Xpovos' Blog - Apr to Jun 17 (71 followers)
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Apr
21
PermalinkGwent Beta Codes
I was given a few Closed Beta codes for Gwent to hand out to "friends." Well, if you're following my blog, I consider you a friend.

I've also been playing around with Beam and I even streamed playing the tutorial of Gwent: The Witcher Card Game a few weeks back. This seems like a good reason to stream the game again as I start up the main campaign.

I believe the Closed Beta codes I have are good for PC only.

If you haven't got your Closed Beta invite yet and want one, let me know. I've got three, so I'll give out two to followers who comment here (if I get more than two I'll choose randomly) and I'll give the third to someone who stops in and watches the stream(s).

I'll stream Gwent: The Witcher Card Game tonight (Friday, April 21st) from 2200 to 2300 (Eastern, 0200-0300 Saturday UTC) tonight and if no one shows to claim the code, again tomorrow (Saturday, April 22nd) at the same time (Sunday morning UTC).

Comment to win has to be made by 2300 Saturday (0300 UTC Sunday April 23rd), that way all of my codes are being sent out by that point.
Posted by Xpovos on 21 April 17 at 13:32 | There is 1 comment on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Apr
16
PermalinkGTASC - Period 13: Paschal Goat Simulator: Resurrection
Much as I predicted in my commentary last week, the DLC for Goat Simulator going on sale catapulted that game into the top position for both team and individual contests. Beyond that, there wasn't much of a shakeup in the top games. New release Yooka-Laylee managed to take 4th overall in spite of it's $40 price tag, which has to have scared some gamers off.

It's a tough job trying to sell a mid-grade game these days. They typically won't be all that much more impressive than a high-quality indie game, but the cost to develop and the expectations are so much higher. At least the AAA games have a marketing budget and generally a franchise fanbase built in.

Blackwood Crossing is another new-comer. With a completion estimate of 1-2 hours this P&C title looks likely to stay on the board for a while. The $16 price point means that it'll be less of a factor though, unless it goes on sale in a coming week.

Speaking of sales, how about that Spring Sale? This is now the second time I've blogged about it and I'm still content. I'll take a big sale on lots of content even if it's not stuff I'm interested in, over a smaller sale any day.

Clearly, Xbox Live isn't Steam, and that's probably for the best. But as Steam works to make their content more Xbox LIVE level curated, or at least better controlled, Xbox has opened the gates a little, and that hasn't always been for the best. Particularly without the massive discounts of constant sales to help compensate for the lower quality overall.


  • Team Contest


Ganker' Preloaded showed off some muscle again taking first place this week, again. Outscoring second place by 8000 points it was actually closer than last week when they outdid it by 10,000. If it were any other team I'd be sure they were wasting points, but I know these guys are preloading like crazy behind the scenes too. The only way these guys aren't in the finals and making noise is if they get sniped during one of the later periods because they get taken by surprise by a rising cutoff. Or... you know, team drama finally causes the inevitable full rupture.

Cutoff: 14066
Last: 12536
Delta: 12.2%

Making it up over 14000 is probably more of a psychological barrier than the 12% increase would normally indicate. It's getting close to 3000 TA per teammate per week to stay alive, which is a sizeable number for almost any normal gamer. Earning that much in a week? Sure, we can do that. Earning that much EVERY week from now until mid-December? Yeah, not so much.

  • Individual Contest


The oddball extra for the individual contest this week was Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition which took 9th place (18th in team). It's a fairly recent release and not particularly popular. But clearly it's more popular with the individual side than the team side.

Cutoff: 2024
Last: 1977
Delta: 2.4%

After last week's impressive score climb, it was a quieter week on the individual side. We'll see if the ratio bonus in play for this next period heats the individual side back up again.

Both sides have seen a slight tendency to cool if the bonus isn't in their court.

  • XTASC


11 achievements for 310 GS (590 TA) for an effective 1.90 ratio.

That is a quiet week. The streak survived, so I earned just four more than a minimum number of required achievements for doing that. Work wasn't the problem this week, at least not directly. Preparing for Easter has been a real headache since we're doing it at our place for the first time. Previously it had always been at the in-laws.

My gaming time was therefore limited. Where I spent it was largely on my standard games of the moment, so no need to repeat them, but also Rayman Legends. I got Rayman Legends as the GwG title from a while back and have been in and out of it pretty much ever since. I've spent a lot of that time working on the daily challenges for eventually hitting the final level of Awesomeness, and as part of the work this week, I counted out how many more I'd need for that. Still another 40 days or so at my current pace. If I suddenly hit a bonus diamond cup or two, that could go down considerably. But either way, I'm close enough to start counting while I clean up the single player portions.

  • Highlight


Rayman LegendsWorld Tour!XpovosThe World Tour! achievement in Rayman Legends worth 172 pointsComplete the world "Living Dead Party"


I thought this would be a lot easier than it was. I'll just leave it at that.

  • Lowlight


Gems of WarChampion of PvPXpovosThe Champion of PvP achievement in Gems of War worth 71 pointsReach PvP tier 1 in a single week


Stupid glitchy achievement. Actually, it's not that glitchy. It just pops early for some reason. But for some other reason, it also didn't pop two (three? I dunno) weeks ago when it should have. If it had, maybe I'm still in the GTASC and scrambling to earn 3000 TA each week for my team. Or maybe I'd score the same and have let my team down further. Either way I'm not happy about it.

  • Started


None.

  • Completed


None.
Posted by Xpovos on 16 April 17 at 16:17 | There are 5 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Apr
11
PermalinkBeyond Games as Art
I have a number of things I want to talk about today, so I'm going to go rapid-fire.

First, as I alluded to in my previous blog, let's hit the title piece.

  • Are Video Games Art


Is Beyond Eyes art? I actually feel this is a pretty simple question. Beyond Eyes is clearly art. I've been a proponent of the "video games are art" camp for a long time. Beyond Eyes is an interesting case because it's arguably more art than game.

What has made many of the games I consider to merit being called art, and good art, is that they are driven by a strong narrative. That is, they're interactive movies or novels, and those medis are clearly art, so games can be too. The art comes from the story, though there are additional artistic pieces in these games, the narrative has been my focus.

Beyond Eyes' story does not warrant being called art, I don't think. It's simple to the point of almost non-existance. And other elements of those artistic games I noted, graphical art and audial art are far less present in Beyond Eyes than many other games. Certainly, the visual aesthetic of the game is nice, but soft water colors as done by a computer aren't cutting edge, either technologically nor artistically. But they are substantially better than anything I could have done with my paint set, and the graphics are the most artistic part in the traditional senses. The audio in the game is similar to the story: minimalist. Yet, the game is in totality artistic.

What makes something art? My personal favorite definition of art is that it is something that evokes and emotional response. That is, art makes you feel. Now, that doesn't mean it has to make you feel in any particular way. Van Gogh's Starry Night is going to evoke a very different emotional response from Picasso's Guernica. At least, it ought to.

I'm an INTJ, so I don't really <i>get</i> emotion, but if these two paintings evoke similar feelings, you're probably even further off the charts than I am. I'm an INTJ, so I don't really get emotion, but if these two paintings evoke similar feelings, you're probably even further off the charts than I am.


So, does Beyond Eyes make you feel anything? Certainly. At a minimum, reading through all the reviews, the universal feeling was frustration. Rae walks so slowly! That frustration could very well be intentional, and that's also something that the reviewers have noted. To mimic the difficulties of a previously sighted girl now operating on sound alone, Rae moves slowly--which is just as frustrating for us as it is for her. Even more annoying, she gets caught on invisible elements of the world. We can see that the "fountain" is right there, but if we try to walk around it, instead of sliding off as she might in other games--she gets stuck. The frustration also mounts as we try to walk through what appears to be open terrain, only to have something appear out of nowhere right in front of us, again causing us to get stuck and have to pick a different path entirely.

These frustrations are not a perfect analogue of the experience of a blind person, but the frustration is an excellent tool for the game developers, even if it was partially unintentional or bad programming.

Second, the minimal story does have an emotional hook to it. It's simple, and frankly trite, but it's not without merit. I'd initially considered letting my oldest play the game, but she got spooked by the scarecrows, and having played the game now myself, she wouldn't cope well with the conclusion. So it'll wait.

Third, even the audio, as minimal as it is, does add to the artistic value some. Since Rae "sees" with her eyes, she is easily confused. Sound design provides a few opportunities for something to turn out to be other than it is.

Unfortunately, just because it is art does not mean that it is good. Beyond Eyes ultimately suffers most from being too simple and not even doing the things it is trying to do as well as they could be done. It's a fine game and worth playing, particularly on the cheap, but even as a good example of games as art, it doesn't do enough to stand out above the crowded field of games, many of which also show tremendous artistic potential, while being far better games.

  • Criticisms of the Spring Sale


Human beings are complainers by nature. When things are going bad, we complain about it, but even when things are going well, we still find something to complain about. It's a remarkable phenomenon, and with all due respect to those who may find this a political statement, I think a lot of our current discontent comes from the fact that we are actually doing SO well that we have the luxury to complain about meaningless elements of our lives. The vast majority of us are untouched by war, famine or dread disease that we feel compelled to complain about more abstract problems.

So it, is with our gaming and sales" "Oh, that title again. Just lower the price permanently already." "I already have all of these games." "Of course those games are on sale, they all suck."

A quick hand count tells me that there are over 120 different titles on sale this week on the Xbox One alone. With the Xbox 360 sales included, it's quite the collection, and yes, many of them are repeat offenders, or games that the majority of us would have. Quite a number were previous GwG freebies, so we'd never need to pay for them, but not everyone has been a Gold member for that long. And there are lots of other reasons to rehash sales. Certainly, any sale is better than no sale--except for the poor guys trying to track all of this data. Sales on games, and bundles, and DLC and different discounts for Gold vs. Silver and then TA goes and region tracks the prices too!

But the sale is a fine one and there's really no reason to complain. Except, as I noted, that there's absolutely nothing worse to complain about. If so, I congratulate you on living a first-world life to the fullest.

  • A 50% Nightmare

I just received notification that Neverwinter has released another Title Update with even more achievements.

After my last Bean Dive I'd tanked my completion percentage a fair bit and switched to ALL DLC as my setting. Even still, 50% is a very manageable goal for me so I knew I'd get there again. So far this year I've earned 501 achievements. In the same time, I've added 15 new games to my pool for the denominator with a total of 339 achievements, of which I've earned 168 (49.6%). With the other 333 achievements, then, I've been pushing up my completion percentage and making progress.

Until the TUs come in.

From these games: Lies of Astaroth, Gems of War, Neverwinter, Plague Inc: Evolved, Killer Instinct, sions (the only one that is DLC not a Title Update) I've added 105 achievements to my denominator. 20% of my progress for the year gone to new content.

As for the TUs, I guess I can't complain. Free content and more GS is always a good thing, but I've run out of hours long before I've run out of content.

  • Not Good At Jumping Games


Finally, as a quickie, here's a video of my playing some Rayman Legends the other night. There's really no reason for this. It's a typical level and I played it fairly typically. What caused me to record it was that I'd tried similar levels many times the previous day and never thought to. As I was replaying this particular level for the 100th time, it seemed--though certainly far fewer, I remembered the "record that" functionality and thought it might be amusing that when I finally beat the level to have it record that triumph, and because I've set my "record that" time setting to about 3 minutes get 2 minutes and 20 seconds of failure in there as well.



This is gaming, folks. Repetition until it's perfect. Or at least good enough.
Posted by Xpovos on 11 April 17 at 16:47 | There are 5 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Apr
10
PermalinkGTASC - Period 13: Clicking on All Cylanders
All is quiet. So quiet we had folks intentionally stirring the pot in the forum just to get a little action. Despite the continued pressure to score to survive, the cutoffs aren't moving much and there's just nothing new hitting the top scoring chart to really move things.

A few years ago I noted that there was a sort of "summer doldrum" effect in the GTASC. We seem to have hit that sooner this year, perhaps because the cutoff schedule has been more aggressive. With no big new releases currently scheduled the doldrums may continue for a while, but sometimes the release schedule gets shaken up. For example, we know two titles are going to be in the upcoming Spring Sale despite not even having been released yet: Silence and Astroneer. Neither of these looks to me like a breakout hit, but anything can happen when a title goes on sale. And who knows what else will be included in the sale. Right now, though, I'm predicting the DLC of Goat Simulator going on sale will have the biggest impact on scoring next week. It two-three weeks' time it could be very different though as we have some potentially interesting new blood about to hit, including: The Disney Afternoon Collection (with it's as yet unkown achievement structure could be a gold mine, or at least a shiny distraction) Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series (more TellTale means more points) and Syberia 3 (unless there's a change in formula, it'll likely be an easy completion).

And again, those are the ones we know about. In three weeks' time, we could easily have three new Title Updates wreacking havoc on the field.

Just not this week.

  • Team Contest


Three more safety nets bit the dust this period. Beyond that there were no real surprises. People seem content to just idle their way through, perhaps occasionally clicking as once again Clicker Heroes dominated the scoring. Rocket League was a distant second still riding the coattails of its recent Title Update.

Cutoff: 12536
Last: 12002
Delta: 4.5%

  • Individual Contest


The action continues to be more frenetic for individuals. The doldrums are not here; or if they are, they're taking fewer prisoners. While people are still largely just clicking, Rocket League dropped to 6th place here. Meanwhile, Ryse: Son of Rome is a much bigger deal for the individuals than the teams after going GwG.

Cutoff: 1977
Last: 1648
Delta: 20.0%

  • XTASC


29 achievements for 1440 GS worth 1738 TA (1.21 effective ratio for the period).

My decay has largely slowed and is balanced now by some growth from Ryse getting GwG inflation treatment. I'd picked the game up on a deep discount--for about what I'd have had to pay for the DLC if I bought that now; so I had a head start here and it's helped a bit as the game has inflated thanks to the new players. So the ratio is low this week because my ratio was low on newly scored achievements.

10 of the 29 came from Beyond Eyes, which I started and completed, in the period, so it'll show up again below. Beyond Eyes became the 155th game completed, per my ALL DLC setting. The rest were a random mishmash of Z2Z random targets and a scattering of other random game I'm working on.

The starting and completing of Beyond Eyes is significant though as it's the first real score output I've had in a few weeks, as minimal as it was. Life, travel etc. have taken a bite out, so it was nice to slam something back, even if it was pretty short. I earned almost all of my points this week on Saturday, despite actually starting Beyond Eyes last week, technically. I started the game, got a bit in, never earned an achievement and dropped it for a bit.

  • Highlight


Cosmo Run (Win 10)Nooooooooo!XpovosThe Nooooooooo! achievement in Cosmo Run (Win 10) worth 16 pointsFail with the same score as your personal best


It's a very easy achievement to earn--if you do it right away. Earn a point, die. Repeat. Only I'd not seen this so I'd try-harded for a while and gotten a score of 56 before I realized what was going on.

Not only is it harder to hit a specific score number later on due to how the game counts points irregularly at times, but obviously I'd have to do well enough to get that far again. Plus then I had to stop exactly on the number, and the game moves pretty fast, so I'd have to track both the game and my score.

I missed it a few times, hitting 57, then 58 and finally 58 again to earn the achievement.

Now I just have to figure out the Lost combo.

Cosmo Run (Win 10)Have You Lost It?The Have You Lost It? achievement in Cosmo Run (Win 10) worth 330 pointsDie consequently with score of 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42


  • Lowlight


Wheel of FortuneI’ve a Good Feeling About This!XpovosThe I’ve a Good Feeling About This! achievement in Wheel of Fortune worth 102 pointsSolve a puzzle with only one letter revealed


Despite being a Z2Z target urging me on, I dislike using any form of solvers for games like this. But I'm not sure I'd ever earn this achievement without one. It is an open question for me still about how achievements like this should be handled.

  • Started


Beyond Eyes
Cosmo Run (Win 10)

  • Completed


Beyond Eyes

Beyond Eyes is an artsy game that is also pretty short and simple, so it's good points fodder. But the achievements aren't obvious if you're playing without a guide. I was able to play for about two hours without hitting one. Given that people complete the game in two hours, it says a lot about how I enjoy games, as well as this one's structure. It's an interesting game and one that comes up frequently in the context of "are games art." I have more to say about that than would fit into a pithy paragraph, so I'll hold it for a bigger piece later. The short version is: well worth it for the points when on sale, which is how I got it.
Posted by Xpovos on 10 April 17 at 17:48 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Apr
04
PermalinkGTASC - Period 12: Back to the Bonus
I'm doing some time-traveling this week, so let's pretend this is Sunday and I'm posting this on time, and that it's as full of content as usual. For more about the traveling part, see below.

While it wasn't the biggest scorer this week Back to the Future: The Game - 30th Anniversary Edition took 14th place in large part because completing the game was good enough to earn folks a bonus, frequently. For the most part that was the only big swing. Mass Effect: Andromeda plodded along solidly, while the F2P Clicker Heroes dominated the long game and Rocket League cleared the Title Update requirements for another week.

While there isn't much movement in terms of the game being played, there is plenty of movement in the teams and individuals scrambling each Sunday morning to stay alive.

  • Team Contest


Period 12 saw two benches and a host of bonuses being used to stay alive. This is in spite of yet another minor decrease in the cutoff this week relative to last week, which saw my team get knocked out. Sometimes it isn't the fact that the hurdle is high, but that there are so many of them in a row. Little by little, the folks who can't keep up a high level of scoring consistently for any reason are falling out.

Cutoff: 12002
Last: 12752
Delta: -5.9%

  • Individual Contest


The individual side decline in scoring for the cutoff was even more pronounced. There was also no "Back to the Future" motif, since the bonus wasn't on that side. As a result, despite the large number of individuals still in both contests, the game didn't crack the top-20 this period over here. Instead, faster games like Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space, Coffin Dodgers, or The Little Acre took on bigger roles, each making the top-10 here, without scoring as highly on the team side (though all three were in the top-20).

Cutoff: 1648
Last: 1870
Delta: -11.9%

  • XTASC


No one suggested anything better, so I'm stuck with this for now. This was a terrible week. I don't know if there's some lingering effect from the elimination, or if it was the confluence of personal events. I largely just skated through the period streaking. In part that was my family trip out of state. An 800 mile-round road trip reduces scoring potential, particularly since I still had to put in 40 at work before I left on Friday.

I think maybe my life isn't cut out for competing, despite having all these points, I'm lacking the time to get them done in any thing close to a hurry.

  • Highlight


I hit 150,000 GS. That's something.

  • Lowlight


11 achievements for 250 GS and 41 TA. That's an ugly ratio.

  • Started


None.

  • Completed


None.
Posted by Xpovos on 04 April 17 at 16:19 | There are 2 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.