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Video Games: Shadow of the Rise of the Live Madden War III- HD Remaster

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15 hours ago, briantw said:

Anthem has an upcoming alpha test and you have to sign a fucking NDA to participate.  Not exactly a huge vote of confidence for a game that's supposed to be coming out in three months.

The words alpha and beta have lost all meaning in video game development, taken over by PR departments. But, for tests that are actually about catching bugs and crashes and providing development feedback, and not just testing server loads, NDAs are extremely common. Even games that turn out amazing in the end usually look terrible during the testing stage and companies don't want people talking about the game who don't understand that it only comes together (if it ever does) at the very end.

 

As far as the Dragon Age pre-announcement, I see it as a vote of confidence from EA to Bioware; telling them that they value the studio beyond whatever success Anthem may have. Which makes sense, since, when it comes to the bottom line, the main Edmonton studio has never failed to deliver yet. Anthem itself, I'm unsure of. The potential is there, I think there's a great loot shooter idea behind Destiny and Borderlands that those games never fully took advantage, I just don't know if a studio known for RPGs are the ones to do it. OTOH, I have no idea who is working for Bioware anymore. I know a bunch of writers have left over the years, but maybe they've been hiring developers and coders who previously worked for Bungie and Epic and others. I dunno.

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the main Edmonton studio has never failed to deliver yet

 

By what metric? Critically Mass Effect 3Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Inquisition all had major issues. Commercially, the performance of a lot of BioWare's games has been vaguely disappointing to EA (worth remembering that sales of the entire Mass Effect saga is less than The Witcher 3 or Skyrim by themselves, and the same for Dragon Age). They've not bombed as such, but these games are selling 5-6 million copies in total when EA want them to be selling 10 million+ each and that's not happening.

Anthem is a game so underwhelming, with absolutely no buzz about its incredibly generic appearance, and people seeming to forget it even exists until a preview pops up which is forgotten about the next day.

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51 minutes ago, Werthead said:

By what metric? Critically Mass Effect 3Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Inquisition all had major issues. Commercially, the performance of a lot of BioWare's games has been vaguely disappointing to EA (worth remembering that sales of the entire Mass Effect saga is less than The Witcher 3 or Skyrim by themselves, and the same for Dragon Age). They've not bombed as such, but these games are selling 5-6 million copies in total when EA want them to be selling 10 million+ each and that's not happening.

As I said, by the metric of the bottom line. The games aren't the blockbusters EA wants, but they've all delivered a profit.

As for critics, Mass Effect 3 was critically beloved, it was the fanbase (including myself) that had issue with the ending. Dragon Age Inquisition also got extremely positive reviews at release, it was only after The Witcher 3 released that there was some revisiting of the game. Even so, both are still at 89% on metacritic today. Dragon Age 2 got more mixed reviews, but almost all the identified issues lay squarely at the feet of EA for the time and budget crunch they put Bioware under.

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22 hours ago, kuenjato said:

Wondering if yall could help me out...

I snagged one of the PS4 trims with spiderman for $199 on Black Friday. This is my first gaming console since the PS2 and I haven't played any games from 2006 (Final Fantasy XII). Some basic research generated the "best of" the kind of games I like and/or seem like must-buys, so I blew another $100 for five games. I haven't even cracked the machine out of the box yet, because I'm in the final stages of buying a house and will be purchasing a 55 or 65 inch TV once that's finished -- about two weeks away. 

Problem is, I need advice on what to play first, because every game looks sweet, many have 100 hours + content, and I won't be playing more than an hour a day on average (with work, kids, and other creative projects and other media consumption, like books). I'm not sure where to start, and it's kinda driving me crazy, because I want to start them all.

The games:

God of War ($17 at Gamestop!)

Nier Automata

The Witcher 3

Grand Theft Auto V

Horizon Zero Dawn

 

So you like the open world style games by the look of that list. Another one that can be played in bite sized chunks, but is in a much smaller "world", i.e. Seattle, is InFamous: Second Son. It is better if you've played the 2 previous games that were on PS3, but it should be fine for a first time. I would say you have a ton of time to sink into the games you already have, but if you find yourself itching for something else then have it in your B-list. 

While they are not similar to the games on your list, being that they are linear, tightly narrative focused games, these games always rate a mention to anyone with a PS4 at least for consideration: The Last of Us; and The Uncharted collection. 

If you played Ratchet and Clank on PS2, then the remake of the original game is good, albeit I prefer the original from a story perspective.

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I enjoyed DA: Inquisition a lot, though some areas were very tedious to play. There's not a lot that Bioware has to fix from DA:I for the next DA game to be brilliant, from my perspective.

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6 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

I enjoyed DA: Inquisition a lot, though some areas were very tedious to play. There's not a lot that Bioware has to fix from DA:I for the next DA game to be brilliant, from my perspective.

DA:I was enough to make me have no desire to play the series anymore and I was obsessed with Origins/Awakening

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4 minutes ago, Rhom said:

DA:I was enough to make me have no desire to play the series anymore and I was obsessed with Origins/Awakening

It was like Witcher 3 minus the good stuff.

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Pathfinder: Kingmaker is certainly my kind of game and I plan on playing it sometime.  Just wondering if anyone here has been playing it and how "buggy" it still is?  Obviously, it seems like the patches are improving things but I just wanted to confirm.  I'll never be able to devote huge chunks of time to it so it will probably be a game I play for a good long while.  

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17 hours ago, briantw said:

It was like Witcher 3 minus the good stuff.

EA did mandate they make DA:I more like Skyrim (because Skyrim made money and EA like money), which completely bewildered BioWare as that's really not their lane. The closest they could do was "make it like The Old Republic but for one player, I guess?" which translated as GRIND TO THE MAX to get anywhere. Which can be fun in an MMORPG when playing with friends, not so much playing an allegedly single-player RPG on your tod.

Apparently when The Witcher 3 came out 7 or 8 months after DA:I and won tons of praise and also started making lots of money (and far more than DA:I did), EA told BioWare they should make their games more like The Witcher 3: a deep reactive single-player CRPG with lots of well-developed characters and a gripping main storyline with long, expansive and rich side-quests. If I'd been working at BioWare I would have started screaming and attacking the nearest executive with a special collector's edition of Baldur's Gate II.

Edited by Werthead

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4 hours ago, Prince of the North said:

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is certainly my kind of game and I plan on playing it sometime.  Just wondering if anyone here has been playing it and how "buggy" it still is?  Obviously, it seems like the patches are improving things but I just wanted to confirm.  I'll never be able to devote huge chunks of time to it so it will probably be a game I play for a good long while.  

It's a lot less buggy than it was, though its not totally fixed yet. The bigger problem at this point is how poorly explained and RNG dependent the kingdom management system currently is. The devs know its a problem and have suggested putting the system on "auto" if players have problems. That prevents you from getting a game over, but also cuts out a bigger piece of the game. The poor explanations can be overcome by spending a lot of time online looking stuff up, though personally I find that pretty frustrating. The RNG dependency though is game-breaking without tons of save scumming though, which isn't always easy to do. 

The kingdom management system is based around a monthly cycle, where you assign members of your court to address various opportunities, events, and problems. If there are any problems unaddressed at the end of the month, that gives your kingdom a penalty. Get enough penalties, you lose the game. Pretty straightforward. The problem is, additional problems can pop up over the course of the month, different types of problems (and events and opportunities) require different types of court members to address, and once a court member is assigned a task they are locked in until the task is over.

Which means that RNG can cause a problem to crop up towards the end of the month, when everyone who can deal with it is already addressing another problem (or an event or opportunity, which are also important to complete) and you have literally no option except to take the penalty and get pushed closer to a game over. Save scumming is an option, and that works for months where you're just staying at court doing management stuff. But that gets trickier if it's a month where your party is out in the field and you're playing the RPG adventure side of the game.

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9 minutes ago, Werthead said:

EA did mandate they make DA:I more like Skyrim (because Skyrim made money and EA like money), which completely bewildered BioWare as that's really not their lane. The closest they could do was "make it like The Old Republic but for one player, I guess?" which translated as GRIND TO THE MAX to get anywhere. Which can be fun in an MMORPG when playing with friends, not so much playing an allegedly single-player RPG on your tod.

Apparently when The Witcher 3 came out 7 or 8 months after DA:I and won tons of praise and also started making lots of money (and far more than DA:I did), EA told BioWare they should make their games more like The Witcher 3: a deep reactive single-player CRPG with lots of well-developed characters and a gripping main storyline with long, expansive and rich side-quests. If I'd been working at BioWare I would have started screaming and attacking the nearest executive with a special collector's edition of Baldur's Gate II.

No doubt that, at the end of the day, it's easy to blame EA.

But BioWare didn't have to sell out to them.  They chose to.  They made their bed and now their company will be slowly torn apart and eventually mothballed just like every other company EA buys that doesn't make shooters, and all the while there will be that slow, slow brain drain as all the talented people jump ship to companies that give them more freedom.  It's the EA circle of life.

Edited by briantw

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37 minutes ago, briantw said:

No doubt that, at the end of the day, it's easy to blame EA.

But BioWare didn't have to sell out to them.  They chose to.  They made their bed and now their company will be slowly torn apart and eventually mothballed just like every other company EA buys that doesn't make shooters, and all the while there will be that slow, slow brain drain as all the talented people jump ship to companies that give them more freedom.  It's the EA circle of life.

It's more of an executive thing across the board really. A big behemoth company sees a studio making awesome games and buys them because they want them to make awesome games for them. But corporate culture requires regular income and reliable profits and so on that means it's hard to just say "Do what you want on our dime". It's no coincidence that the massive mega-corporations that still make good games have understood the process by starting small and becoming huge over many years (most notably Rockstar, Bethesda and Nintendo). EA, Ubisoft and Activision's executives are largely money men and women and have a much more variable understanding of the creative process behind games (Ubisoft are a bit of an exception, coming from a non-US origin and the original founders were more gamers who later sold out to the corporate behemoths, resulting in them making one absolutely great gaming idea and then milking it repeatedly for year after year in multiple genres). Microsoft, weirdly, are a bit inbetween having come up through software development and knowing the limitations of it, but then becoming a AAA behemoth which has developed its understanding of games very haphazardly.

That said, there are arguments the other way that you sometimes need that corporate structure. EA bought Bullfrog because of the inventiveness and brilliant design ideas of the studio headed by Peter Molyneux and then set deadlines and expectations that the studio met, resulting in several of the greatest video games ever made by humanity. Microsoft then bought Lionhead because of the inventiveness and brilliant design ideas of another studio headed by Peter Molyneux and then gave him infinite money and didn't set hard deadlines. The next thing you know, Molyneux is talking about creating an AI child to dwell inside your X-Box 360 and taking five years to make RPGs that were ultra-light versions of the games BioWare were churning out in half the time (not to mention that other ex-Bullfrog staff have actually been releasing great games like Satellite Reign and Two Point Hospital whilst Molyneux has been warbling insanely in the background for no discernible reason and making failed Kickstarter demos based on Populous, suggesting it might be an idea to find out if the dude you're paying shitloads of money to was actually the guy making those amazing games in the first place).

From the POV of the developer, though, it's a hard thing to ignore. The development studio wants to focus on making games, but it also has to be constantly cutting deals with publishers and getting projects lined up years in advance. The guys at BioWare were pretty open that they were exhausted after ten full years of making games for multiple publishers (Interplay, Atari, LucasArts, Microsoft and finally EA) and not knowing if they were going to still be going the next year and getting tangled up in Interplay collapsing and LucasArts almost collapsing. When someone offers you lots of money to make these problems go away, provide security and focus on making games, it's hard to say no. If you look at Obsidian, whom Microsoft has recently bought, they were really surviving hand-to-mouth project to project, nearly went bust at least twice, and it's clear the stress and strain had gotten almost unbearable, so they sold out to Microsoft. If that's a good idea or not we'll find out on Friday, when they announce their first game under the Microsoft banner.

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16 minutes ago, Werthead said:

From the POV of the developer, though, it's a hard thing to ignore. The development studio wants to focus on making games, but it also has to be constantly cutting deals with publishers and getting projects lined up years in advance. The guys at BioWare were pretty open that they were exhausted after ten full years of making games for multiple publishers (Interplay, Atari, LucasArts, Microsoft and finally EA) and not knowing if they were going to still be going the next year and getting tangled up in Interplay collapsing and LucasArts almost collapsing. When someone offers you lots of money to make these problems go away, provide security and focus on making games, it's hard to say no. If you look at Obsidian, whom Microsoft has recently bought, they were really surviving hand-to-mouth project to project, nearly went bust at least twice, and it's clear the stress and strain had gotten almost unbearable, so they sold out to Microsoft. If that's a good idea or not we'll find out on Friday, when they announce their first game under the Microsoft banner.

Don't get me wrong...I get why they did it.  But when you sell your soul to the devil, you can't act surprised when the devil wins in the end.

And I think EA in particular has a very troubling past with buying studios compared to many others.  Very few survive the EA corporate structure and the brain drain that inevitably follows creative minds not wanting to work in it.

Edited by briantw

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Just Cause 4 out tomorrow. Almost tempted to jump on this, as Just Cause 3 was excellent (if disposable) fun.

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8 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Just Cause 4 out tomorrow. Almost tempted to jump on this, as Just Cause 3 was excellent (if disposable) fun.

After Just Cause 2, I should have learned that you never pay full price for a Just Cause game.  Then I paid full price for Just Cause 3 because, apparently, I am an idiot.  

I will not be making that mistake again.  I'll wait until it's $15.

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9 minutes ago, briantw said:

After Just Cause 2, I should have learned that you never pay full price for a Just Cause game.  Then I paid full price for Just Cause 3 because, apparently, I am an idiot.  

I will not be making that mistake again.  I'll wait until it's $15.

That's a good point actually. I did pick up JC3 about a year after release at under half price. Still, Avalanche make open-world games that unpretentious and fun (their Mad Max game is also really good, if you haven't checked that out). I fully anticipate Just Cause 4 being a far better game than the car crash that Far Cry 5 was.

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Just now, Werthead said:

That's a good point actually. I did pick up JC3 about a year after release at under half price. Still, Avalanche make open-world games that unpretentious and fun (their Mad Max game is also really good, if you haven't checked that out). I fully anticipate Just Cause 4 being a far better game than the car crash that Far Cry 5 was.

I actually just re-started Mad Max after watching Fury Road with the parents over Thanksgiving while they were visiting.  Gave me the itch, and I only ever played the game for about ten hours when it came out because I believe it came out right when Phantom Pain did.  Already put more than that into it now and am enjoying it much as I did when it first game out.  Not much depth, but the car combat is fun and the combat is enjoyable minus the camera occasionally giving you a nice hard fucking.  

I bought Shadow of the Tomb Raider during the Thanksgiving sale, though, and just started playing that after my new video card that I bought on Black Friday got here.  I'll head back to Mad Max once that's done.

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2 hours ago, Prince of the North said:

@Fez Thanks for the info...and, damn, that sounds horrible!  If I do decide to get Pathfinder: Kingmaker relatively soon I'll probably just go with the auto setting for kingdom management:dunno:

That is definitely a possibility. But the thing is, the kingdom stuff is the main hook of Pathfinder, both the tabletop and the video game. It's what makes it different from D&D (among some other things). It'd be a shame to lose that. If you've a hankering to play this type of game, I'd recommend finding another one of the batch from the past few years and play that. Wait for the P:K devs to finish sorting out things.

I really liked what I played of the game, even back at launch with all the bugs. But my save is stopped right in the middle of chapter 2 (there's 7 chapters IIRC, and chapter 2 is when the kingdom building starts) and I'm not coming back until the game is where it needs to be.

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@Fez Good to know.  Thanks!  I wasn't really aware of the kingdom management aspect of Pathfinder: Kingmaker and had just started hearing a little about it.  As you say, I can definitely find other good games while waiting for Pathfinder to be refined. 

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