Posts Tagged English
Note: Like the one before it this post was originally submitted to Destructoid. It was the second and last of my entries to that website. Next week we resume the new and fresh blog posts.
Recently, I’ve been reading up on piracy, due to a sudden realization that I don’t seem to enjoy new games as much as I used to. Upon thinking on it, the most logical conclusion I came to was that, due to the fact that I used to pay for the games I play, I’d value them more thus play them more and take more enjoyment from them.
But was it really?
Looking back at the games I bought and played, I can see marks of GREAT games, even if not the entirety of the game is good (I’m looking at you Oblivion). Today, I’m not seeing that same thing in new games. Games that do have them, have other very WRONG things making them essentially bad (Assassin’s Creed 2 DRM, the Witcher over the shoulder camera). Then, there are the big company, big hype games that end up being a colossal let down (The Sims 3).
This makes me wonder: Are there any good PC games still out there that I enjoy?
One answer to this question is my monthly bill of World of Warcraft, a game that 5 years after release still holds strong, still holds entertainment.
“But”, you say, “WoW is an MMO, it’s constantly evolving and thus constantly fresh”. Well, that’s true. Ok then, another example, Sims 2. A game still going strong even after the release of its lackluster successor, The Sims 3.
But this blog isn’t to talk about what games are good and what games are not, though it is an essential part of the topic, piracy.
I do occasionally download games, I admit, but I do know that companies put a lot of work into them and great games deserve to be rewarded. That is why I bought Sims 2 and Oblivion and TRIED to buy AC2, the result of which was a very angry blog.
You see, for me, who am a college student with little to no income, shelling out hard saved 60€ for a game wasn’t easy. Not easy at all. But I was happy. I knew AC2 would be a great game, even if it was just copy + pasted from AC. I felt cheated when, coming home, it didn’t even work.
Then, of course, there are the games that are expensive and not even worth it. Price IS a huge factor in the illegalities here. I remember a time when games were 20€ to 40€, more easily affordable, and I used to buy them, even if they turned out not to be good. Now I can’t even afford the good games.
Many other people are in the same situation as me, if forums and articles are any indication, and developers keep asking themselves why, thinking that shiny new computer blowing graphics is all we want, no matter the price. Well, I’d much rather have games with lower graphics and tons of content than shiny eye-candy my computer can’t even run properly. It’s something to consider.
Note: This blog post was originally written for and posted at Destructoid. Since then, I’ve stopped caring about that websit, and since I still have two entries there, I’m bringing them over to here.
Finally, Ubisoft decided to release Assassin’s Creed 2 for the PC, a game that I had been waiting for ever since I finished the first title. The first game was truly awesome, getting everything almost perfect, in my opinion, with the exception of some technical problems and the repetitive secondary mission gameplay.
The second installment of the series promised tons of gameplay improvement and a new, impressive story of corruption and conspiracy. I was stoked. This was a game that I HAD to buy, there was no question about it!
Fast-forward to 8th March, I go down to my local “tech” store, money stuffed snugly in my wallet, ready to buy the game I had waited so long for! The purchase went smoothly enough and I came home itching to get this baby on my laptop and jump into the immersive gameplay.
But Ubisoft had other plans.
The installation itself went smoothly, not even a hiccup, but as soon as it was done I was prompted to log-in or create a new Ubisoft account. …what? No, I just wanted to play my game but there was no way to skip this step so, annoyed, I went on to create an Ubisoft account. Chosen data typed, I clicked forward and…cannot connect to log-in servers. WHAT?! Because some servers god knows where weren’t online I couldn’t play my SINGLE PLAYER game? A game I gave 60€ for?! Unacceptable!
Naturally, I went immediately to the internet, thinking, hoping, this was some mistake on my part. After all, EA games also prompt users to register their game but allow for easy, no one’s forcing anyone. But not Ubisoft.
A quick search soon revealed the monster that was Ubisoft’s DRM. Long story short, the system requires you to have a CONSTANT internet connection to their servers (which are down by the way) so the program can constantly validate the authenticity of your game. If your internet connection fails even for a few minutes, it will boot you out of your game session. Hope you’ve been saving every five minutes!
So, Ubisoft dictates when you play and guarantees that your game copy is legal. Constant internet connection is just a requirement, and you even have benefits through the Uplay platform. At least pirates won’t get to enjoy the game, hahahaha, right?
Not 24 hours after the game was out the DRM was bypassed by a talented group of pirates.
Worse yet, the pirated version is working better than the legal one (or, at least, you can play whenever you want. Yay…I thought that was a single-player given), proving once more that piracy does have its benefits.
So, what is the effect of this DRM? Well, considering people like me (criminals which once in a while feel like a game deserves a small fortune shelled out), it encourages piracy instead of legal purchase. On account of my bad experience, I’ll be telling as many people as I can about it and advising them not to buy the game, just out of spite. Three of my friends are already not buying.
I’m returning the game today and uninstalling it from my hard-drive. I’ll get my money back and swear to never, ever again buy something from Ubisoft. It isn’t just the screw up with the servers, it is mostly the dictatorship they implemented in their effort to stop (read: encourage) piracy. I bought the game. It’s a single-player game, not online multiplayer. Why should I have to be dependent on Ubisoft’s servers to play it? It doesn’t make sense and it’s just wrong! I miss the days when games only required you to insert the serial key during installation…Come to think about it, I bought a lot more games back then.
I consider myself a pirate. The kind of person who, instead of waiting in line to buy the latest release, is at home, comfortably downloading it. There is a reason why I do this though, instead of shelling out cold, hard cash. It’s not laziness, or lack of appreciation for the developers. In fact, I think it’s far less of a hassle to go to the store and pick up the DVD. Less of a hassle and more of a pleasure, even. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the game companies that create all my favourite games, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t want to play their games anyway. No, I do it for monetary reasons, as my family doesn’t have an entertainment budget. At most, we SOMETIMES go to the cinema and watch a film, but that’s about it.
As a college student who is unemployed, I don’t have much revenue except for birthday/Christmas/Misc gifts given mostly by my grandmother. Therefore, dropping 60€ on any given month is a little too much.
I know I shouldn’t play the games if I don’t have the funds to buy them, but I do believe that my download doesn’t rob any company of money. Due to the lack of funds, I wouldn’t, regrettably, be able to buy the game anyway, and I often try to spread the word about games I enjoyed, to encourage other people to buy them (if they, themselves, download, that’s out of my control).
My limited budget though, goes to games I’ve played illegally but thought were awesome enough to sacrifice my money to. Such was the case with the first Assassin’s Creed, which I recently purchased, despite having already completed the game and having to run it with shitty graphics.
There are a lot of arguments pro and against piracy in the gaming community. There are those who think that all pirated games hurt the industry. There are those who feel they have the right to play the games for free, despite having the money to buy them, those who say “I do it because I CAN”. And this last one actually saddens me. I love owning original copies, I love the boxes and the handbooks, and the little extras (like the Cyrodiil map in the Oblivion box)[link pic]. I love opening my games drawer and seeing the DVD boxes all lined up. I love looking under my desk and seeing my collector’s editions (Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm and The Witcher in case anyone was wondering, mostly Christmas gifts except for Cata, which I spent nearly a year saving for). This love for all things original is what keeps me away from services such as Steam, as a digital download just feels just like the illegally downloaded game. Box, do want.
A while back, a group of Indie producers released a bundle of indie games for nearly free: the costumer could pay them whatever they wanted, even 1 cent if they chose to. But no, for some people even that was too much. One quarter of the bundles were pirated. I do, however, keep in mind that for some people it was impossible or extremely difficult to pay for the product, since many of the payment methods would not apply to them.
I guess I’d like to make people think about the reasons that lead them to pirate any software, not just games. To think if there’s any measure of plausibility to those reasons, or if they’re just being dicks. Pirating software just because you can isn’t right. I know, personally, a guy who is like this: he’s rich, but most games on his hard-drive weren’t paid for. He has no need to do this, but he does it. Though I never asked him, I have to assume it’s just because he simply can.
To fellow broke pirates: Spread the word about the games you play. Tell people why/if you enjoyed them. Make your free publicity your (albeit meager) contribute to the developers. Who knows, maybe someone who didn’t know about the game will hear about it from you and buy a copy.
I’ll leave you all with this video from Extra Credits on piracy:
While I’m on a gaming roll, I decided to write in this week about my gaming history and which titles I think are of special consideration, which I hold dear and why I do so.
It all started in the 90s, mid-childhood. I was about 6, second grade of primary school. The school had just got their first batch of computers, really old ones, of the Pentium variety, which one though, I’m not sure. We also got access to a variety of educational games that ranged from History to Maths and everything in between. My poison of choice for when we got gaming time was A Aventura do Corpo Humano, a game about the human body which included a sims-like mini-game in which you had to guide the main character throughout the day with a good mix of food, exercise and rest. The main character in this was a bit disturbing though: a skeleton with internal organs. Still, he was amusing and I learned much about the body thanks to this little game.
Fast forward a few years, my mother bought a Tetris machine, a hand held, battery operated, 8 bit, monochrome brick that merely ran Tetris. But boy, did I play it. The Tetris theme is still one of my favourite game themes of all time. Tetris even got me through theory physics class here in college!
A bit later, the Pokemon mania hit Portugal full force and I was hooked. It was the anime, the card game, the gameboy games. My grandparents got me a gameboy color for Christmas with Pokemon Yellow. I loved playing it, I loved trading pokemon with guys at school, I loved pwning them in battles (which most said they weren’t trying or not watching, you know, boy egos, heh). I played Silver and Crystal officially, Ruby emulated and tried SoulSilver emulated but eh, I don’t like instability. I should check to see if I can somehow play it on the Wii.
Once I hit high school, though, the real fun began. That’s when I started to play titles such as The Sims original (all 8 expacs too), the Elder Scrolls III, Age of Empires/Mythology, Pharaoh, Zeus, Black and White. Never was much of an FPS gal, not only because my aiming sucks but also because the FPS community gives the vibe of immature guys who still measure their dicks online.
I got my first taste of the consoles with the Sega Mega Drive (16 bits ZOMG), Sonic mostly, and the PSone, at a friend’s place, where I played and fell in love with Spyro the Dragon, my first “flame” with dragons. I have been pretty much of a PC gamer though, despite owning a Wii and PS2 and thinking of an Xbox360.
The games that marked me, though, the really addicting ones, the ones that I spent hours upon hours on, the ones I truly remember were few. Besides the pokemon ones, which I still enjoy playing when I get the chance, the great names are Sims, TES III, WoW, Age of Mythology and Black and White 2.
These games I’ve ran from top to bottom (except TES III, more on that ahead), explored every nook and cranny, finished the storyline 100%. These are games I will recommend to anyone at any time.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I’ve discovered recently that not many people actually know about this game, yet it was one of the best RPGs released at its time (2002). I never would have found it if it weren’t for a friend and her habit of getting her hands on every new release to see if its good.
The thing is…I haven’t finished this game yet, despite having installed it about four times now. The most I did, was get to the middle of the main quest! Seriously, its a miracle this game even gave Bethesda any profit! Not only does it have excellent graphics for its time, it is also HUGE. DAO? Tiny compared to this monster! The main quest is an epic storyline about your character being the reincarnation of an old Dunmer general who has come to free the Ashlanders (native Dunmer) from the Outlanders (everyone else), driving them and their “false Gods” away. The kicker: YOU are an Outlander. They do NOT trust you.
It is a story that starts you off rather mysteriously, quietly, no rush, and builds up as all you do culminates finally in an epic battle. I won’t get into detail; I haven’t got there myself. Besides the main quest, you can join the Fighters guild, the Mages guild, the Thieves guild, the Morag Thong, house Hlallu, house Redoran, house Telvanii, the Imperial Cult and the Imperial Legion, each of these guilds with a storyline of its own that would nowadays warrant their own game, most probably. Yet despite all this, you STILL get loose side quests, varying from fetch quests to assassination, to escort quests. And did I mention the map is HUGE and you can go ANYWHERE on it? Yes, this game is not for the faint of heart. And if somehow you manage to exhaust all there is to do in it, it has an extensive modding community, ready to provide more quests, more features, more and more and more. And yes, despite the game’s age, it is STILL going strong.
By now you are probably thinking “Damn this girl is going on and on and on about an old ass game, I bet she never played Final Fantasy, Zelda, Mario, <insert big title here>”. Truth is, yes, I have played them to some extent. I did not like them anywhere near as much as other sort of “underground” games. I have a very extensive Western RPG culture that Asian RPGs just don’t appeal to. Platformers, meh. FPS, no way.
That’s why short games sadden me a little. There is so much room to create beautiful stories and gameplays, too bad companies don’t seem to appreciate it. Kudos to Ubisoft for making a game that is relatively short but very enjoyable though: Assassin’s Creed. I did not enjoy having to return AC2 to the store due to the DRM and the very high graphics requirements. Why can’t we disable shadows Ubi, why? :'<
A little background: I love RPG games. But there’s a thing about me: I hate guns. I mean, I think handguns are sexy in a hot character’s hands but unless I can dual wield two beautiful, sleek handguns, no thank you. So, fantasy and medieval games and especially RPGs are the tall order for me. Some titles, as reference: The Elder Scrolls (III and IV), World of Warcraft, Fable I, Dragon Age: Origins. You get a pretty good idea this way, I think.
A common theme in these is magic. Magic is present in almost any medieval style RPG, usually following the main elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Sure, sometimes there’s Electricity and such but usually you’ll find those four main elements. Personally, I’m more of a Rogue and occasionally Warrior archetype, but I can see the lure of the mage. Changing the world with a thought, a word, is very, very appealing.
Fire is a destructive magic, used to kill, destroy, break, eliminate. Only in WoW I did see fire as being something else, with the red Dragonflight using it not only as a weapon, but also for creation. Indeed, whenever their fire touches the ground, grass and flowers grow. Life through death. Kinda poetic. General rule, though, fire magic never strays much from its destructive power, with mages specializing in this type of magic being rude, arrogant, brash, hot-headed (no pun intended) and reckless.
Well…is there anything you can call “water magic”? Not really, from what I recall. This element of magic is usually referred to as a state of water: Ice. Ice magic is pretty much a defensive magic, used to freeze enemies in place, create defences, stop floods and such. It can also be an utility school, creating bridges and objects. Occasionally, it is offensive with things such as ice shards that make a pin cushion out of any enemy. Ice mages are usually calm, collected, a bit emotionless, calculating.
Earth or Nature magic is usually associated with the arts of healing, druids and shamans. Restoring forests as well as flesh, it is both a healing school as well as defensive one, calling on the power of nature and plants to confuse, slow or even kill enemies. Users of Earth magic are usually kind, calm, quiet, fun and perhaps a bit childish, philosophical and non-violent. This school is also associated with a more feral variety of users, the Shapeshifters, especially those that turn into animals, their minds gaining a bit of the animal instincts.
Air magic is virtually unheard of, at least I can’t find any example of humanoid mages. Only recently I have found, in WoW, creatures using air magic, though most of it is still Electricity. Still, the wind can be used to kill opponents, creating sandstorms for example, or hurricanes. Or tornadoes. Seriously, there’s destructive potential here. I’d imagine a user of air magic to be at least prone to sudden mood swings.
All the kinds of magic users I described above are pretty standard fantasy fodder and usually don’t make for very interesting characters. This is where more complex magic starts kicking in, such as the multiple schools of Elder Scrolls, or Arcane of WoW or even the nameless magic practised in Fable (the Will). Truth is, magic has so much potential it should be tapped more in games. And I’m not talking about more “Dark arts” such as Blood magic and Necromancy either. This is a short post where I’d like comments and other gamers’ opinion on magic in RPGs.
So, Cataclysm has been out for about a month now and has had time to show what it’s worth. Even before it had come out, I had already decided to do a review of it for this blog, and yes, in English, so it was readable to most of the WoW gaming populace. Mostly, I am doing this to have an opportunity to talk about one of my favourite games to date (more on this later?), World of Warcraft. While during this month I wasn’t able to (or in some cases, too lazy to) experience the full content of Cataclysm, I will talk about all that I was able to experience.
Warning: There will be SPOILERS ahead.
Unlike many good people, I don’t think that only five more levels felt short or “not a full expansion”. In fact, by the time I reached 84 and a half, I was already a little winded from the sheer size of the new zones, most notably, Vashj’ir. This zone is HUGE but immensely fun. I mean, come ON 450% “flying” speed? Yus plz.
Truth be told, this has to be the expansion where I liked levelling the most. The storylines were good and entertaining, the mobs weren’t too difficult or too easy and the items interesting. I didn’t even mind replacing my ICC epics with greens this time. Not that I knew what it felt like to replace them in Wrath: I didn’t have any to speak of, from TBC!
Overall, gear is just a means to an end and it looks so nice this time around that I couldn’t mind even if I wanted to. The only gripe I have with the new gear is that most of it shares the same model(or, more correctly, texture, but I’ll be using model for both, for easier comprehension). For example, I replaced some green quality leggings with Balkar’s Waders and was disappointed when the model remained the same. But hey, at least it matched the rest of my gear, which, despite coming from very different dungeons, looked exactly like a matching set.
While I’m criticizing this, I understand that this is EXACTLY what users asked for, complaining about the “Outland clown syndrome” in which character gear would be horribly mismatched. I feel this problem was more due to the bright colours used to create the alien feel of Outland than the textures itself. Personally, I only have this syndrome while levelling, and it feels appropriate: you’re a scrub soldier climbing the heroism ladder. You get whatever pieces of gear keep your squishies under your skin. You are SUPPOSED to look like a mismatched fashion victim. Tiers and gear sets are for the ones who have proven themselves: Generals, Liutenants, Elite Soldiers.
The problem, however, has been fixed a little from the solution of Wrath. In Wrath, most of anything that wasn’t a tier was brown. And even some tiers were brown. I play a hunter. I played a brown Tauren, brown geared hunter. On a brown bear. I’m sick of brown.
Brown, however, isn’t gone, but it has friends now, mainly dull reds, blues, greens and yellows. And purples if you’re a Mage. Or Warlock. Or Priest. Yet, now that I’ve returned to my main hunter, a purple, blue haired Night Elf, I am wearing brown dungeon/heroic gear, but at LEAST it has some dull red details. Hurray! I pretty much preferred my greenish black TBC PVP gear with fel falling from the shoulders. Delicious that gear, and not just from a stat point.
Which brings me to another point. The hype for Cataclysm said that we’d have different gear looks depending on what zones we quested in. Well…I quested through all of them and I can’t remember the gear being vastly different looking, so I was disappointed.
Speaking of zones, they are HUGE. I would safely bet that every zone of Cataclysm is roughly bigger than any of Wrath, with the exception of, maybe, Icecrown. Especially huge is Vashj’ir. This zone is so big that the map for it is divided in three sections! I mean…wow. The storyline is also awesome with the Earthen Ring and the shipwrecked Aliance (and I suppose Horde) storylines interweaving into each other to create cohesion and a unified feeling to the zone. The mix also weaves well into the main Cataclysm storyline, mostly when it comes to the Twilight Hammer (more than Deathwing himself). Overall, this is the zone that struck me most, not only for the beautiful scenery, but also for the compelling story and the sheer size of it, even thought getting to the very end exhausted me!
Visually, though, Uldum takes the cake. As an ancient Egypt fan, thanks to a special friend, I just LOVED that zone, especially the two gigantic statues at the bottom, framing the river delta. It was just beautiful, breathtaking. And I don’t run WoW with the graphics anywhere near the max.
As for the other zones, Hyjal, Deepholm and Twilight Highlands, well, I have little to say. Hyjal felt a little meh, even as a Night Elf I didn’t get the importance of saving all the ancients and helping restore the zone because, well, Blizzard, in my opinion, shouldn’t have left the healing of Hyjal to the next patch, but phase it. It would have felt a lot better this way. Twilight Highlands felt much like any other zone, but I don’t know what they could have done to improve it. I rather enjoyed the storyline from the moment I got to the Wildhammer Dwarves, but after helping them and getting to the dragons, I felt the quests and the story got a little bit…forced. The fight between Alexstrasza and Deathwing didn’t feel as epic as a fight between two massive dragons should. I’m pretty biased here though, I just love dragons. I imagine how disappointing it must have been for someone who doesn’t.
But I kept on with relative interest, I mean, come on, DRAGONS! : D It was when I got to Victor’s Point that Twilight Highlands lost the interest for me. Not even Master Mathias Shaw could keep me hooked and I mean, he’s pretty baddass.
You may have noticed by now that this all just talks about levelling from 80-85. Well, truth is, besides a Worgen (which I’ll speak of ahead) I didn’t do any low level levelling. I did grab my Tauren hunter and do most of Hillsbrad, now Horde controlled, and all I can say is: Good riddance. I wouldn’t do that “get me 30 human skulls” quest again if you PAID me. Otherwise all I can say is “Welcome to the Machine”.
Worgen and Goblins
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the hindsight to actually play the Goblin starting area, so I won’t be giving an opinion. I did however play the Worgen starting area and didn’t find it very inspiring or different. Honestly, the Death Knight area wowed me more and it doesn’t have the full technology use that the new starting areas do. That said, I made a female Worgen warrior. The only thing I’m disappointed about her is that her snout doesn’t look as feral as it should. Otherwise, I love her animations (yes even the dance, it looks slightly better in game than the model viewer naked model previews) and she just feels good. The new levelling stuff, mainly the skills you have and choosing a talent tree, feel very good and intuitive. I especially liked, as Fury, getting the Charge ability and dual wield abilities early on. I remember a warrior rolled a while back that never made it to 20 like this little doggy did. Too bad that end game was pressing else this girl might have had a future. Blizzard needs to implement paid class change or account wide achievements, as that deters me from changing mains.
Dungeons and Heroics
Two problems: too long, too long queues. Otherwise, fine. And by too long, I don’t mean “omg we spent two hours wiping, this instance is too long!”, no. A full dungeon run, at max speed with a competent group took me nearly an hour at the beginning of the expansion (comprehensible) but isn’t much faster now that most people have rep/dungeon gear. I think the dungeons themselves should have been shorter, with less but more difficult trash or mini-bosses between the main bosses.
Heroics suffer from the same problem but even LONGER queues. I blame this on how difficult and unforgiving it is to tank and heal, from what I hear, people prefer to pay it safe and just DPS. The current fights could use less healing/tanking challenges and more DPS races. Cut some slack on the tank and healer, please, we DPS want to do something too, during the fight. Keeping threat under control and CC are just too basic.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to get any raiding done. My guild is going to start raiding come February and that means I’ll be having exams. Hopefully not too many so I can jump right back into WoW.
So, what does the unemployed raider do at end game? Well, there’s a couple of choices, if you don’t want to level an alt. Mostly, it looks just like Wrath, you do your dailies, run the daily heroic/dungeon, level professions, play the AH, chat, do some achievements, PVP.
As for me, personally, PVP is out of the question. Starting crafted gear is just too expensive to dabble into right now and I detest PvP PuGs. Imagine the average IQ of a dungeon finder PuG. Now multiply it by 5 and subtract the resulting number. That’s the IQ of a battleground PuG. Why cap the flag if fighting in the middle gets me HKs? Don’t people play PVP to win?!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try out Tol Barad, but I’ve read all about the current imbalances. Too bad, I could have used the win-trade honour to buy some decent PVP gear, maybe a few PVP mounts. But to this day, all I know is that the portal to Tol Barad is located somewhere in Stormwind, but I don’t know exactly where.
So, what I eventually did was pursue achievements and try out Archaeology (got bored with that for now). I finished Cataclysm Loremaster and completed Classical Dungeon Master as well as got some zones done for Loremaster of Kalimdor. I got the Cata dungeon achievements too.
I’ve tried levelling professions but, with the price materials are at now, that is an exercise in masochism, so I mostly end up selling the mats I get, mostly cloth (and I’m a Tailor, yay). I craft some things to sell too that are profitable, mainly Frost and Netherweave bags, high level buff foods and I flip pets. I’m for the first time in my life sitting at 13k gold. When I come back, I expect to double or even triple it, eventually, and then buy the gold sink mounts I so want, aiming first at the Vial of the Sands. I mean, it turns your into a dragon! How cool is THAT?! Worth every stinking copper.
That about sums up my current experience with Cataclysm. Seriously, despite all this I felt somewhat uncomfortable with it due to most new experiences being aimed for the Old World, low level characters. Maybe the next patch will bring new things to do and aim for, that will keep me occupied in the Summer.