Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

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I’ve always been an avid motorsport fan.  I’d watch anything from rally, to touring cars, to formula one.  No surprises then, that I’d be interested in a game about managing a formula one team.  This particular offering, a mobile game titled MyGPTeam Turbo, comes from Italy-based developer, Interactive Project.  It’s a relative of their existing browser-based social game, MyGPTeam.

As I started up the game, I was immediately greeted with a tutorial.  This is not uncommon for many mobile games to do, and honestly, it’s a good thing.  After all, I’d rather go into it knowing what I’m doing to begin with.  The tutorial took me through the basics of races and navigating the game.  As you would expect, the game functions mostly through the use of touch button controls and these are fairly intuitive.  I didn’t find myself having to relearn any sort of control techniques.

So what is this game all about? Well, it’s a formula one team management game.  The player is tasked with creating the best team they can possibly make and leading them to victory in races.

Photo 17-12-13 12 22 07As a player, this is the screen you will see the most.  It’s basically a 3d menu that depicts the team headquarters.  It has everything from a company office to a garage and driver’s area.  From here, you can carry out all of the actions you need to create a winning team.

First off, you can head over to the garage and check out your car.

Photo 17-12-13 12 22 24Since this is based on formula one, there’s no need to buy or choose from different cars.  Instead, your team starts off with the sponsored car, which you can then perform many upgrades to.  The upgrades are linear, level-based upgrades that can be purchased throughout the course of the game.

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 These are also limited by the level of the garage, itself, which can also be upgraded.  Each aspect of the car produces a set number of statistics, in the form of points.  This makes it relatively easy to see what effect the upgrade will directly have.  However, it is not as clearly explained how exactly those particular points will affect the overall performance of the car during a race.

Photo 17-12-13 12 23 07In addition, the player also has the option to customise the appearance of the car.  There are a selection of different skins.  Some of which, are available as unlocks throughout the course of the game.  Others are available for purchases via micro-transactions.  Each skin also has a selection of different color variations that are available once unlocked.

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The next place to visit is the driver training area.  Here, you can train your existing drivers in order to improve their skills and eventually increase their overall level.  The player also has access to a talent scout that will allow you hire other drivers.  To train a driver, simply open up the training menu and select the skill that you want to upgrade.  You will then be taken to the driver simulator which, for all intents and purposes, is basically a minigame that simulates the particular skill.  For example, if you wish to upgrade your driver’s skills on straights, you’ll take part in a simulated drag race and you will need to hit those perfect launches and gear changes.

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So you’ve prepared your car and you’ve trained your driver, now what?

Well, then it’s time to race.  There are two main types of races.  There’s the quick race mode and multiplayer 1v1.  In both race modes, the player takes on the role of the chief, not the driver.  So, in order to win, it’s more of a strategy game.  The player must tell the driver what to do at particular times.  Should your driver speed up now, or overtake? The choice is yours.

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For anyone who’s played Gran Turismo 5‘s “B-spec” career mode, the style of play should be fairly familiar.  In addition, the player will be given moments where they will need to complete short minigames during the race that will help maintain an edge over your opponents.

Photo 17-12-13 12 20 34And that’s all there is to it.  Overall, this looks like a very well-polished game.  The music and sound effects are pretty decent.  I didn’t notice any glaring quality while playing.  Also, the graphics are pretty impressive for mobile devices.  So, if you’re looking for a good team management game and you’re a fan of motorsport, this is a good title to try out.  It’s available for both Android and iOS.  Check out their main site here!

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There’s a time in every person’s life when they need to sit back a reflect on their life.  It could happen anytime.  It could happen while you’re at work, or at school.  It could even happen in your later years.  But, would you ever expect it to happen while playing a game on your mobile phone?

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Well, that’s what happened to me when I chanced upon Pretentious Game by Bulkypix.  The fairly assuming title might be a drop-dead dealbreaker for some.  After all, it could easily be interpreted as the sort of obnoxious title desperately trying to make some form of misguided, “deeper” meaning.

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So what did I end up with?  Well, Pretentious Game is a deceptively simple platform game with levels that are simple in appearance.  However, the rules change for each level and force the player to think outside of the usual platforming box, in order to reach their goal.  To make matters worse, the only indication that something has changed is usually a single sentence written on the screen for the player to decode.  Personally, I didn’t have all that much difficulty working it out but I can see how the game could potentially get much trickier.

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Story-wise, it’s a bit difficult to tell.  On the one hand, the simple graphics leave a lot to the imagination.  With simple annotations left for the player to read, it could be assumed that the shapes on the screen are representative of characters in some way.  But then again, it’s all up to the player’s perspective.  While the notion of leaving things to imagination of the players is not exactly unique to games, it’s not something that’s been seen very often, recently.  The closest comparison that I can draw to this, would be Thomas Was Alone.  However, they both achieve their objectives in subtly different ways.

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Ultimately, Pretentious Game is a sort of game that has a message.  However, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and seems to place its message at the forefront without attempting to shove it down the player’s throat.  It can definitely spark your imagination and get your mind working a little.

Try it for yourself! It’s available for free on the App Store and on Google Play, with additional levels (which I’d love to try) available for purchase.

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PanzerSG is a gamer, modeler and animator-in-training. Supporting the Indies, whenever and wherever possible.  Also is very active on Twitter: @PanzerSG and runs a YouTube Channel: PanzerSG Gaming.

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Hilarious blooper reel from the recording of episode 6 of Pause Break. Click the thumbnail above to watch!
Link to channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/zeckpressstart

So I was thinking about games in the past, recently, and I began thinking about how the introduction of multiplayer games has affected the development of current and next-gen games.

You see, we now have a situation where faster internet connections have made it possible to feasibly play online multiplayer games and even download full retail titles from the comfort of your own home.

Last time, all games were singleplayer only and they had to be developed in a certain way, in order to be successful. Think back to the original Mario games. Or even further back to Pacman and Space Invaders. You’ll probably notice a few common things.

Firstly, the graphics were very simple. You wouldn’t find things like anisotropic filtering, high dynamic range lighting or even, 3D models. Heck, there’s was no such thing as anti-aliasing.
Graphics were not the main focus of the game. They just needed to suit the theme of the game and be accurate representations of their functions.

Gameplay was as much about reflexes as it was about level knowledge and tactics. Some games had strong story, some didn’t.

But as the years went by, story telling became as much a core element of the game as the actual gameplay. Enter games such as The Legend of Zelda and you’ll quickly see story become a very strong element. The same can be said about Final Fantasy or Deus Ex.

In fact, games became about creating entire worlds around a story. Look at The Elder Scrolls, for example. There’s a game created with a whole world crafted specifically for the story telling aspect of the game, as well as to provide enough content to completely immerse the player into the lore.

Fast forward to today. We see games that were created for multiplayer only. Singleplayer then became an afterthought. Maybe even a tutorial at the most. But, never to be taken seriously.

One example that comes to mind is the Battlefield series. It started out life without any singleplayer story mode to begin with. All you would have are the same multiplayer maps with AI opponents dropped in. This started with Battlefield 1942 and carried on until Bad Company introduced an actual story.

Does that mean singleplayer is back on the rise? Maybe. But I don’t think Battlefield may be the best example. After all, it’s core game is still the multiplayer aspect. The singleplayer, despite what devs say about it, is really nothing more than a few hours of distraction compared to the online multiplayer.

But, with the recent and well-received singleplayer titles such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Heavy Rain, The Last of Us, The Walking Dead and The Wolf among us, there’s significant evidence to suggest that singleplayer only games can still see success in today’s world of Call of Duty and DOTA.

The key trend in the successful games in this market, however, is down to the powerful and compelling storytelling, sometimes at the expense of gameplay. Games like Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls play more like interactive movies and don’t feature much in the way of actual gameplay.

However, is this all actually a good thing? Sure, a good story in a game is a fantastic thing. But, the underlying fact is that it is still a game and I’m not sure that I want to see singleplayer games become a series of interactive storybooks.  A good game is one that serves its purpose on its own merits.  That applies to both multiplayer and singleplayer games.  If a game needs certain conditions to played in in order to achieve its objectives, its not a good game.  Let’s hope the developers in the future know what to make of this.

Hey all,

There’s been activity on my YouTube Channel recently.  Finally..

I’ve been playing a bit of Garry’s Mod and the associated hilarious addons.  It’s fun.  Really fun.  So much fun that I decided to make a video series out of it.  Currently, I’ve got the first episode up.  You can check that out here.  Episode 2 will be out 5.30pm on Tuesday (GMT +8).  Episode 3 will follow a couple of days after that.

The plan is to have two episodes per week.  I’ve decided to have one episode release mid-week, and another towards to the end of the week.  Not sure if this is the right sort of schedule, but it’s one that I feel I can suitably maintain.

So, check it out guys and subscribe if you haven’t already.  It’s seriously a fun game to watch even if you aren’t a gamer.

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Hey all,

So I was recently playing a bit of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 again.  Yes, that’s right, I was actually playing CoD.  Plus, it’s not the latest Black Ops 2 or even Modern Warfare 3.  Nope, MW2 for me.  Why, you ask? Well, firstly, I was bored and I wanted a simple, straightforward shooting game that (brace for potential flame-war here) didn’t require a lot of hefty thinking.  Hence, I went into my Steam games library and downloaded MW2.  Of course, I wasn’t about to shell out any cash just because I was bored for a moment, so I went ahead and pulled out that old title and blew the dust off it.

It was intended to be nothing more than a mere one hour session.  However, to my amazement, I continued playing well past three hours and, bizarrely, I wanted to play more.  I was not expecting this at all.  Mainly, because I hadn’t really enjoyed Call of Duty much after the first Modern Warfare instalment since I didn’t like the overall design and feel of the game.  It always had something of the “console” feel to me and always felt inferior on the PC.  Much in the same way the original Halo felt when I played it on my PC.  The combination of low field of view, lack of any form of atmosphere and claustrophobic maps always made it feel like a casual player’s shooter to me.  Strangely, that’s what made me like playing it in the first place.

See, while I was playing, I had this revelation.  It finally became apparent to me what made this series so damn popular.  It makes you feel good for playing it.  Simple as that.  Every time you get a kill, it flashes up a big sign on your screen to congratulate you on your amazing achievement.  The more you kill, the more it would pat you on the back.  Conversely, the more you died without scoring, the more it egged you on to keep trying.  It even gave you a small boost, in the form of a death-streak bonus, to help you get back into it.  Sure, some might argue that death-streaks actually reward bad playing.  But I disagree, I believe that it pushes the player to fight back by stringing them along with this bonus.  It’s not much to even speak of.  You won’t become instantly God-like by getting a death-streak bonus.  In fact, as I discovered, some of them don’t even appear to do much at all.  For example, I was using the “Painkiller” death-streak, which is supposed to boost your health for a certain period of time.  Logically, more health would mean that the enemy would require more hits to kill you.  That should provide you with a significant advantage.  However, I found that, on some occasions, I still died within the same amount of time regardless.  Sure, it could be that I’m absolute crap at this after not playing for about a year and a half, but even so, it’s the psychological effect of having something that simply appears to give you an advantage.  Like a placebo, if you will.  Regardless of the actual intended effect, I found that all these bonuses simply made me more daring, which in turn, helped me take risks that sometimes led to brilliance.  And yes, it felt good.

But what is it that truly kept me playing?  Was it the graphics? No, they were good, but not great.  Was it the level design? Gosh, no.  Was it the aesthetics of the weapons? Nope, as far as I could tell, they weren’t all that different.  What kept me playing was this ultimately compelling feeling of need to complete that next challenge, or get the next unlock, or rank, or whatever.  Yes, it was that progression system.  You know, a friend of mine in the past used to always rave about Call of Duty games.  He used to always go on and on about getting to the next “Prestige” level or something or rather.  And this is exactly what he was talking about.  It’s this addiction that the game cleverly inputs into you.  It dangles little morsels in front of you and praises you to high heaven for accomplishing rather simple tasks.  For example, it asks you to get five headshots and win a weapon skin.  Plus, it flashes your achievement right in front of your face with a resounding metal scream.  All of this, to get that little bit of euphoria flowing and keep you going.

To be honest, it’s a very addictive feeling.  Who doesn’t want to feel good?  In that sense, Infinity Ward have made a great game.  I don’t honestly believe that it is a good game to play, but it does make you feel good for playing it.

However, all is not rosy.  Because of how Call of Duty is set up, it is a very accessible game.  Hell, I didn’t play for more than a year and I went from zero kills to positive kill/death ratio with double-figure kills in about three to five rounds of play.  It has become easy for just about anyone to pick up and play.  Sure, you do need some level of frequency to actually do well in the game consistently but it isn’t difficult to start.  Compare this with something like Planetside2 or any of the Battlefield games and you’ll see what I mean.  Those are games that punish new players very hard.  Call of Duty doesn’t.  It picks up the new players and welcomes them with open arms.  The problem with this is, Call of Duty is quite possibly the worst game to learn FPS gaming with.  Once you enter the arenas of just about any other game, especially on the PC, you’d be in for a very serious culture shock.  Call of Duty is almost unique in the way in handles and plays that no other game could possibly compare.  In fact, it may even warp a player’s expectations to expect all shooters to play the same.  Then, they’d be limited to games such as Halo, Gears of War and other similarly accessible shooters.

That’s not to say these games are bad.  It does, however, limit the scope for developers.  If the FPS community were majority CoD players (which given the popularity of consoles, it just might be), developers would then have to cater to the demands of that demographic.  We wouldn’t be able to have complex FPS games at all, simply because nobody would want to buy it if wasn’t like Call of bloody Duty.  Imagine a world where all FPS are CoD clones.

Now stop imagining, because it could actually already be happening.  You see, not that long ago, a game existed named Counter-strike.  Some of the mainstream CoD players may not have heard of this game, because the players were 90s kids or older.  But anyway, the game was simple.  Two teams, one objective.  Pick your guns, stick with your team, and off you go.  No levelling up, no weapon attachments, no progression, no killstreak rewards.  What it had was, tactics, recoil patterns and good old fashioned shooting skill.  Nowadays, shooters are leaning towards the way that CoD did things.  Almost every FPS game now has a form of progression system.  There’s also a points system and some form of reward for special actions in almost every FPS game.  Also, what annoys me most, more and more games are ditching recoil patterns in favour of wide cone shaped spread.

Of course, there will be many that disagree with this opinion and that’s fine.  It’s merely an opinion.  And before I get carried away with this topic, I’m going to end this here.  I just find that the direction that FPS in general started moving in since 2009 to now is highly disturbing.  Ironically, it may end up being games like Battlefield 4 that start to shift things a bit further in the right direction.  I’d just hate to see all FPS games go the way of the MOBAs and start copying each other.

Hi there,

I’ve come to realise that since I haven’t got much in the way of gaming to talk about this week so I’ve decided that I’m actually going to do some actual blogging on here too. This is just something I’m going to do every once in a while when there’s no games to review or no big news to comment on.

Right, on with it.

So, this past week has been rather interesting. I’ve just started a new job, working at a Steakhouse near home.  This is not the sort of thing that I’ve done before nor is it something that I would’ve ever thought of doing.  But since I’m also studying right now, I do need a form of income to support myself and my various addictions (read: gaming budget and leave it at that).  But yes, waiting on tables and clearing plates is what I do for money.  It’s not glamorous but hey, it’s sort of fun.  Even if it is a bit tiring.

There’s also been some developments online too.  I’ve recently participated in my first online get-together with a bunch of YouTubers.  We played Terraria and there were so many of us (I believe there were about 10 or so) that it was absolute chaos for the most part.  Zeckpressstart did his best to moderate us but it was just so much chaos.  (Check out his channel here. The video should be there of that game, eventually).  It was definitely enjoyable, even if “somebody” destroyed the house FoxyFauna and I built 😦  But, definitely it was one of the most fun online gaming sessions I’ve had and hopefully, next I’ll actually have my recording software started up to capture some of it.

Yes, it was that much fun that I actually forgot to record any of it.

On that note, I’d like to give a special mention to all of these awesome people who were there.  Links to their channels included!

Zeckpressstart

FoxyFauna

SharkyHatGamer

Dro205

_ThatGuyMatt_

NoshGosh

UnderInspired Games

Smax Gaming

Check out all of these guys, they’ve got some great content that’s definitely worth your time and attention.

What else is new? I’ve recently purchased Garry’s Mod.  It’s an interesting thing.  For just $9.99, you get a game that comprises many other games and content made by users for free.  Of course, it started off as something of a sandbox physics simulator for people to create loads of random nonsense with all the tools included.  But now, it’s also become an avenue for modders and budding developers to create whole new games from.  Ever heard of Prop Hunt? or Trouble in Terrorist Town? Both of these have been making waves through the YouTube gaming community and they aren’t full retail titles.  They’re free gamemodes made with Garry’s Mod.  Simple as that.  Amazes me that community content creators for some games can really show up some of the big developers, simply by going back to basics and creating something that is fun.  That’s really all you can ask from for a game at the bare minimum.  A game can have poor graphics.  A game can have bugs.  A game can be made from old tech.  But, if a game is fun.  Then that’s all you really need.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a well-made game.  The thing I don’t like is the stance that many of the big developers in the industry have taken where they focus on things like technology and graphics so much that they sometimes forget about the core elements that make a game.  Objectives, obstacles, challenges, and ultimately, fun.

Well, that’s all from me for now.  Be sure to check out my channel on YouTube and if you have any questions, thoughts or feedback, let me know in the comments.