Category Archives: Blogging

The Game I’m Most Excited For

This is my 7th post for Blaugust.

Oh dear, I’m only at the end of week 1 and I’m falling behind. I meant to post something yesterday, really I did. But I got caught up playing Witcher 3 for a few hours – I found Ciri, I must be getting close to the end, yes? Then I had some late night testing to do for work which went until well after 2am. So when I woke up this morning (can you call noon the morning?) I had no post for Friday.

Being in a bit of a rush, I’m going to go with one of the writing prompts. Void asks: What is your most anticipated game that will release in the next year, and why?

Rise of the Tomb Raider

I’m going to have to go with Rise of the Tomb Raider. 2013’s Tomb Raider was one of the most fun games I’ve played. It wasn’t a game I liked for its deep and meaningful story but the gameplay, combined with some excellent visuals and set pieces, was so exhilarating. There was a particular sequence where Lara had to climb up this immensely tall tower and I felt like I myself was on top of the world. Super smooth controls made everything feel very natural and intuitive, and I just had a great time running around raiding tombs and shooting my bow. As long as Rise of the Tomb Raider offers more great gameplay, I’ll be happy.

I’m also looking forward to Fallout 4, which comes out on the same day, but I think I’ll be tackling RotTR first. I’m more excited for it and the fact that it’ll likely take me a fraction of the time that Fallout will is also a big draw.

Gaming To-Do List

This is my 4th post for Blaugust.

Izlain came up with the writing prompt to create a gaming to-do list. I’m a big fan of lists, I’m making them all the time, so this seemed like a good blog topic to take on. In no particular order, here are the gaming things I want to get done.

  1. Post at least 1 video a week. I’ve actually been fairly consistent with videos, and have certainly posted an average of at least 1/week, but I occasionally miss a number of days and then catch up by posting 3 in a week. Further to this, I want to make sure I’m posting a retro review at least once every 2 weeks.
  2. Get back to my “Doing it Right” series. Games are full of not so great representations of women and a lack of racial and sexual diversity, but rather than always dwelling on the bad, I like to point out the good examples too. The problem is, they’re not always easy to find. I’ve got a video about XCOM floating around in my head, but need more. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
  3. Play some PC games. Between retro games and Witcher 3, PC games have sort of fallen off my radar (other than HotS). After the last summer sale my number of unplayed Steam games has been creeping up to an uncomfortable number. Yesterday I started Dead State, which unfortunately didn’t impress me much, but I’d like to finish at least 1 PC game this month and take a look at a few more.
  4. Finish The Witcher 3. One day.
  5. Get to rank 18 in HotS. Why 18? I dunno, seems like a good number and a realistic goal. For far rank 20 is the best I’ve done.
  6. Find an assassin hero I like in HotS. Right now, it’s basically Valla or nothing, and I’d like to be more adaptable when it comes to the ranked draft.
  7. Find a tank I like in HotS. I do like some warriors, but I don’t like being the tank. Somehow I’ve gotten away with never being forced to do it in ranked, but I’d like to be prepared.
  8. Figure out how to capture game footage from retro consoles. I have a Roxxio and a Hauppage, but so far have only used them with consoles that I can conenct with HDMI. There are a lot of games I’d really like to review on PS1/PS2 and Sage CD, but I haven’t figured out how to record them yet.
  9. Finish my unfinished games. Or make the decision that I’m done with them forever. Mirror’s Edge, which has sort of outstayed its welcome. Persona 3, which I played for about an hour (JRPGs start so sloooowly). Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Invisible, Inc., Hand of Fate, Lone Survivor.
  10. Play Journey. It’s finally out on PS4. Time to play.

Blizzard and Free to Play

This is my 3rd post for Blaugust.

It’s been a year now since I quit World of Warcraft. For a while I thought I was done with Blizzard games forever, but apparently not quite. First there was Hearthstone, with which I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship ever since the alpha. And now there’s my new go-to game, Heroes of the Storm. In the 9 years I played WoW – between monthly subs, expansion costs, server transfers, and race changes – I’ve put quite a bit of money in Blizzard’s pocket. So, since I quit, I decided I was done giving them money. I would only play for free.

What I’ve noticed is that the FTP experience is completely different in HotS than it is in Hearthstone.  Last week, there were two good articles on Hearthstone that touched on the FTP aspects. On Polygon, the thought was that Hearthstone, now multiple expansions in, is becoming less friendly to new players. Steve at Multiball! is of the opinion that being a non-paying Hearthstone player and earning cards slowly isn’t the worst thing in the world, and is actually making him a better player. As someone who played Hearthstone quite a bit in Beta (and spent some money on packs at that time), then stopped playing until after 2 expansions had come out, I found the huge increase of new cards a bit overwhelming. While Naxx only introduced 30 new cards (along with a bunch of solo content), the Goblin xpac introduced 143 new cards. Going up against all these cards I had never seen before, never had a chance to play, made games difficult. The only decks I had luck with were budget, rush-type decks (which, incidentally, a lot of people look down their noses at). I got to work doing my dailies for gold and I think I was able to get the first 2 wings of Naxx, along with the cards that came with them. I was also able to craft some cards with dust, but I definitely still felt at a disadvantage. Plus, having to make the choice between spending my meager gold on the Naxx content vs. packs that would net me more cards and options, wasn’t really fun. Even arena mode, which doesn’t rely on crafted decks costs at least 2-3 dailies worth of gold. I got tired of it, and uninstalled. Again. Now that The Grand Tournament is coming out, with another 132+ new cards, it’s pretty much guaranteed I won’t be going back to Hearthstone. While the slow and steady approach to card collecting is certainly viable for some, I don’t find the rewards for the time and effort put in are enough for me.

Heroes of the Storm shop

So what about Heroes of the Storm? This is another FTP game that’s full of things you can spend money on, but you don’t really have to. Heroes need to be purchased, for either in-game gold, or real money, though there is a free rotation that you can play each week. There are also many ridiculously overpriced skins and mounts that can be purchased for real money only (for the most part), but since these have zero effect on gameplay I don’t consider these something I’m missing out on by not spending any money. Heroes is nice in that there are a few ways to earn gold. First, just completing the tutorial gives you 1000g, to help get you on your way. You also get a nominal amount of gold for each game completed (more if you win). There are also daily quests, which give between 200-800g each, when you reach level 5 on any hero you get 500g, and as you level up from 1-40 there’s another 16k gold to be had. So it’s much easier to gain currency, especially in the beginning, in HotS than it is in Hearthstone. There’s really only one type of content that is gated, which can be overcome with money or gold, and that’s ranked mode. You need to own 10 heroes before you can play that. The reason why I don’t mind this gating is that it makes sense. Due to the drafting process, you need 10 heroes in case the worst happens and every hero you like gets taken before you get to pick. It really makes sense that you need to own the heroes because then, ostensibly, you should know how to play them. This being a team game, you don’t want people trying out new characters in ranked mode.

Heroes of the Storm is a game I feel satisfied about not spending any money on. I don’t feel like it’s holding me back, or that the people who throw money at the game are having more fun or outperforming me because they spent money. My one concern, for the future of HotS, is that too many heroes get added. Right now there are 39 heroes which seems like a reasonable number. What I don’t want to see is over 100 heroes in the game, like LoL has. One of the strengths of HotS is the low barrier to entry, and adding dozens more heroes would negate this. In order to be really good at the game, you need to not only know how to play your own hero, but have at least an idea of the abilities of the heroes you’re up against, or playing with. 

What do you think? Do you play either of these games? How do you feel spending real money impacts them?

Blaugust Day 1

This year I’ve decided to join in on Blaugust, an attempt to blog every day in the month of August. It was started last year by Belghast, and though I didn’t take part then, I’m motivated to do so now. My blog has been kind of neglected lately, as I’ve been spending a lot of time making videos instead (or playing Heroes of the Storm). I only posted here twice last month and I’d like to try to re-invigorate the blog, since it’s been floundering a bit since I left my WoW niche.

So, I’ve got plans. I’m going to do both blog posts and videos this month. I’m going to try to write some Heroes of the Storm tips posts here, since I’ve been spending so much time playing it and I want more people to play with me. I don’t really know what else I’ll write about though, hopefully something come to me. As for videos, I’ve got a few in the works already – a recap of my time at ConBravo, a couple new retro reviews. I’d really like to add another video or two to my Doing it Right series, since that’s what I started my channel with, but it’s been proving more difficult than I thought to come up with positive examples and those videos are even more work than reviews.

So, I hope you’ll read and watch along, and take up the Blaugust challenge yourself if it appeals to you. Happy Blaugust!

Too Much Time to Blog

It’s been a bit quiet here of late. The reason is that I’m currently out of a job. I tend to do most of my writing (and reading of other blogs) at work while I’m strapped to a computer and have downtime. When I’m at home I tend to avoid the computer outside of using it to play games. So I’m not particularly up on the news at the moment or inspired to write anything.

On the bright side, I’ve had a lot of time to play games and I’ve been making videos a bit more frequently. I’m still working on finding my voice and getting comfortable with editing and talking to a camera, but I think I’ve improved since my first one. Lately I’ve been doing recommendations for great short games that can be completed in a couple of hours and also replaying and reviewing my favorite games from a long, long time ago. If you’re into videos and haven’t already, please check them out. Subscribes, likes, comments, and constructive criticism are always appreciated.

Also, the first episode of the new Contains Moderate Peril podcast that I’m now a co-host on went up this week. I think it went well and will only get better as we all get more used to working together. On this episode we talked about cheating in video games, spoilers, celebrity voice acting, and dlc & microtransactions. I really enjoy that the podcast features voices from both sides of the Atlantic (and it also makes our voices all really easy to tell apart), and I had a lot of fun recording the first episode. You can grab the podcast from the CMP website, iTunes, or Stitcher.

In terms of what I’ve been playing, there’s a lot! I’m really into Saints Row IV right now. Sometimes I forget how great it is when I spend a lot of time on mini-games, then I do a loyalty or story quest and am reminded about what a ridiculously fun and funny game it is. Highlight so far (other than the killer opening) – singing Opposites Attract with Pierce.

I’ve also been replaying Mass Effect 3. Unfortunately I lost my save from a few months ago, so I had to load up my original game and I’ve been doing all the DLC for the first time. I finally did The Citadel which was a blatant and wonderful bit of fan service. Unfortunately, though I was looking forward to the Vega romance this DLC introduced, they did it in the most creepy and inappropriate way possible and made my Shepard feel like a sexual predator. So I’m just going to block that out of my memory of the DLC.

I played through Dungeons of Dredmor, an amusing dungeon crawler. It was fun for a bit though it got old pretty quickly. It’s a roguelike, which I’m really not into, but I was able to turn off permadeath so I at least got some enjoyment out of it.

I’ve been slowly making my way through Grim Fandango. I issued a challenge to myself a while back that I’d go through adventure games without walkthroughs. That went okay in the first year of the game, but I got stuck pretty soon after and had to give up on that challenge. Adventure games were always one of my favourite genres, by oh my god, the puzzle solutions are so stupid and out of left field. I think with most of my favourites I only still enjoy playing them now because I remember all the solutions so I never feel like an idiot, because playing Grim Fandango for the first time sure makes me feel dumb. I think the game has a lot of things going for it – the concept is great, the writing and characters are funny – but those puzzles. Also, for the remaster I really wish they had highlighted objects that could be picked up and hidden entrances to new screens a bit more.

Fantasia: Music Evolved is a rhythm game that uses the Kinect on the XBoxOne. I played this for the first time with KaleriSara, and a number of alcoholic beverages and it was hilarious. The game has you waving your arms around like a conductor to create and remix music, and though going through menus and such with the Kinect can be a bit janky, doing the songs is great fun. I’ve been slowly making my way through the single player game when I feel like doing some more active gaming.

I also played through Bionic Heart, which is a visual novel dating sim thing, and it was really not for me.

That’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll figure out a way to be more active here (or get a job) soon.

Liebster Award Questionnaire

Today I was nominated by Mystical Mesmer to complete the Liebster Award questionnaire, a blogging meme that aims to help people discover new blogs and discover new things about the people who write them. I need to share 11 random facts about myself, answer 11 questions from Mystical Mesmer, and ask 11 questions of 5 other bloggers.

Without further ado…

11 random facts about Pam
My favourite colour is purple. When I was 3 I would only answer to the name Scarlett. I miss my dog while I’m at work. I can’t play any instruments and have no artistic ability. I would rather spend a paycheck on a ridiculously extravagant dinner than on material goods. I once stole a monkey. I’m allergic to walnuts and pecans. I have no piercings. I used to ride horses and I miss it. My dream job is to work for a video game studio and tell them when they’re making stupid decisions. I like animals more than humans.

And now the questions from The Mystical Mesmer:

1. What are the three major elements of your ideal video game?
Story, intuitive controls, great characters.

2. Big city, suburb, or countryside?
Right now I’d have to say city. It’s where I live now, though I can’t say I make the most of it. At some point I’d like to live in the country though, and have lots of animals.

3. What’s the origin of your blogging name?
I started as a WoW blogger, and at the time I was playing both as a resto Druid and a Hunter. There was an ongoing joke about how hunters should be able to tame Druids.

4. Aeris lives and you’re hired to retell Final Fantasy 7. What role does she play?
Aeris realizes that Cloud and Tifa are supposed to be together, so she stops pursuing him and puts all of her efforts into healing the planet. She turns out to be a chocobo whisperer and allows the party to access the Weapons without all that awful breeding and racing. In the final encounter with Sephiroth she whispers something in his ear that sends him running off, crying, never to be seen again. After this she returns to Cosmo Canyon with Red to continue healing the planet and teaching others.

5. What’s your favorite biome?
Desert.

6. Write a haiku love poem to this morning’s breakfast.
Sweet golden goddess
Espresso, milk, sugar, foam
Divine latte love.

7. What’s your preferred device for reading blogs?
I like to read blogs on my computer. I use Feedly to compile everything, but tend to click through to the blogs themselves if a topic interests me.

8. If you were to start up a video game company, what would you name it?
I was going to say Bad Doggie, after my pup, but that sounds a lot like Naughty Dog! Umm… Play This.

9. Which of the Seven Dwarves would you be and why?
Sleepy, this describes me most of the time. Though I think I’d make a great Grumpy at times.

10. What form of exercise do you find to be the most effective?
I’d say weight training, with a trainer who will make you keep going and not be lazy. It’s been a while since I’ve done this though. The most effective workout that I actually do right now is playing Just Dance on xbox or chasing my dog around.

11. How long is a piece of string?
1.61619926 × 10-35 meters


 

I nominate the following people to answer my questions:
Kal from Power Word: What (or Spinning Tales)
Dahakha from Star-Fired Beef
Rades from Orcish Army Knife
Murf from Murf Versus
Arolaide from Dragonsworn

And the questions to answer:
1. What’s the last song you listened to?
2. When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
3. If you could live in any fictional world (from a game, book, movie, whatever) which would it be?
4. Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, or Baelish?
5. Sci-fi or fantasy?
6. Do you finish most video games you play (if they have endings)?
7. If you had a superpower what would it be?
8. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
9. What food could you eat every day and never get sick of?
10. What video game character do you most identify with?
11. In order to complete a quest would you rather use might, cunning, or magic?

Branching Out

I’ve been pretty happy with my transition from WoW blogger to gaming blogger last year. It’s given me a lot more to talk about and time to play a lot more different games. However, over the past couple months, I’ve been wanting to branch out some more from just blogging. I’ve dabbled in streaming and Let’s Play-like videos, but discovered I’m really not exuberant enough to pull those off. Honestly, the videos I made were pretty boring. I don’t have the type of personality where I can just talk to fill space while I play a game. I have lots of opinions, but I need focus and topics to sink my teeth into, rather than just directionless musings to people who may or may not be watching me play.

So I have some news.

My first piece of exciting news is that I will be joining the Contains Moderate Peril podcast. The show had a brief hiatus in the last couple months, but hosts Roger, Brian, and Sean decided they wanted to start it back up as a monthly podcast as well as add some new perspectives to the mix. So, they invited Jaedia and myself to join as co-hosts. We record our first episode later this week. I hope you’ll give it a listen when it’s released.

Second, I’ve decided to give videos another go, but in a much different format. I put up my first one last week, on the Shadowrun games and how I think they do characters well from a feminist perspective. I plan to continue this “doing it right” series on other positive games I’d like to highlight, as well as some spotlights, best ofs, and maybe a rant or two. If you have any suggestions for videos, I’d love to hear them. Here’s my first video if you want to check it out.