Andrew Perry

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About Andrew Perry

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  • Birthday 12/16/1993

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  1. A new year, a new list of free games! This January, the following titles will be free with a Xbox Live Gold and a Playstation Plus subscription. For Playstation, Dragon Age Origins and Medal of Honor Warfighter are free on Playstation 3 while Hardware: Rivals and Grim Fandango Remastered are available on the Playstation 4. Have an itch to take your Double Fine adventures on the go? Grim Fandango Remastered is also free on the Vita, along with Nihilumbra! On the Microsoft side of things, we have DiRT Showdown for free from January 1st to the 15th with Deus Ex Human Revolution ending out the month on the 360. On the Xbox One, Killer Instinct: Season 1 Ultra Edition, which includes all of the season 1 fighters and their classic costumes, is free for the entire month of January. The sci-fi action game, Zheros, will be free from the 16th until February 15th. If you have any interest in these titles, be sure to pick them up while they're free! Even if you don't play them right away, you'll always have them on your account to download later.
  2. If someone randomly walked up to you and started talking about cars speeding into massive soccer balls, I’d like to think many of us would be very confused and possibly question that individual’s sanity. Yet no matter how baffled we might be, a part of us might be curious—dare I say interested—in this weird combination of automobiles and Europe’s favorite sport. If you are one of the few that fall into this category, and you have a few friends who are willing to indulge in your insanity, I can highly recommend you check out Rocket League. Rocket League is the rising hit indie title from developer Psyonix which puts you in control of a car midst a soccer match. Yes, I’m serious. The physics-based game focuses primarily on you and, typically, two other players facing off against another team of three. Your goal is to hit the ball with your vehicle in an attempt to score on the enemy goal, while of course protecting your own. Smacking into a ball full speed allows you to jettison it in that direction, but a skilled ‘goalie’ may use their double jump ability to deny you any glory from the replay cam. In that regard, Rocket League offers a unique experience in that it looks and feels like an arcade game, but has the skill cap of a fighting game. Seeing boost pads on the ground light up neon orange and the lively colors of most stadiums transports you back to your days at an arcade playing classic racing games like Artic Thunder. But then watching the pros have complete control over the ball as they use their momentum perfectly, all while you are running up the stadium walls, shows just how serious it can get. Thinking that you can push a ball around in a car no problem will be your first mistake. Rocket League isn’t something you can perform well in after just picking up a controller, which you will want to do. The game recommends playing with an Xbox controller on Steam once you start for a good reason as keyboard and mouse do feel awkward to operate in comparison. Jumping in, you have your basic driving controls between throttle, brake, emergency brake, and nitro. Nitro is gathered by running over the previously mentioned boost pads scattered about the map, with rare ‘super boosts’ appearing occasionally to fill up your nitrous completely. Other than that, Rocket League also gives players the ability to jump in the air once before boosting yourself again in whatever direction you are inputting. These jumps come in handy when needing to correct a ball’s path on the fly or when you want to intercept a shot on your goal. The game also offers a ‘ball-cam,’ which focuses your camera entirely on the ball as it soars across the field. While I initially thought this camera mode would be the best, I quickly learned its tendency to detract your view from driving and the positioning of your fellow players to be quite unhelpful. Speaking to the driving and mechanics of the game, there is a clear emphasize on physics and control. Boosting yourself into a ball with no clear intent to hit it in a specific way will often result in it flying away diagonally. Speed up too much on your way to hit a clear shot and you’ll overshoot the goal. My biggest recommendation is to show some restraint—it’s ok to break sometimes when you want to line yourself up. The game’s precise nature also leads to this need for control. You will need to turn at the right times and slow down if you plan on ever hitting the ball, unless if you’d much prefer to drive up the walls of the stadium and find yourself useless for a few precious seconds. You won’t be getting any sympathy from the game in terms of getting the perfect shot in your head, you need to work for it as the hitboxes on the ball don’t give you any leeway. Mechanically, the gameplay is very solid and gives players the ability to master their skills in boosting and jumping with practice. Many pros I’ve seen in my matches are able to boost in and jump just the right way to edge the ball into my goal from just about any angle. Yet that’s not all there is to Rocket League. There’s two other players on your team. Much like the normal sport it draws from, Rocket League places an emphasis on teamwork. Whether you play the standard 3 vs 3 mode, 2 vs 2 mode, or chaotic 4 vs 4, some level of coordination is required. Opponents won’t let you guide the ball in for a clear shot, often smacking into you or the ball to lead it astray. More than that, the pressure of this happening doesn’t allow for the precise aiming necessary. It’s imperative you work off each other’s shots. Being able to predict the ball’s path after your teammate knocks it in the air will be key in making most game winning goals. Just as important is defense, in which one player may stay in your goal in an attempt to block with their jumps while the other two try to push the game back to the opponent’s side of the field. Another element of defense is your ability to blow up your opponents for a few seconds if you slam into them while at full speed. Getting rid of one player may allow you to take back control and clear the ball. However if your ally gets in your way while you’re trying to wreck an enemy, you’ll both be thrown off course. Communication is key in making big plays and maintaining a solid position on the field. Rocket League truly shines when you’re playing with friends, talking to them with the game’s in-game voice chat or on another voice call software. If you can’t play with your friends, I think Rocket League suffers a bit in terms of enjoyment. The random people you are paired up with are probably not going to use the in-game voice chat, instead opting for the sub-par text chat available through the d-pad. Preselected phrases like ‘take the shot’ don’t come close to the level of communication needed to succeed in my opinion. If you’re not one for online, I’m afraid there isn’t much to do either as you’ll be forced to play with AI teammates that don’t really come close to their human counterparts. Training mode is available for those that wish to hone their skills in being a goalie, hitting aerial balls, or shooting goals on their own. The ability to practice each area of expertise, as well as just practicing in an open field with no time limit, is greatly appreciated. A season mode, which will pit your team composed of you and the AI against other AI teams, is available to play out. It will give you the experience of playing an actual sport in a season, with a rotating schedule of opponents, and gives you a great level of customization in how many teams you want in the bracket and how many rounds will be played. Yet even this falls flat compared to the experience of playing with friends online. At its roots, Rocket League is primarily a multiplayer game—and as such, I can’t really recommend unless you have friends to play with. However, the level of customization offered in your car—in its model, decals, color, flags, hats, and stream it shoots when using nitro—is good enough to make most auto-aficionados happy. While it may take a while to unlock all these goodies, the game does a good job at rewarding you with one present every match. Also great is the introduction of Mutator mode, which will manipulate things like gravity and ball size randomly to mix up the gameplay. This alleviates some boredom you might find after playing hours of the same mode, though I do wish there was a bit more variety outside of Mutator. The game could benefit greatly from other variations in standard gameplay, such as obstacles on some of the fields, as to avoid it getting slightly stale. Finally, Psyonix has done a great job with its DLC, incorporating famous icons like Back to the Future and Mad Max in vehicles such as the DeLorean and a wasteland like stadium. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy Rocket League. I have great memories like blocking a ball from getting into my goal after boosting off the wall and soaring across my goal post. Or when I made the game winning goal in overtime after minutes of the ball going back and forth between our side of the field and our opponent’s. Having the ability to customize my ride and make it shoot out propulsion gel from Portal 2 is always great, and experiencing low gravity while flying across the entire field is nuts. Yet a lot of my enjoyment came from experiencing the game with my friends—having us scream at each other as we frantically scrambled to take back a losing game or laugh as we slammed into one another over and over. I don’t think I’d have nearly as much fun if I hadn’t had them to play with, or if I didn’t play the online mode. That being said, Rocket League will offer you a great team experience if you’ve got some friends willing to play—and its mechanics and tight controls will give you something that, when mastered, is truly incredible to watch. Pros: - Really fun if you have friends. - Looks and plays well. - Great post-launch support with fun DLC themed after Mad Max and Back to the Future. - Wacky possibilities with the random mode. - Ample opportunities to practice given multiple tutorials. Cons: - Not nearly as enjoyable solo. - Could use a bit more variety in gameplay. - Gameplay can get stale after a while. End Score: 7.5/10
  3. Hey guys! Just wanted to possibly start a discussion about a newish genre of game I'm seeing more and more on Steam: Choose Your Own Adventure. More than that though, more text-based games that may or may not allow you to write in your own answers. Text-based games, I think, have always had this kind of odd quality to them in the fact that many people don't see how they qualify fully as a game. But with games like Diabolical releasing on Steam, the Choose Your Own Adventure style games seem to be making a slight come back on PC. I personally have little experience with Choose Your Own Adventures, having only had one Zelda book that followed that type of formula, but I find the inclusion of it as a genre interesting to say the least. It begs the question if the market for such titles is out there. During my last internship, I worked with Popcannibal on the game Elegy for a Dead World, a purely writing game in which the player would input their writing into prompts to create a story. It's definitely a different atmosphere I think, working on a writing game in which every prompt had to be carefully looked over and edited, than most games yet I always wondered about the players. What type of gamers like these sorts of games, such as Elegy or Diabolical, where the emphasis is on text and your choice rather than visuals and gameplay? Should these games be considered seperate from the rest of the medium? Do you see more of these styles of games coming to Steam in future, as we start seeing more support for Indie developers? Leave your thoughts on the matter! I'd love to hear other people's ideas on this topic and the future of writing games!
  4. While Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U and 3DS has been out for just over a year and the recent announcement of Cloud joining the roster garnering a massive amount of hype, many fans of the fighting game probably haven’t heard of a new ‘Smasher’ that hit Steam Early Access earlier this year. Rivals of Aether, a ‘Smash-esque’ fighting game, was released on September 22nd, 2015 and has become a hit since then. Combining the fast paced speed of Super Smash Brothers Melee, a parry system that emphasizes timing like Street Fighter 3rd Strike, and different play-styles for each and every character, 'Rivals' holds so much polish and charm that fighting game fans across the board can enjoy. More than that, it sets itself apart from Super Smash Brothers in enough ways to create its own identity, while catering to players of the series. As a huge fan of the Smash Brothers series, I found myself loving 'Rivals' the second I picked it up for its speed and technical capabilities. So imagine my excitement when the opportunity came to interview the creator, Dan Fornace, about the game. Andrew Perry: How has the reception for Rivals of Aether been since launch? Dan Fornace: Reception has been incredible. Bigger than we expected for sure. It was a surreal experience seeing so many people try out the game on our first week of Early Access. It was particularly cool to see some of the Smash Bros pros that I have watched for years give the game a shot and enjoy themselves. Andrew Perry: How has the process been porting 'Rivals' to the Xbox One? Dan Fornace: The port to Xbox One has been moving behind the scenes. Due to the amount of work it takes to have a game on Early Access, we wanted to reach out and find someone to help specifically with the Xbox One version. We are working on finalizing our agreement and then hope to be able to get on the Xbox Game Preview Program as soon as possible. Andrew Perry: What caused you to make some of the decisions that separate 'Rivals' from other Smash-esque fighters? Mainly, the replacement of shielding with a parry system and no ledges but a wall jump for each character? Dan Fornace: So the majority of the engine design choices are made for two reasons. The first is that 'Rivals' has a focus on offensive combat, that means defensive options that players see in the smash series have been reduced. The second is for scope reasons. Grabs were one of the first tools eliminated as I knew the work required to make multi-directional throws look good. You can't just animated them for each character if you want to do cooler throws, you have to give opponents custom reactions. When working with sprites, the workload becomes exponential based on the number of characters in the game. Once we eliminated grabs, we had to remove shields. We essentially removed rock-paper-scissors from a fighting game. Now we were left with just attacking. The parry initially started out similar to a smash spot dodge. But then I added a powershield version of the spot dodge that would have better effects than just dodging. Because of how useful this beefed up spot-dodge was, I ended up extending its active frames to the entire length and created a Parry. The Parry has 2 startup frames, 8 active frames and 20 recovery frames across most the characters. When your opponent hits you during the 8 active frames of the Parry, you gain invincibility and then your opponent suffers additional lag once their attack completes. That means if you parry something slow and strong such as a Kragg Forward Strong, then you have the time it takes for the the attack to end AND the additional lag to punish Kragg. There are two ways to counter parries. The first is by baiting them out. Because nearly all aerials autocancel, you can actually bait out a parry by attacking close but weaving away instead of hitting. This is similar to safely shield poking with aerials in Smash Bros. The second way to work around parries is by using jabs up close. As long as you don't finish the jab combo, you will not have extra lag if your jab is parried. Jabs are low-risk, low-reward. Ledge grabs were removed because of my time playing Super Smash Brothers Brawl competitively. I had been in matches that went to time (not that uncommon as I played Sonic) and I had seen just how destructive ledges became in the Brawl competitive scene. I wanted to make sure there was no stalling off stage and that the corner was not the safest part of the battlefield. Each character can wall-jump even out of prat fall, but you only get one jump unless you are hit or touch solid ground. This is to prevent stalling off stage while giving a character like Zetterburn some tools to mix up his recovery. Andrew Perry: Every character in 'Rivals' plays differently, having a unique quirk or mechanic that no other character can emulate, so you get a distinct feeling when playing each. How did you think of ways to make each one different? Dan Fornace: Part of the design behind the movesets was to make something unique to give each character its own identity. For inspiration, we don't simply look at Smash Bros or Fighting Games. Wrastor's current for example is inspired by Galio's Righteous Gust from League of Legends while Kragg's Pillar was inspired by the test scene in Full Metal Alchemist. When first designing a character we begin with creating a few mechanics that tie into each other. We have a bit of an advantage in this regard because many of the character designs are created after the moveset designs. We know what type of moveset we want to create and then can design a character visual to match. This also allows us to tie attacks and specials together in unique ways because we think of each moveset holistically rather than as separate attacks. Andrew Perry: With Absa being released, who I cannot wait to play, I have to ask—any information on the next locked character? We already can gather it’s a water elemental, but any other hints you can tell us? Dan Fornace: It is the last character in our initial roster of 8. And yes it will be our second water character. The roster could probably use another heavy so Kragg has a friend, don't you think? Andrew Perry: I noticed some Melee pros, such as Mang0, have played Rivals and seemed to enjoy it. Do you think 'Rivals' has the potential to become a game played at EVO annually? Dan Fornace: I don't think we really have a shot at EVO to be honest with you. We are incredibly small compared to the games that are on stage at EVO. For a comparison, we have about 5-8 people working on the game in total. AAA fighters could have more than that working on a single character model and texture. I do however think that other platform fighters could make their way on the main stage. Who knows, maybe Rivals 2 will be an EVO mainstay in a few years Andrew Perry: How long do you plan on supporting 'Rivals'? Will we see more characters released in the future if the game does well? Dan Fornace: We plan to support 'Rivals' for around one year after our full launch. I would love to expand the roster and do a couple of balance passes after we fully launch. After we add a few more characters, I would aim to take our learnings and start on a bigger scoped game in the world of Aether. We have a solid base that we could build off and expand on. I see an opportunity for Platform Fighters to thrive in a similar vein as MOBAs did about 5 years ago. We want to make sure we are at the forefront of that movement.
  5. With the release of Fallout 4 and my love for the series reaching an all-time high, I decided to take a trip back into gaming’s past. Before the excellent presentation at E3 in 2015, before the years of wild speculation and waiting, before Bethesda even came to own the series, Fallout was a different beast. Way back in 1997, Interplay Studios would go to release Fallout, a successor of sorts to their previous title Wasteland. But this Fallout was far different from the games we associate with the series today. You don’t have 3D graphics allowing you to vividly see the details of the crumbling Capital Wasteland, or experience the scramble as you tried aiming your energy pistol at charging raiders. Instead, Fallout and its sequel resembled many older PC games. You have 2D isometric graphics with the rare occurrence of, for its time, highly detailed cutscenes to introduce some of the grander story elements. And instead of battles waging in real time, you are forced to be strategic through turn-based combat revolving around your action points. It was completely different. Yet as I revisited Fallout 2 to pass the time before Fallout 4 launched, I was reminded that war, war never changes—and neither does Fallout. Starting off with what was immediately different from my past experiences with Fallout, the gameplay and controls differ greatly. Players are given a bird’s eye view of the area, seeing the very passable visuals of your surroundings and any mutated creatures lurking about. Roofs cut off to let the player see inside houses and side rooms, though the locked camera can be sketchy when up against a wall. Detail wise, Black Isle does a splendid job at filling up spaces with believable set pieces like dead tree carcasses and tearing wallpaper. The color palate in the game even varies more than Fallout 3 with its distinct red bricks and iridescent radioactive waste. The few characters that do have fully animated faces in the game when you speak with them, like the village elder, do a great job at capturing the rough tone in their crude appearances. The cutscenes that help move the story along are also enjoyable, especially the intro with the more than unsettling opening of a vault. Even with its limited graphics, it was easy to believe in the world in front of me and see the care put forth to making it come alive. The game controls primarily through the mouse and using some of the UI for more intricate actions. To move around the wasteland, you right click and select the tile you wish to travel to before left clicking. Clicking the left mouse button again causes you to sprint. Along with movement, you’re allowed to look at and interact with any object in the world by doing the same actions, except when the golden cursor is displayed. This allows you to not only get a good description of a building or individual by looking at them, but also the ability to search through vases or other containers. You’ll immediately need to slow yourself down for easier control if you’re used to faster paced gaming, something that took me a bit of time at first as I got frustrated with not hovering over the correct space to interact with a door. This adjustment will also come in handy in terms of combat and getting the most out of your experience. Once you do take it down a notch, you’ll find interacting with multiple objects in a space easy and movement second nature. To do more of the more complex actions, such as using a specific equipped weapon to attack an enemy or lock pick a door, you will have use the game’s UI at the bottom of the screen. This UI is presented in a thematically sound way, having the overall appearance of a Pip-Boy, but does have some flaws. While many of its buttons, like map and inventory, are easily understood, the Skilldex in particular eluded me for a short time. In my first try at the game, I became stuck at the first appearance of a locked door. After acting upon the door with no success, I assumed I had to find a key—only to find there was no key on any of the corpses or in any of the containers in that area. It was only after a few minutes of messing around aimlessly did I open the Skilldex and realize I had to select lock picking and move the cursor over the door to unlock it. While I just assumed the skill would automatically be activated in the given scenario, a pop-up or small introduction to the Skilldex and its many skills would’ve been greatly appreciated. That being said, the lack of a tutorial and its difficulty fits in with the games’ harsh tone. You will quickly realize Fallout 2 is a difficult game. You can’t run through, killing every enemy as you go with ease. The first level, a temple, will make that clear to you. Starting off with your bare fists or a spear, the player will encounter hardships upon every battle with a giant ant or scorpion, especially if they didn’t start off with a good character build. Combat is turn-based, initiated when you sneak up on an enemy or they spot you. It’s then each of your stats play a huge part in how that fight goes, with things like agility determining the available action points and individual skills like unarmed figuring in to how much damage you’ll deal. Action points are key as they control what actions you may take during your turn, such as moving position to escape a group of bandits surrounding you or slamming your crowbar into a gecko. Even actions like switching your weapon take up action points. Each of these actions cost a certain amount of action points, leaving it up to you in how you’d like to use them. Do you use all your points in attacking twice, or do you attack them once and then reposition out of the enemy’s range? This brings a form of strategy similar to titles like Fire Emblem into the game and make you think before you act. It was a welcome change for me, as I found myself trying to make the most out of each turn and taking time to think about my next move. If you don’t take caution during combat and expect yourself to one-shot foes easily, you’re in for a bad time. Saving before every encounter is highly recommended for a reason. You’re going to see your attacks miss and your damage ranging greatly depending on your weapon. There were times I whiffed multiple hits in a row while the enemy hit me every time. It’s a difficult system, one that will lead to MANY deaths on your part if you aren’t careful. It took me a long time to get used to the combat and the overall difficulty of the game, along with plenty of times I got frustrated with my failures. And yet, I never gave up on the game for one specific reason: the story. While combat and visuals are very different from the Fallout I fell in love with, its story, characters, and atmosphere are not. Everything I came to love about Fallout 3 and New Vegas through its intriguing retro futuristic setting to its dark humor still exists in Fallout 2. Easter eggs referencing pop culture also litter the game for you to find and enjoy, providing a great incentive to explore. The bleak atmosphere of the wasteland, one in which people are experimented and tortured through forced mutation, still retains callbacks to the very real issues plaguing a normal America. The very first settlement you’re sent to, Klamath, is filled with people that look down upon your people and see you as primitive, aligning to the treatment of Native Americans. These concurring issues in such a drastic setting, offering commentary and insight to a player, are so unique to this series filled with questions about morality and decisions. And player decision still exists in the older games, allowing you to use that silver tongue to get out of sticky scenarios if you put points into your charisma. While maybe not as monumental as the decisions given to you in future entries of the series, the player is allowed to play the game as they like. The only time I questioned said freedom is that starting level that require you have some skill in melee weapons or unarmed combat to defeat the creatures. Other than that, the tone of the game and the setting will be familiar to any fan of the series. Though the visuals may be vastly different from the more recent entries, and combat is more focused on strategy than action, Fallout 2 remains to be a Fallout game through its story and atmosphere. With its great attention to detail in its visuals and written descriptions, as well as its challenging gameplay, I believe Fallout 2 more than earns just your attention. You will struggle at first, even grow frustrated, but once you get the hang of it, you will find a wonderful land of post-nuclear apocalypse to explore. Pros: - Engaging story and characters. - Funny easter eggs and even some dark humor. - Combat that makes you play smart and engage in strategy. - Good visuals that stand up as passable even today. Cons: - Difficulty can cause frustration. - Starting level inhibits freedom at first. - Lack of tutorial can leave you confused about certain aspects or features of the game. End Score: 9/10
  6. Early Access is a peculiar idea. Gamers pay to test and work out the kinks in games prior to their official release. We’re paying to play unfinished games, which is weird given that many AAA developers have QA testers that get paid to do just that. And yet here we are with plenty of gamers spending money to test out betas and alphas of a game. The practice was frowned upon by many after some companies abused the idea to grab a quick buck, yet Early Access has done a lot to turn itself around, namely increasing the quality of these games and the overall mentality behind it. Some Early Access games even rise from the standard and turn out to be excellent. But what exactly constitutes a great Early Access game from an alright one? To figure that out, I looked at some of the most popular and successful games within the program, Killing Floor 2 and Darkest Dungeon, and tried to find out why they gained so much traction. Both titles are still in Early Access with releases on the horizon, but that hasn’t stopped them from gaining so much praise. After researching into how the games came about, and their ideas about what Early Access meant, I believe I’ve figured out what makes them great. Starting with the more familiar of the pair, Killing Floor 2 is the sequel to the indie hit, Killing Floor, made by Tripwire Interactive. The game was first announced in an article of PC Gamer on May 8th of 2014, letting fans of the previous title know good things were to come for those that craved more Zed killing. After nearly a year of work and teasing, some lucky players were given keys into a closed beta that would run from April 10th to 16th of 2015. The others wouldn’t have to wait much longer though, as the project was brought onto Steam’s Early Access on April 21st. Since then, the game has stayed in the program with updates and free content packs to keep its players interested. Most recently was the update adding two new perks, the Demolition and Firebug, to add more playstyles to the game. Killing Floor 2 has done splendidly, earning itself thousands of positive reviews from gamers and praise from many gaming websites. Darkest Dungeon, on the other hand, had no predecessor. Red Hook Studios were making a new IP, one that obviously lacked a pre-existing fan base, and went about seeing their game through differently. Unlike Killing Floor 2, Darkest Dungeon needed support to get started. The studio decided to go through Kickstarter on February of 2014 to get the necessary funds to start and make the game. This was an incredible success, partly due to the team’s strategic decision to release a trailer well before in order to gain attention, and the project reached its asking goal of $75k within less than 24 hours. It would go on to raise a total of $313,337 over its campaign, leaving Red Hook with the money needed to make Darkest Dungeon a reality. Those who backed the Kickstarter would gain access to the Early Access game on January 30th, 2015, while the public would see it release through the program on February 3rd. Like Killing Floor 2, the game has been received very positively for its quality and challenging gameplay. One major element that definitely contributes to Killing Floor 2’s success is its fan base and prior support. Thanks to the critical success of its predecessor, Tripwire had a great community pre-established to help support the sequel. Players of the first game would be able to come into the second with a love of the title and a desire to see the sequel really shine. This leads to many of these people contributing to the forums and stating their concerns or suggestions that help polish the game. Tripwire even acknowledges this relationship, stating, “One of the factors that has determined Tripwire’s success has been our relationship with the community. Engaging the community and incorporating their feedback into our products is standard operating procedure at Tripwire.” Darkest Dungeon, while lacking a prequel, had this form of support through those that backed their Kickstarter. Backers were no doubt passionate and interested in the game’s success, and would work with Red Hook to see their dream realized. Not only is the community passionate, but also the sales of the first Killing Floor most likely had the funds to cover for the game without needing support from the sales of Early Access itself. Many developers that are starting off may use the program as a means to start funding their project, instead of opting to use things like Kickstarter like Darkest Dungeon did. This sets itself up for failure as the Early Access program is then used as a means to start making a game instead of polishing it for release, like many believe it should be. Something both Killing Floor 2 and Darkest Dungeon share is their production quality. Both games lack any game breaking bugs or glitches and could really function as a full game right now. The only difference is they are using Early Access to slowly integrate features they believe belong in the full game, and seeing if any bugs arise when this added content is put in. This is exemplified by a statement made by Tripwire on Killing Floor 2’s Steam page, In both cases, I’ve played hours of the game without anything making me think, “Oh yeah. This is totally a non-finished product.” Both could function as fully games as they stand today, just with a smaller set of content that is ever growing with constant updates. At the end of the day, I’m still playing an incomplete game when I spend my time in Darkest Dungeon or Killing Floor 2. I still paid to play something that’s technically in beta. Yet it’s the care and support of Tripwire and Red Hook, through the constant updates and the production value of that beta, that makes me feel no remorse in doing so. Both these games don’t make Early Access a means of testing a buggy, half-done game and being a cash-grab in an attempt to fully fund it. They offer a fully functional game, able to provide hours of entertainment, that I can help shape and improve through my feedback. It’s in these games that the true strength of Early Access shines: the ability for developers to reach out to the gamers that love their products and have them help make their game be the best it can be.
  7. As an avid fan of the MOBA Smite on PC, I was wondering if anyone played it on the Xbox One. I got to see other people play it on the One at PAX East, but never got the chance to experience it myself. The thought of playing a MOBA, especially one so involved like Smite, on a controller seems a bit odd yet I think it's the only one of its kind that can pull it off. So, have any of you guys played it on the One? What's it like compared to PC, for those that played? Kind of a follow-up to that, I think we're seeing a cool change in the industry where developers are taking what were originally PC only genres and porting them to consoles. Smite is certainly a good example, as I don't think many of us could imagine a day a MOBA came to console. XCOM is another, though its sequel will be PC only. So I'm curious, do you think we'll see more PC games, that we believed to be bound in PC territory, make their way over to console?
  8. With baseball season winding down, many sports fans may flock to the digital sports like MLB 15 to get their home run fix until its return. These fans will spend hours playing as their favorite teams or their dream team, tracking stats and touring from stadium to stadium to ultimately win the championship. Yet a new contestant has jumped into the fray, one that dares to split itself from the pack with a balance between a cartoony look and being a realistic baseball simulator. Enter Super Mega Baseball, a game made by Metalhead Software with the hopes of capturing the heart of the sport along with the easy approachability to those that might not be avid sports fans. After the game launched on the Playstation 3 and 4 on December 16th of 2014, it was later updated and ported to the Xbox One and Steam this August. I recently sat down with one of the co-founders, Scott Drader, some more about what makes Super Mega Baseball so unique. Andrew Perry: What gave you the idea for the ego system? It’s something relatively unheard of in sports games, but makes sense in terms of a difficulty system. Scott Drader: We found that, in games that have only a few difficulty levels, it can be frustrating being stuck between difficulties where you find “medium” too easy, but then when you crank it up to “hard” you find yourself getting destroyed and not having very much fun. So from the very beginning, we had planned to have a sliding difficulty scale, and allow users to have a nice gentle progression upward. It added an interesting design constraint – it wasn’t going to make sense to have assists suddenly turn on or off at certain difficulty thresholds – and I think that prevented us from overthinking what would differentiate hard from easy. The result was that increased difficulty was a product of many subtle things rather than one or two specific things. AP: Super Mega Baseball certainly doesn’t look like any other sports game on the market. What inspired the team to head in art direction that they did? SD: Well, there’s inspiration, and then there’s the budget and manpower constraints that exist for a tiny start-up studio. Both factored into the final look of the game a lot. We did seek to come up with something that looked truly different, and that communicated fun first and foremost over realism. We looked at a lot of cartoons and animated films for inspiration there. I mentioned budget because, realistically, we didn’t really iterate on many aspects of the art direction – often times the very first thing we came up with had to stick because there were so many other things to tackle in the project, and it was all being done from scratch. AP: While some baseball games have an element of management and skills, you guys went all out with skills, trainers, and even custom characters. What caused this emphasis on customization in the game? SD: To be honest, a lot of that stuff went in fairly late. Two things come to mind though. Doing an unlicensed game, we knew that there would be an expectation for heavy customization features. Also, when considering that the core of the game would be a 20-30 minute 9 inning game, we felt it necessary to have some longer-term progressive elements around that. We just didn’t think we could get away without those features, even if the core game was really solid – the customers were going to expect them to be there. AP: Despite the cartoon like look of the game, Super Mega Baseball IS a realistic baseball simulation with all its stat tracking. What made you decide on striking this balance between humorous and realistic? SD: I don’t know if the group of people that made this game would even be capable of doing an entirely “serious” game, we just have so much fun with the lighter aspects of it. A more lighthearted approach also just seemed to go along well with a game that was touting accessibility. On realism, we always wanted the core to be a good baseball simulator. Overall we thought it was a good blend that would be approachable for casual baseball fans but also demonstrate a lot of love for the sport to more hardcore fans. AP: What was it like porting the Xbox One and Steam versions later? Was it helpful having all the feedback from the original versions when porting? SD: Well, we would have loved to have been able to handle a simultaneous release but that was just too much given it was our first time around the block with pretty much all aspects of shipping a game. The best thing about having all the feedback during porting was that it was mostly good feedback, and that served as a great motivator to get the game out there to more people. On the other hand – and I imagine almost any developer would tell you this – it’s a lot more fun working on new features/content than it is to be porting. AP: What inspired the different ballparks? My favorite has to be Sakura Hills! SD: One of the coolest aspects of doing unlicensed content was being able to dream up fantasy ballparks. That said, we wanted to keep them grounded in reality, architecturally. We wanted people to imagine that these parks could actually exist and imagine what it would be like to watch a game there. In terms of why we chose the various themes, we actually just started with “where is baseball most popular?” so that quickly led to the first few themes that you see in the game - New York, Dominican Republic, and Japan. We had a lot of fun coming up with the ballparks. AP: What’s next for Metalhead? Any other Super Mega sports games on the horizon? SD: Maybe! We probably shouldn’t say too much yet until things are a little further along, but we are definitely still working hard. I can say that the next thing is NOT going to be the competitive first person shooter that we had discussed amongst ourselves many times…
  9. Hey guys, just curious about people's opinions on the Friday the 13th game on Kickstarter. More than the game itself, I was curious as to people's opinions on how it was picked up by Sean Cunningham and turned from Summer Camp into Friday the 13th. I think it's awesome a creator saw an indie team making something based on his work and was impressed enough to help out. This isn't the first Kickstarter to be supported by a bigger power. Allison Roads, a horror game like P.T., was also on Kickstarter previously until they got picked up by Team17. Unlike Friday the 13th, Allison Roads was removed from Kickstarter because they believed they would receive all the financial support they needed with their new partnership. So, what do people think about these two projects? And what do you guy think about Kickstarters getting picked up and funded by larger powers at play? Do you think it negatively or positively effects the process?
  10. As some of you may know, the end of season 5 and the World Championships for League of Legends is coming. I just wanted to start a discussion on who you think will win Worlds this year and what season 6 will bring! Sadly, North America has long been knocked out of the tournament through the defeat of TSM, Cloud 9, and CLG. So while I am a major TSM fan, they are no longer a contestant. NA as a region has been somewhat lacking in terms of World's performances this year, so its elimination came as no surprise to some. More of a surprise was the upset of Chinese teams, which were prophesized to be the next great region. Now in the semi-finals, we have two Korean teams in Koo Tigers and the famous SKT and two European teams in Origen (led by the famous mid-laner Xpeke) and Fnatic. Origen lost today to SKT in a landslide which, again, came as no surprise to some. The most famous League team moves into the finals undefeated, not dropping a single game through the groups or quarterfinals. This leads to the question of who will win between Fnatic and Koo and who, after that, will emerge the winner after facing SKT in the finals. Personally, I see Fnatic topping Koo and moving on to face SKT in a battle of the best. Fnatic has been hyped this entire season as the best of Europe, and possibly on par with SKT after the two fought at MSI. Though no one can deny the power of SKT and their unprecedented win streak. But, I would love to see a non-Korean team take Worlds again and I think Fnatic is our best bet at the moment. So here's to hoping Fnatic can take the cup home for Europe. In terms of season 6, I'm really interested to see what Riot Games does to offer change. At the beginning of season 5, we got radical changes to jungling and a complete overhaul to the map. And while they haven't come out and spoken about their plans for season 6, they have said of a few changes coming our way post-worlds. Whether that will be for season 6 or not is unknown though. Biggest of these changes is a new ranked, matchmaking system. As someone who is struggling to climb the ladder this past month, I'm really looking forward to any quick fixes they can do to negate trolls and toxic players from messing up more ranked games. They've said it may operate like Team Builder, in which you can choose your top 3 roles you wish to play and then be paired with others. This would negate arguments pre-game and any major mistakes being made in champ select. The only other change they've hinted at is a overhaul on marksmen and the AD carry role. This comes as a huge relief to some who believe ADCs have been far less effective post-juggernaut patch, so I'll be interested in seeing what they do. While all these changes sound great, I'd personally love an in-depth replay feature that allows quick uploads to Youtube, as to make capturing League gameplay easy for those uninitiated as well as more tools to those that wish to study their games. I think some balance changes need to happen to certain champions dominating the meta right now, such as Mordekaiser and Fiora. And, if I'm being honest, I'd love the addition of a bonus gamemode that cycles each week or so. Give us the ability to play these awesome gimmicks like URF, One for All, and Hexakill more than once a year please? Anyway, what are your opinions? Who do you think will take the Summoner's Cup at Worlds? What changes would you like in season 6?
  11. After hours of playing Endless Legend, I’m left with the feeling many 4X lovers have as we look at the clock and realize it is the wee hours of the morning. Any fan of Civilization or Galactic Civilizations will know the exact thought that crosses our minds - One more turn. One more turn until I’m able to finish my last necrodrone for my army—one more turn until I can convert that fifth village into my own—one more turn until I can gain enough dust to claim an economic victory. There are a lot of reasons for one more turn in 4X games, but Endless Legend provides so much more to make you continue playing even when the clock strikes 5 in the morning. Endless Legend is a turn based 4X strategy game developed by Amplitude Studios. While Civilization hearkens back to the great leaders and civilizations of the past, Endless Legend is based in a fantasy world within the Endless Space universe. As soon as you load up a new game you are presented with a cinematic introducing your faction and giving a brief backstory to their ambitions. Whether it is the dragon-human hybrid Drakkens, the ominous doll-like figures of the Cultists, or the spirit bound knights of the Broken Lords, each opening is engaging and does well in letting you know exactly who it is you are representing. This knowledge of your selected faction only grows through the rich lore attached to each unit and the faction specific quest you are given from the start, creating an interesting story for each of the 8 (or 9 if you have the DLC) civilizations. The map visuals are gorgeous - while each tile of land is given the traditional hexagonal shape, they are filled with detail like shimmering emerald deposits or steaming geothermal pits. Anomalies like burning trees and constantly moving rumbling stones will also pop up (given you turn on the option for anomalies to appear) giving unique bonuses and straying from the average land tile. It’s one of the best-looking 4X games I’ve played. Each unit is clearly depicted when darting across the region as you give orders to return to your capital, while retaining a very clean approach when you zoom out to a general map of the regions. The soundtrack adds to the presentation with ambient noises of birds chirping and rivers bubbling while a calming song is played. While Endless Legend will be compared constantly to its fellow 4X games, it’s the differences between them that make this game so unique. Going back to the factions, each one plays differently and has different parameters. The scavenger Necrophages do not allow any peaceful negotiations or bribing and must constantly engage in battle to retrieve cadavers for their food stockpiles. Meanwhile the Cultists are not allowed to construct new cities, but can convert pacified villages to its ways to spread the ways of the Eternal End. Each faction has these unique rules that separate them from one another, making no two factions play the same. A main quest is given to each faction, generally flowing with the playstyle outlined by the rules, which can have multiple branches. If you choose to replay the game, each quest may turn out differently the second time around. This makes your choice at the start of a game so much more critical as you decide what benefits and restrictions you want to impose on yourself in that session. That being said, the player is still given the freedom to go about achieving whatever of the 9 victories they see fit as long as it isn’t blocked off by the faction’s limitations. Multiple heroes can also join in, giving bonuses to your armies and cities. These heroes are able to level up and gain perks that can increase movement for other units or boost gold production within the city they are posted at. You are not constricted to the heroes of your faction, as you can purchase others through the market. Heroes and basic units are customizable, giving you the ability to equip items forged from the resources you’ve gathered and boost stats. Units from villages you control can also be customized, renamed, and given equipment. It all goes towards making your army feel more of your own, as well as giving more purpose to the extra resources you gather. These armies can then clash in a battle system unlike any other. Instead of having two units simply clash and seeing the outcome based purely on stats, you are transported to a close up of the battlefield. It is there you are able to position your soldiers and use tactics like flanking on your opponent in an attempt to tip the scales. This system creates a more dynamic and strategic flair to battles, which is sometimes lacking in other 4X games. A region system is implemented in the map to separate the large continents into smaller spaces. Each region generally comes with a neutral village the player can pacify, as well as the ability to build a city. Only one city can be built per region, placing more emphasis on where you decide to put that city and how long you take before expanding. Again, it creates a dynamic unique to Endless Legend where you decide what regions to go after and which to leave for your enemies to seize control of. I’m oddly reminded of Risk as I try to take control of all regions surrounding my capital for maximum control. The two DLC added, Guardians and Shadows, only add to the experience with things like Legendary Deeds, powerful Guardian Units, global events for all to partake in, and an espionage system lacking from the original game. With no sign of the support for this game stopping, more DLC that will add more great features is hopefully down the line. For all it does right though, Endless Legend does have its flaws. For having such a brilliant start with the opening cinematic for each faction, players will be disappointed when their hours of hard work have gone mostly unrewarded at the end of the game. A static victory screen awaits you at the end of your multi-hour journey. Many players, including myself, were so excited to see a cut scene like the beginning of the game, showcasing our victories and announcing what our factions had done after conquering, only to be disappointed. Another issue many people may have is the user interface of the game being a tad overwhelming at first. With dozens of stats like your dust income and the multiple shortcuts to things like the science management screen at the top, players unfamiliar with the 4X genre may get lost in translation and make mistakes at first. The tutorial for the game, while it does a good job in introducing a lot of the basic mechanics and lays the groundwork for players to figure out a proper way to start a game, lacks explanations for some of the more intricate mechanics for each faction. I almost wish each faction was given its own tutorial to teach players how to play the Broken Lords versus the Raving Clans. The more complex factions then require research online as to how to effectively play them. Endless Legend is not easy to just jump into. With so many rules for each faction, and the task of micromanaging an empire, you can get lost and frustrated. Yet if you persevere and learn its ways, Endless Legend provides a rich, unique 4X experience unlike any other. Here's a breakdown of Endless Legend: Pros: - Gorgeous visuals - Good soundtrack - Factions that play very differently, allowing different games every time. - Writing and lore is great! - Unit customization is unique and cool, as are heroes. -Regions and city limit is unique! - Battle system separates it from Civ, bringing a bit more strategy to fights. -DLC adds interesting new elements not in vanilla. Cons: - Ending cinematics not nearly as satisfying as starting ones. - UI can be overwhelming at first. - Tutorial is lacking for more intricate mechanics. - Difficult to learn! End Score: 8.5/10