Keep Your Eye On Crowfall

Crowfall

When it comes to community, crafting, and virtual worlds you can consider me a super-fan. I have written post after post since we started blogging in 2007 about UO and SWG crafting, relying on other players, creating virtual economies, etc.

There’s a new game on the horizon — a tiny speck on the horizon — worth looking at: Crowfall.

There aren’t a lot of details. Lots of little tidbits of info are dropping out there, and some bigger announcements are being teased. Their interview on MMORPG.com caught my attention. Here’s a snippet:

There are a ton of lessons to be learned looking at games like Star Wars Galaxies and EVE Online which had and still have success with their crafting and economic loops. From a very high altitude, crafters need to be able to: craft unique items, explore new recipes and profit from the results of this exploration, and create customized items for all styles of play. Crafters must have an audience to buy their goods. The loop between crafter and combatant has to exist! And, ideally, crafters need to be able to “mark” their product so that they can build a social reputation and a following.

The very concept that players can and will lose their items at some point is required, otherwise the game loop breaks. It is a very controversial topic for those who don’t like the potential of losing their items, and we understand that.  But sometimes you have to embrace ideas that may not be popular at first glance, because they open up amazing areas of gameplay that are otherwise not accessible.

They’re saying the right things. Some of the leads on the team have experience with SWG, UO, Shadowbane, and other older great titles. They’ve brought in Raph Koster as a consultant or sorts to weigh in on the project’s crafting side. Sounds to me like a team looking to hopefully make a game harkening back to the games these guys enjoyed — the same games I keep preaching about.

Here’s hoping!

Keen’s Most Anticipated Games of 2015

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Star Wars Battlefront

Uh… need I say more? It’s friggin Battlefront. It’s like Star Wars meets Battlefield. The original Battlefront games were quite fun, and with the advances in today’s shooters I’m excited to see what they come up with. I can see myself flying a snow speeder and roping some walkers. Want. Now.

The Legend of Zelda Open World

The Legend of Zelda Wii U

Greav has always been the diehard Zelda fan, but I’ve always enjoyed the franchise. The Legend of Zelda for Wii U is going to be my first real purchase of my very own Zelda game where I plan to sit and play through it all. The reason why is because of the change of pace. Nintendo is going with more of a larger open world similar to what we find in western RPGs like Elder Scrolls games.

Little else is known about the game except that there are going to be lots of side missions. Miyamoto has stated that he expects players will even forget what their main goal is due to being lost in how much side stuff there is to do throughout the world.

No Man’s Sky

Every galaxy, planet, mountain, creature, and pixel is procedurally generated. Everything is explorable. Fly from one planet and seamlessly enter the atmosphere and fly into space and land on the next. The video below will do more justice than I can showcasing what this sci-fi survival and exploration game will be like.

Honorable Mentions

  • Star Fox (Wii U) – Nice change of pace for Nintendo to focus on a game we haven’t really seen too much of in the last 10 years.
  • Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Huge and dangerous open world.

What’s on your list?

Keen’s Thoughts On Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha

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I finally got into Heroes of the Storm technical alpha a week or so ago, and after spending several hours going head to head with heroes, villains, and well-known characters from all of Blizzards IPs, I’m ready to share my thoughts.

First impression: Blizzard polish is (duh) amazing. They enter the MOBA scene years after so many others yet create a game that just ‘feels’ great. I don’t need to go into details about the UI being great or the game running smooth. The map is standard MOBA with a Blizzard flare (more on that in a moment). It’s all flawless, and that’s to be expected. Go watch a youtube video if you want to see more.

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Heroes of the Storm is, essentially, a dumbed down version of other mobas at least where mechanics are concerned. There isn’t last hitting or denying. There are no items. Experience is shared across your entire team. Everything is super basic, but remarkably it works.

Gameplay centers solely around improving your team’s heroes faster than your enemy. Hero customization comes in the form of choosing talents and abilities that actually make the customization in HotS significantly better than most if not all other mobas out there. As you level you get to choose to upgrade abilities, and you have to make a choice of which ability will receive which upgrade. Upgrades may make an ability do more damage or gain an effect.

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As you play heroes more and win games you unlock new traits for them and gain experience to level those heroes up. This encourages you to pick a hero, buy it (yay cash shop?) and rank it up.

HotS also has mounts. It wouldn’t be a F2P or a Blizzard game without mounts. These can be activated by pressing Z and make moving around the battlefield when traveling a little bit faster. They can also be customized (more later).

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What makes Heroes of the Storm unique is the interesting gameplay twists. Throughout the match there will be timed events to gather things or beat the enemy team at performing a challenge. In the Halloween map ‘Cursed Hollow’ the goal is to curse your enemies by collecting the tributes. This curse makes the enemy creeps have 1 HP — a great way to push their base. Another map I’ve played had players entering into a goldmine (good ole classic Blizzard gold mines) to slay undead and collect tokens to spawn a boss that would fight for your team.

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The free-to-play component of HotS disappointed me. I hate games that only make certain heroes available each week. It’s like League. I prefer DOTA2’s method of giving you every hero. You’re forced to buy heroes and they ARE NOT CHEAP. Some range from $3.99 up to I think I saw one for like $10? It’s crazy. Yes, you can unlock them with the in-game ‘gold’ you earn slowly by playing normally. Other things like mounts, cosmetic skins, and the usual fair can be found. Blizzard clearly likes Riot’s business model.

Worth playing? Yep! Heroes of the Storm is a lot of fun despite being a somewhat obvious cash grab. If you’re like me you’ll look to find the most value possible without paying a cent. I can have plenty of fun for free.

Camelot Unchained is Looking Real Good

My excitement for Camelot Unchained is really starting to ramp up. Such a welcome change from the dismal outlook I’ve had on MMOs lately. Camelot Unchained is currently in pre-alpha testing. I think I get access to some version of Alpha based on my support of their Kickstarter campaign… I just can’t remember when or how I’m supposed to be getting that access.

I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Camelot Unchained would look rough. I’m not a graphics whore or snob (well okay maybe a little).  When I saw the screenshots from the P.A.T. I was actually shocked in a good way. Take a look.

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Pretty cool right? I’m liking how they’ve progressed from that tech demo. I think the character models already look good and have a lot of potential. I’m starting to get excited to think about playing this game and rekindling that sense of a big world of territories ripe for the conquering.

You guys know me. I’m typically a PvE carebear. When it comes to PvP I’m reluctant to participate and always have been since I started playing online games. The only game to truly capture my attention from a PvP angle was Dark Age of Camelot. It’s all about the realm, the large group, and the server battling together rather than guilds or individuals or teams. It’s grand scale stuff. My mind is creating these types of experience already in the graphical style of what I’ve seen in Camelot Unchained.

Something else I want to touch on briefly is the way in which Mark and his team are promoting/marketing/etc., CU. I love the blunt and matter of fact way in which they talk about their game. I’m a fan of the “our game is not for everyone” tone. I’m a fan of letting your game speak for itself rather than having to create marketing materials or bs videos of a dev sitting there talking. As Camelot Unchained enters a stage when they can start actually sharing the game itself, I hope the team at CSE keeps it up.

Can’t Bring Myself To Play The Evil Within

I made a similarly titled post a few days ago about Alien: Isolation and how the intensity and stress caused by being stalked made it difficult to play. I don’t have that problem with The Evil Within because so far it just isn’t scary. Even while being chased by guys with chainsaws and wading through pools of human gore all I manage to think about is how the protagonist is going to end up surviving this entire ordeal just to die from the hepatitis he is sure to contract. What makes playing the game difficult is how the game is presented and how poorly optimized it is.

My computer isn’t great but I think it’s at least mid-high. I don’t know anything about specs anymore but it can run Alien: Isolation great on max settings but with The Evil Within I’m getting FPS bouncing around the low 20’s. That is pretty bad but I’m oddly used to it having played games on crappy computers for years. What makes the entire experience something rather difficult to stomach (it’s actually the first game that has ever made me feel ill) is a combination of several factors:

The Game Seems Super Zoomed In - I think this is referred to as “field of view” and I’m sure somebody will correct me if it isn’t. Anyway, the camera is extremely close to the character even to the point where he almost completely disappears from the screen when you aim to fire your weapon.This kind of view is something I find extremely disorienting and when you run around there is a lot of camera bobbing and turning the camera creates this swooping feeling that makes my stomach drop out. After only playing for 20 minutes or so I’ll get a headache and feel nauseated.

The Black Bars – There are horizontal black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. I really have no idea why this is. Supposedly for some kind of cinematic experience or something but I just don’t understand it. The field of view is already incredibly low and now you cut off a significant portion of the top and bottom screen? Why? Why would you do this?

Low FPS – By default the game is locked at 30 FPS unless you change that with a console command. That doesn’t really help me though since my performance is pretty horrible anyway. I did say that I’m not too bothered by low FPS but when you combine it with the other factors I mentioned it creates a visual nightmare.

I probably should have avoided the PC version of the game but I’m not always one to listen to warnings, even if there are a lot of them. Even so I can’t imagine I would get any better of an experience with the console version. At least on PC you can get field of view fixes and remove the black bars. I tried doing so but it only made my performance worse. Also oddly enough I didn’t get any sort of better performance when setting the graphics options to their lowest and on a lower resolution. That’s just weird, right? I get the same performance no matter what the settings are.

Anyway, buy at your own risk but I couldn’t recommend it. Some people really do like it, though. I’m just not really one of them. Maybe I’ll revisit it later on with better hardware.