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Seabeard App

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Take elements of Animal Crossing, Rune Factory, Harvest Moon, and everything annoying about In-App Purchases (IAP) and you have a “free” game called Seabeard. Seabeard is all about restoring your island to its former glory. You do so by clearing out overgrowth, restoring ruins, building new houses, and bringing commerce back to your empty corner of the map.

Gameplay is simple: You tap the screen to move and interact. You can decorate buildings, obtain pets, harvest farmable items, explore dungeons, craft recipes, do quests, go fishing, play mini-games, and the typical stuff you’d expect from a game of this type. Watch the video below from the creators of the game for a visual presentation of what you’ll find.

I really enjoy Seabeard’s use of islands. Your have your own island home that you are trying to build up, but you can travel via ship to other islands. Traveling between islands provides an opportunity to play sea-based mini-games where you can earn prizes ranging from gold to rare crafting materials. If you choose not to play a mini-game, you are lifted up by a zeppelin and carried to the next island.

seabeard-islandsOne of my favorite features is the ability to set up vendor stalls on your island to sell your goods to the game itself or to other players. I don’t mind the concept of having to put items up for sale and waiting 5 minutes to an hour for them to sell. I also don’t mind having to earn additional slots. I think this system works well for Seabeard, and it’s something I can see working well in other games. Selling your items to other players is also a novel feature for devices like this, and allows people like me to get my friends and family playing so that we can help each other build up faster.

Seabeard is one of the best graphical presentations I’ve seen on the iOS. The stylized visuals are captivating, the game runs flawlessly on my iPhone 6 Plus, and I’m once again challenging my previously held belief that phone games have no chance of providing a full-featured gaming experience. Seabeard is capable of providing the exact same experience found in games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. The key word here is capable.

 

In-App PurchasesWhere Seabeard falls short is in its use of IAPs. The game starts out decently accommodating. Wait 10 minutes here, 5 hours there, spend a few hours earning coins to afford the next building, etc. Then suddenly you hit this wall where it’ll take several hours of doing the same repetitive tasks before earning enough gold to move on. Conveniently you can purchase Pearls or Gold from their cash shop, but the rates are so ludicrous that you’d quickly spend hundreds of dollars before even putting in a decent amount of time into the game. IAPs take what could be one of the best games ever made for phones and warp it into a cash grabbing annoyance. My heart was crushed when this realization came crashing down on me right in the middle of enjoying the game.

If Seabeard was available for $20 I would be telling everyone I know to get out there and buy the game. Totally worth that price. But now I’m stuck in this weird position of telling people they may as well avoid playing it because they’ll only be disappointed after about 3-4 hours of play.

Despite its enormous and unavoidable flaw, I really do hope people try this out and realize the potential for creating a fully-realized game of this calibre on mobile devices. I like having this type of game with me on my phone — a device I carry with me everywhere — and I like knowing I can pick up and play for 30 seconds or 10 minutes then slide it back into my pocket.

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.

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.

Greetings from Mordor!

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Thinking of where to spend your next vacation? Well look no further! Visit these exciting and wild lands  and experience the rich culture and wonders that can only be found in the land of Mordor, where not only shadows lie but you can as well!

Exiting Activites for All

– Make sure to keep your sword sharp! The locals love to spar with the guests and you might find yourself taking on dozens at a time!

– Enjoy archery? Well good news! There are lots of things to shoot and Uruks love playing “catch the arrow.”

– Is Hide and Seek your game? Well keep your dagger handy ’cause the local Uruks take their sport very seriously.

– Try your hand(s) at climbing one of the various structures littered about he landscape.

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Make Friends with the Locals

– The local Uruks are very social and super excited to meet you! Do be put off by their enthusiasm if you see them charging. They just want to be friends!

– Witness the fascinating Uruk military heirarchy and see normal Uruks make their way through the ranks of Captain and even on to Warchief.

– Join in on the festivities between Captains as they feast, test their might, and duel each other. They love outsider influence.

– Any friends you make with the Uruks during your stay may pop up again from time to time. They love to repay the hospitality you show them!

– Watch the local human population toil away mining rocks or performing other mundane tasks but don’t stick around too long or you might just get invited to join the fun!

 

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The Wilder Side of Mordor

– Enjoy a ride on the unique and wondrous creatures that inhabit the region. Explore the countryside on the back of a wild Caragor or if you are feeling particularly adventures try hopping on the back of the majestic and gargantuan Graug!

– Journey out in the twilight hours and if you are lucky you may just encounter some local Ghuls! Careful now, these guys sure know how to party and bring lots of friends.

– Enjoy collecting exotic flora? Well Mordor is for you! We are host to several distinct variety for you to collect and pretty much all of them are good for curing what ails you!

– For the sportsman in you we also offer unique hunting experiences. Mordor plays host to many sport animals such as rats, spiders, bats, and hell-hawks!

All You Ever Dreamed of and More!

Stop by, grab a mug of grog (Just make sure none of those rascals have poisoned it!) and enjoy all that Mordor has to offer you and your family. We’d love to have you for dinner!

DISCLAIMER: Mordor, the Lands of Mordor, and all affiliate partners are not responsible for any loss of life or limb, emotional trauma, feelings of vengeance, wraith possession, property damage, or incurred wrath.

Can’t bring myself to play Alien: Isolation

I’m only two hours into Alien: Isolation. TWO HOURS. That’s like nothing at all, really. The game is just incredibly intense to play and the Alien just showed up. Seriously, it just showed up around the two hour mark and I’m already losing it. This usually does not happen to me with games. I hear people say “Oh this game was so scary” or “that part was the scariest ever” all the time over the years and when I actually play those games it usually results in a feeling of “Really? This is it? What’s the big deal?” I’m not trying to come off as some kind of tough guy because really I am not. I get scared of things that go bump in the night. Quite literally, too. My cat will run around at night doing who knows what and I startle at every sound. It’s just that video games have never really bothered me that much.

Alien: Isolation isn’t really a scary game, though. I don’t find the Alien (Or Xenomorph, whatever) to actually be that terrifying. Actually they are pretty dang cool and I’m a fan of the movies and some of the games. What really gets me is that feeling of being hunted or stalked relentlessly. In past horror games the only parts that legitimately made my heart pound were the parts where something chases after you that you can’t take out. I think there are a couple of Resident Evil games that have regenerator bad guys like that who will chase you for a while until you can find a way to take them out. Dead Space also did a really good job with this and those parts are really the only reasons why I feel hesitant about replaying the games. And to think that almost all of Alien: Isolation is going to be like that? It stresses me out just thinking about it. [Read more…]