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Corvinus

Video Games: May the force of your wallet be with you

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I got a Steam Link because it was £3! More so I can stream my music to the TV downstairs then gaming, but it might be fun to do that at some point.

 

In Empire: Total War the campaign got a bit spicy. Sweden rebelled, although I crushed it, but holding onto Sweden is turning out to be a bit of a nightmare. Denmark is stabilising and my defending army is getting tougher so I can fend off Hannover, but there's definitely some Total War bullshit going on here. Hannover has one province, is a minor power but has sent full-stack armies against me repeatedly. Hmm.

I did secure the territories I needed to win over the Thirteen Colonies but something weird happened: the United States emerged as a new faction with one province (Pennsylvania), the Iroquois took over New York and the rest of the colonies fell to me. I took Maine from France but I don't fancy going to war against the Iroquois and the new USA, as weak as it is.

I'm thinking of giving up on the long game and going for the victory conditions. I need to take Hindustan, which I can (just about) do with my armies in India; Florida and Gibraltar, and that's pretty much it. What I really need to do now is secure peace with France so I can focus on that goal but the bastards aren't having it.

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So lootboxes as gambling coming under serious regulator fire / examination, and how EA started the bringing down of this house of cards with Battlefront 2.

Hawaiian regulator: "This game is a Star Wars themed online casino." Ouch!

Edited by The Anti-Targ

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1 hour ago, The Anti-Targ said:

So lootboxes as gambling coming under serious regulator fire / examination, and how EA started the bringing down of this house of cards with Battlefront 2.

Hawaiian regulator: "This game is a Star Wars themed online casino." Ouch!

It has got no real basis unfortunately other than getting another rating. If that's gambling so is buying baseball cards or MTG.

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52 minutes ago, Slurktan said:

It has got no real basis unfortunately other than getting another rating. If that's gambling so is buying baseball cards or MTG.

I think the difference with that example is that, when you buy a pack of cards, you get a physical item that you are then able to re-sell should you so choose.

With most of these games, you're getting a digital item that can't be re-sold, or can only be re-sold within a specific digital marketplace.

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3 hours ago, Slurktan said:

It has got no real basis unfortunately other than getting another rating. If that's gambling so is buying baseball cards or MTG.

Well, yes, they are also forms of gambling. End of the day, if you are paying money for the chance of getting something you want, but also the chance of getting nothing you want, that's gambling. But there are also key differences. With baseball cards you're not buying the card, you are buying a product and getting a baseball card packed in, so arguably you are always paying for something you want (the products) and you might also get an extra thing that you also want. The fact that baseball cards have commonly been associated with buying candy or cigarettes is a whole different moral argument. With MTG card packs you are guaranteed to get at least one card with some rarity, so it's much less likely that you are going to get an entirely disappointing outcome.So there is less risk of getting nothing satisfactory. So the potential for harm or abuse is reduced, though not eliminated.

They are also far less likely to lead to addictive behavior, because it's more difficult to throw tons of money at those things within a matter of minutes. Video games them selves are pretty addictive, so throwing another additive element into an already pretty addictive foprm of entertainment carries a fair amount of harm potential.

The question around possible regulation is to what extent are companies engaging in abusive consumer practices with this form of gambling? And is sensible regulation the best means to mitigate the worst consumer abusive elements? I think the reddit response to BF2 answers the first question: companies (or at least EA, and arguably Warner Brothers with Shadow of War) have got into abusive consumer practices with this form of gambling. As to the second question, I guess we'll see. It could be that game publishers might realise that they've shit the bed on lootboxes and that much line online pass it will quickly become a toxic revenue gathering mechanism and it will die a natural death. It seems like a few smaller publishers are already disavowing lootboxes. So maybe regulation won't be necessary. But I think lootboxes are as addicitve for the companies using them as they are for people sinking large amounts of money into opening them.

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On 11/22/2017 at 9:10 PM, Werthead said:

I got a Steam Link because it was £3! More so I can stream my music to the TV downstairs then gaming, but it might be fun to do that at some point.

 

In Empire: Total War the campaign got a bit spicy. Sweden rebelled, although I crushed it, but holding onto Sweden is turning out to be a bit of a nightmare. Denmark is stabilising and my defending army is getting tougher so I can fend off Hannover, but there's definitely some Total War bullshit going on here. Hannover has one province, is a minor power but has sent full-stack armies against me repeatedly. Hmm.

I did secure the territories I needed to win over the Thirteen Colonies but something weird happened: the United States emerged as a new faction with one province (Pennsylvania), the Iroquois took over New York and the rest of the colonies fell to me. I took Maine from France but I don't fancy going to war against the Iroquois and the new USA, as weak as it is.

I'm thinking of giving up on the long game and going for the victory conditions. I need to take Hindustan, which I can (just about) do with my armies in India; Florida and Gibraltar, and that's pretty much it. What I really need to do now is secure peace with France so I can focus on that goal but the bastards aren't having it.

Has the AI done its brilliant maneuver where it sends it's cavalry on a parallel run to your infantry? They used to do it to me all the time.  

Edit: I was considering giving Total War: Napoleon another go. But there is always this one date the game crashes on towards the end, and I never have figured out how to fix it.

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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Empire: Total War got pretty intense. Hannover would not stop attacking me no matter how insane it got. I managed to seize the river crossing between Hannover and Denmark, so when Hannover attacked I created a chokepoint with my cannons and guns with canister zeroed on it. The enemy tried to cross and got their arses handed to them. I destroyed their main army with minimal losses and then moved on to take Hannover and exterminated them as a faction. Bloody ridiculous. I'm now worried that Prussia will attack me so I'm mollifying them with gifts and tech.

In North America I roundly defeated the French in Canada and was turning my attention to them in Louisiana and on the Great Plains when the USA declared war on me and the Iroquois. They gave the Iroquois a real hiding but I took several of their cities in short order. However, rather annoyingly, I got sucked into an allied battle with the Iroquois to take Philadelphia. Even though I brought 90% of the numbers of the fight and seized the town square, and the Iroquois lost about 95% of their army, somehow they still wound up with the city. Not impressed.

I now have my required number of territories so I need to focus on taking my victory provinces: Hindustan in India, Florida and Gibraltar. Florida and Gibraltar I can probably take in one go with a sneak attack on Spain, and Hindustan if I don't mind losing my two existing Indian provinces. I'm tempted to wipe out France though, because they're just annoying.

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I'm trying my hand at Divinity II Original Sin. I don't normally play these pen & paper RPGs. I've yet to master the combat; pretty challenging stuff. I lost my entire party to the camp boss in Fort Joy and his thugs when I refused to name the thief who stole his drugs.

One thing that annoys me with these kind of games is that you get companions who, based on their backgrounds, are supposed to be real badasses, but they are all level 1, no better than you. 

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The brilliant Deserts of Kharak is now available at a large discount with a major new patch that fixes the last niggling problems with the game (and adds in the "tactical pause" feature).

You can also get the game and Homeworld Remastered together in a steep discount for £12, which is a steal for three of the best strategy games ever made.

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Interesting. Square Enix let IO Interactive go - and take the potentially lucrative Hitman franchise with it - for a $43 million loss pretty much because the CEO was a big fan of the franchise and wanted it to continue with the original developers.

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6 hours ago, Werthead said:

Interesting. Square Enix let IO Interactive go - and take the potentially lucrative Hitman franchise with it - for a $43 million loss pretty much because the CEO was a big fan of the franchise and wanted it to continue with the original developers.

It's rare to see a big publisher make a decision like this.  Props to Square Enix for doing it, especially since they had to eat all that money.  I get their reasoning, though.  They likely weren't going to be able to financially commit to another Hitman game, and so they let the IP go rather than hoarding it and not making a game.  Probably doesn't happen if the CEO wasn't a fan, but sometimes things just work out.

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Finally got around to playing Fallout 4. I'm still in the early part of game and exploring the area around the starting vault and Cambridge, haven't visited Diamond City yet - since the game seems to be ignoring its own "plot", so do I. So far, my impressions are... mixed.

The Good

- Yay! More Fallout! A brand new post-apocalyptic sandbox!

- This might be heresy, but I actually prefer the new leveling system with perks at every level to the classic Fallout character progression.

- Weapon and armor crafting systems are satisfying to tinker with.

- New power armor mechanics are great, and it finally feels "right", like a game-changer it should be.

- Clearing a building/cave of monsters/bad guys with a stealth-build character in a Bethesda game remains, for me, one of the most enjoyable experiences in gaming.

The Bad

- For some reason, I am expected to spend a large portion of the game playing post-apocalyptic Sims (the Workshop mode) instead of exploring or shooting supermutants. In theory, an interesting game can be made out of the "post-apocalyptic Sims" concept, but the game doesn't give me isometric camera view, anything interesting to do or build, or a reason to bother. Most of the DLC doubles down on this crap, so I can safely skip it.

- The interface designers seem to be completely unaware that some people use keyboard and mouse to play.

- I was initially excited about the pre-war introduction sequence, but nothing interesting is done with it.

- I was also initially excited about the voiced main character, but the voice actors haven't impressed me so far (possibly due to not having any interesting dialogue).

- Vault 111 is the most boring vault in any Fallout game.

- 90% of side-quests I've seen so far are "go to that place and kill everything there".

- Writing in general is bland, and the main plot (so far) seems both like a placeholder, and mostly irrelevant to the protagonist's actions.

The Ugly

- The graphics are awful for a 2015 game which demands a 2 GB video card and 8 GB of RAM. I normally don't pay much attention to it, but after recently playing Witcher 3 (another 2015 game), the drop in quality is huge. I don't expect lush landscapes from a post-apocalyptic game, but stuff like character faces and animations are so bad that I have a private theory that every character I meet is secretly a synth. I honestly think that if I took two random screenshots from Fallout 3 and 4 and put them side by side, it would be difficult to tell which is which.

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Totally agree on all that about Fallout 4. It has all this potential to be a seriously amazing sandbox game set in an apocalyptic future, but there are so many frays around the edges that it can be more irritating than enjoyable. 

- The base building could be amazing, except it has possibly the worst interface imaginable. Go on youtube and just watch people get frustrated trying to lay down a bit of floor. 

- Agree on all the story elements which are just flat and lifeless. The main issue for is that you just don't have any dialogue options. They all do the same thing and nothing has any baring on the outcome, you just rush through all the talking because its irrelevant. 

- There is no RPG element to it. There really isn't. Your character almost always ends up playing in the exact same way no matter what you do and due to the voice there is no way to role play a different type of character in the game. And you can't be evil!!

- The graphics do suck, they look murky and everything feels really low poly.

- The DLCs and add ons are insulting. Apart from Far Harbour they offer nothing but empty window dressing and they demand money for these!

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I forgot to add the biggest complaint I have about the writing - the main character seems remarkably nonchalant about time-travelling 200 years into future, arriving in a new world with mutated monsters and societal breakdown and having their spouse killed and child kidnapped before their eyes (no spoiler tags since it happens in the first 15 minutes). And yet your first action after leaving the vault will probably be looting all the containers in your former neighborhood and checking what improvements you can craft on your handgun. I don't mind placeholder plots which let me do my own thing, but this is just ridiculous.

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8 minutes ago, Gorn said:

I forgot to add the biggest complaint I have about the writing - the main character seems remarkably nonchalant about time-travelling 200 years into future, arriving in a new world with mutated monsters and societal breakdown and having their spouse killed and child kidnapped before their eyes (no spoiler tags since it happens in the first 15 minutes). And yet your first action after leaving the vault will probably be looting all the containers in your former neighborhood and checking what improvements you can craft on your handgun. I don't mind placeholder plots which let me do my own thing, but this is just ridiculous.

They definitely made the plot too specific to your character.  Fallout has always worked best when you're operating with a mostly clean slate.  Having a wife and kid kind of goes against that.  Fallout 3 was similar, although it had the benefit of being the first game in the series to be first-person and so a lot of the flaws were masked by how cool it was walking around the DC wasteland.

New Vegas did a much better job than either of giving you a "clean slate" character and basically just letting you do your own thing.

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I mostly ignored the Steam Autumn sale, since I've had a lot less gaming time the past few months and what time I've had is mostly preoccupied with FFXIV and Destiny 2 (though I think I'm done with that one).

I did get Steamworld Dig 2 though, and it is an absolutely fantastic and charming game that I highly recommend to everyone. 

I've also been playing Assassin's Creed: Origins, and I think it's quite solid as well. It maybe helps that I haven't played an AC game since III (which I disliked), so I've had a lot more of a break than most people. But I think Ubisoft has made smart changes to the formula and that the open world feels like an actual world. It also has less "minimap vomit" than most Ubisoft games, and most of it is actually side quests rather than collectables (actually I haven't seen any collectables yet, just special loot). Most of them pretty short, but they have surprisingly good writing (better than the main story, which is just solid); a few are even Witcher 3-esque (although I haven't seen any with choices yet).

I'm only about six hours in and I'm having a real good time. Also, I'd heard that the opening area (which I spent about four hours doing) is by far the weakest part of the game; which, considering how much I liked it, I'm going to take as a good sign.

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I've picked up a few games this steam sale - just now I got BSG: Deadlock for a 25% discount, and last week I got Divinity Original Sin 2 for a 10% discount, though I probably should have waited for a bigger discount. The game is fine, but it isn't really my style of game. Also picked up War of the Chosen for XCOM2 for a 25% discount. Interesting new features in this one - it makes part of the gameplay, especially the grander elements of the campaign, more challenging, but it also seems to be more forgiving in individual battles. I've lost one squad member so far, but I've made numerous mistakes out of which I managed to escape relatively unscathed, and even completed several missions flawlessly. The photo op feature is stupid and tedious.

But all of this will be left aside come last day of this month, when Empire Divided will be released for Rome II, which I pre-ordered for the 10% discount. I spent quite a few money on games this month. I haven't done this in some time.

Edited by Corvinus

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Agreed on Fallout 4 - the base building stuff was fun for a few hours but I eventually got tired of keeping up with it. Too much micromanaging settlements, not enough exploring wastelands. 

Speaking of exploring wastelands, was late getting into the game on this one but over the weekend I picked up Horizon Zero Dawn in the PS4 Black Friday sale. Incredible game - fun mechanics, engaging story and tremendously interesting setting/worldbuilding. I'm completely hooked. 

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There's a lot to enjoy about Fallout 4, but it's a massive climb-down in quality from both Fallout 3 and New Vegas. The series felt it took a massive step forward in writing quality and reactivity with New Vegas and Bethesda threw a lot of that out in a bit of anger that people thought that Obsidian did a better job with the franchise than they did (which they did, because Obsidian are far superior writers and designers to Bethesda and they also created the damned franchise in the first place).

Fallout 4  is really a FPS set in the Fallout universe, which is absolutely fine. It just needed to have been advertised as such and not as an RPG, which it isn't.

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