Xpovos526,606 (317,194)Virginia

Ehhh... A rounding error.

Xpovos has won 11,445 Achievements and 20 Challenges in 685 games and 6 apps

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Xpovos' Blog (121 followers)

PermalinkAs the Crow Dies - Volume 15
  • Weekly Stats

For 2019-08-14 to 2019-08-20:

2175 GS.

Two Completions: ACA NEOGEO METAL SLUG 2 as I finally got my perfect run through Mission 2, after several hours of attempts, and Bird Game +.

So, I need to talk about Bird Game+ briefly, and I will try to keep it brief, because this game is not worth the digital ink.

Here's a fun game premise: you're a bird, and you're flying through a series of hazards, eating fish, collecting shinies and occasionally fighting a 'boss' by crafty dodging. Is that a good premise? Not yet, but it's not awful. There's potential. Add in some hand-drawn art and the fact that the game doesn't crash and it seems like it's at least going to be alright.

It didn't have to be terrible.It didn't have to be terrible.

And yet, Bird Game+ is the worst game I've played in 2019. It's lucky that I played so many bad games last year, or it might be looking at multi-year levels of bad. The premise is fine, but the execution is just completely unfun. The art style isn't endearing at all for some reason, and the boss battles are lacking in many things. The only thing the game has going for it is that it is fairly quick and the achievements are pretty easy. And even that, I managed to mess up.

First I couldn't get past the very early hazard of a rolling log. For some reason I died on that so many times that I actually gave up playing this game several weeks ago. I came back to it this week and gave it another shot and made it through. I earn my first achievement a little while later and it's too late to back out now. Time to finish this game.

The last achievement I earned was for playing Endless Mode, which requires you to earn, for different achievements, 50, 100, 150 and 200 points. You earn points for distance, and for collecting things along the way, but to get over 200 you'll have to beat a boss. The bosses aren't terribly hard, but if you've not seen the pattern before, you can easily die to them, and that's the end of your "endless" run. I died to the boss on my first run because it was the boss I hadn't seen in the story play. So I loaded up again and got through the boss on the second run, got to 200+ and said, "that's enough of this garbage," and quit back to the menu. I was so uninterested in playing this game that as soon as I earned the requirements for the achievement I quit the game. This never happens. I'm the kind of guy who finishes the story in Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, even though it' super obvious what will happen. But I just can't take anymore Bird Game+.

There's a problem there, though. The achievement pops when you die, not when you hit that number. So since I quit, and didn't die--no pop. Load it, and I'm back at the beginning. I had to do three more runs before I got past the boss again. Instead of getting out of playing any more Bird Game+ I consigned myself to an extra 15 minutes of it.

In addition to Bird Game+, which was a start as well as a completion, I also started:

Madden NFL 20 and Riverbond.

Madden is Madden, not much to say there, except that with all of the concerns over CTE, video game football may be the best football there is these days. Riverbond is less RPG than I'd like. It feels like it ought to be an RPG, but there's no progress, your weapons are all generally about the same level of good, and you have no real stats. The enemies in the final levels are just as easy (or hard) to beat as the enemies in the first levels. There's some variety to it, but I think adding some RPG elements might have helped keep it feeling fresh.

Madden will be done, eventually. It's not a terribly hard completion this year, but it's not a priority for me, either. I'll hit the online stuff ASAP and get to the rest when I feel like it. Riverbond will be done soon enough. I hit my RTDL achievement (by going out of order, which I could because it wasn't an RPG) but I've no desire to keep it around. I played it with my kids for a bit and they largely lost patience with it, because in local coop, you can kill your friends by walking them off the screen. Playing with a six-year-old, then, was very frustrating. I'm glad we got to experience that via GamePass, rather than purchasing it, as they had initially asked.

You go fight that bad guy, I'm going to go exploring!You go fight that bad guy, I'm going to go exploring!

  • Stream Games

Last week, we streamed Skullgirls Achievements which was interesting because despite beating the story mode several times and exploring some of the other elements of the game, I hadn't earned a single achievement. Oh, those old-school XBLA games.

Honestly I'm surprised Des and I didn't riff on the pin-up girl motiff more than we did.Honestly I'm surprised Des and I didn't riff on the pin-up girl motiff more than we did.

Tonight, Des and I will get down with the sickness. Join us for some cooperative fun.

  • Significant Games

I hit the grinds pretty hard this week, spending a significant chunk of time in all of the classics: Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, Minion Masters, even Magic Duels made it back into rotation this week. Minion Masters dropped a few achievements for me, but I've still got a long grind in that.

Elsewhere I joined a TA boosting session for BattleBlock Theater. I hadn't done a genuine boosting session for a while, so it was interesting to get more involved with strangers again. It went pretty well, considering how chaotic the party became with so many people in it.

I also slowly advanced the story in Thimbleweed Park and spent a few hours hitting the MP in Fable Fortune with Jblacq, which, for no particular reason, reminds me of this: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/14/jack-black-jack-white-ja.h...

  • Prime Story

Way back when, in 2006, I was playing Titan Quest on PC. Diablo 3 was still half a decade away and I needed something good to scratch that ARPG/Dungeon Crawler itch. Titan Quest was perfect. It was set in classic antiquity, and was full of both well-researched historically accurate Greek civilization elements, as well as tropes. It was the perfect gateway drug for my now wife, as well, who had seen me playing Diablo and not been all that impressed. But Titan Quest was perfect for her.

Titan Quest advanced the gameplay ideas of Diablo II and introduced a lot of finesse that I really appreciated in the genre. I was particularly fond of the character development process. There are no classes, like in Diablo. You start a character and build him, or her, up with choices. And two of the most critical choices are your skill trees, effectively classes. Because there are eight different "classes" and you're picking two to make a unique combination (though order doesn't matter, Nature/Warfare = Warfare/Nature = Destroyer) you end up with 28 different ways of playing the game. Later expansions added two more classes increasing the combinations to 45! With the replayability of a game genre like Diablo, and the unique class structures, Titan Quest was just built to suck my time away, and for a while, it did. I played it extensively, both with my wife and solo, and it has remained one of my favorite games of the genre, and in fact one of my favorite games, so much so that I happily Kickstarted Grim Dawn when they licensed the engine that Titan Quest was built on.

It's a picture of a wall of text that I'm using to break up a wall of text.  But it's a well-written wall of text!It's a picture of a wall of text that I'm using to break up a wall of text. But it's a well-written wall of text!

So, naturally, when Titan Quest got ported to Xbox, I bought a copy. And this week I got a chance to really play it some. I sunk a few hours in, and it felt great to go back to the game. It hasn't aged quite as well as I'd hoped. But for 13 years old, it's doing pretty well. The core mechanics are still amazing. The problem is in the port. The controls moving into combat are very clunky and I haven't found a way to fix that yet. This was a game that was brilliant on PC, but doesn't seem to work nearly as well on Xbox. Diablo found a way to make that transition very well, but Blizzard has always taken care to make sure their games are high quality, and they have the resources of Activision behind them now. Titan Quest doesn't have those advantages.

But it was still good to go back to Ancient Greece and lay the smack down on some mythical monsters again.
Posted by Xpovos on 20 August 19 at 21:25
LausDomini My wife got me an old book from 2002 about the launch of the original XBox. Two things stood out.
#1: They considered naming it the "XBox One" and it would aim to be an all-in-one device to compete with cable. But they quickly found that trying to do too many things at once took away power from the games so they wisely scrapped that idea and focused solely on appealing to hardcore gamers with better graphics and a speedier, stripped down operating system.

#2: They were very concerned about the need for being a gatekeeper and keeping shovelware that proliferated the PC landscape out of the XBox ecosystem.

This generation has failed on both points. Games like Bird Game+ are now the norm it seems. I was just playing Storm Boy yesterday and ran into a glitch where if the bird misses the boat it just flies infinitely. Only recourse is to hard quit the game and relaunch. XBox 360 turned me into a Gamerscore hunter, and I could do that while still playing great 10-15 hour games. But chasing gamerscore on XBox One we are stuck with games under 3 hours.

I guess the only path forward is to ignore gamerscore for long stretches and find enjoyable games.
Posted by LausDomini on 21 Aug at 21:50
Xpovos That's a really interesting story about the OG Xbox naming, and running into so many of the problems (in reverse) of what the actual Xbox One has done. What book? I'd love to read it.

Bird Game + is an interesting one. It's not worth 1000 GS, in how longer term GamerScore junkies think about these things. Really, it's not even worth 200 GS, because it's a game that wouldn't have made it out of the XBLA Indies marketplace. It could have existed there and even sold some copies, but I'd never have played it, except for the demo.

But because it has 1000 GS, I did play it. And while it wasn't good, and I can question my life decisions, how much am I over thinking it? The game played without a glitch like Storm Boy (which I've yet to play, but want to because of the book tie-in at least) did for you. The game was simple, but it did what it set out to do. We're very demaning of our games these days. But where I've complained about Bird Game +, I praised Warlock's Tower. It also is a very simple game. It's very reminiscent of an original Game Boy game. It isn't just the simplicity that ruined Bird Game +. It was the lack of game.

There is still some curation going on with the ID@Xbox team, but it's a very different experience now for independent developers. I'm of two minds about that. Obviously, things like the Steam storefront are problematic. Yet, I want there to be easier access for the new talent. The "two guys in a garage with some talent and passion," studio that can make a low-budget but solid game. Something like Dust: An Elysian Tale. He made it in, but he had a lot of help because his idea was uniquely solid. I worry about good games getting buried. If we see Bird Game + and Storm Boy out there as a result, I think I'm OK with the tradeoff. At least I got GamerScore out of the deal. But that might just be indicative of the problem.
Posted by Xpovos on 21 Aug at 22:14
LausDomini The book was called Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft's Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution. It's nowhere as good as say, a Michael Lewis book, but it's interesting enough to get through.
Posted by LausDomini on 21 Aug at 23:41