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Eurogamer Expo: Day 1

Today was the first day of four for Eurogamer Expo in Earls Court, London. It's a pretty straight up consumer facing show, so there isn't much in the way of news and so on, but there are developer sessions (where I have spent all of today in), a careers section and then the rest of the show floor. But I'm going to try to write about the sessions that I go to and post photos of the expo, which will probably happen on the weekend when I get a gallery up properly. So this post is more or less just a warning that I'm about to be super spammy with my blog posts but I'll post a wrapup post at the end of it so that it's just easier to find things.

Anyway with that bit of housekeeping out the way I got to the expo just after the floor opened and I was pretty sure I was in the right place because this thing was in front of me as soon as I got out the tube.

I was also introduced to a giant queue that went around the side of the entire building, it kind of teaches me to not turn up early/not get out of bed.It wasn't that bad a wait as it could've been it only took about 35 minutes to get in. Around the entrance there were a couple of booths set up selling T-shirts and the like I'll get a picture of them for tomorrow but I pretty much made a straight dash for the developer sessions where I spent pretty much the entire length of the show.

I had a bit of time at the end to run around and took a peek at the indie arcade and there was some neat stuff in there but nothing that got me super excited the way that seeing Frozen Synapse there last year did because I always thought that game looked awesome. Took a quick peek in the careers section to find that pretty much all of them had already packed up and left for the day. Then watched a bit of Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic. For the longest time I've been on the side of Guild Wars 2, I have to say that for who I am Guild Wars 2 seems like the way to go. Also picked up some random schwag but I'll wrap up the take on that at the end.

A Little Bit Of: Red Orchestra 2

Ah Red Orchestra 2. Wonderful brutally hard game to stay alive in.

Video Link!

I spend an inordinate amount of time in this video being dead. Which is kind of me being reckless in a game where being reckless is rewarded with bullets in the face. But overall I think RO2 is a cool game, very realistic and tactical which is a lovely change of pace from the other modern shooters.

I have also never had more trouble with a games tutorial than I had with this game, it tries to tell you about adjusting your sights on the gun and I don't know I guess I just couldn't get a good feel for how that works because my bullets just ended up not hitting the target at all. But it does ask you to be more accurate than you probably are going to be for the very first tutorial. The single player is really a bunch of bot matches interspersed with tutorial stuff, tank controls, squad commands, so it's worth playing through at least some of it to get you to that point.

Tank combat is pretty interesting because positioning is just so much more important than in something like battlefield. Hitting a tank at a large angle will just result in your shell bouncing off armour. There are specific points in the tank that are vital and each of the individual tank crewmen can die, so you can fire rounds to damage the treads of your opponent and then move around to get a better shot at it's side and rear. And did I mention that it's really hard to see stuff from inside your tank, course you could open the canopy and take a look outside if you don't mind being shot by snipers.

That all said there are a couple issues, the server browser for one doesn't refresh right sometimes and the only way I know how to fix that is by restarting the game. And in the video you can see that the game locked up for a moment while I was playing which was all kinds of bad (I blame this for the death that happens 3 seconds later! Not really...). That's happened to me a couple times, not super frequently, but enough for me to take issue with it. The games not really a looker either but it looks good enough for what it is.

Eurogamer Expo is coming up on Thursday-Sunday this week in London. I'm going all 4 days where I'm probably going to spend most of it sitting down listening to game developers talk which should be great fun. Unfortunately me sucking at the "releasing games" part of my job description means I also need to go fish out a CV for those couple days as well. Hopefully the carreers part of the expo won't be completely dire like it was last year (which is odd because the first year they did it, it was pretty darn good). Anyways I'll try to blog as much about the Expo as I can but given that I have a deadline for next Friday...sigh. I have a busy week ahead of me.

Edit: Big thanks to @JodyR for the code. Nice to end the blog post on a high note :).

A Little Bit Of: Deus Ex Human Revolution

A double video entry this time.

A Little Bit Of: Deus Ex Human Revolution

Walkthrough - Deus Ex Human Revolution Boss 1

I like DXHR a lot. It's definitely seems to be best played in the more stealthy approach but shooting people in the face works as well. I really like the multiple pathways you have available to get around the world, like do you go past a bunch of enemies to get to an elevator or do you just jump down using one of your augments to get you down without turning Jensen into just a pile of goo on the floor.

It's a shame that in the end the game only shipped with only the two hub areas, it would've been really nice to see more cities in the Deus Ex world. Hopefully we'll see more from this series in the future because they have a really great base to go off of and kind of always have.

A couple of other things, I bought myself a copy of Fraps. I was using Gregion before but that was rather picky about not letting me record videos of some games including DXHR. The audio quality I get from my microphone when I record it using Fraps is pretty bad so I'm still recording the mic separately and putting it together afterwards. Regardless I should have quite a few more videos coming, perhaps more walkthrough videos as well as talkovers but honestly I'll have to see what ends up getting made.

A Little Bit Of: Age of Empires Online

So this was supposed to be a video about Frozen Synapse but I only found out after I had finished recording the thing that my capture set up had entirely failed me. But I had been playing and trying out a bit of Age of Empires Online so that became this weeks video from me.

It's a pretty solid RTS from what I can see and it definitely has all the trappings of an Age of Empire game with some free to play elements. First off the game starts out real slow, you basically start with nothing tech wise until you play through the tutorials and even then you wouldn't get access to things like archers and cavalry. But doing quests (more on that in a bit) destroying buildings and units gives you XP that you level up with and you get research points with each level. You use these to gain access to new technologies. I think once you get all of the technology from your main building you would pretty much have a a full civilization with all the units and upgrades that you would expect from an Age of Empire game. It's a bit of a shame that they really are hidden behind so many layers of XP and levelling but it's how they're using the free to play element.

You can spend real money to get stuff of course, some of it purely cosmetic but some to get what they're calling premium civilizations which gives you some special units and some other stuff. There doesn't seem to be a skirmish mode that I can see, or at least not for my puny level 7 Greek civilization, but there are quests that you do which are basically one off missions. Completing these gives you a bunch of rewards from gold to loot chests. Loot is important because you get gear that you can equip on your units to give them bonuses in combat. The real problem I see with this is that a free account can't actually use some of the higher level gear, and while there isn't any ranked pvp available to free accounts it would certainly create an uneven playing field for unranked games between people.

That all said I do actually think that if you and some friends just wanted to play some Age of Empires for free it's a good place to do it. it's free and the core gameplay (once you gain a couple levels) is still solid. There was probably a better way to split out premium and free content. I generally think things like faster levelling and additional choice are good things to give paying players, but completely locking out large portions of the game like ranked pvp and unbalancing the game between the groups is bad. There's probably a full length blog post on this topic but that'll have to wait for another time.

Oh and I promised a food picture, Chinese Pancakes :).

A Little Bit Of: Bastion

So I bought Bastion the yesterday and this has pretty much been the only video I had planned to do in a while, so it's nice making another one of these again. Anyway here's the link!

I've played a bunch more of it after recording (mostly while I was waiting for encoding and other nonsense to be done so I could get it uploaded overnight) and I like that game quite a lot. The keyboard and mouse controls are not bad and certainly a valid way to play the game, which is nice after recently being reminded at how complete utter junk Super Meat Boy's PC controls were. There are spots that you probably will call out for analogue movement just because a platform isn't at a 45 degree angle so a controller might be worth plugging in if you have one handy.

Narrator's awesome as everyone has kind of been saying, and I'm enjoying the game quite a lot. I'm going to try to get some more of these videos out because it took me one night put together this Bastion video and upload it so I would like to do another impressions video at some point, that took actual planning to try and show what I wanted to in 15 minutes. And sorry no food picture from me this time :).

Chocolate and Hazelnut Goodness

I made these today! Chocolate and Hazelnut Macarons. Not pictured are the ones that turned out ugly but they still taste good, although I shouldn't know that because they're supposed to rest a bit before eating them...

I'm still working on making my game but I took a two week break to work on a separate project, and I also found out that the engine I'm using is kind of messed up when it comes to pathfinding. More specifically on the nav meshes that you're allowed to use for pathfinding, needless to say I ended up having to write my own. Stupid thing.

In terms of what I've been playing, I've kind of been on a retro game sort of phase. I've played a heck lot of Dungeon Keeper 2 and Stronghold Crusader. There really is nothing quite like those two games, yes there were later Stronghold games but those weren't nearly as great as Crusader or the original. I played a bit of the Sims 3: Late Night which is a game that I put in for an hour the day I got it and then walked away from it because I knew that it would just suck so so much time out of my life. I was right, but man I do like that game.

Steam Sale and Tastiness

So it's that wonderful time of year called the summer Steam sale where I spend loads of money on games I definitely don't have the time to play. But that hasn't stopped me buying games before, so if you're looking today go get King's Bounty. If you loved playing Heroes of Might and Magic you'll feel very much at home, and it's at a fantastic price.

I've been decent this sale though, but it's been more a reason of I own most of the stuff on the Steam sale rather than any sort of sense.

I've been meaning to record another youtube video but I've been working on actually getting my own game finished so that's been taking up my time. So instead I give you this:

Strawberry cupcakes with Coconut frosting! The cake didn't rise quite enough, but that's nothing that a generous amount of frosting can't solve :).

Impressions: Mount and Blade with Fire and Sword

This is another video of me playing a video game, this time Mount and Blade with Fire and Sword. The short version is that if you have Warband already I don't really think that Fire and Sword is the best use of your money but the addition of guns is certainly interesting. The multiplayer which I didn't cover is very much the same, and also doesn't quite hold the same amount of apeal for me. I just enjoyed making a massive army and conquering the world.

Anyways I should have more videos coming as soon as I get time to play something.

Impressions: Fate of the World

I recorded a video of me playing Fate of the World and put it up on youtube because 720p goodness. I'm going to try to do more videos like this on some sort of regular basis but I'll post links on here as I make and upload them. And sad face to not being allowed to embed it here.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of the best games on the Wii. As a direct follow up to Super Mario Galaxy it hits a lot of the same notes that the first one did, but that doesn't stop this from being another great entry in the series.

Yoshi is the big addition this time round and they add plenty of new mechanics, from eating enemies so he can poop out stars to eating red peppers to go charging at full speed. There is a lot more variety this time round and it's better for it, the 2D platforming segments give great contrast to the gravity defying 3D planetiod jumping. There are occasional bits where the camera seems overly disorienting but it happens so rarely that it doesn't detract from the game as a whole.

This all said at it's core, this is a Mario game. If you didn't get along well with previous Mario games this isn't going to change your mind. But what this gives is great solid platforming, beautiful levels and one of the best games this year.

Note: I actually wanted to write about Kirby's Epic Yarn, but given that hasn't been released in the UK I figured that might not have counted.