Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nioh Beta

Looks like this year just seems to be getting better and better for gaming...

Although many people have dismissed No Man's Sky to the abyss, for me, it was a decent enough effort for a 14 man team to have come up with the game that it is at the moment. Although many features were found missing, it still gave me the feel of unknown and exploration that I have not experienced before.

So I was planning on doing this until the end of September, when Darkest Dungeon will be released. But something pleasantly spoiled my plan. Nioh.

I had tried Nioh alpha a few months ago, and it was really very hard for me. The enemies hit very hard and I can be dead by a samurai 3-hit combo. Then I have to wreck my brains to deal with 2v1 or 3v1 situations when under normal circumstances, it will be very sure defeat. The health potions are also super few, 3 to be exact. Farming them is not very easy for beginner because only the hard hitting samurais will drop them. By investing in a certain ninja ability, your starting potions can be 4, but is still pretty limited, looking at the enemy placements as well as the mini-onis. I only played 2 hours during the alpha, but my interest in Souls-like games kept me going for this beta. The first stage was indeed a grind which can be very disheartening and disengaging for most players.

Then I hit another shock when I suddenly realised (although the starting screen always show :p) that the developer is Team Ninja. That's when it struck me. NO WONDER IT FEELS LIKE NINJA GAIDEN!!!

I never completed NGS :P Nioh isn't as hard, but it is close. It took me about 5-6hrs to finally unlock the first boss shortcut. And it took me another 2-3 hrs to finally beat the first boss. The night before I won I had wanted to give up. Gaiden Souls doesn't look as tempting to me as I thought it would. I just offed my PS4 and kept mulling about my defeats. Luckily I caught a second wind and managed to beat it the following night.

After the first boss, the player will be able to join other people's games to farm XP, gear and elixir drops (much more generous). The game feels much more manageable from this point onwards and at this moment I've been reinvigorated to continue my journey in this beta, hoping for the best but mentally prepared for another round of tough enemies.

I also feel like this beta is the deepest beta I have every played in any pre-game releases. Sure, typical Soulsborne beta usually have at 2 bosses. But this beta has 3 major fights, and the upgrading and skills progression system is fully decked out to the players. I am now able to test out all the weapons and movesets (you can replay old areas and bosses) and by the time full release comes, I will just be able to go all out on my planned build. One last feature is the beta lasts for more than a week! I have never seen any developer doing this before. I think they have gone a super long way to deliver a well polished game, and sincerely hope I will be able to sustain and finish the beta.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

2 Interesting Developments in Gaming Industry

So there are 2 games I'm currently playing. There is a third under my radar but we shall save it for a probable next post. Come to think of it, these 3 games are really interesting because of what they are.

No Man's Sky, Pokemon Go and Darkest Dungeon.

Darkest Dungeon we shall talk later since the PS4 version will only be out late next month.

Pokemon Go is interesting because of the technology it is based on. GPS & GIS system, coupled with augmented reality. There are many naysayers of the game, and many are condemning it and accusing it of making people become ignorant of the real world, and the cause of social degradation. Brainless. Dangerous. The way I see it is more than a social experiment. It literally opens up a window of opportunity for anyone doing any kind of work, to explore the usage of AR and GPS itself. IOT is here. Big Data is here. Geo related systems is here. VR/AR is here. It's time to smell the possible advantages and chances for future tech development. The overall betterment of the society. Can't wait to see the next big thing based on these exciting tech.

No Man's Sky was also released recently, yesterday to be correct. Many critics question the depth of the game. The lack of multiplayer. The focus of the game. To me, it defines a brand new genre. Of exploration, progression and experimenting of the unknown world. It is not a good game to stream. It is not a good game to post Youtube videos. In fact, to me, it is not really a "game" LOL. It's more like a personal journey that you take and encountering any events that are thrown to you, and how to take each of these and the environmental restrictions and barriers, and when you overcome them, forms into a unique AND individual experience that no other game will be able to provide you with. I'm still ~3 hours in, and still so much more to explore. I don't even want to spoiler myself too much in what I can do and what I can't do. And that's the real thrill of the game. Hopefully future patches/expansions of cooperative element, freights and base building will arrive soon enough for this game to develop into its full blossom and potential.

Many peeps have been complaining about the multiplayer lie that Sean Murray had made during the talk show. It's fair, he may have lied, but to be honest, we don't have to take it too seriously.
  • He probably didn't know it's going to launch without the multiplayer during the interview. The team may have hit a major obstacle which rendered the multiplayer impossible to be launched on release date.
  • He may have freaked out and gone overboard in selling too much
  • The question we have to ask ourselves is: did it really matter? Was it really within our expectations?
  • It's a trend nowadays to release pre-complete builds of the game, and take months to slowly add content in. The bare essentials are launched and additional stuff come in later. In this sense, should we really complain so much on a SMALL developer for launching it? If people can wait for Destiny content to be release from a giant of a company in Bungie, why the flak on Hello Games?
  • The only things that Hello Games should take flak for is the constant game crashes experienced by everyone. I can just forgo the textures popping in and out, but it will be a professional crime to launch a game with numerous bugs that lead to crashes. This should be the top priority for them right now, making the game playable again, without corrupting save files and such. Multiplayer can come later.
  • But shouldn't be too late, not when the player base is starting to trickle away.

Update: The more I play the more I feel I wish to add in more about No Man's Sky. It's been about 5 days of playing already. Interestingly, unlike the rest of the community, I've only experienced one crash in the game, and it's not even during the warp travel.

I have to say this game is really one of a kind. Apart from a few key unlocks you need to obtain during the initial stages, it is really a total vast unknown space of exploration right in front of you. And I get that a lot of gamers really may not be able to measure it with their own expectations. Coupled with the crashes and bugs of course :P

What kind of planets will I encounter in the next system?
Will there be many space pirates?
Should I upgrade my shield and weapon tech first?
Should I gather rarer resources to upgrade stuff?
Does the next planet have extreme weather conditions?
Will there be occasional storms that render my walking distance very limited?
What if the drones shoot on sight?
What if the planet has full of predators?
What if the planet has no flora or plutonium?! How am I going to recharge my landing gears?
Should I look for better ships? In that case earn more money first?

The concerns are just endless and it's really up to you to decide what are your next steps to take.

In terms of trying to bring the player an entirely new and spacec exploration experience, I believe they have managed to do that. This is what the crew in USS Enterprise feels every time they go for exploration. It just feels totally convinceable.

Although the tasks to perform are rather routine after ~5 hrs into the game, there is still this element of uncertainty and you really chart your way through this vast space. I have no regrets buying this title and participating in this amazing project. It's a job well done by a developer of 14 staff.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

It's been a looooooooong time!

Finally a compelling reason for me to spend some time on this... naturally, it's about Dark Souls 3.

Tried 2 out of 3 sessions of the stress test tonight and Friday evening. Super love what I'm seeing.

First night cleared all the areas except for the frostbite mini boss and the frigid dancer. Second night had some jolly cooperation as host and helper and won on both counts against the dancer. Too chicken to face him myself :P

1. There were occasional freeze frames which was pretty jarring. I hope there won't be any in full release.

2. Movement feels like Demon Souls. Atmosphere and graphics quality feels like Bloodborne. Ultimate combo!

3. The boss is really unpredictable. Though my suspicion of keeping close under its left armpit is still not tested yet. But a memorable boss nonetheless.

Some interesting things related to lore...

The cleric class looks amazingly inhuman. Reminds me of Vision!

You can see the 2 turtle shelled ladies from the trailer at the door of the frigid dancer boss. Looks like the last stop of their journey.

Does it look like the Artorias greatsword or what :/

Apparently an altar of suicide? Very interesting....

Anyways, really can't wait for the release. This feels like the Souls game I've always wanted!!! Praise the sun! \o/

Monday, July 28, 2014

On Intrinsic Motivation in Gaming

Intrinsic motivation is a pretty important concept in the area of pedagogy. Basically, if a student is intrinsically motivated by a certain topic & learning process, he will go on Auto mode, and be willing to read up, try out and do any activities & practices that is related to picking up a certain topic.

The most ideal case is always that the teacher can have a class full of intrinsically motivated students, then he/she wont have to worry about how to instill their interest and study hard for his/her subject.

Being in the education community for a few years now, it suddenly only just dawned on me that IM can also be applied on gaming, and how a gamer is interested in a certain title or genre.

IM consists of 3 main factors: relatedness, autonomy and mastery. Relatedness is how well the subject is connected to the person. If the kid has an army dad and he looks up to him, anything that is related to the military will generally attract his interest. Autonomy is how much control the student has over his way of learning. Attending lectures sitting down on seats and listening to a one way communication by a lecturer has basically much lower level of autonomy than being able to decide on which activities and topics the student wishes to learn today. Mastery is the amount of prior knowledge and skill that a student has, and his ability to pick up, understand and apply the new knowledge. A student who is very hands on will naturally find milling  and drilling right up the alley and hop onto the machine in a flash.

I was reflecting on my journey with Last of Us multiplayer this morning when I realise I could actually apply this onto gamers & their games. Why games like COD & BF are so popular is the relatedness of kids nowadays to their love for war movies & weapons. Also, being able to play with friends serves a similar purpose. Some games without friends is just less interesting, and will rely on the other 2 factors to get you going.

The ability to customize their loadouts and let them be able to choose how they want to play their character dictates the level of autonomy they have. And last but not least, often you hear people saying why they usually dont play shooters, because of their ability to move fast and handle the fast moving first person view. And how some people are just natural at aiming good and having tactical knowledge and being able to apply them effectively. These are under the category of mastery. In a sense, for trophy hunters, this may be the factor they are going after during their chase for that platinum.

So really, it boils down to whether a gamer has these three factors towards a game. If they are not present, he/she basically wont play it as much, and usually you will be able to pinpoint to one factor of cause.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Upcoming ToPlay List

Dragon Age Origins (PC; USD4.99 from Steam sale)
Skyrim Legendary Edition (PC; USD13.59 from Steam sale)
Infamous: Second Son
Wolfenstein: New Order
Last of Us Remaster (play mp)
Demon Souls platinum journey

This should cover me all the way until the end of the year.
Probable GOTY at the moment: Destiny

Monday, June 16, 2014

Just a thought...

Recently been seeing people talking about their hobbies & interests, and the things they do...

Got me into thinking about my own. I know definitely that gaming is my main interest. Maybe it's time to give a little something back...

Or I should look at in from the point of view of "what do I really like about gaming?", "what can I share with others?".

As well as issues like "don't ask is there any niche, rather ask what is it you really want to do?"

Will need to think about this for a while. Get my thoughts organised. Perhaps come up with a plan. Blogger, vlogger, youtuber, sharer... I dunno...

will think about it...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sequel to The Game of The Decade - Dark Souls 2

Yeah. A sequel to GOTD. Pretty hard to beat. Must be something special.

20hours into it, and confirm it's really special. And a real worthy successor.

Not really free to write loads of texts, so I'll just briefly summarise into points. Maybe get back and furnish more at a later time.

- The ability to turn human as an when just by using the effigy is a Godsend. Now you dont need to turn human at the bonfire and rush through the entire map, worrying about invaders and dying while you run to reach the fog. Solid change.

- Shields are not so imba now. Turtling is almost hard to do unless u have high defence, high poise and high stamina. Encourages more daring approaches like dual wielding. Though I must say they should enable to power stance even when your character is moving. Having to stay still then use the power stance combo really cripples its full efficiency.

- Agility and its usage in recovery, action speeds is really good. The balancing with equipment and rolling speed/distance is also done to perfection. No more sudden change, but a much desired gradual increment.

- So much weapon variation. Other than the standard moveset, counter damage and elemental differences, now there is poise damage. And weapon scaling is also so much more effective now, and makes certain builds really viable.

- Poison, curse, bleed and petrify effects are soooooo good now. No more mere flies pestering you but impending game changers to your combat decisions. Good change.

- The worlds are so much interactive now. Broken walls, poison jugs, trapped chests, explosive barrels, destructable wooden structures changing the maps and accessibility. Well done!

I think they deserve to be labelled as Franchise of The Decade now! Love FromSoft!!