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Videogames: All Valves on Deck


IlyaP
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16 hours ago, IlyaP said:

Sounds about right. All my friends who're in their 20s mostly play Minecraft, Fortnite, Warframe, Dota, or Apex Legends. It's rare among them to get them to touch anything single player, with the only recent exception being Cyberpunk 2077, which they explored due to word of mouth having been very good. Only a few of them have played the games that are my personal crack - Pillars of Eternity 1/2, Baldur's Gate 1-3, Pentiment, Solasta, CP77, etc. 

Yeah I can't convince my nephew (13 years old) to play any single player games except Mario. It makes me sad.

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Timely.

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Of all the game time that gamers spent gaming in quantifiable Big Year for Gaming 2023, just 20% of that time was gamed on games other than the 66 specific games mentioned in the report.

Even more troublesome for novelty enjoyers is the revelation that a huge chunk of 2023’s playtime was spent in games that were at least six years old or older. You’ve likely already predicted the top candidates, looming over the landscape, warring for territory like the Godfather’s five families. Fortnite, League of Legends, GTA 5, Minecraft, and Roblox took a sizeable 27% of all playtime between them. All told, as Kotaku point out, “Only 8 percent of video game playtime was spent on new, non-annual titles like Diablo 4 or Baldur's Gate 3.”

 

 

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Did you guys get Fortnite when it was still in its pre-BR, cartoony zombie survival game? Rhom mentioned it last page as well. I enjoyed it but couldn't get a feel for rapid construction and never got too far beyond the first couple levels. It was wild to see the BR completely explode in popularity soon after, and see Ninja and the other major streamers building absurd complex structures in duels as opposed to, you know, aiming at each other's heads from cover.

I've mentioned its original game mode to a bunch of younger gamers (from 10 year olds to 30 somethings) and I don't think any I've spoken to knew it was initially a single player game.

Edited by Argonath Diver
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I knew Fortnite started as a single-person thing, but yeah, the explosion of streaming and the wildness of build battles -- a totally novel aspect of the game that I've yet to see replicated or improved on effectively by anyone else -- was pretty cool. I actually followed the first few seasons of competitive, and played very, very casually (mostly for the sake of my niece). But at  my age, the muscle memory to get builds done was... rough.

As it is, apparently, to quite a few of the big streamers of the past, like Ninja, who almost never selects build mode these days. 

Winter Royale 2018 was hilarious with the broken Infinity Blade and the planes which led to people just flying circles and silently agreeing not to shoot one another. Chap going ham with the blade still makes me LOL when I think about it. Funny guy. No idea if he's streaming any longer. Huh, Chap seems to have co-founded a mouse mat company called 4D Gaming with another former Fortnite pro, Wildcat. From the looks of his Twitch, he spends very little time streaming any longer -- last video was from over 3 weeks ago. Shame, he was  a funny guy to watch.

 

Edited by Ran
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Thought I'd share the review I wrote for Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles, which I mentioned a few days ago.

I'm 21 hours in now so it seemed like a good time to leave my thoughts on this charming roguelike. TL;DR, good stuff up front: it's definitely a recommend for any fan of the genre, there's a lot to like with lots of interesting mechanics to dig in to, six unique characters with a variety of play styles / build archetypes, lovely music, and beautiful art. The downsides are mostly the complexity factor: this is a game with A LOT going on mechanically, both with the characters builds and during any given turn of battle and it can be very hard to read/keep up/plan for the chains of cause and effect later in the game. This can make it a bit intimidating to get in to/learn.

For those looking for more detail, and if perhaps the developers are looking for some feedback here are my thoughts in more detail – I’m gonna put a lot more words in to my criticisms but I want to be clear that they do not outweigh the positives and that over all I very much like and enjoy this game, and while I’m not sure it’s going to hit my Slay the Spire or Monster Train levels of play time I suspect I’ll easily pass the 100 hour mark quite happily. As I said before the art is beautiful – the characters, the backdrops, the menus, the presentation of the dice, everything looks phenomenal, the music matches perfectly, the dice rolling animation is very satisfying, all good. Astrea also brings a bunch of interesting new mechanics, foremost in the opposing forces of corruption and purification and I think at its core this is a very interesting mechanic that works well – your character has a corruption bar which serves as your health, if it’s fully red then you succumb to the corruption and your run is over, simple enough, but the fun part is the virtues your character can gain access to as the bar depletes from taking damage and which notably you can use multiple times per turn if you can engineer a situation to yoyo your bar back up and down. Along with the dice based nature of the game it creates a great risk-reward type feeling, and that’s only scratching the surface of how this core mechanic is woven through and impactful on all aspects of your gameplay and character build.

Where Astrea struggles with its mechanics though is probably best explained with a comparison to the daddy of all roguelike deckbuilders, Slay The Spire. At its core Spire is remarkably elegant in its design: everything is clear, simple, and (barring edge cases) easy to intuit the function and interactions of. Damage and strength. Block and dexterity. A few other buffs and debuffs. Powers which give named buffs that do exactly the one thing they say they do on the card and no more. Astrea by comparison can feel horribly complex to approach and figure out how to put together a strong build in, from the dice themselves to the enemies and the star blessings (relics if you’re a Spire player) so many things are a tangle of interconnecting keywords and triggers and references to other things, especially on the later more complex characters and when you get deeper in to the later game fights that it can feel impossible to keep track of everything.

There are tons of interesting and fun ideas in here but honestly I think there are maybe too many packed on to each character and err on the side of thinking that maybe one or two of the weaker/less impactful ideas should have been winnowed out at some stage to give more focus to the better/stronger ones. This is most frustratingly felt in how the large number of ideas built in to each character can make it feel quite difficult and a bit reliant on RNG to actually draft a properly functional “deck” because the sheer number of different dice available means that sometimes you just won’t see enough of the ideas that you’re trying to lean in to. The game feels to be designed around on what I think of as “synergy packages” - once I began to understand what was going on with each character I could see how dice are grouped into sets / designed function in conjunction with one another often I must say, as a bit of a down side, with little to no overlap/utility outside of the set/synergy package – this in conjunction with the sheer number of different dice and ideas within leads to the struggles in achieving a feeling of consistently being able to draft something functional.

Adding to this, and I don’t know for certain but based on the presentation I don’t think there’s any weighting in terms of the rarity of each individual die - dice are categorised as Safe, Balanced, or Risky with each successively higher potential up and down sides, but you typically see one of each type at a reward screen (or you pick a chest that has 3 of a given type) and it feels like within a category each die is equally likely to be offered. In comparison Spire has card rarity with weaker but foundational and ubiquitous cards being in the common rarity so always readily available to form the starting point of your build, and then the uncommons being more specialised and powerful, and the rares being fewer in number but often build defining – obviously you don’t always build a great deck in Spire and sometimes you have exceptionally poor card luck but this system seems to me to offer a less random, lower variance and more natural feeling progression for building up your deck.

I’ll finish by saying that having written several paragraphs of criticism my deep enjoyment is testament to how good the good parts of the game are, and how satisfying the character builds feel when they work. I also think that there’s plenty of room for some of this stuff to get ironed out with patches too because as I said the core is very strong.

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As Fortnite isn't a story-driven narrative (which is what I seek in games), I never took that much interest in it, as I knew it wasn't for me, the same way RTS games or strategy/civ style games aren't for me. 

Though I did enjoy Chris 'Errant Signal' Franklin's analysis of it on his channel: https://youtu.be/qNukmNDq60Q?si=B1CMb0SvcBGLK4Fs

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16 hours ago, IlyaP said:

This is what led to me ultimately leaving the Asheron's Call community - a lot of us were in high school together, and ended up going off to college, university, etc., and just...didn't have the time or the interest in it anymore as new interests caught our attention - like going to concerts and dating and university assignments and whatnot. 

And persistent/online/mud games really are at their best when you've got friends with whom you can play. Doing it solo can be fun, but the fun that can be had is pretty finite.

Memories. I played a ton of AC in high school. Played a bit of WoW after that in college and never really played a multiplayer game again like that. AC was special, what a community. If it wasn't for some of the people I met, I wouldn't have done as well in high school or gotten into the college I got into.

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3 hours ago, Mexal said:

AC was special, what a community. If it wasn't for some of the people I met, I wouldn't have done as well in high school or gotten into the college I got into.

Now there's a story. Folks in-game helped motivate you to do better in school? 

Also, people now run independent servers. There's some info here on how it all works, should you want to know more: https://emulator.ac/how-to-play/

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15 minutes ago, Ran said:

Funny, I saw this and thought of this thread, too. TL;DR: Tekken producer says younger gamers prefer these multiplayer games because they can then blame others if they lose, whereas in solo games they have only themselves to blame.

Don't want to get into stereotypes on who are likely to blame others, but it's an interesting take. I suppose there is a segment of people that are more willing to grind if they believe that they can climb further if only they had a better team than if they hit a wall playing solo.

Personally don't think so, but the solo games I play are high score based rather than PVP so might not be applicable.

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35 minutes ago, Ran said:

Funny, I saw this and thought of this thread, too. TL;DR: Tekken producer says younger gamers prefer these multiplayer games because they can then blame others if they lose, whereas in solo games they have only themselves to blame.

One of the sentences here jumps out at me, courtesy of Aaryn Flynn: "I think there was this historical pattern that games end, and people stop playing certain games, and so then there's a hunger and a desire for new games and interesting games and improved games."

That's such a strange sentiment to me. There are so, so many games I regularly replay, and always enjoy just...wandering through, and enjoying for enjoyment's sake. Hell, at this very moment, I'm alt+tabbed out of Pillars of Eternity, which pretty much never leaves my hard drive, despite being a nine year old game. There are people who are still playing Diablo and Diablo II, and Quake (and its many mods) and Icewind Dale, and so many others. 

But I suppose that probably is like a niche within a niche within a niche from a "games people play as a percentage of all games" perspective.

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10 hours ago, Arakasi said:

Yeah it’s hard to compete with StS. Even Monster Train which was very good is not in the same league. I’ve gotten thousands of hours out of watching or playing that game.

Yeah Monster Train is my current number 2 roguelike both in play and watch time but as you say it isn't quite there. Spire really is bottled lightning. I'm excitedly waiting for the board game version which I'm hoping to recieve this month by the way.

Edited by Poobah
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5 hours ago, Poobah said:

Yeah Monster Train is my current number 2 roguelike both in play and watch time but as you say it isn't quite there. Spire really is bottled lightning. I'm excitedly waiting for the board game version which I'm hoping to recieve this month by the way.

It’s a shame Watcher is not in line with the other 3 great characters. It’s just a clear step up in power and is overturned. I also wish they’d make like Ascension 25 to give it a bit more progression.

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3 hours ago, Arakasi said:

It’s a shame Watcher is not in line with the other 3 great characters. It’s just a clear step up in power and is overturned. I also wish they’d make like Ascension 25 to give it a bit more progression.

A20 is already hard enough to win on for me! I think Spire's balance is very tight and even going from the original A15 to A20 (and especially A20+Heart) is a big step up that significantly lowers win rate even for the strongest players. As for Watcher she is certainly stronger than the other characters she can also be unforgiving and especially when you're learning it's much easier to oops end in wrath guess I'm dead on her than it is to brick your whole run in a single turn on any other character. And I also think that far more than any other character it's easier to get stuck in build traps on her where you're obliterating hallway and even Elite fights with her overwhelming offensive power and then just die to bosses, especially the heart; her defensive options feel much more limited than the other characters with Mental Fortress and Talk To The Hand being her two main methods of stacking up significant block, where other characters have a plethora of options to mitigate damage in the late game, so I don't think she's without weaknesses, and she's fun to play too :)

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Sure those are good points but the problem is that her best deck which isn’t hard to get is so broken (rushdown basically). Also she fundamentally breaks the rule of the other 3 characters who need to get damage early to survive act one/two elites and bosses. Those characters have to take substandard attacks to win those fights. Watcher can just immediately start shedding cards and make a very narrow deck.
 

Sure you can make fun decks that use omniscience or omega or whatever but the <15 card deck that is built around commons/uncommons is just too strong. I mean look at the rares it’s really just two you want. Lesson learned to get everything upgraded and scrawl for insane card draw. Everything else is suboptimal.

Edited by Arakasi
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Thoroughly enjoying Horizon Forbidden West. I thought the series had peaked with its superb worldbuilding and storytelling in the first game, but then the second game introduced

Spoiler

Immortal posthumans from Sirius

which was exactly the kind of pulp sci-fi bullshit the series needed to make the second game better.

My main complaint so far is waaaay less Lance Reddick, which is a shame given this (or, more technically, the Burning Shores DLC) is one of his last performances.

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18 hours ago, IlyaP said:

Now there's a story. Folks in-game helped motivate you to do better in school? 

Also, people now run independent servers. There's some info here on how it all works, should you want to know more: https://emulator.ac/how-to-play/

I had some good friends and they were willing to write some of my essays / poems and college entrance essay in return for in game things I did for them or use of my account (my character had a very strong PVP reputation) or other things. It was helpful...

I slowed down playing significantly in 2002. I started WoW in 2003/2004 and haven't played a MMORPG or anything like it since. Way too much of a time sink.

Edited by Mexal
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Unicorn Overlord is a really fun Vanillaware game on Switch (and maybe PS5?) I've ben playing. It's like Ogre Battle 64 in that it's a tactics game where you don't actually control your units in battle. Instead you are programming them (similar to the FF12 gambits), equipping them, and deciding which ones go in which formations. And then you see how it plays out. It starts simple, but gets complex pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, if you know what you're doing, it's pretty easy. The AI units don't take nearly enough advantage of the options available. Also, the story is very basic. But the artwork and music are top notch. There's lots of little touches to the gameplay loops that are very satisfying. And fully optimizing your formations can be very fun, even if it's kinda unnecessary.

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Finished Rebel Transmute, and have finally got myself onto actually playing some of the RPGs I have on deck. Between Sea of Stars and Chained Echoes, it was the latter that re-engaged me most easily so I'm going with that. 

There's occasional clumsy moments in the writing (making me run to a whole other village and back before my characters suspect the duplicity of a guy who is very obviously evil is never elegant. I hate being made to role-play an idiot) but mostly it's actually very good. Some banger lines and the dynamic within the party- which is not at all a cohesive group of friends, or even people with similar worldviews, to start and the narrative totally acknowledges that- is nicely presented. 

 

I also appreciate that they gave me reasonable difficulty settings because I hate grinding and being able to feel like I'm doing something without actually having to wander about till I'm strong enough or whatever is gonna make it way more likely I don't flame out on this near the end. Which, admittedly, I'm nowhere close to yet.

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