Hearthstone, and the Advantage of Video Games

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Today I decided to finally try Blizzard's new WOW spin-off, Hearthstone. The game is, for the most part, free to play. And it took hardly any time to download and install. It seemed worth it to take the game for a spin, at the very least. But I find myself enjoying the game already - perhaps it is just the sort of game that I need to help me break my dry spell? Well, I'm not quite sure about that yet, but I did get in a couple of hours of playtime with Hearthstone today.

For anyone who isn't sure what Hearthstone is, it's an online collectible trading card game featuring characters and mechanics from the Warcraft (particularly World of Warcraft) universe. It is different than the existing, real-world WOW TCG.

The game revolves around the concept of 'Hero' cards, special cards which function as your commanding player character during gameplay. Your hero has hit-points and their own special ability that they can use during their turn. Each of the game's heroes represent one of the WOW classes, with the exception of Monk and Death Knight.

It goes without saying that my first thought was to play as a Mage, since that has become my go-to class within the last couple of years. But you don't really choose your starting class, or have any option whatsoever - you just begin the game's tutorial with the mage deck unlocked from the start. The mage Hero is Jaina Proudmore.

I was a little disappointed that you start as a mage, since that means all new players are mages and have some experience with the class. Indeed, more often than not I found myself running into other players who were also using Jaina. At the same time, I started off with my favorite class, so that was a perfect start for me.

During battle you want to keep your hero alive and defeat your opponents' heroes. You steadily gain mana each turn, enabling you to use more powerful cards to help you defeat your opponent and protect your own hide. The two main types of cards are minions and spells, minions being monsters and spells being single-use cards.

I have yet to see if other classes play differently, and I'm not sure how all of the other Heroes' abilities change gameplay. But I have the basic jist of how to set up a decent deck and play against people.

I'm still not sure if I have what I would necessarily call a 'favorite' card yet, There are a few different contenders. But one type of minion card is key to playing this game, and you will want to have a few in your deck no matter what - Taunt cards.

Taunt cards play just like a tank character would in WOW. They protect your hero from taking direct damage, and force most attacks to target the taunt cad itself. This is important, since without taunt cards you are often free to choose whether to attack your opponents' minion cards or their hero.

During my time with Hearthstone so far, I completed 2 or 3 quests and unlocked the Druid and Warlock classes. I customized my deck about 4 times. I won a few matches, I lost a few matches. I think it's safe to say that I kind of like the game.

Indeed, when I think about the still rather small number of trading card video games on the market, in particular the successful ones, Hearthstone easily sits amongst the better part of the bunch. It's reasonable to say it could become the most popular online TCG of the times.

Hearthstone got me thinking a little bit about video game card games, and what makes them better than regular, physical card games. Or, in general, what makes video games better than board games.

I think the main thing is, the automatic computation. In Dungeons & Dragons, you roll a couple of dice to determine... Damn near everything. How much damage you deal, how much damage you withstand, if your attack even hits, if this happens or that happens. In a video game, those variables don't matter so much because they are taken care of so much more efficiently.

Imagine what it would be like trying to role-play a game from another genre, like Super Mario Bros. That would be boring and pointless as all get-out. Trying to roll a dice to determine where Mario lands when he comes down from a jump. Trying to roll a dice to find out exactly where a moving enemy would be on any given level in relation to Mario, to determine if Mario gets hit, squashes the baddie, or lands neutrally beside it

It is far too much math to compute without a computer and analog controls. And its mind-numbingly boring. There is only so much you can do with dice and board games. Video games enable us to perform much more complicated physics and other equations in real-time, in the software, without any need for the player to give tedious bits of information a second thought. That is what makes video games great, and sets them apart from board games, I think. That's the advantage of video games.

Of course, I think there is something to be said for board games. For one thing, while it is possible to damage cards and bend them out of shape in person, you can pick up a deck of cards and play a game anywhere - versus where electricity or a power source is available.

Board games provide a greater level of thinking and problem-solving for the player, which is good now and then. They also, in the case of games such as D&D, provide a great opportunity for players to use their imaginations a bit.

I don't think I could ever completely write off board games because I have played Monopoly before... And plain old boardgame Monopoly beats the pants off of digital, electronic, video game Monopoly any day. It just can't compare, because part of the greatness of that game is the tense, human moments interspersed with the gameplay. Making deals, deciding what to do with your properties, even bending and changing the rules altogether if your feel like it.

So I think video games have their strengths, but they still can't replace every other interactive gaming experience. They can't replace playing with friends and family, and they can't replicated the look, feel and smell of a board game and its pieces. And sometimes, it is nice to keep things uncomplicated.

Getting back to the main topic, I think TCG can really benefit from being made into video games. Card collecting is an expensive hobby, and it is also time-consuming to sort through cards and arrange them into display sheets, and master the game. Video game TCGs are probably a surprisingly value-filled alternative to the original format. And you don't have to worry about bending or ruining your favorite rare card when you play the game with it, or finding the space to keep binders full of cards.

Hearthstone, likewise, seems like a smart idea and potentially a great new game from Blizzard. When the game was first announced I didn't fully get the appeal, now I think I do. Blizzard is becoming the go-to company for the "everyman" version of niche game genres. The everyman MMO is WOW, the everyman RTS is StarCraft, the dungeon-crawler is Diablo 3 and the TCG is Hearthstone. It's fast to download and play these games, and you're guaranteed good online service and a respectful level of quality with their games. For most gamers, Blizzard and Battle.net is a hub for a variety of games with that Blizzard and WOW flare. And it just makes sense.

Since Hearthstone is free, I think I will keep playing it for now, when I feel up to it. Maybe it will get boring once I get most of these basic cards, I have no clue, but to me this is already a decent little game. For years I've always wanted to play a great, quality online TCG. Blizzard has just done a much better job of making that goal easy for me to accomplish, than the other developers.

~ Ovirew

WOW Deliberation, and Growing out of Gaming?

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WOW Deliberation

So right now, I'm still not really sure about going back to WOW.

Playing the free version of the game has been nice. But when I think about it there seems to be more negatives than positives for me:

1) For starters, I'm not so sure that I would want to, or could really afford to subscribe to the game. $15/mo doesn't sound like much, but I just think there's more important things I can buy with that kind of money. And it would just be one more thing to spend money on, on top of everything else I use money for with every paycheck. And I don't need more expenses. It's part of the reason why I don't want to subscribe to PS Plus, aside from, I don't care too much about most online games.

2) My girlfriend downloaded the game and is messing around on it also, but it runs really kind of slow on her laptop. So that kills another of my initial reasons for wanting to play WOW again, to play it with her. I could maybe still play the game with my other pal, but it's a missed opportunity to spend time gaming with my partner.

3) Even if I were to buy the subscription, I'm not so sure that I would get my money's worth out of WOW anymore. Most days I am home when my girlfriend is at work and my online friend is at school. And I usually don't feel like playing video games on work days anymore. In fact, I really only play games about once or twice a week anymore. So paying a monthly fee to play a game one or two times a week... Idk.

4) WOW has changed a lot since I first played it in 2008, and it was already in the process of changing since its 2004 release. The changes to the game have always placed an emphasis on endgame content, while shrinking and speeding up starting areas and other mid-game content. The game is a lot easier nowadays. While this is good on one hand because it makes the game more laid-back and less OCD hell, it also feels like I'm just kind of going through the motions and there's no real reward for my time spent and accomplishments completed in the game.

5) Warlords of Draenor doesn't even come out until later this year. So it's a long wait for the visual changes I'm looking forward to. But when those visual changes arrive, the game might not run at all on my girlfriend's laptop. And that is really one of the few things I am even looking forward to with the expansion, everything else sounds like mostly more endgame content.

6) And last but not least, let's not forget that this is WOW - a game I have played before, and a game that I have stopped playing and restarted playing on a few occasions already. History is sure to repeat itself. Not only that, but all I seem to do is restart the game, and go through the same things all over again - as the same exact character. If I were to start playing the pay version of WOW again, then I'd probably have to recreate the character I am playing as in the free version yet again, or else pay more money to transfer him. And while WOW has changed a lot over the years, a lot remains the same.

It is also getting nicer outside, and I don't want to spend all of my time playing WOW. But that's more of a side-point.

All of these reasons add up to make a compelling argument against re-subscribing to WOW. So for the time being... I guess all I can say is I don't expect to make that full return to Azeroth again.

But I still have this free version. And I may mess around on it for a while, for something to do. I don't really know, I can't see the future! I guess that's just the thing, I don't know what I will do tomorrow or two months from now. But at the moment, I feel like it's in my best interests to just not go back to WOW. Especially right now.

Growing out of Gaming?

And I guess that brings me into a whole other topic here, a much more broad one. Am I, actually, starting to 'grow out of' video games?

This thought has kind of occurred to me a lot lately. I just don't play video games like I did before, and I don't have lasting excitement over video games like I used to. I'm not really sure what I'm even looking for in a game these days. Maybe I'm just bored of it all right now?

Last year around this time, we got a PS3, and I spent a lot of time checking out games I'd missed out on for years due to not owning the PS3. I had fun with Demon's Souls, I played through Infamous, and found Fat Princess, among other favorites. But my interest in them waned with news of the upcoming PS4.

And so I spent lots of time looking forward to that! And then I got the PS4, and it was fun for a little while, but it is quickly losing its appeal. I became shockingly interested in the 3DS again, and since I got that it has been my favorite game system. ...But I still find myself going for long periods of time and not playing anything on it, and making hardly any progress on games I do own.

I also cut back on the list of games I plan on buying for this year, so far. Destiny? Don't care anymore. PS Plus? No thanks. I decided to ignore the vast majority of 3DS games in favor of only the select few titles I really want. And the indie games on the PS4 no longer have that 'spark' that they did whenever they were first unveiled. I also feel indifferent about Drakengard 3, the sequel to one of my favorite series' on the PS2. And the Wii-U, became a fleeting glimmer of hope in a world where game systems aren't what they used to be.

The main things I'm looking forward to, which have been announced for this year, are:

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Super Smash Bros. 3DS

Dragon Age Inquisition

and MAYBE Everquest Next

And those are the main ones. Those four games. I just... Don't even want to think about other games. I'm not even fully sure if I will completely enjoy each of these games. But to me, that sounds like enough games for a guy to want to pay full price for.

The scary thing, is how naturally I'm just kind of becoming disinterested in stuff.

I think part of the reason is, I've been to the rodeo before, several times already, you know? I've gotten hyped for games and then wound up disappointed. I bought a large collection of games and then only spent time playing the ones that really stood out. I've played countless sequels and remakes. I've seen online games change over the years. And I've played good games... But just couldn't get into them, for whatever reason. Maybe I was overwhelmed?

Maybe, after about a quarter of a century of being interested in video games, I've seen what I can expect to see from the medium for the foreseeable future.

It seems to me that there's something to age, that impacts my decreased interest in games. In less than 3 months, I will be 26 years old. I don't see anything wrong with people of any age being able to enjoy a video game, but I really can't continue to see myself, realistically, enjoying games in the way I ate, slept and breathed them during my teen years.

I read a really interesting interview with John Mellancamp in the April issue of Men's Journal. At one point, he mentioned that you gotta act your age, and welcome it. Maybe that's true, but maybe that's also inevitable. Maybe as we age, we just naturally let go of this or that, and focus on what is important to us in our current stage of life. At 25, I'm feeling certain ways about things that I just didn't before.

Regardless, of my age, or how I feel about games, I hope I can always appreciate creativity. I think I've always appreciated art in my own way since I was a child, and I wanted to be a cartoonist. Maybe that drive is still there. I think these days, I'm more hopeful about finding a way to do something I'm really passionate about for a living. I hope I will find a way to.

~ Ovirew

Focusing on Games

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I think whenever I get off-topic discussing my life matters and random thoughts, and whenever I set out to try to make frequent blogs here on Gamespot, that the experience isn't very much fun.

But I still kind of have that occasional urge to blog.

So, it seems reasonable to me to continue making blog entries here, so long as I stick to my guns and focus almost entirely on: video games.

I'm gonna give things another shot, see if I can keep myself from going off the rails and taking out trees and small villages again.

Lately I've developed an interest in playing WOW again. Why now, when it is nice outside again? I have no idea. But it won't take a priority over me enjoying this great weather we are finally having. Still, I'm really looking forward to playing some WOW, maybe finally making the progress that I still haven't managed to make.

My longtime net pal mentioned having some interest in returning to Azeroth also, so that could make for some great gaming adventures just like old times. Early on there, I remember my gnome warrior and his night elf druid going on quests in Loch Modan and Auberdine, getting our tookuses kicked by the monsters several times as we started out working on the game. It'd be great to take another stab at teamwork with my gnome mage.

I'm not sure what else I feel like playing right now. I haven't felt like picking up and playing a video game in a week or so, but I might play some more Infamous or Pokémon one of these days. But I guess there's not too many experiences quite like a successful MMO.

~ Ovi

Soothing Blogging, Merc Kings, Moods, Uncertainty

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The past two days I've been in a bad mood a lot. Today was better than yesterday though. Anymore my mood is really all over the place throughout the day. Sometimes having lunch and resting for a little can be enough to make me feel a little better. But by the end of the night I can feel stressed out or angry or concerned again.

I guess typing about stuff is therapeutic, helps ease some of the tension. I guess that's a big part of why I still blog here.

So that Mercenary Kings... That's a pretty fun game! I sat down and worked on it a little bit ago, played it for a few hours I guess. I can kind of understand the comparisons to Demon's Souls, since I ended up dying quite a bit, but the things you accomplish during a mission and the items you collect stay constant.

When I first tried playing it this morning, I played for about 5 minutes and had a poor first impression of the game and stopped playing. Of course, the main reason why I was already having a lousy day before work even came into the picture. I'll blame the fact that it was Tuesday. I think that at least had something to do with it.

I made it through the first three missions or so. I bought all of the parts for the rifle so far, but still haven't been able to upgrade the ammo. (Trying for the corrosive one first.) The knife options aren't too thrilling so far, but I was happy to upgrade to the trench knife. After saving gun girl and knife guy, I decided to do the mission where you have to find and kill 8 of those sniper guys around one of the levels I'd played through already. It took me a few tries to get through that, but I managed finally.

Might be celebrating a bit early, but now I do think I made the right call deciding to buy Mercenary Kings. I am a bit angry that they quickly decided to charge $20 for the game instead of $15, though.

I'm not sure what I'll do today, after I wake up. I didn't like how things went yesterday when I set foot out of the house, and tried to do something constructive. I guess maybe it was just a bad day in general and I shouldn't let it discourage me too much. And it's true that sometimes you just face resistance early on, when you start some new thing. But tomorrow is trash day, and maybe it's also a good day to do lunch with the missus.

I don't know how things are going to work out in the long run, and it's an understatement to say I'm scared about things these days. I'm so worried about fucking up horribly and miserably, that I keep thinking I should pack up and move away, or go on the run. Otherwise Ill probably end up in jail, or disappoint people. But I really don't want to have to do that. I especially don't want to throw away my relationship.

It's just hard for me to learn to try to deal with stuff, for her and our sake. I still think selfishly. I have patience, just not as much as I used to, and it's not always there when I do need it. When you have people in your life who matter to you, you'd think dealing with stuff you don't want to deal with would come naturally. But it doesn't for me.

I made a salad for supper the other day, just like one they used to make at my old workplace. Well, I got the wrong kind of salad, but otherwise all of the toppings were spot-on. I got compliments from both my girlfriend and her mom. That hasn't ever happened like that before. I felt good about it. Maybe I should try to draw from my memory of some other stuff we made there when I make supper again?

Well, time to get ready for sleep.

~ Ovirew

General Thoughts - 3/31/14

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My previous blog was, well, a little bittersweet. I agree with what I said in it - the truth is I don't know what drives me to continue visiting Gamespot and blogging here, when it's so stagnant. But despite that, I still want to stay positive, and I still have that urge to blog.

The big thing this week, is that Mercenary Kings releases on PS4 tomorrow. (Tuesday) I'm excited because it could add some variety to my PS4 library.

To be honest, lately I have been kind of worried about the PS4... I keep thinking back to how my Vita library turned out, and I'm not sure if the PS4 will be better than that or not. Second Son is going by pretty fast, and doesn't feel quite as tough as I remember the first Infamous game being last year.

I guess it's all just very "Only time will tell" right now.

I've been playing Infamous Second Son lately, of course. Despite my above comments, I really do like the game. Tom McShea and I disagree about Delsin - I like the character. The powers are fun. The game is kind of easy, and repetitive, but still entertaining.

The other day I started working on the Infamous "Paper Trail" alternate reality cross-over game. You make an account on the game's website, and you unlock a new set of side-missions where you follow a mysterious paper conduit and try to uncover the story behind a string of murders in Seattle. You usually follow the rabbit, find some dead person, take their pictures, and then examine the evidence online to figure out where to go next in the game.

The alternate reality game is pretty difficult, and I probably wouldn't have figured out how to get as far as I have on it without checking online for walkthroughs. I am anxious to see if anything neat will come from this side mission, possibly paper powers?

My girlfriend is still interested in Watch Dogs. Some of you might remember, we initially had Watch Dogs and Knack on pre-order before we got the PS4. We kept the knack pre-order, but cancelled Watch Dogs because we weren't sure if we wanted to get it. A short while later, they announced that the game's release date was getting pushed back.

So... We still might get that. Idk. I'd probably give the game a shot, maybe enjoy it. But quite honestly... I'm still not that interested in Watch Dogs. I'm more excited about Destiny, and I don't even know if I'm going to buy that game. But it probably would be nice to get a few PS4 games throughout the year, give us more games to play on it.

I've also developed a random, unexpected interest in returning to playing World of Warcraft again sometime this year. The main reason is, I'm excited about the character model updates coming to the game soon. It also seems like it would be an appropriate time, with the Warlords of Draenor expansion on the way.

I'm still conflicted about it. I did make a forum post about it, and managed to get a reply from a like-minded Gamespotter who is also debating about returning to the game. I guess I've got a ways to go before the new features are implemented, and there's also the prospect of Everquest Next to take into consideration. But maybe I'm in the mood for MMOs again?

Tomorrow is also something else, besides the release date of Mercenary Kings on PS4. I'm talking, of course, about April Fool's Day 2014.

One thing I realized about myself is that, when I was a kid, I was really into practical jokes and things like that. And I feel like tomorrow, I should find some fun way of pranking the gf.

It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, or really involved. Just... Something that works, since my jokes sometimes fall flat.

The main issue is that I won't see my girlfriend for most of the day tomorrow. So I either need to plan something that I can do quickly when I do see her tomorrow, or else work on some prank that I can leave behind tomorrow when I go to work, that'll surprise her.

I would also like to make a special mention of the Cartoon Network show 'Steven Universe'. I really kind of like this show! For a week or two now, it has adorned my icon and signature here on Gamespot. I'm hoping to spread the word about it, a bit.

Initially I didn't think I would like Steven Universe - the commercials made it seem really weird, and obnoxious. In actuality, the show is pretty heartwarming and funny.

Created by Rebecca Sugar, former animator on Adventure Time, and the person responsible for creating Marceline, the gender-swapped universe and many other things in that cartoon, Steven Universe tells the story of a group of three magical female crystal gem warriors, who befriend Steven after learning that he inherited his mother's magical gem, his mother being the former leader of the group.

Steven is an up-beat and excited kid, based loosely off of Sugar's real-life younger brother from his childhood. He loves food, fun, and music. Each of the crystal gems have their own personality - Amethyst is carefree and easy-going, Pearl is serious and uptight, and Garnet is focused and kind of robotic. Steven also lives in a beachside town, where he often spends time at the arcade, fry restaurant, or trying to get to know a young girl who recently moved into town. His dad also makes frequent appearances in the show, living out of his van as a car washer after settling down in the town years ago and leaving behind his past as a one-man-band.

My favorite character of all is probably Onion boy, a mute, bizarre, and awkwardly cute friend of Steven's who I am currently using as my icon.

Steven Universe is a surprisingly good cartoon, and it's definitely worth checking out. I think it is another show that proves cartoons aren't dead, and is a step in the right direction for showing that perhaps cartoons are actually continuing to get better. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

~ Ovirew

Bittersweet Stagnancy

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...So here we are, according to this it's been 1 day and 10 hours since I made this blog/topic. And not a single response.

I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong - if maybe I didn't clarify things well enough or spend enough time discussing the subject. I wrote up the blog in a hurry, it was a spur of the moment thing before work. The second paragraph or so did come out pretty confusing. But I thought that my main question was pretty straightforward. ...And, nothing.

Contrast that with the most recently replied-to topics on the Games forum right now:

So I wanna start by saying, I don't want to point fingers at any particular members of GS. I've even blocked out usernames and icons to help avoid singling out anyone. I am just taking a snapshot of the GS forums in the most literal sense possible. These are the kinds of topics most users on Gamespot will reply to and bump to the top of the page for a while.

You have people who can't spell or come up with a title you can comprehend. You have people asking really vague and unspecific questions out of boredom. You have people asking other people to essentially do all of the work and find games that they may or may not be interested in, because they apparently can't look around or form opinions. You have your typical jerks. And you have people doubting everything at every possible turn. (Maybe I fit in with that last group anymore, lol.)

In my topic I had pictures. I kept things brief. Usually I've found in the past that those tactics make my writing a bit more appealing to other users here on Gamespot. Maybe those strategies don't work anymore.

Maybe most people tend to disagree with me. Maybe most of you really like the idea of virtual reality gaming, the efficiency of the cloud, and the concept of collectibles fused with gaming. I'm not entirely against any one of these ideas - I'm sure they each have their benefits. I expressed some interest in Disney Infinity just a few weeks ago, for example. If the next 3DS system had VR I might be all about that, I have no idea. But I'm certainly not excited about any of these ideas as things stand. I think it seems like a losing situation for gamers.

Or maybe a lot of you just don't wanna talk about this. Maybe you don't care. Or maybe you feel powerless towards the whims of the future of the game industry and the decisions it ultimately makes for us. You're probably being a realist if you think that way. Maybe you're just sick of the Oculus talk.

Whatever the reason, I'm still disappointed that my topics fail to generate much interest on Gamespot anymore. I had to push to get some people to respond to my Drakengard 3 topic on the Playstation forums the other month. I kind of expected that with a niche game like Drakengard, but not with big topics in gaming.

That's kind of how I imagine the future of gaming could look. Lol.

When I was in middle school, I remember reading a book (which I forget the name of) where this twin brother and sister lived in the future and were professional video gamers. The brother had a shaved head, and plugged his brain directly into the video games to play them. Some of the concepts in the book were cool, but admittedly I think I'd draw the line well before plugging your brain into games.

Anyway, I'm kind of jumping between the two subjects now. There's these trends in gaming, and there's the Gamespot community.

The Gamespot community, getting back to my original point... Well, there isn't much of one. I mean I'm not expecting to be friends or family with anyone here, but it does feel nice to have people respond to stuff I do here. And that rarely happens anymore. Especially since the site update last October. I don't really have many discussions with other people about games anymore. And, well, I guess there's just so much going on with gaming that everyone is doing their own thing. And that's okay. But I guess you can't rely on everyone being on the same page, like they were back in the NES days.

It's more frequently anymore that I find myself questioning why I even make blogs here, or visit Gamespot so frequently. I really don't know the answer to that. I don't have a good one, anyway. I probably couldn't promise to leave and never come back anyway. I probably would still visit for news and information, at least about upcoming games. And there were times I thought I would leave, but I didn't, or else I just stopped visiting for varying lengths of time but eventually came back. And I guess when you get down to it, if I want to have a voice in gaming, then I need to speak up somewhere.

But if I'm being honest, I could probably take it or leave it, as far as Gamestop is concerned anymore. I don't bother to watch the shows, I take only so much stock in reviews, and I get sick of all of the daily drama in the game industry being reported on here. I come to Gamespot because I have for years. That's it.

I'm not sure what to do with Gamespot now. Maybe the simple answer is, to stop being so active here. Easier said than done. But then what do I do when I get that creative urge, and want to write up a blog? I really don't know. But I should probably find a better outlet for this kind of stuff.

~ Ovirew

Why VR and the Cloud? Why now?

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This is going to be a quick blog, but a thought crossed my mind lately and I wanted to address it.

Why has VR gaming become such a big thing as of late?

Why now, AFTER the Xbox One and PS4 came out?

Are different game companies just going about things in different ways, or was it always some big plan to first release consoles without this new tech, and then to introduce it?

Furthermore, why is there so much interest in it?

I have about zero interest in virtual reality games. I think it looks goofy, and quite honestly, I think it could be dangerous to have gamers blocking their senses just to play a video game. Not to mention, it would just be a negative for people who are already "gaming addicts", helping to immerse them even more and cut them off from the space around them.

So why? And why now?

And while we're at it, how about Cloud gaming?

I guess this one isn't as big of a deal because gaming companies have slowly and surely embraced the idea of playing on home turf and putting everything online. But why is it also being embraced so much right now?

I just think it's funny, a large number of us gamers, myself included, were against things like streaming games and seedy business practices when the whole issue with the Xbox One happened last year.

Are we going to just sit around and let it happen anyway?

And don't get me started on these 'figurine games', where you buy figurines to unlock more content for a video game you've already paid full price for:

So, just some food for thought.

I wonder where gamers stand on all of this stuff right now.

It is a confusing time in the game industry, and one where many ideas are fighting to find an audience.

I don't get much value out of watching people play games over Twitch on PS4, but maybe some people do. Maybe these ideas are just meant to appeal to some people, and won't have mass implementation.

~ Ovirew

Second Son and Gaming Plans in 2014

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Second Son

Yesterday I picked up Infamous: Second Son.

So far, enjoying the game. I cleared out the first district as much as I could, but it will remain 40% controlled for a while yet I guess. I like how Delsin can turn into smoke and enter air vents, and then get shot out of the top of buildings quickly. I don't think the character is really that annoying like Tom McShea said - actually I find Cole McGrath to be more annoying. But yeah, should provide hours of fun.

The decision was pretty spur of the moment, but came after I fired up my PS4 for the first time in 3 months, and played Killzone Shadow Fall with a free 48-hour pass to Plus. Long story short, I came to the conclusion that I don't really like competitive FPS games, and I don't want to pay to play them online with other people anymore.

Since I would probably only get a good gameplay value out of Killzone if I subscribed to Plus, I figured the game wasn't really worth holding on to for single-player. (Spoiler: There's not much of that.) So, I decided to trade Killzone Shadow Fall in, along with some other games I hadn't been playing, so I could get Second Son.

The decision was tough, but in the end I decided I had to get rid of games I don't play and don't have time for. I got rid of my God of War games, Playstation All-Stars, White Knight Chronicles 2, Heavy Rain, Professor Layton and Mario Sticker Star - all for various reasons.

With the trade and a coupon, I got both Infamous SS & a $20 PSN credit. I didn't pay a dime out-of-pocket, and I still have Gamestop credit. I'd say the transaction went better than I'd expected.

I still have $10 in PSN credit that I'd forgotten about, so that brings my total to $30 in PSN credit. I figure I can use some of that to get Mercenary Kings on April 1st, and then get some other interesting game at some point. My PS4 now has some games.

Gaming Plans in 2014

I'm trying to keep myself from spending too much on games for the rest of this year. I need to get new clothes and shoes, I have bills to pay, and that's really just the beginning of it. So that was part of my incentive for trading in some games I wasn't playing. I basically turned a handful of old stuff into new stuff. I think it was a win, and it may be one of my last major game purchases for a while.

That said, my scope of what I am looking forward to buying this year has been narrowed. This means that, unfortunately, the Wii-U is probably out of the question for this year. But maybe that's for the best - I already have three other game systems, best to give them more attention.

Most big purchases are out of the question - I have to remember too, not to let clusters of small purchases cause a big impact. It can get tempting pretty fast to buy cheaper eShop and PSN games, but it can add up. So I need to try to be reasonable, and only buy games that I think I will play and enjoy the most.

A few of my plans for the year have already changed:

Passing On

Destiny: Plain and simple, I don't want to use PS Plus. And I am turned off to most FPS games again after playing Killzone.

Drakengard 3: Gameplay footage and the poor US release of the game have soured me on it. I'll wait and see what reviews have to say in May, but I am not optimistic about it. For now, it is a pass.

New Super Mario Bros. 2/Mario Kart 7/Mario & Luigi Dream Team/Super Mario 3D Land/Kid Icarus Uprising/Zelda ALBW/A lot of other tempting 3DS games: When I owned the DS, I made the mistake of buying every interesting game. Both times I owned the system. And which games did I play? The ones I enjoyed most - usually Pokémon and anything by Intelligent Systems. So I need to stop spending willy-nilly, and only get games I know I will have time for and play. I'll only get 3DS games I have a major interest in.

Probably Getting For Certain

Super Smash Bros. 3DS: A must. It is simply a must.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: This is the only 3DS game on the market that I don't have that I really want. Every time I see the game, I am interested in it, and I think it will be worth the purchase.

Dragon Age Inquisition: The game looks good, and my time with Origins has gotten me into the series. I think this will be one of the big games of the year for me.

Everquest Next: I have no idea if it is coming out this year or not, but if it does - and doesn't require PS Plus (I doubt it will), then I will try it.

And for the time being... Those four games are the only certain thing. But let's not forget, we have E3 coming up in a few months. So maybe there will be another game or two to look forward to by year's end. I guess we'll see. Anyway, hopefully not too much more. The point is, I don't want to spend too much on gaming this year. Or even the beginning of next.

We may also get Minecraft on PS4, but we'll see. I know my girlfriend will probably want to get some games that she would like to play on the PS4.

I am currently debating getting Pokémon Battle Trozei on the 3DS, but I can't seem to decide whether or not it would be worth it. My gut is telling me to avoid it for now. But it is tempting. I guess we will see.

Well, that's it for now. Here's to hoping for a year of spending less on games, and focusing on the games I buy!

~ Ovirew

Spring Purchases - On the Fence

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Spring officially kicked off yesterday, but it hardly feels like it. We got a bit more snow yesterday, and it stayed mostly balmy outside. If anything, I'd say it'll be a few more weeks until it actually starts to feel like a traditional Spring outside. Hopefully not that long. My hopes are that by the end of April it will feel definitively Spring outside.

The weather isn't the only thing that has been slow to change by Spring. So too, have my feelings toward game purchases.

Case in point: Infamous: Second Son.

I've been looking forward to this game since it was announced. Actually, there was a time there where I figured it would be the first infamous game I would play. I was excited by how good the game looked, and its setting in Seattle.

As time whittled down and the game's release drew closer, however, I'd lost some of the original excitement I'd had for Second Son. Part of the reasoning was that I had played the first infamous game and started the second, but lost interest in it. Also, the last time I really played anything on my PS4 was around Christmas-time.

Then last week, I saw a couple copies of the game at work. I actually wasn't sure if the game was already out yet or not at that point. But actually holding the game and seeing it there, made me a bit excited about Second Son again. After all, I've been looking for some game that gives me a reason to be excited about my expensive, new gaming console. Is Second Son it?

Today is the official release date for infamous Second Son. GS reviewed it and gave it a 8.0 - not bad. Lots of people probably went and picked the game up at midnight, or are going to get it today. A few people apparently got their hands on it early. I will probably get it at some point. But still... I'm on the fence about it.

On the Fence

I'm conflicted about infamous 3. I'm also really conflicted about other games right now. But Second Son is the big one to me atm because I want to find a game that gives me more payoff for my early PS4 adoption.

I'd really like to go and get this game. Part of me wanted to try to get it last night, or today. And I am really interested enough in this game that I most likely will be getting it - if not soon, then eventually. I think my fun playthrough of the first infamous game last Summer is to thank for that. I enjoyed the basic gameplay and concept enough that I'm interested in a next-gen sequel.

At the same time, I haven't made much progress on infamous 2. And I haven't felt the desire to play it. And from what I've seen, second son is pretty much the same game as it always was - just with better graphics, a new story and the Seattle setting. Leading up to recently, I expected a bit more out of a next-gen sequel. It is probably still going to be fun and entertaining, but I don't think it will expand on the formula in very big ways, like I had hoped.

That's the Price You Pay

I think one of the biggest reasons why I'm so hesitant to buy Second Son, is the cost of the game. You pay $60.00 for a new game, and tax in addition. I don't know about other people, but I've really grown sick of paying $60.00 for a video game, unless it is going to be amazing. I wouldn't mind paying a little more than usual for a game that looks as exciting as Second Son seems to be, but at the same time $60 is a lot of money. I look at $60 anymore, and think of all of the other things I might need that for - even a nice meal out somewhere seems more worth that price than a video game I may or may not play a lot.

I keep looking over my options. I could wait a while longer, get the game later on when its price drops - but that may be a while. I could print out a Gamestop coupon, and use that towards the purchase - yet that would probably only save me the cost of the tax. I could trade in a few games towards the purchase, and indeed I have a few I could probably part with - then again, you don't usually get a whole lot of credit for each trade, and I'm not sure how many games I'd need to trade in to make a reasonable dent in the cost of the game.

I think the most I would want to pay for a game like Second Son is $40, or okay, $45. I just... Don't want to take a big hit to the wallet for this game.

My feelings toward game pricing has prevented me from buying a lot of other games since last Fall. I skipped games such as Disgaea D2, Puppeteer, Beyond: Two Souls andDark Souls 2. ...Because I just don't see the point in paying a lot of money for a game that doesn't astonish, let alone a last-gen game. Everytime I walk into a Gamestop and see that they still want $40 for a lot of these games, I cringe and lose more interest. Maybe I just don't care about last gen anymore. I really don't know.

Other Possibilities?

There was another upcoming game that looked interesting to me, PSN downloadable title Mercenary Kings. While it may not be the killer-app of the PS4, it might actually give me a reason to fire up the PS4 and play on it.

The game reminds me a bit of Metal Slug, but it just sounds like it could be crazy and fun. I actually checked to see if it was available yet yesterday morning, and it wasn't. But it should be soon, I'd imagine.

MK is $15. It is still kind of expensive for a downloadable title, maybe. But, I guess if I'm being sensible, it's a heck of a lot better than paying $60 for a game right now. I wonder if it will have a demo?

I have slightly similar feelings about another recent PSN port: Don't Starve.

I'm not sure if I would enjoy Don't Starve, or get bored with it quickly. But it's also $15, and I heard some good things about it before.

But I'm a little less excited about Don't Starve than I am Mercenary Kings. I didn't bother hopping onto my PS4 to get DS when it came out, for starters. I guess the game doesn't seem like it has as much action and fun as MK. In fact Don't Starve seems kind of dreary, and possibly a little frustrating. And I don't know if I'm really looking for something like that right now.

I may get DS one day... But idk. I think I would be more willing to slap down the $15 on an over-the-top retro sidescrolling shooter.

On the 3DS front, I feel like I could give the Shantae games another whirl. I've never played the GBC original, but it is available for like $7. So the price would be right. And of course there's the two newer ones.

Only problem I see with that is, there are going to be a bunch of Shantae games soon. The three handheld ones, and one on consoles. That's an overwhelming amount of Shantae. And maybe I don't want to get too invested in an older series right now. After all, I am looking for something new, or next-gen.

It also brings up the whole thought that, I already have three games that keep me super-occupied on the 3DS, and I have other downloadable games that far extend the amount of entertainment I currently have on my handheld. And I almost might as well get Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon instead since that's one of those other games I'd really like to own.

But that brings us right back to expensive cost. And the idea that I already have quite a few decent games on my 3DS - it's my PS4 that could use more attention.

On that same note, there are also Wii-U games I'm interested in that I could start saving for.

What to Do.

I feel like I'm stuck, as far as deciding what games to buy, or not buy right now. I'm not sure if I should take a plunge on Second Son, save a bit and take a smaller plunge with Mercenary Kings or Don't Starve, give myself yet another game to play on my 3DS with Shantae, save for the Wii-U, or try to ignore games altogether for now.

I have other things I need to save money for, more pressing things. But I know I will still probably buy a few games over the year. It's just deciding where it would be money well-spent. Second Son is one of the few interesting PS4 disc games on the horizon, it might be a good bet. It doesn't require PS Plus for online functionality, either - like Destiny probably would. But then, what if it's more money wasted?

This weekend I'll probably go outside, do other stuff. Gotta put games on the backburner for a bit. In the meantime, I'm not sure what I should do.

~ Ovirew