Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog Two Brothers, One Gaming Blog. Keen and Graev bring you their latest PC/Console views, MMO Adventures, and more from a unique and refreshing perspective. 2017-10-21T05:15:11Z https://www.keenandgraev.com/feed/atom WordPress Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Blizzard’s Polish Makes Other Games Hard to Play]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17625 2017-10-21T05:15:11Z 2017-10-21T05:15:11Z Today I actually managed to get some gaming in! I played Overwatch for the first time in many, many months. The first thing I noticed was how ridiculous smooth and gorgeous the animations were. I chose to play Junkrat. Lobbing those grenades reminds me of Demoman from TF2 — one of my favorites. The attention […]

Blizzard’s Polish Makes Other Games Hard to Play from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Today I actually managed to get some gaming in! I played Overwatch for the first time in many, many months. The first thing I noticed was how ridiculous smooth and gorgeous the animations were.

I chose to play Junkrat. Lobbing those grenades reminds me of Demoman from TF2 — one of my favorites. The attention to detail is miraculous. Even when you jump, Junkrat’s grenade launcher’s little lid that goes over the barrel flaps with the physics. I seriously would jump just to watch it happen.

I don’t have much more to say for this short entry other than to marvel at the polish and wish that other games would carry that same level of awe-inspiring finish. The gamingverse would be a much different place if they did.

Even Battlefront 2, which felt infinitely better than a game like CoD WW2, pales by comparison.

Anyway, just musing on the observation.

Blizzard’s Polish Makes Other Games Hard to Play from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Overwatch has one really nice thing going for it…]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17622 2017-10-20T04:14:02Z 2017-10-20T04:14:02Z Another quick post tonight, guys. I might fill you in on some of the details in the future. Suffice it to say, I’m /LFG! I had the itch to play Overwatch again. What I like about Overwatch is that there’s no progression mechanics. I’m not missing anything by not having played for so long. Loot […]

Overwatch has one really nice thing going for it… from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Another quick post tonight, guys. I might fill you in on some of the details in the future. Suffice it to say, I’m /LFG!

I had the itch to play Overwatch again. What I like about Overwatch is that there’s no progression mechanics. I’m not missing anything by not having played for so long.

Loot boxes (oh the drama!) are only cosmetic.

Levels get you loot boxes (so who cares anyway?)

Higher Competitive ranking gives you bragging rights and gets you away from noobies (like me!).

Competitive points get you golden guns… so a cosmetic item.

That sounds like a great system to me. I can jump in and play tomorrow, and I won’t have to worry about the guy shooting at me having played for 1,000 hours and destroying me because he unlocked better guns down some talent tree.

P.S. I’m Hanzo main.

Overwatch has one really nice thing going for it… from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Nintendo Switch Adds Video Capture]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17618 2017-10-19T04:19:28Z 2017-10-19T04:19:28Z Nothing massive for today’s entry guys. I have had a rough go in the real world these past few days, so you’ll have to bear with me as we make it through. I saw that the Nintendo Switch received a major update today, and a big feature they added was video capture. Yes, yes, I […]

Nintendo Switch Adds Video Capture from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Nothing massive for today’s entry guys. I have had a rough go in the real world these past few days, so you’ll have to bear with me as we make it through.

I saw that the Nintendo Switch received a major update today, and a big feature they added was video capture. Yes, yes, I know — all the other consoles have done it for years. Yes, I also know that it’s only 30 seconds, and for a specific small subset of games (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS, and Splatoon). I also know that it’s only for your own enjoyment or for uploading to social media. But if they can improve upon the system, it might be a great way to share future games like Mario Odyssey.

Other cool stuff too if you’re a Switch owner.

Improvements Included in Version 4.0.0 (Distributed 10/18/2017)
Added the following system functionality

Capture video on select game

  • To capture video, hold down the Capture Button during gameplay
  • Up to maximum of the previous 30 seconds will be saved in the Album. You can trim the beginning and end of each clip, and post to Facebook and Twitter.
  • As of October 18th, 2017, this feature is compatible with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS, and Splatoon

Select from 12 new Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild icons for your user

  • To edit your user icon, head to your My Page on the top left of the Home Menu > Profile

Transfer user and save data to another system

  • To transfer, head to System Settings > Users > Transfer Your User and Save Data

Pre-purchase option on Nintendo eShop

  • A pre-purchase option will be available for certain games. This option allows pre-load of the game to your system for quicker play when the game is released.
  • This feature will be supported by future game releases

News channel updates

  • The news feed has been updated with a new look.
  • Unfollowing a channel will remove that channel’s content from the news feed and following the channel again will make it reappear.

Match software version with a group of local users

  • To create a group, head to the software’s Options > Software Update > Match Version with Local Users
  • Everyone’s software will be updated to match the most recent version in the group
  • All users must be on system menu version 4.0.0 or later to view and join a group

General system stability improvements to enhance the user’s experience, including:

  • Changed the specification which hid wireless networks using TKIP security from the network search results. Wireless networks using TKIP security will now display in search results as a grayed-out selection instead of not being displayed
    • The Nintendo Switch console supports WEP, WPA-PSK(AES), and WPA2-PSK(AES). If your router is using a different security type (e.g. WPA-PSK(TKIP)), you will need to change this security type within your router’s settings.

Nintendo Switch Adds Video Capture from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Disney XD’s D|XP for Gamers]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17615 2017-10-18T02:43:51Z 2017-10-18T02:43:51Z I watch Disney XD. Yep, I do. Disney XD is a channel here in the U.S. that shows kid-ish shows that are tailored more towards a man-child audience. It’s a weird juxtaposition between kids and adults who never grew up. So I fit the demographic perfectly. I was watching the latest episodes of Star Wars […]

Disney XD’s D|XP for Gamers from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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I watch Disney XD. Yep, I do. Disney XD is a channel here in the U.S. that shows kid-ish shows that are tailored more towards a man-child audience. It’s a weird juxtaposition between kids and adults who never grew up. So I fit the demographic perfectly.

I was watching the latest episodes of Star Wars Rebels (awesome show, btw) when I noticed a ton of commercials related to video games. Not one, not two, but it seemed every single commercial and bit of branding was related to games. There were entire half hours devoted to watching people play Overwatch, or compete in a Hearthstone tournament, or play X or Y game.

Then I noticed the watermark in the bottom left of the screen that said, “D|XP”.

Huh.

A little google-foo and I found out that Disney XD has this entire segment of time for gamers now.  I  went to the official site and couldn’t find anything, but D|XP does have a Twitter and Twitch account.

“D|XP is an all-new gaming-centric block featuring your favorite games, YouTubers & streamers. Spawns every night this summer from 9P-3A, only on Disney XD. ”

So it’s officially a thing, and they do feature YouTubers, streamers, and all sorts of gaming related commentary and gameplay.

It makes sense. Streaming and Youtube are pulling some serious numbers compared to TV, and the demographic lines up.

Seeing worlds collide between TV and video games was still surreal. And you know what? It’s actually not bad content.

 

Disney XD’s D|XP for Gamers from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Loot boxes and Gambling: The Hyperbole Has Gone Too Far]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17605 2017-10-17T14:46:57Z 2017-10-17T01:50:20Z I don't like loot boxes or the drama surrounding them any more than the next person, but I think people are going a little too far. There's now a UK petition to consider loot boxes and the like as gambling, and I see people in the U.S. trying to get similar ideas pushed out there.People […]

Loot boxes and Gambling: The Hyperbole Has Gone Too Far from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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I don't like loot boxes or the drama surrounding them any more than the next person, but I think people are going a little too far.

There's now a UK petition to consider loot boxes and the like as gambling, and I see people in the U.S. trying to get similar ideas pushed out there.

People have begun to confuse gambling with risk.

Take booster packs for collecting card games.

You're buying cards for Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, or even Hearthstone in order to build up that perfect deck. You pay $4.99 for a pack, and there's no guarantee what you'll get. Some companies say there's a 20% chance of a rare, some just say "there's no guarantee."

Are card packs gambling? 

No. It's not gambling because you are still guaranteed to get something. You're guaranteed the minimum offering of basic cards. You were told you would get X basic items and a chance for one to upgrade to a nicer item. Sure, they may not be what you want, but you still got something in return -- what you were promised. It's up to you to accept that what you get in return, at its basic level, should be worth the price of the pack.

The same applies to loot boxes. You buy one for any amount of value, whether with real money or in-game currency, and what you get is a risk that involves chance. However, even with the worst draws, you're guaranteed something in return. There is a predetermined and agreed upon exchange of value for value.

The ESRB recently told Kotaku:

While there’s an element of chance in these mechanics, the player is always guaranteed to receive in-game content (even if the player unfortunately receives something they don’t want). We think of it as a similar principle to collectible card games: Sometimes you’ll open a pack and get a brand new holographic card you’ve had your eye on for a while. But other times you’ll end up with a pack of cards you already have.

I get the argument. It's random luck -- that's where people mistakenly accuse this of being a gambling. You put in $4.99, and what you get out may be crap or it may be awesome. You may get the best card in the game, or your 20th basic card. It sucks. It influences the game's design, and not in a good way.

But gambling it is not.

Loot boxes and Gambling: The Hyperbole Has Gone Too Far from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Shadows Over Camelot]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17597 2017-10-16T02:48:41Z 2017-10-16T02:48:41Z I'm many years late to this party, but I wanted to share a fun board game my wife and I recently started playing: Shadows Over Camelot."At the incarnation of the Knights of the Round Table, you join forces against the game itself in an attempt to protect Camelot.Your victory hinges on the successful completion of […]

Shadows Over Camelot from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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I'm many years late to this party, but I wanted to share a fun board game my wife and I recently started playing: Shadows Over Camelot.

"At the incarnation of the Knights of the Round Table, you join forces against the game itself in an attempt to protect Camelot.

Your victory hinges on the successful completion of legendary Quests, such as the search for Excalibur, the Holy Grail, or Lancelot's Armor; the tournament against the Black Knight; and numerous wars against the Saxons and Picts.

But beware. .. all is not as it seems among these noble Knights. One of your number might yet turn out to be a traitor-in-waiting, biding his time while sowing havoc and destruction from the Shadows..."

That's the somewhat official description of the game.

Shadows Over Camelot is a cooperative/semi-cooperative hand-management and deduction-based board game.

Basically, you get to play as one of the Knights of the Round Table. You go on quests, stop sieges against Camelot, and find artifacts to help you along the way.

The real catch here is that in the 3+ player mode, one of the players is a traitor and working against you to bring down the kingdom.

Basic Gameplay

Basic gameplay is handled by following a turn process. First, an evil action happens. This could be more invaders, a curse on the kingdom, or any number of horrible things. Then you get a heroic action which can be you moving to a new quest, playing a card, building up your hand, or fighting the sieges against camelot.

You have cards in your hand that you must play to complete quests. Some require combinations of cards that will out-number the enemy cards, and some simply require playing specific cards before it's too late. 

As you complete quests, the round table receives white swords. As you lose quests, black swords go onto the table. When there are 12 swords, and 7 or more at black, you lose. 

Meanwhile, the traitor is secretly working against you and the group has no idea who. Each player gets one chance to correctly accuse. Once the traitor is outed, he more overtly works against the players by helping the forces of evil.

Shadows Over Camelot 2 Player Variant

Since my wife and I don't often get a chance to play with more people, we had put off even learning Shadows Over Camelot. We recently found a two-player variant that simply removes the traitor and lets you play two knights each. 

The variant is actually pretty fun, and a great way to simply cooperatively work to beat the forces of evil in a PvE questy game.

Overall Thoughts

Shadows Over Camelot is really fun, but stressful. You have to constantly work to avoid Camelot being taken over by siege engines, and also worry about a traitor simply the forces of evil messing you up.

It's not uncommon to go out on a quest with the cards you need just to find the forces of evil make you discord those cards. When you leave a solo quest, all progress is lost. It's common to lose games, so if you're someone who has to win (even on coop games) then you might steer clear.

Definitely worth picking up for 2 player and for groups of 4+ where you can experience the game the way its meant to be played.

Shadows Over Camelot from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Kingdom Hearts: The Journey Begins]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17580 2017-10-16T00:26:43Z 2017-10-14T23:24:05Z In anticipation of the eventual release of Kingdom Hearts 3, my wife and I are playing through the Kingdom Hearts games together. This is the first time either of us have played one of the most beloved and popular RPG franchises of all time. As always, I regret not playing them sooner.We started this journey […]

Kingdom Hearts: The Journey Begins from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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In anticipation of the eventual release of Kingdom Hearts 3, my wife and I are playing through the Kingdom Hearts games together. This is the first time either of us have played one of the most beloved and popular RPG franchises of all time. As always, I regret not playing them sooner.

We started this journey over a year ago when Bri got really into Kingdom Hearts Union Cross (formerly known as Unchained X) for iOS. We both love Disney, and the characters and stories from Square games have always been interesting to me.

So we set out on our journey to play through the entire series via the newer remastered versions released on PS3 and PS4.

The Order You Should Play the Kingdom Hearts Games:

  1. Kingdom Hearts Final Mix HD
  2. Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories
  3. Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix HD
  4. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (HD Theater)
  5. Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Final Mix HD
  6. Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (HD Theater)
  7. Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD
  8. Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep - A fragmentary passage

Games 1-6 are available for PS4 on the new Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX collection. There are older PS3 versions of 1.5 and 2.5 available as well.

Games 7 & 8 are available on Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue for PS4.

KH HD Remix PS4

This order allows you to experience the story best. If you play the timeline chronologically, you will spoil much of the mystery behind the story and what's going on.

I want to do a review of sorts for each of the games. I want to talk about what worked, what didn't, what we liked, and what absolutely sucked, and the story overall without major spoilers. 

As I said, we started this journey over a year ago. We're now on Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, which means I have a brain full of information on the first three games as well as the HD Theater version of 358/2 Days. 

This should be a fun way to work ourselves toward KH3's release! Stay tuned.

Kingdom Hearts: The Journey Begins from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Humble Bundle Acquired by IGN]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17575 2017-10-14T03:40:45Z 2017-10-14T03:40:45Z Hmmm. I don’t know how I feel about this one. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie. I’m uneasy about IGN acquiring Humble Bundle. This comes after recently applying to join Humble’s affiliate program so that we can refer you guys over to good bundles and earn a commission to help support the site. We’re […]

Humble Bundle Acquired by IGN from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Hmmm. I don’t know how I feel about this one. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie. I’m uneasy about IGN acquiring Humble Bundle.

This comes after recently applying to join Humble’s affiliate program so that we can refer you guys over to good bundles and earn a commission to help support the site. We’re all about pointing our readers to good deals on games we recommend, and Humble has often provided a good deal and a good cause. I’m worried that might end with IGN’s involvement.

I used to write for IGN, helped with their Vault Network, assisted with moderating their forums, and did some general customer service stuff. I remember writing reviews for some games on the MMO side of things, and I remember the harsh realities of publishers controlling review scores, publishers paying $30k+ for favorable coverage, and more. Review scores were changed when threats came in.

Speaking to Polygon, IGN stated the following:

“Editorial integrity is something we take very seriously at IGN, and I am confident that we will strike the right balance when it comes to our coverage of Humble Bundle and the games they sell. Our readers and customers have always come first — and that won’t change.”

I have a hard time believing it because I have first-hand experience with that not being true. That’s exactly why I ceased my involvement with the IGN brand.

Gamasutra is reporting that Humble Bundle “will continue to operate independently in the wake of the acquisition” with “some degree of support from IGN […] in terms of accelerating growth and raising more money for charity.”

I see conflict of interest in an area that has already been stained with mistrust and unethical practices. If IGN can keep Humble 100% intact without any interference, then I guess it’s business as usual. I’m okay with it being just business. But I do wonder what IGN is going to do if I move that slider over to 100% charity/devs and 0% IGN.

P.S. @ New IGN Overlords: If this skepticism, transparency, and honesty impacts our consideration for Humble’s affiliate program, I guess that would be telling.

Humble Bundle Acquired by IGN from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[10 Reasons Why Sea of Thieves Looks Awesome]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17565 2017-10-13T02:41:25Z 2017-10-13T02:41:25Z The Sea of Thieves team released a pretty good last month with 10 things you need to know about Sea of Thieves.Let's check it out. While I think their list is good, a few stand out.Cross-play between Xbox One and Windows 10. Obviously a huge plus for letting people play with their friends, and one […]

10 Reasons Why Sea of Thieves Looks Awesome from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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The Sea of Thieves team released a pretty good last month with 10 things you need to know about Sea of Thieves.

Let's check it out.

While I think their list is good, a few stand out.

  1. Cross-play between Xbox One and Windows 10. Obviously a huge plus for letting people play with their friends, and one of the first reasons to own an Xbox One -- though I own one, I'll still get the PC version. (Why do I own that thing again?)
  2. Open & Shared world with things to do other than quests and story-driven missions
  3. The act of crewing a ship, boarding enemy vessels, and being a pirate seem so fleshed out.

I started poking around Facebook a bit and found this Inn-Side Story (It's like a dev diary type thing) where they talk about reducing the toxicity among crew members in order to try and preserve that sacred bond between shipmates. 

That's really important to someone like me. Community means everything to me. One big reason I stopped playing DOTA and Overwatch type games is because of how the community hates on each other. I don't know that Sea of Thieves has cracked that nut, but I like the discussions and attempts to try.

I particularly like the ability to send crew to the brig and vomit on them and dance playing music while they sit there behind bars. Ahhem...

Other things I also like are the "small ship" announcements where you can play on a ship by yourself if you don't want to get into the whole "big ship" gameplay.

Though, at this point in time, I really don't know the difference in how that impacts your gameplay other than the ship being smaller. They show how small ships can gang up on big ships. So it's not like you're invulnerable to PvP.

There are still obvious questions lingering for me.

Will the entire world be PvP?

How many people co-exist in the same open world?

I see references to "match making" and I have to wonder if that means you get put onto a ship with someone into an "open world" that is just a big instanced world.

How much persistence is there in the world? Is it just your character? Is there any persistence at all or is it jump-in-jump-out?

Answers will come with time. What we do know is that the developers are do a remarkable job building a community and marketing their game. I'm a huge fan of how incorporated their art style and theme are in all they do. The wait for release is getting harder.

10 Reasons Why Sea of Thieves Looks Awesome from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Mainstream VR is Still So Far Away]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17561 2017-10-12T02:42:51Z 2017-10-12T02:42:51Z Despite the best efforts of developers and big media companies, VR is still so far out of touch with mainstream gaming. Despite offering neat ‘enhancements’ to certain aspects of gaming, VR is a limiter, not an expander. By that I mean every time you place the VR headset upon your head and take hold of […]

Mainstream VR is Still So Far Away from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Despite the best efforts of developers and big media companies, VR is still so far out of touch with mainstream gaming.

Despite offering neat ‘enhancements’ to certain aspects of gaming, VR is a limiter, not an expander. By that I mean every time you place the VR headset upon your head and take hold of those controllers you aren’t giving yourself more options, but rather taking them away. You lose the input of a mouse and keyboard, which in many ways gives you more control in a world when VR is limited to the length of their USB tethering overlord.

Movement and interaction, despite being seriously disguised by the ‘reaching out of touching’ phenom, are greatly hindered. Graphical quality and how a game looks are also hindered. Instead of 1080p (or at we at 4k now?) crystal clear gorgeous refresh rates and FPS quality, we’re looking through a mask at a somewhat grainy filter while trying not to strain our necks from the weight of the device. And if you’re among the 6 out of 10 people in the developed world who wear corrective lenses, you’re doubly effed.

The best game we’ve had for VR has been a Star Trek game. Although fun for a sitting simulator, the depth and scope of the game were completely experienced within hours and the longevity waned fast.

That said, the media companies keep trying.

Facebook (or was it Oculus? Zuckerberg?) announced today that Respawn Entertainment( Titanfall dev) is working on an exclusive VR shooter that will launch in 2019. I chuckled. I’m sure thousands will buy it.

Not only is that potentially 2+ years away still, but for a ‘realistic’ shooter to succeed at all on a virtual platform, we’re going to have to see huge improvements to the tech. Sadly, we’re inching closer to the 3D TV and movie theater experience with these VR gimmicks — a novelty, and inferior.

I would rather see other technologies develop that allow us to interact more with our games — a true virtual reality, and not a simulated one. I’m not talking how we SEE things, but how we INTERACT with things — or rather, how they interest with us.

I would rather interface with games the same way (mouse/keyboard/controller) but be able to speak to the game or have characters in the game read my facial expressions measured by a camera than put on a headset and see the world differently. Intelligent NPCs and AI matter more to me than reaching out and pretending to touch something.

Mainstream VR is Still So Far Away from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[525k Concurrent Users Isn’t Bad…]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17552 2017-10-11T13:01:32Z 2017-10-11T01:41:47Z Fascinating what a bit of internet drama can do for a dying game. Fortnite is currently (as of 6:32pm PT on 10/10/2017) the 8th game in terms of Twitch viewership. PUBG currently scoring 77,576 watching and Fortnite 18,890. Twitch viewers are hardly a metric to go by since they're dominated by brands in and of themselves -- […]

525k Concurrent Users Isn’t Bad… from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Fascinating what a bit of internet drama can do for a dying game. 

Fortnite is currently (as of 6:32pm PT on 10/10/2017) the 8th game in terms of Twitch viewership. PUBG currently scoring 77,576 watching and Fortnite 18,890. 

Twitch viewers are hardly a metric to go by since they're dominated by brands in and of themselves -- brands of the streamers playing those games.

Fortnite announced that this past Sunday they achieved 525,000 concurrent users. That's really not bad at all for a game accused of being a copy cat and future thief.

PUBG still remains relatively unreachable. Just looking at these Steam numbers, PUBG secures a huge lead on the concurrent players.

Factor in that PUBG numbers are Steam only (PC) and Fortnite is on PC, Xbox One, and PS4, and you see PUBG has nothing to fear. Compound that with F2P vs. Paid entry, and it's a landslide in PUBG's favor. 

Still, 525k concurrent users. 

Epic has also announced improvements to the Unreal engine for games like these 100 player Battle Royale games -- all of them. A bit of a passive aggresive wink at Bluehole, who previously claimed Epic would keep the tech to themselves and even steal from PUBG's super secret engine tweaks.

I'm still blown away by the numbers. Neither of these games are THAT good.

525k Concurrent Users Isn’t Bad… from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Breaking Down the Microtransaction Discussion Further]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17546 2017-10-10T02:44:36Z 2017-10-10T01:29:12Z Yesterday’s blog about Battlefront 2 being pay to win started a good F2P / cash shop discussion that warranted further dialog. The main comment that prompted this post comes from Gankatron, a long-time reader and active participate in the comments. I appreciate the active participation, and hope you won’t mind me using your comments to […]

Breaking Down the Microtransaction Discussion Further from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Yesterday’s blog about Battlefront 2 being pay to win started a good F2P / cash shop discussion that warranted further dialog. The main comment that prompted this post comes from Gankatron, a long-time reader and active participate in the comments. I appreciate the active participation, and hope you won’t mind me using your comments to prompt further discussion!

Here are two clips of the comment that I want to discuss.

Selling a fun game the devs purposefully broke that can be repaired with real money is a parasitic monetization scheme.

I can’t believe people will willing buy a box for $60/$80 and then continue to pay real money to remain competitive.

Treating your player base like bags of cash to be repeatedly harvested over time through “fun pain”, on top of a premium priced box purchase, is an extremely disrespectful and exploitative business model that I wish people would stop supporting.

And…

It is hypocritical to condemn F2P games while simultaneously supporting a game that incorporates a F2P P2W type of cash shop, but even worse, on top of a premium box price.

First, let me start by saying that I do not approve of microtransactions or cash shops in any form. Whether they be cosmetic (WoW/Overwatch/PUBG), Pay-to-Win (Battlefront 2), or even only in single-player type games (Shadow of War). I’m also not a fan of “crates” — the industry’s latest cash shop disguise.

Let’s try to separate our dislike for a system and proceed with analyzing this a little further. And please, don’t read two sentences of this and comment. Read the whole thing.

We must separate the idea of “F2P” from “cash shop” or “microtransactions.” They are not the same thing.

Free-to-play games are free to play, and typically (99.999% of the time) built/designed around their cash shop. The goal of the “game” (and they are rarely true games) is always to get you into the shop. This can happen when a game starts out F2P, or after a game becomes F2P. It matters not.

F2P games typically contain predatory pricing schemes. The cash shop comes first, and the gameplay comes second. This is why most F2P “games” are shallow. [Standard Disclaimer: There are exceptions, particularly those with cult followings.]

On the other side of this are the “premium” games that charge a box price (often called “buy-to-play” games) which offer cash shop incentives. These can be “pay-to-win” when they offer an advantage. Developers with a cash shop in their game are obviously drawn to the idea of enticing players into the shop. Blizzard markets the heck of out their cash shop. It’s on the launcher almost every time. Marketing your cash shop does not make you predatory.

Things get a lot more interesting when the cash shop offers an advantage to those who make a purchase.

This type of “pay-to-win” can be handled in so many different ways. Here are both extremes:

  1. You simply can’t play without paying. You have to drop dozens, maybe hundreds to even matter. You can’t simply play and ever achieve the success of paying players.
  2. You can completely enjoy the game without paying. The advantages provided offer a bonus, a boost ahead, and a lot of pizzazz to your gameplay, but can be skipped or achieved by playing the game without paying.

I don’t know where Star Wars Battlefront 2 falls on this list, but having seen what the star cards do, I have a hard time believing it will be closer to the first than the second.

Where would you place a game like Hearthstone on the scale? I would place it closer to #2. Is it pay-to-win? OMFG yes. The more you pay, the more cards you get. The more cards you get, the better your chance of getting better cards. The better your cards, the better your deck, and the better you’ll do.  Hint: people pay a lot more than a box price on card packs.

In the case of Battlefront 2, it has a box price. It has a cash shop. It has pay-to-win elements within that shop. Ouch, that is indeed a trifecta. HOWEVER…

It also has a fully-functional game behind it. It doesn’t feel designed to force anyone into the cash shop. You can obtain the same rewards by playing the game and purchasing as you can with spending real money (think Hearthstone here). And… there’s no season pass. There’s no paying for more maps or more content. They’re making that portion free, which is typically a very pricey and in my opinion much worse way to charge players. I also do not see a broken game needing to be fixed with a cash shop purchase.

Much remains to be seen with how EA/whoever is in charge over there handles this business model. Much, indeed. But please don’t obfuscate the separation between F2P games and games with stupid cash shops. There can be a very, very big difference. The main one being one being the core game behind the business model.

The “vote with your wallet and show EA who’s boss” mantra falls flat for me on games like this. I have too much fun to deprive myself of hours, and hours of enjoyment. I reserve the right to change my mind if EA screws things up worse.

And finally, we must realize the key factor in all of this is truly what is “fun.” If a cash shop offering any P2W at all is not fun for you, then I respect that. For me, there’s more ‘fun’ and game here in Battlefront 2 than many games recently, and I look past some P2W when I enjoy the core experience well enough.

Breaking Down the Microtransaction Discussion Further from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Battlefront 2 Will Be Pay to Win]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17542 2017-10-09T03:39:52Z 2017-10-09T03:39:52Z So apparently there will be microtransactions in Battlefront 2. Players will be able to spend real money on in-game currency to buy crates that unlock items. I actually didn’t know this at all until yesterday, but that’s okay. I’m seeing a huge wave of negativity surrounding the microtransaction business model. I’m no fan, either. I […]

Battlefront 2 Will Be Pay to Win from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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So apparently there will be microtransactions in Battlefront 2. Players will be able to spend real money on in-game currency to buy crates that unlock items. I actually didn’t know this at all until yesterday, but that’s okay.

I’m seeing a huge wave of negativity surrounding the microtransaction business model. I’m no fan, either. I get it. Paying real money to get crates that DO provide an advantage isn’t something I’m ‘ok’ with, but it’s also not something that’s going to keep me from playing.

Thankfully, maps and stuff won’t come at a cost. There won’t be the “season pass” (which go for like $20-$40 these days for other games) or any of that nonsense. You buy the game, and you play it as long as you like.

If you want to drop lots of cash and buy crates, you can probably earn an advantage if you get some nice items out of those crates.

Pay to win? Yes

I do wish they’d have gone the route of Overwatch’s crates. I have a friend who spends way too much money on Overwatch stuff, and I’m almost positive it’s just cosmetic. People like cosmetic stuff and will buy it, but perhaps not at the rate people will drop on crates with advantages.

The point has also been made that “star cards” dictate your class’ level, which dictates what you can use. So yes, buying crates on day one will shoot you to the top.

Again, this is indeed pay to win.

But again, I’m still pre-ordering.

Why? Because Battlefront is A LOT of fun. I had my best game tonight loading up a basic Specialist on Graev’s account to get make sure he could get a founder’s crate (he couldn’t play this beta period). So I had the basic rifle and nothing else. I smoked people and was the leader in kills. Other people had all weekend, were level 10, and yet it made no difference. My blaster still killed them fine.

Now the wait until release.

Battlefront 2 Will Be Pay to Win from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Star Wars Battlefront Day 2: More Impressions]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17536 2017-10-08T02:32:32Z 2017-10-08T02:32:32Z Battlefront 2 is all I played today, and I have no regrets. I'm still completely smitten by the gameplay, and finding it's exactly what I want in a 'get in and have some fast action' shooter-type game.A couple of observations.Hero Units are No JokeReally, just take a look at this.Don't consider this a complaint or […]

Star Wars Battlefront Day 2: More Impressions from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Battlefront 2 is all I played today, and I have no regrets. I'm still completely smitten by the gameplay, and finding it's exactly what I want in a 'get in and have some fast action' shooter-type game.

A couple of observations.

Hero Units are No Joke

Really, just take a look at this.

Don't consider this a complaint or anything. In fact I rather enjoy the fact that the hero units are serious trouble for everyone but other hero units. 

Playing as Boba Fett, you're going to get those moments where people clump up and you kill 12 of them in one wrist rocket volley. Playing as Darth Maul, you'll rush into a room of 20 and be the only one to leave.

Saving points to play as one is usually my goal. Even a lesser unit like the Super Droids can turn the tide.

Space Battles are Actually Fun

I played the space battle mode today and had a lot of fun playing around dog fighting. They did a much better job with space battles in this one compared to Battlefront 1.

First-person flight is a lot of fun and very immersive, though I feel there's rarely a time I'll do it when playing in third person feels like it's such a big advantage -- same holds true for ground play.

Rushing is a Great Way to Die

In most games, the minute you spawn you have this impulse to just sprint ahead and rush out. In Battlefront 1, that's the best way to die. Take your time. Slow down. Get a feel for the flow of the fight and figure out where the enemy is pushing. 

Holding areas and advancing slowly with a squad will not only yield more points, but you'll hold your ground longer. Most people forget that the Ion disruptors on the Theed Galactic Assault spawn in the same place every match (a flaw, imo) and that holding those areas is all you need to do in order to win very, very quickly.

Star Wars Battlefront Day 2: More Impressions from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Star Wars Battlefront 2 Day 1 Initial Impressions]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17526 2017-10-07T03:23:59Z 2017-10-07T03:23:59Z I'm going to keep these day 1 impressions short and sweet because anyone can download the beta and give it a try, as long as you're not one of those "Steam only on my computer" people.Battle PointsThat stupid token system is gone! In its place we have a system where you accrue points while playing […]

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Day 1 Initial Impressions from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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I'm going to keep these day 1 impressions short and sweet because anyone can download the beta and give it a try, as long as you're not one of those "Steam only on my computer" people.

Battlefront 2 Combat Point Unlocks

Battle Points

That stupid token system is gone! In its place we have a system where you accrue points while playing a match. These points can be spent on vehicles or special characters, which is a way, way better system.

Earning points is fairly easy. In most of my games played I scored somewhere in the middle to 80-percentile (one game I came in first) and was more than able to play any vehicle or special character available.

Scoring points in general (not the same as battle points) seems fairly balanced. I love how playing the objective earns bucket loads more than playing like it's a deathmatch. 

Upgrades

Here's something a bit different. Upgrades to weapons can be crafted with what I think are called crafting points. These points are earned inside of crates (see below). 

Crate System

Ahh, crates. Love 'em or hate 'em. I usually hate them. Battlefront 2 has a crate system where you can open a daily crate or spend points on them (yet another point system for playing the game).

Crates seem to be the biggest form of progression, at least from what I could tell. Crates give you the 'cards' or the big upgrades to your character.

There are already people putting on the tinfoil hats saying they found premium currency in the beta files. Reddit is abuzz with doomsday "omg pay-to-win" stuff. I haven't seen it yet, so I'll ignorantly give them the benefit of the doubt.

Play the Objective and Earn More Points

The beta map we're playing is the same Naboo map they showed at E3 where it's objective based to either destroy the Droid army's vehicle thing or to break into the Palace and secure it. Throughout the level there are objectives to claim or use, and doing so will skyrocket you to the top.

Battlefront 2 Air Combat

Air Vehicles

Air combat on the Theed map is pretty tough. There's not a lot of space to fly around, and I found myself quickly out of bounds. I also struggled to control the vehicles. I think I have to figure out my sensitivity settings because I crashed every single time. I can see how the air battles will be a blast, though.

Overall Gameplay / Feel / Fun

Unlike Call of Duty WW2 -- which couldn't do anything right at all -- I'm definitely sold on Battlefront 2 after playing the beta. 

I had a really great time in the 2 hours I put in, and that's saying a lot since it's just one map.

I found each of the character classes to be enjoyable. The Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist all made sense to me while playing. I though their weapons felt good, shot well, and the upgrades made a different to my gameplay.

I enjoyed the map's objectives and the pacing of the battles, and they felt way better than Battlefront 1.

I think EA has a real winner here, and that's such a relief after how bad Battlefront 1 turned out.

You can play the Open Beta from October 6-9 to give it a try yourself.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 Day 1 Initial Impressions from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Back from Vacation on the High Seas!]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17518 2017-10-06T02:22:25Z 2017-10-06T02:22:25Z Hey all, I’m back from vacation! Thankfully no one knew because it looks like the blog posts I scheduled to post while I was gone all took effect, and my ‘blog every day’ challenge continues. My wife and I went on our second Disney cruise this past week! It was so much fun. Our first […]

Back from Vacation on the High Seas! from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Hey all, I’m back from vacation! Thankfully no one knew because it looks like the blog posts I scheduled to post while I was gone all took effect, and my ‘blog every day’ challenge continues.

My wife and I went on our second Disney cruise this past week! It was so much fun. Our first cruise was actually our honeymoon two and a half years ago, and would you believe that’s also the last time I took a vacation?

Needing a nice vacation, we took to the seas again, this time for Halloween on the High Seas — with Disney Cruise Line again. They do such a nice job, focusing on every little detail. I highly recommend DCL if you’re looking for a family-friendly, high-quality cruise. Plan well, and they’re really not as expensive as you might think.

Okay, so what does this have to do with video games, you ask?

I peaked into the kid’s play clubs when no one was looking, and I got to see what was up. They’re actually still rocking the old Wii consoles. I was a little shocked to see such an older console, and one that actually didn’t do well at all for Nintendo, on the flag ships of Disney’s fleet. Yet at the same time, there aren’t many other consoles that would really work well on the ships either. The Wiimotes can be tucked away into nice protective-kid-proof sleeves, and the kids can flail around with dumb motion controls all they like.

I did also see what I think might have been other consoles playing the Disney Infinity games. I think they were Xbox’s from the looks of things. I couldn’t get too good a look because the staff gave me the ‘you look a little big for an 8 year old’ stare. I wanted badly to go in and play, but it was strictly for kids only. My wife rolled her eyes when I complained about not being able to participate in the Wii Tournament.

While I was gone, I didn’t miss games one bit. In a weird way, I got a twinge of what it’s like to have that feeling I’m sure my parents had — that quintessential “go play outside” mentality. And sure enough, I think the majority of younger kids did play outside in the pools and never once wanted to go inside to the video games or the activities. I felt like the youngest group of kids were at the pools constantly, then a pocket of kids were also at the pools maybe in the 6-8 range, then the 8-12 were once again inside playing games.

Thankfully, I spent most of my time floating around in the much quieter adult area/pool. 😎

So now that it’s time to get back to reality, I’m perusing the gaming sites and I notice a lot happened while I was gone! Nice to see I have lots of material to cover and games to play during this early-October quiet before the massive, massive end-of-the-month storm of game releases.

Back from Vacation on the High Seas! from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Slime Rancher]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17512 2017-10-01T03:09:01Z 2017-10-04T12:00:52Z Slime Rancher is an awesome game. It has been out for quite some time for PC, and I think recently for Xbox One, but I only recently got into it.Basically, you explore a world, breed slimes, feed them to get their plorts, and play the economy to make some cash to expand your ranch.Check out […]

Slime Rancher from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Slime Rancher is an awesome game. It has been out for quite some time for PC, and I think recently for Xbox One, but I only recently got into it.

Basically, you explore a world, breed slimes, feed them to get their plorts, and play the economy to make some cash to expand your ranch.

Check out the video below for a more in-depth look.

Slime Rancher is a really cute game with just enough depth to suck you trying to perfect and grow your ranch. I've put in about 9 hours so far, and I swear most of that passed without me even realizing it. Definitely worth the $20 on Steam.

Slime Rancher from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Blizzard Battle Royale Game]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17455 2017-09-30T23:58:52Z 2017-10-03T12:00:38Z I want Blizzard to make a battle royale game. Why? Because it would be cool to see their take on the emerging genre. Blizzard typically sits back and watches a genre develop, then waltzes in and scores a huge success. They could go with something a little more realistic in the graphics department, or approach […]

Blizzard Battle Royale Game from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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I want Blizzard to make a battle royale game. Why? Because it would be cool to see their take on the emerging genre. Blizzard typically sits back and watches a genre develop, then waltzes in and scores a huge success.

They could go with something a little more realistic in the graphics department, or approach it from the same stylized angle they do everything in and I don’t think it would really matter. Overwatch might really have the best design style, but I’d like something ever-so-slightly less cartoony.

None of their existing IPs would make much sense, so I wouldn’t want a Starcraft or Warcraft BR, or even an Overwatch. I’d want something completely vanilla and unique.

Blizzard might even be able to pull off a F2P business model where no one else would really succeed akin to Hearthstone.

Thinking about it gets my imagination and wishing glands going. How about you? Do you wish Blizzard which branch out a little more into genres like Battle Royale?

Blizzard Battle Royale Game from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Iron Marines: Mobile RTS Game]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17493 2017-09-30T23:56:48Z 2017-10-02T12:00:17Z We're starting to see a lot of really, really cool games coming out for mobile devices. I recently picked up Iron Marines which came out on September 14, 2017, and have had a blast. OverviewIron Marines is a RTS/Strategy game with some minor 'defense' or 'tower defense' feel to it. It's made by the same people […]

Iron Marines: Mobile RTS Game from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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We're starting to see a lot of really, really cool games coming out for mobile devices. I recently picked up Iron Marines which came out on September 14, 2017, and have had a blast. 

Overview

Iron Marines is a RTS/Strategy game with some minor 'defense' or 'tower defense' feel to it. It's made by the same people who made Kingdom Rush, which is another one of our favorite mobile games.

There's not a lot of story here. You're commanding the Iron Marines with one of 9 heroes trying to beat 14 Campaign Missions and 10 Special Operations. Each mission grows in complexity requiring more thought and strategy of how to overcome the challenges.

You'll command everything from simple marine-like infantry up through mechs and and all sorts of special weapons to get the job done. Defending your base is done with various towers, and will be necessary since the enemy seems to constantly bombard your base.

There's an obvious sense of Starcraft meets Starship Troopers vibe throughout the entire game.

The video above was taken when I was only an about an hour of gameplay in and on the 5th mission.

How It's Played on Mobile

Each unit/set of units can be moved by pressing your finger and dragging to where you want them to go. This works pretty well, though at times I do wish I could move multiple units together. There's also no attack-move (A-click), so you'll want to be careful not to send your units walking through a blockade of enemies. You can still tap your unit then tap an enemy to attack them directly.

Building units and buildings are pretty simple. You simple click the pad where a tower goes, or the base where you build a unit, and tap to build.

In general the game poses quite a challenge for me. I started losing and having to try again around mission #5. In fact, I think I spent over an hour trying to beat this mission because I would get to a point where the enemy just overwhelmed me.

You'll need to find a healthy balance of offense and defense, and use abilities and powerups to your advantage.

Upgrades & Skills

Each hero has a set of skills that can be upgraded as you level them up and play them more. Additional abilities can be purchased in a skill tree that offers choices for upgrades to make you feel more powerful as time goes on.

You can also buy what I consider power-ups which act as special bombs you can drop or mines you can lay -- things to help turn the tide in a bad situation.

Cash Shop

Despite being a paid game, there's still a cash shop. You can buy in-game currency and specific heroes. I haven't felt a need to buy anything yet, but the options are there. Currency seems easy enough to earn, especially if you're willing to go back and play some levels or take on the challenges in the Special Operations.

thumbs-o-up

Time played so far: 6 hours

Price: $4.99

Overall, I recommend Iron Marines for anyone who enjoys the RTS/defense type games. There are plenty of missions to justify the sticker price, and if you're look me you'll curse the game on more than one occasion because of the challenge some levels present.


Between the various units you can build, heroes you can play, and upgrades you can purchase, Iron Marines definitely scratches a RTS itch in a mobile kind of way.

Pros

  • check
    There's plenty of content to play through including missions and challenge mode.​​​​
  • check
    There's plenty of challenge here and you'll have to replay some missions more than once.
  • check
    Upgrades and skills provide at least some sense of progression, though only a little.

Cons

  • minus-circle
    I don't like having to pay to unlock more heroes after buying the game for $5.
  • minus-circle
    I wish there was a way for units to attack-move.

Iron Marines: Mobile RTS Game from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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Keen https://www.keenandgraev.com <![CDATA[Blogging Every Day for 2 Months]]> https://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=17489 2017-09-30T19:38:19Z 2017-10-01T12:00:53Z I can’t believe how time has just flown by while blogging. I issued myself a challenge to blog every single day for 31 days straight during the month of August, and I had so much fun and rejuvenated by passion for blogging so immensely that I decided to up the stakes and push for 100 […]

Blogging Every Day for 2 Months from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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I can’t believe how time has just flown by while blogging. I issued myself a challenge to blog every single day for 31 days straight during the month of August, and I had so much fun and rejuvenated by passion for blogging so immensely that I decided to up the stakes and push for 100 days of blogging. We’re now 62 days in, and I can’t even fathom stopping.

As promised, each month of successful blogging I want to look back on the top posts, trends, and comments and analyze things a little bit.

Top Posts Written in September by Readership

As you can see, the month’s readership numbers were dominated by PUBG and Fortnite discussions. These brought in a lot of organic readers and searches from Google for people looking up the topics.

The Numbers

Traffic took a slight down turn in September, but only slight. Despite being a small percentage, that turn represents thousands of readers. It’s something I want to watch for sure, and over time try and evaluate what types of articles resonate more with our readers.

Despite being a low month than August, September 2017 vs. September 2016 was up by over 20%, and up several thousand readers from July. Still a great month overall.

What Worked Well

Despite not being a major traffic boost for the blog, the video I did for Epic Tavern seemed to go over well. I received five messages (not on the blog) from you guys saying how much you liked the video and would like to see more of those preview / gameplay videos in the future.

I enjoyed making it! I’m going to continue making gameplay videos

So overall a great month of blogging, and looking forward to next month!

 

Blogging Every Day for 2 Months from Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog

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