcher 3
Ori and Type-0 are both slated for March releases. I think The Witcher 3 is the only other game on this list with a set release date so far - not until May.
The Witcher 3 is appealing to me because it looks gorgeous, and the series has gotten praise over recent years for its dark and somewhat realistic take on fantasy. Based on a series of books, the Witcher follows series protagonist Geralt as he slays monsters and travels the land in search of adventure.
Why?: As I said above, the XBox One doesn't have many RPGs. Dragon Age Inquisition is alright, but in some ways I feel like it is actually inferior to Origins. I could use a stronger RPG, and this game could be it. I'm not opposed to taking a new RPG for a spin, and maybe I'd find a new favorite in CD Projeckt RED's flagship series. After all, might not be too many other major disc-based releases for a while...
Why Not?: There's a lot of reasons why I'm still questioning this game. First of all I've never even played a Witcher game before, and I don't know entirely what to expect. And what if the game were to turn out not much different from Dragon Age Inquisition? I mean, that would be alright, but I am really looking for something different than that I guess. Aside from that, there is the whole question of how many games I have the time for right now, and how much money I am willing to sink into gaming right now.
I likely won't buy this game at launch, since it is so close to my wedding day. I probably won't have the time or money for it then. Later on, maybe, sure, but not at launch. Another thing to take into consideration is that the weather is getting nicer outside, and I want to experience more of that.
One of my most hotly-anticipated game releases for this year, Cuphead impresses with vintage cartoon artwork and animation, and run-and-gun gameplay that is said to be heavily focused on boss fights. Cuphead looks great, and its titular character (as well as his buddy Mugman) look like original heroes for gaming. I wish there were a set release date, but thus far it's still just slated for '2015'. The game got an article in the latest issue of Gameinformer, so hopefully that's some indication that is is on the way. ...For the time being, who knows whether it'll release in Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter...
Why?: I am likely going to buy this game. I am a big fan of animation and cartooning in general, and what this game accomplishes already is impressive. The gameplay, the graphics... Everything looks great, so I have high hopes that I'll enjoy it when it does eventually come out. It also has an overworld map - just learned that today!
Why Not?: I have a pretty good feeling that I'll get Cuphead, but I guess money could me one factor why I decide not to get it. Also, potentially horrid review scores.
Toy Soldiers: War Chest
Another game that has had little news recently is the upcoming Toy Soldiers game. For a while I was hearing that it would see an April 2015 release, but lately all signs point to an indefinite '2015' release date. What's more, is that the game is currently only listed on the official website as being released for PS4 and PC... Which is disappointing. I suspect this is a game that will release first on PS4, and later on XBox One.
Why?: I was a big fan of Toy Soldiers and Toy Soldiers: Cold War on the XBox 360. I actually considered them exclusives worthy of buying the console for. The games are great, and I would love to see the series live on. I will likely buy the new game, though news is slow to come.
Why Not?: I am pretty disappointed that Ubisoft is now publishing the series, and that it is no longer a Microsoft-owned property. Toy Soldiers and XBox just sorta go hand-in-hand, and I wouldn't mind it going multi-platform as much if it saw equal releases on both XBox One and PS4. It seems like Ubisoft is giving more consideration to the PS4 version, however...
The following games I won't give detailed opinions for... Due to time constraints, as well as a lack of actual information about the said games.
From the people who made Limbo, the game is a similar sort of deal. I probably won't get this game, it doesn't seem like my cup of tea... But I am keeping an eye on it, anyway.
Created by the team behind Super Time Force, Below is a roguelike top-down dungeon exploration game. It looks great. Keeping my eyes on it.
Double-Fine may have shafted us XBO owners by giving Costume Quest 2 exclusive PS4 content, but they are making up for it with the XBO console exclusive Massive Chalice. My understanding is that it will be a turn-based strategy game, where decades pass quickly in game time and you must constantly manage an empire. I am interested in this game, could be the downloadable RPG we need...
Mirror's Edge 2
Largely missing in action as of late, EA's sequel to their parkour-style game is still in the works. I've included it on this list because it was originally slated for a release in the early part of 2015, so I'm still suspecting it could be released early in the year.
This week has had some good moments, notably Thursday, though it was not very productive - especially given the fact that I had three days off.
The snow and its almost daily greetings are responsible for a lot of my problems, but I know that once again I really didn't plan my week out well enough, or care enough to get things done when I had the time to do them.
Having stomach problems for a few days didn't help my situation much, but maybe I should look at that as punishment. After all, it occurred pretty much after my ideal free time passed.
I am somewhat stressed as of this morning since the new class schedules were posted, but I'm not sure if it is set in stone until I find out whether I've passed all of my current classes. So I can't go change my work schedule to work around it until I know what my school schedule is for sure. The middle of March might seem like it's a ways off, but it won't be long after the end of this semester. My lack of a manager at work right now makes me worried about it as well, since I could end up with more headaches if someone without brains is making upcoming schedules.
I haven't felt too comfortable with school or the weather lately. I keep hoping that nicer weather and a change of classes will make a grand difference, though history would suggest more of those same cycles I've seen throughout my life.
My fiancee' seems to understand how to do a lot of these things in class, but I'm having trouble comprehending things and get angry about everything anymore.
I don't want to give up on college though. I know it isn't going much better, what I'm doing with my life at work right now. Work probably won't be too much better off even with all of the big changes my coworker says he wants to make if he becomes lead. The fact of the matter is, I've always wanted something else for myself. But can I find it?
It seems like it has taken hardly any time at all, but in a few more short weeks I will be through my third quarter of school. I think it's roughly 3 more weeks of class, and then break.
This semester has been a fairly easy one compared to last time, though I keep getting disappointed by the quality of the teachers and the course overall this quarter. It seems like a lot of the lousy teachers are the ones that hang in there and get a bunch of classes, while the good teachers just kind of get squeezed out, and meanwhile all of the teachers are really trying to do what the dean wants which can sometimes be not very beneficial.
I can't tell whether my college has done a quality job or not with these courses so far. I sometimes feel like I should have learned and understood more by now, but at the same time, I have no real other basis to compare this to - aside from maybe high school. I guess learning anything at all makes a difference, but is the difference going to be worth the thousands of dollars I'm paying out to get it? I don't know.
Regardless, I am really looking forward to the fourth quarter. If for no other reason, then because I would like to have a different class schedule and some more experienced teachers who can tell me a lot about the industry and the things I'm learning. I really hope that I also pass my math class, so that I will not have to worry about math too much for the foreseeable future.
With any luck the weather will improve in coming weeks. I'm beyond sick of the cold and the snow alike, even if Winter did arrive late and wasn't as bad as it could have been. I just feel kind of 'trapped' within the house lately. It isn't a good feeling, I'd like to be somewhere else.
It seems like I'm on the cusp of so many good things, but there are still a lot of bad things going on that kind of take away from the excitement. I might be able to make a big dent in my monthly payments, but then I might need money for other things soon. I am getting married in a few months, but then I get uncertain about it sometimes and wonder if it will ruin my chance to get away like I've wanted to for many Summers now. A lot of people who caused problems are leaving at work, but at the same time it will leave the remainder of us understaffed... And it could lead to people noticing more things they don't like about me, with the easy scapegoats out of the way.
All I can do right now is focus on the immediate things in my life that I'm happy about. Days off, a warm house, and Thursday when my fiancee' and I are going to have the day off together. I just wish there weren't so many things in my life that make me instantly angry or sad.
Maybe I'm just in another one of my moods. Maybe the crappy weather is to blame. And perhaps, I'm just blowing things all out of proportion like I sometimes do.
Whatever the case may be, gaming has become a mix of pleasure and pain for me, and it has been more of a disappointment and a waste of time than anything as of late.
About an hour or two ago I sat down to login to Old School Runescape, having come to realize that such a thing actually exists yesterday and is going to see its entirety re-released as free-to-play come February 19th. I saw another player attacking an aggressive guard NPC over some fences with magic, and decided to join in and attack with some arrows, to work on my ranged skill. My character is brand-new, so I figured why not? Surely this complete stranger wouldn't mind me attacking an NPC with him - I half-expect most people to be bots in Runescape, anyhow.
It took seconds before the other player started criticizing me for doing this, noting that I was mostly striking the guard for zeroes and doing no damage because my skill level was too low. He went on to say "Noobs nowadays", and didn't believe it when I told him I actually played Runescape as long ago as Easter 2003 - probably about when this player was born, if I were to guess.
The exchange was quick, and fleeting. But it left me kind of depressed. Not really so much because of this one encounter, but because I didn't really expect to have to converse much in an old and outdated game that most people have moved on from. And because this kind of thing is still happening, over a decade since I played my first online game.
This other player talked to me, and actually got back an intelligent response from me . But rather than trying to hold a friendly conversation with me, they chose to be selfish and treat me as some unworthy peer who should be playing this game for the same reasons as them, with the same degree of seriousness as them.
All the while, I've really only been sinking back into Runescape for the great nostalgia (up until this point) of it all. It's been a few years since the game transitioned into its new form, and I was happy to see any semblance of Runescape 2.0 or prior since that is what I spent much of my teenage years playing. I left the chat on because I figured that nobody else would really talk to me in particular, but now I guess I'll have to turn off all chatter if I want to enjoy the game.
This experience likely won't keep me from playing Runescape - I will presumably keep playing the game because it is a huge part of my gaming roots, and I feel that it offers an MMO experience unlike any other - one that is even superior in some respects to more modern MMOs. I also wouldn't let something like this impact my long-lasting hopes of experiencing every last bit of Runescape for free, at my own pacing. I think it's a fantastic coincidence that the time I rediscover RS is right before the free-to-play goes live.
However, I think this experience will be damaging to my feeling towards video games in general. It will only build upon my history of disappointments with gaming, and more importantly, other people who play video games. I will now be less likely to want to talk about video games with my friends and coworkers, and less likely to want to play video games with other people.
Something else that has been damaging to gaming in general for me, is Twitch. Sure, I watched it a few times after I got my XBox One to discover Plants VS Zombies Garden Warfare. I thought it was a novel little idea at first. But it really just produced more of the "Oh my god I can't believe people like this actually exist" people that other websites such as Youtube already gave to us over the years. Except it's worse because the whole website is for gamers - crazy-ass gamers who live and breathe video games in the worst of ways.
I will never forget the day I went to the website, and right there on the front page a bunch of stereotypical gamers were sitting in some fancy air-conditioned building complete with an audience, 'speed-running' Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. They made the game entirely not-fun to want to watch, and I can't imagine they had much fun playing it. They kept talking about how many steps it would take them to do this or that, and about which rooms they could skip in the dungeon to do this or that. They kept spitting out stupid little factoids about the mechanics of the game engine that only they would know. It was just ridiculous, and gave a whole new meaning to the term "no lives".
I am not, and will never be, one of those kinds of gamers. Those people are boring and sad little geeks. I just play and have fun, and try to the best of my ability to do well at a video game. I don't break it down into a fuckin' science and think like a robot.
I will never be able to understand these people.
I think really all of the gaming community has become a mess in recent years. I'm not exactly sure what the root cause is. Should we blame developers? Publishers? Game journalists? Gaming websites? Gamers? Certain kinds of gamers? Humanity? Humans with problems? People who place the blame for horrific incidents squarely onto games and the people who play them? I still want to blame the Gamespot website redesign for some small portion of it.
Every couple of days there seems to be some new piece of news that rocks the community. And every couple of months, there is some major controversy. I'm left questioning all too often whether I want to be lumped into a group with some of these other people as gamers, or if I want to continue to support a hobby that seems so controversial.
But I think Gamespot's 'comments' have a pretty major contribution to negativity among, at the very least, the community here. It provides any Gamespot user with a soapbox to say whatever they want, and those popular comments will go on to become major debates. The forums are not much better, though you will generally see less controversy there. But more often than not, the stupid or straightforward threads are the ones that will receive responses. Nobody on the forums wants to discuss individual thoughts, or read anything more than two paragraphs in length.
Another reason why gaming hasn't been as amazing for me as of late, is that I can't figure out where I'm really going with it right now.
Since 2010 I've changed the gaming systems I've owned about 8 different times. I can't really figure out what I want to play, but then what I want to play seems to change a lot. In 2010 I thought I would be content with just a DS for a while. Then, I decided I wanted XBox 360 again. Then the next year, I really wanted a 3DS at launch. Then by the middle of the next year I had sold pretty much all of that stuff and got a Vita. Then the following year we got a PS3, and I thought we were set until we decided to trade a bunch of stuff in towards the PS4. ...Then I wanted a 3DS again. Then out of nowhere I did a 180 and wanted an XBox One. And that's not including my bouts of interest in playing PC and App stuff.
The directionless-ness is only compounded by the fact that the PS4 and One have been out for an entire year, but I'm still not feeling like either system has a true 'killer-app'. And I'm not certain that anything that fits that bill is anywhere on the horizon, either.
Even as excited as I was about Sunset Overdrive, Master Chief Collection and Dragon Age Inquisition last year, I still don't feel like playing any of those games much. I enjoyed Dead Rising 3 a lot, but maybe I'm just looking for something else right now. Maybe nothing feels truly 'next-gen' to me yet.
There are some games I am excited about this year - Ori and the Blind Forest, Phantom Dust, Halo 5 Guardians, and the new Crackdown, among other things. ...And I'm sure more will be announced at E3. But I'm still just not feelin' it. I'm actually more excited about playing Runescape at the moment, to be honest. That's how little most of these games are striking my fancy right now.
One game I am pretty excited about is Everquest Next, for the sole purpose that it looks great, and seems like it could be the first MMO that truly goes beyond World of Warcraft and sets a new standard for MMOs. I can't help but feel a little conflicted, though, since the game will likely see release on both PS4 and XBox One, so I'm not sure which I should go for. (PS4 was announced a while ago, and it might also include PC players. While XBox One will likely need dedicated servers if it comes to it. Though, I like my XBox One more than my PS4 atm.) And furthermore, I'm not sure if I will be just as disappointed playing EQN with other people as I was today in Runescape, or when I attempted to tank in an instance in WOW the other day.
I like MMOs, but I don't really like playing games with other people because I'm sick of having to live with them and be judged by them. I want to play games on my own terms, online be damned. I want to have fun playing games - that is the main point. But at what cost? That is what I have to ask myself whenever I finally do get the chance to try out EQN. Who knows? Maybe I won't even like it and that will be that?
In the meantime, it looks like I want to chop down trees, mine rocks, slay trolls and click to walk around Lumbridge and its surrounding territories. And hopefully I get some enjoyment out of that. I can't imagine giving up on games entirely, but it's depressing that I've lost interest in so many of them already.
My fickle gaming experiences over the past couple of years have led me all over the place, as I switched from one favorite game and system to the next, unable to find contentedness.
More recently, I've come to realize the simple fact that has been before me all along - most games are generally enjoyable and frustrating at the same exact time. It's really kind of infuriating, but there has been something that bothers me about damn near every game I've played.
I want to talk about a handful of games that have been frustrating for me lately. These are all games that I like, or else really want to like, but find myself moody sometimes whenever I play them. I'd like to talk a bit about why some of these games are frustrating to me, to perhaps get to the bottom of my problems with finding complete entertainment in gaming as of late.
So first, there's Hearthstone. A few weeks ago I made a thread or blog where I questioned why I am so bad at competitive online games, and Hearthstone was one of the main games I discussed. For the uninitiated, Hearthstone is an online collectible card game, based on the Warcraft universe.
Now in all honesty, Hearthstone might actually be the most fair game on this list. You really do win some and lose some. But this game is often frustrating because I've played several matches, and every time I think I've improved my deck and my strategies, I find the losses stacked up against me by someone with superior experience at the game.
One of the other games I mentioned in that same said thread was Halo. Any of 'em really, take your pick. I anxiously returned to playing Halo with the Master Chief Collection a few months ago, after having not played the games since sometime in 2011.
Despite really enjoying the story mode of the Halo games, I've always been off-and-on when it comes to the multiplayer aspect of it. Since I sucked pretty horribly after playing MCC, I was starting to dislike it. The problems with MCC's broken release were bad enough that I was also put off of the single-player mode, which was impacted by save bugs.
But the real crushing blow came with the Halo 5 multiplayer beta, where players basically swept the floor with me. The addition of new 'thruster-packs' make beat-downs hell, and controller changes were difficult to fully adjust to. FPS games have never been my best friend, though.
Another game I was playing a lot in previous months was Dragon Age Inquisition. This game isn't a competitive online one, but that was never my sole point - I'm talking about frustrations with games in general.
DAI suffers from a strange fate. On the one hand, the game is beautiful and has interesting characters, a good story, and is a natural extension of the things I discovered while playing DA: Origins. Simultaneously, the game also failed to improve in many areas where I'd figured it would have, and ALSO actually went BACKWARDS with some of its systems and features compared to its predecessors.
The game became too quest-centric, and felt a little like an offline MMO - not really in a good way. It also fudged on the skill-pathway system and battle system, making it feel quite disappointing like a conglomerate of all good, bad, great and mediocre things Dragon Age.
Maybe the biggest thing is that it didn't manage to be as interesting or as challenging as DAO, and actually felt like it took away some of the control I had in that game.
Even a game as simple and laid-back as Minecraft is really infuriatingly frustrating. When you get right down to it, you spend most of the game breaking rocks and looking for the occasional piece of coal or ore. And you suffer many unfortunate deaths - deaths by fall, by lava, by creeper, and by boredom.
What's more is that even with a game like this, I've had trouble playing at the same pace as other people whenever I've played it with them.
More recently, my past few weeks of returning to WOW have made me realize how challenging gaming with other people can be. In very few games have I been so proud of my character representation of myself, yet disappointed with the limitations of the game and its crude structuring.
Now I'm not just simply talking about video games or online competitive games - I'm talking about the complicated monster that is an MMO. There is a lot to these games, a lot of aspects, and they mean something much, much different to each individual person that plays them. Of course all I really have to go by is my low-level years of experience with the game.
After a certain point, questing starts to become kind of boring. When the quests seem to lose originality and become tedious, I start running instances. Instances are generally a lot more fun than quests, and more challenging, but the problem is that in instances you're not free to play on your own - you're working together with other people. And since I don't have four friends who play WOW and can form a group with me, I'm forced to play with strangers.
My first two instances playing as a tank for the first time in years went surprisingly well, perhaps because I had been through these instances a few other times recently on my main character. The third time was a charm, though, and I quickly remembered why I hate working with others. 9 times out of 10, I'm not fast enough for these people, or not experienced enough. They expect me to know exactly where to go, and hurry the hell up and do it at the snap of their fingers. They expect me to know exactly how much aggro I can take and hold, and exactly where and where not to stand to avoid pulling too many enemies.
Pretty soon WOW goes from being fun and relaxing and otherworldly, to being... a job. A job where I'm forced to work together with people I don't like. And what's even worse is that I'm paying $15 per month for it! And thus one of the many great downsides of MMOs shows its face. (There are many others, but this is the main one I wanted to focus on here.)
Yesterday, due to my rekindled interest in Warcraft lore, I decided to install Warcraft 3 again and try to play through it for once in my life.
I've kind of enjoyed it, but... I'm quickly reminded that I don't really like RTS games that much, for a number of reasons.
Mainly, I have pretty bad OCD, and I like to take my time doing things. When I am being rushed to do something while playing a game, that is not very fun to me. I keep wanting to spend my time setting my my base, organizing my defenses and upgrading stuff. I can never find the appropriate balance between aggression and defensive behavior/growth in RTS games. And while the story mode of this game isn't terribly challenging, I still feel kind of bad knowing how badly I suck at this game while I play it.
Going back a year ago, I was playing a lot of Pokemon Y. That game suffered from being too easy. And also, from featuring attacks that took what seemed like 2 hours to execute. What's more is that it sucked almost all of the focus on single-player campaign mode and emphasized competitive wi-fi play. Crappy competitive wi-fi play.
Fire Emblem Awakening was another game I was playing about a year ago. Unlike Pokemon, it was ridiculously challenging, mostly for someone OCD like myself. Considering the years of experience I've had with Fire Emblem and Advance Wars games, I was stunned that I became stuck about 5 levels into the game. I couldn't make it through that level for the life of me without somebody dying.
When you add in the overwhelming amount of downloadable content that was available since it was a year since the game had come out, I really wasn't sure where to go with the game. It collected dust for a while.
Earlier today I actually had a mostly good experience with this. I decided to download Volgarr the Viking a second time, since something about the game felt appealing when I got it with my Gold subscription the other month, and I felt in the mood to play something like it. Volgarr is basically an old-school Nintendo or Sega game, for today's game platforms.
You just walk along, slicing enemies up with your sword, blocking with your shield, and throwing spears... But you can find treasure chests that give you stackable power-ups, to make you stronger. These power-ups act as a sort of 'power mushroom' or 'fire flower' from Mario Bros. - when you take damage, you revert back to the previous level and lose the latest power-up, until you lose all of your power-ups and are left vulnerable, and the next hit kills you.
I took some weird form of pleasure from constantly attempting to make my way through level one of this game. I died many times and never completed this task, but somehow it was worth it whenever I'd manage to do a little bit better on some other random attempt. It was old-school challenge frustration... However, it was still frustration.
I think one of the most frustrating games of all time for me, however, is RPG Maker. I have enough trouble just playing a game successfully, but when you throw in the option for me to attempt to make my own video game you're asking for a world of headache. No, none of the maps I've ever designed in this program have ever even looked this good. No, I've never managed to make much of anything worthwhile in RPG Maker. But there is still some sort of draw there.
I've had lord-knows how many different ideas for gameplay mechanics and stories for this game, using just what's available in the base program. My OCD and quickness to become overwhelmed have always prevented me from getting anywhere with RPG Maker, and might always. It is pretty much the Procrastination Maker...
While I still can't seem to get to the root of my problems with frustration in games (it seems to stem more from deep personal issues than anywhere else), I have at least come to the pretty blunt decision that I simply just suck at video games.
I'm going to sound like a broken record, but it has been cold lately. And whether or not the cold deserves it, I blame it for my even greater laziness around home lately. Yes, I'm sure that playing WOW doesn't help much. I still think that the thing that's really killing me right now is the cold weather. I said it months ago and I'll say it again - I've gotten sick of Winter. And I really can't wait to feel the sun's warmth more regularly.
My XBox One hasn't been so much as turned on in about a month now. I still can't say that I've felt like playing anything on it in a while. But maybe the urge will return once I decide to fire something up on it again.
WOW has been pretty fun, and the more I think about it I've been getting a really decent value out of this month of playtime for $15, as opposed to a few hours of playtime with some $60 game, that I set to the side after a bit. I'm starting to feel a little WOW fatigue from time to time, but I haven't decided yet whether I'll rekindle my subscription when it expires, or take a break for a little while. Might as well get in some MMO gaming over the cold months, right? I guess we'll see what I decide to do, but I think I could use a few weeks off from WOW.
Things seem to be going well with my friends and acquaintances at work for the most part again. My boss had a falling out with a coworker recently, and is talking again about leaving - this time people seem convinced that she might. My other coworker who I get along with, and who has been there for years, is actually considering becoming the new lead if this happens. On paper it sounds like a good idea, though I am a tad bit skeptical. I guess right now I'd say I kind of hope it happens though, since the alternative replacement for our boss would probably end up being something awful.
Also at work, I'm thinking I'll give in and get certified to run the electric lift. I guess I don't have a very good reason not to, and I'm pretty sure they'll eventually force me to do it anyway.
School hasn't really been as good for me lately. I've been over school almost as much as I have the Winter, but a part of me would really like to at least graduate so I have something to put on my resume. Classes have become boring and kind of pointless, and if they aren't infuriatingly difficult then they're mundane and poorly structured. I can only hope that better teachers await me in the fourth quarter. And unfortunately, it doesn't do much for my personality, making me kind of a boring person to be around for my classmates who are friendly and talk to my fiancee and I.
There are so many big events that await me this year, perhaps it's a good thing that times are so slow and boring right now. January and February are kind of like the calm before the storm. Maybe even March can be a little bit like that, too. But I know full well that come April and May, there will be a lot of talk going on about the Big Day.
Didn't mention it, but I also bought Divinity: Original Sin the other day, since I heard so many good things about it. First impressions.... Well, as I figured, it doesn't run very well on my PC, but at least it does run. Kind of. The character creation options fucking suck. But I made some characters that looked alright enough. I don't like how you select some pre-made character image to represent each of your characters, that is kind of stupid. And beyond that I haven't played too much of the game, so I can't form any major opinions about it yet. Perhaps I won't until I get a better computer one day. Idk.
Tax returns will be coming up. I'm still not sure what I should do with the money I get back. I could use it to help pay on my credit card debts. I could use it towards the plane tickets for the honeymoon. I could use it towards a new bed. Or maybe new glasses, or something. But I don't really want to waste it, so I would like for it to go towards something important like that. I guess, aside from this being the Valentine's Day month, the next big thing is tax returns.
I guess the Groundhog determined that we are getting Spring early this year. That news makes me very happy! I hope it holds true...
Greetings, Gamespotters. I have a few minutes until I leave for work, so I felt like talking about some things that are on my mind.
Cold weather: With only a few more days left in January, and weather fluctuating between cold and chilly, we are starting to reach that point of the year where everyone is anxious for Spring again. Of course I've been anxious for Spring since late Fall - I just wasn't having Winter at all this year. Deep down inside, I think I'm starting to long for those days when I can go for walks around my neighborhood again, and I actually feel like spending more time outside. I'm also a little shocked that it's been nearly one year since last Valentine's Day, which feels like it was just a few short months ago.
Difficult friendship: Lately I've become annoyed with one of my friends. I felt like I could tolerate his personality a lot better up until recently, but it's starting to become embarrassing and rude. He always puts down anything that he feels is stupid, regardless of whether it is something I like or not. He always spits out stupid little factoids about stuff that starts to get on my nerves. He is always loud and embarrassing, even at the wrong moments. And the body odor... It is really starting to get to me. But I'm trying to maintain a respectful persona around him. I realize that he has his hardships and maybe wasn't dealt the best hand, but I also don't really feel like that's much of a reason to put up with his bs.
School detachment: I haven't been very focused on college, at all. I missed one day last week because I completely forgot I had school, simply because it matters that little to me right now. I feel like the quality of the teachers and the course slowly started to dwindle as the school revealed its true colors to me. First quarter was the honeymoon period. Second quarter was good, but infuriating. Third quarter is the most passable and least informative one thus far, which maybe I am kind of fortunate for, to be honest. Still, I'm getting behind with my classwork, and I am not optimistic about things right now.