Valley of the Dead Pre-Releases

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Before any gets clever, I am not asking about the dinosaurs; I am referring to a mass extinction event going on within the confines of digital media.  Early Access games are out there and comprise a large part of Steam.  I have nothing resembling exact figures, but it feels like there are at least 5 unfinished games on steam for every complete title.  Want a more solid idea of how many there are? Early Access is its own searchable category on Steam.  It contains such prestigious titles as The Forest, DieselStormers, Galactic Civilizations III and others.  The three I will be discussing today are those shown above: Towns, Terraria and Stomping Lands

What is Early Access?

Once upon a time there was a magical viking who had an idea for a video game.  You can mine and mine and mine, build a house, a fortress a town, farm, breed animals and fish.  You’ll be able to use portals to travel to other dimensions and work magic.  Monsters will come out at night, but you can defend against them!  And in the End, you’ll fight a dragon!  This game was slow to catch on at first, but once kids and gamers found it, they fell in love.  It rapidly became one of the most popular games of all time, spanning generation gaps and giving everyone something they loved.  This was the first instance of an unreasonably popular early access game.  It was called Minecraft.

Since then a number of companies have vied to create an early access hit like Minecraft.  Steam has been the most successful in its push, encouraging devs to submit their games for rigorous vetting by Steam’s community through Steam Greenlight.  Once the games have been selected, they are allowed to provide an early version of the game at a reasonable price for purchase.  This was awesome at first, but then Steam became progressively more inundated with games that aren’t finished.  And worse than that, some games die in this public-run games incubator.

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This is a brief description from Steam’s website about what early access is and here is a link to their complete explanation about what all of that entails.

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Many people are familiar with this title.  The idea is that you start a small, 16-bit town of sprite people and then guide these people through building a town.  You can do all kinds of fun things from farming and animal husbandry to combating foes.  You can also create a little stairwell down to the mines below.  Of course, these mines are filled with all nature of foul monsters, so you need to attract heroes to your town to battle the enemies and delve deeper.  By doing this you can get better materials to build with and make a fabulous town!

So how did it die?  Sales.  In a lengthy post on the Towns official forum, gamedev Moebius went into detail about why Towns is no longer being developed.  Hardly news, this post goes back to May 2014 and details his reasons.

“When I signed up for working on Towns I was told that we sell a minimum of about x copies/month of the game. I agreed to work on Towns for 15% of what would remain after removing all the taxes and the Steam fee. Xavi and I agreed that this would be a fair amount, and I still think it is.  After getting used to the source code and publishing the first new version of the game, we talked about the agreed payment and it turns out that the sells are getting down rapidly. So we are now selling less than a third of the x copies a month, loosing about 33% of sells per month.”

Yea, that is the most of it.  The game wasn’t selling anymore and the most of the money to be made there was lost in the initial rush of sales.  By the time Moebius was conscripted, it was too late.  If you keep reading that little post by Moebius, down at the bottom they make some spectacularly upsetting statements.

“Xavi and I were talking about a possible Towns2. At the moment this is just in an idea stage and we can’t really say if he, I or eventually Ben have the time to create a Towns2. As faithful fans of Towns we would of course reward you in some way, when/if the new game is released.

“A new game will give us the following advantages:

  1. we can implement all the cool things that are not possible at the moment due to how the core mechanics works in Towns 1
  2. we can also rise attention as this is a completely new game and a successor for once great runnning game
  3. this will also make it possible to have a financially sound basis for a long development of Towns2

“I want to end this post by thanking you for reading this and for all your support in these two months. Again I’m sorry that we had to pull the plug right here, but I sincerely hope you can understand why we had to make that decision right now.”

So let me get this straight.  Not developing the game anymore because of a decrease in sales, so the money isn’t there.  Got it.  Now we are considering a Towns 2 as a sequel to this farce?  What the fuck?  I mean at least they were open about saying the idea is just a way to get more money out of the game, but how do you make a sequel to an unfinished game?  Granted, there have been 2 updates to the game since this post, but they were the only two updates to the game since September 30, 2013.  So fans of the game are left with an occasionally updated title that is a testament to what could have been.

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I am pretty sure this title is older than Towns, but there is a reason I am listing it here.  Terraria is a game where you build 2D houses and dig in the ground for stuff.  At night evil monsters come and try to kill you.  God what the fuck is with all the similarities here…

Back in 2012 the developers of Terraria declared the game had received its final update and that it was “time to move on”.  In this PC Gamer article, it is explained that one of the developers even went to work on Starbound with Chucklefish, which, for lack of a better term, is Terraria in space.  In my opinion, it seems like CF stole the developer for this game to prevent it competing with their own game.  Shady horseshit.  Despite the developers apparently jumping ship, the game is still receiving updates on the Steam store, which makes it seem like the whole “boo hoo we’re ending the game” thing was a cry for help.

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Now we’ve got this game, The Stomping Land.  I was originally planning to review this game, but I spent hours in-game and realized how much it sucks when you play it alone.  To give you an idea, when I first came in, I was a naked caveman.  I was on a beach for about a couple seconds when an idiot burst out of the underbrush riding a raptor and hurling bolas.  Someone else was trying to stop him from killing me, and I managed to use the terrain to conceal my escape.  Crafting was boring and you couldn’t stash your shit except in a box, which you dragged along behind you.  It was utterly unfinished, and now I read THIS horseshit.

Apparently the game has gotten no updates in months, which really got Kickstarter backers nervous.  The company also went radio-silent for a while too, but they came out and said that they were switching to Unreal 4.  That is not so bad, but with the game itself being pulled from Steam, everyone with that game in their library – myself included – shat many bricks of frustration.  Of course, before Alex Fundora, SuperCrit founder, announced the engine change, he effectively disappeared for two months!  Tumultuous, scary shit.

So what does all of this mean for Early-Access games?  Tread lightly.  Many of these games are financially on the ropes as it is, so a heavy measure of trepidation is urged in investing.  Buying these games isn’t you standard I give you money you provide a product, it is literally a form of speculation similar to stocks trading;.  Certainly it is not nearly as volatile or risky, but you might not get your 20$ for that game back, nor might you get a finished game.  It might be a sign that all of these games attempt to emulate Minecraft’s basic structure despite adding new elements to their games.  Just like so many other MMO’s attempted to emulate World of Warcraft’s success and died trying.  In some of these instances you even have games that died and came back from the dead, which gives a new meaning to the term “zombie-game.”

I spoke briefly with my friend Dave about these types of games and he echoed the same frustration that many long-time gamers feel.  When you buy a game, you want a finished product.  You don’t want to play a game up to the point where the bugs are too much to handle and then have to put it down.  Sure, there will be more content later, but it will trickle in; then you’ll log on each time to experience that new content, effectively experiencing the finished game in pieces until the finished product feels as worn and old as the other games in your library.  It is irritating and many of us just want to play a finished game.

Some people seem to be over Steam Greenlight and similar services altogether, but just how many I am not sure.  VG247 had a pretty interesting article back in January 2014 about Greenlight closing, which might not be the complete answer, but I am not sure that too many people would be upset about it.  What are your thoughts about early-release games?  Join me in a discussion about it on Crotchety Gamers United!

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By Your Powers Combined, I am Indie Team Up!

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Since Captain Planet can’t help us anymore, it is up to us to fend for ourselves in this crazy world.  But none of us have powers as strong as Captain Planet’s, even if Independent Game Developers are capable of some pretty cool things on their own.  Many IndieDevs are solo men or women sitting in their basement coding, more still have a small team of about 6 people.  Some IndieDevs are entire companies, but still the process can be a difficult slog through treacherous terrain.  Indie Team Up is, luckily, one of those awesome things that some GameDevs did has the potential to make life easier for everyone involved.

The idea of the upcoming service is to link IndieDevs together so that we can help each other move the development of games forward.  Another feature of this is artists.  How many times have you been sitting there wishing you had artistic talent outside of coding?  Or needed a composer just to drum up some music?  Perhaps you need a writer to spell check, edit and hone your dialogue?  Indie Team Up will have that, too.  So who are these people with the drive, passion and vision to make this happen?  What is their motivation and what are they going to get out of it?  Just follow the bouncing ball.

Between the two of them, Colleen Delzer and Justin Hammond are the evil geniuses bringing this community to life.  Both are dedicated IndieDevs, and both of them have other things in their lives that require their focus and attention.  During our interview, Colleen had chicken in the oven for her family.  This code-slinging mother of two spends everyday making games with her husband.  Indeed, she is half of Adversary Games, a company Co-Founded with her husband.  Colleen attended the University of Advanced Technology and, only two years into her studies, she was picked up by Realm Interactive.  A year later Realm couldn’t find a pusblisher, so Colleen sought new work outside the industry.  That lasted about 6 years until she was hired at Game Center Group.  There she did game QA, game CS, web coding and design, but her true creative desires drove her to make games.  Listening to the voice in the back of her head, she read some C++ books cover to cover and founded Adversary Games with her husband.  And they manage well enough to make the Indie Team Up a reality.

When I asked Colleen to explain the Indie Team Up to me, she explained, “There are a lot who would love to help out GameDevs but don’t know how to ask, and a lot of GameDevs want help with an idea but don’t know where to turn too.  The role of Indie Team Up is to connect the two!”

In a culture that is so focused on excelling individually, Indie Team Up has a different plan, “Our mission is to help bring the ideas of Independent Developers to fruitation and to cultivate a spirit of collaborative assistance.   And to say, Hey! It’s ok to ask for help!”

And many in the IndieDev community agree.  Indie Team Up is a burgeoning hashtag that is tearing holes in the twitter-verse.  “It only started on the 15th of June, and I really wasn’t thinking it was going to take off like it did!  But we are really trying to help people collaborate to make their projects a reality.”

So where does an idea like this originate?  The ITU team has a good heart and the skills to bring the Game Dev community closer together, but it seems this is a movement born out of frustration. “Several people asked if I could use help with development, which at the time I didn’t.  I felt bad turning people down because it seemed they really wanted to help someone. I thought that Indie Team Up could be a way were they could help someone in need.  An avenue for them, if you will”

ITU is an idea from the heart of its creators, helping them tap into their own creativity and allowing them to give back to the IndieDev community.  “I guess it’s an avenue for me as well.  I really love helping people, just wasn’t sure on how to do it.  So, I guess this is my chance. ^ ^”

If Colleen is the caring mother of the ITU team, Justin is certainly the dedicated father.  With C++ as his first language, possibly prior to English, he is a self-taught programmer and later sought to legitimize his knowledge by attending school.  Though he has yet to finish his degree, his reasons for taking his time are certainly respectable.  Having served 5 years in the Army of the United States of America, Justin spent 2 tours in Iraq.  He is proud of his time in the military, but he’s glad to spend his time with his own family now.  Justin is a husband of 7 years with a 3-year-old daughter.  He devlops games under the moniker Black Module Studios and  has some of his work on Kongrerate as well.  Of course not every project goes as planned and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.  Justin also helped develop a voxel framework that is featured on the Unity3D asset store for 40$, which started as a game.  Unfortunately he and his team at Black Module had to shelve the idea until they have the resources to complete it.

Justin’s biggest priority as a Co-Founder is the development of the Indie Team Up website and shared his origin story as the ITU Web Developer. “Web development just sort of came naturally, as I love spending time on the internet, and I could program, so I just picked it up.”

And he puts a lot of time into the website, “It’s really only been about a week, so I can’t give an average yet.  Although I’ve spent at least 25 hours this past week on design.”

But hard work is worth it when the product in mind is rewarding and extensive. “At a high level, [the Indie Team Up website] will allow users to showcase themselves and search out other people or teams to join. Teams will also be a large part of the site as teams will be able to search for users with the skills they need to complete their projects.  There is a heavy emphasis on discoverabilty.  The goal is to make it insanely easy to find people with the skills you need, or projects that you want to work on.”

The team has some really interesting plans, too, to integrate with a number of other community-organized projects.  “Something else that we hope for is some integration with game jams.  This was actually a personal idea of mine, as I always have trouble finding people to work with when Ludum Dare comes around.  We still need to organize something with the hosts of different game jam events (Ludum Dare, #1GAM, etc.) but we are very hopeful.  At the very least, we’ll have a section of the site dedicated to short term projects, such as game jams or other events.”

Indie Team Up has a list of problems it aims to solve, and Justin was eager to expound up them. “Because the internet is so large, it can be difficult to find people that 1) have the skills you don’t have, and 2) actually want to be part of what you are doing.  We aim to solve those issues by having a centralized place to find other indie developers.”

Among the goals for the ITU site are integration with its existing extensions, “The site will tightly integrate with the hashtag and facebook page, so that when people post their, it is right on the site. It won’t just be a direct feed though, as we are already having people ‘misuse’ the hashtag.”

I even suggested that there be a showcase where ITU displays some of the projects it helped match-make with the approval of community members.  He laughed and mentioned that he and Colleen already have a plan in the works for just such an idea.  The ITU team has even had its first victories, which Justin shared. “One of the first days after #indieteamup started, we helped an artist find a team and are flying him to PAX.  That was a very happy moment for us, being able to see what we are doing actually help people to achieve their goals.”

The Indie Team Up is a project that has a lot of goals.  My first thought is to worry that the team is reaching a bit, but they have a well-coordinated group of members outside of its founders.  When I spoke with Colleen about the origin story of the ITU itself, she mentioned it felt serendipitous, even fated.  As if the IndieDev community has been looking for something like ITU for a long time.  ” They just stepped up and asked.  Justin was pretty much like ‘hey I plan on making a site!’ As well as the bot guy and the app guy.  For instance, I did want to make a bot so I asked White Llama how to create one. The same day the bot guy 0x0 tweeted to me that he was interested in making one.  I DM’ed White Llama, and I did tweet that there should be a more organized way for #indieteamup users to connect.”

0x0961h confirmed this story from his end in an email correspondence with me. “I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline and saw this new Twitter thing, that Colleen was kickstarting.  I thought that it was actually a very awesome idea for the whole indie community, for people who are desperately looking for a team during jams.  Plus, I always liked One Game A Month’s bot and always wanted to make a Twitter bot myself. So I threw some code into IDE, made it work and contacted Colleen. She approved the bot idea a-a-and here I am.”

As the Bot Developer, 0x0961h has the task of maintaining what currently represents the Indie Team Up initiative on the internet. “I made a web application that once in hour receives tweets with hashtag #indieteamup and pick 10 (or less) tweets to retweet. Simple enough. My current mission is to maintain it and implement new features for it. In one of future updates, for example, bot will start looking for speacial hashtags (e.g. #LFA for “looking for artist” or, maybe, more “Reddit-ized” variant of tags: #AW and #AH for “artist wanted” and “artist for hire” respectively) and give priority to tweets with them, not just every single tweet with #indieteamup hashtag. The goal is to make Twitter bot useful tool for, well, “teaming up” and not “just another useless spam twitter”.  Now it just retweeting tweets with #indieteamup, but after site launch, I think, it’ll have few more functions, like, automatic posting “looking for/for hire” stuff from sites, maybe week highlights. It should become more clear after launch.”

0x0961h is experienced with the frantic days leading up to game jams and the search for individuals useful to a specific project. “All my previous games are jam entries, so they are not so polished, not so long, not so narrative-driven.”

But he is currently in the process of making something new that will follow along the lines of a true game release. “I’m developing a… well, I call it a “Big Project”.   I want to make something, you know, “big”, pretty looking, so I won’t be blushing in shame before and after sending it to Greenlight. No details for now (mostly because I don’t have a single clue where my concepts and ideas will lead me), but I want to make a puzzle. I hope one day I’ll be able to finish it and actually release it. :)”

Despite his modesty, 0x0961h has a number of projects that made it to itch.io and even a prior Greenlight submission for a game on Steam.

Justin was able to further detail the origin story “Colleen was talking to @0x0961h (I believe) on twitter one day, and they wanted a place to find other indie game devs, then Colleen suggested #indieteamup, and @0x0961h set up a retweet bot for it (@indieteamup).  I noticed this conversation and told Colleen I was going to make a site for Indie Team Up as I knew that permanence would be an issue, what with how quick tweets can go by.”

And so Indie Team Up was born.  But where is it going?  What happens when you can’t get to a fucking computer and you have to make immediate contact with everyone involved in your project in the heat of the moment? Well, simmer your skettios, there’s an app for that.  Or, rather, and App Developer for that.  Yep.  Indie Team Up has a mobile division, and they’ve chosen to collaborate with another development team from Pakistan to do it.  After speaking with them on the topic, I am really excited to see the results. “We, BugDev Studios, were looking for an artist to team up with on a few projects, one thing lead to another and we found #indieteamup. I was pleasantly surprised by Colleen’s enthusiasm of the idea and felt that the need was real and when we had a chat we knew we had to make this happen.”

The main man behind BugDev studios, Usman Cheema, was happy to give me a little bit of his background as well. He graduated in 2012 in Computer Science from a Lahore University of Management Sciences. He loves the intricate systems games offer for players to experience, used to play DOTA and AOE 2 alot around my graduation and I think these two games are what got me interested in game design. After being repelled from game design schools by financial limitations, Usman joined a local game development studio named Tintash. He worked there for two years in multiple roles and recently quit to start BugDev Studios full time with a team of like minded individuals. “At BugDev Studios we aim to develop creative, out of the box games, currently focusing on hand held devices as out target platforms. I have worked on Itsy Bitsy City at Tintash and Crazy Hexagon as an independent project with fellow devs (both available on Google Play). I like to read and write about games and psychology and take course on Coursera in my free time.”

As stated, Usman is part of a three man team that is working on the app. ” I am part of a team with two engineers [Aqeel Raza (@AqeelRaza2) and Abdul Aleem Khan (@aleemkhan001) ] who have experience in game dev, web development and app development. We will primarily be handling app development of the project. I will also be pitching in with user experience and feature design of the website.”

Though the app is too early in development to expound upon specific features, BugDev studios was able to provide some information about the app’s functionality. “The concept of the project is help out independent developers working in game devevlopment to find like-minded individuals with specific skills they need. The app will be designed to mirror the website’s capabilities, more or less.  So, the website is something really needed right?  The app is visualized as a mobile version of the platform, making it easier for our users to interact with the platform on the go.”

Indie Team Up is a community of IndieDevs created by IndieDevs.  What are your skills and talents?  What prior work have you done?  Want to break into the gaming industry, and help some independent developers along the way?  Keep and eye on #indieteamup and use the hashtag to connect with other developers.  I would like to nominate this song as their badass theme song because these guys are IndieDev superheros.  Like a bat signal in the night sky, this team of dedicated developers will see it and help provide you with the key ingredients necessary to get your project finished, and well.

All of the quotes included in this article are modestly paraphrased for spelling and accuracy.  This is what the individuals involved said, but it has been arranged so that it all flows together nicely.  What? You thought I got everyone in a room and had an interview?  That shit would take hours!

 

Hoard, Blazing Fun

hoardlogoHoard is a game that features fire, gold and glory!  With an original concept and fun, fast-paced gameplay, this title makes me want to replay for hours and hours.  It would also be excellent for LAN parties, if you’re into that sort of thing.

In Hoard you play none other than a real fire-breathing bastard (no not Bill O’Reilly): a dragon.  You are a force of nature, indiscriminate destruction and robbery are your forte.  When I started I made it a simple 1v1.  You always play against a competitor, which gives Hoard a sort of real-time board game feel.  The game is really simple, too.  Destroy everything and everyone you see and take their money. </end article>.. ok maybe it’s not that simple, but still, that is how it plays.

You start of with a distinct advantage, however.  You always start in the center of the map.  That makes it all the easier to venture to other regions and bring your booty back as fast as can be expected.  Once the game starts up, there isn’t much going on.  You have to burn some windmills and crop fields to get a start, but you build up fast.  You cannot be everywhere at once, though, even if there are 4 dragons in play, and a society quickly builds up around you.  Once a windmill has a few fields around it, carts start to wheel toward the cities, which can be burned and robbed.  The carts won’t fill your inventory up and a dragon has a golden lust of immeasurable breadth, so a few carts and maybe a mill will fill you up.  Get that booty back to your lair, too!  Other Dragons are just as hungry for treasure, and will attack you for yours.  Which is a good way to slow them.

Snow? Fuck that! My internal temperature melts titanium, mother fucker!

Snow? Fuck that! My internal temperature melts titanium, mother fucker!

You are an UNSTOPPABLE MENACE! At least until someone stops you.  And fuck me do they try.  At first it’s like, “awwww, so cute, they think they can win!”  Then it’s “O, fuck me, they are winning!”  Once you are defeated (usually by another fucking dragon) you have to fly back to your hoard to recharge.  This is an unfortunate necessity, but use it to your advantage.  Attack your enemies and send them back to their hoard, you can usually get a full trip done before they recharge fully.  Once you get the gold back to your lair, you drop it off, a little slower than I image you should, too.  I was left wondering if the dragon ate the loot and regurgitated it back up in his hoard.  Or maybe he just sits on the loot chest and picks it up with his sphincter muscles.  Heh heh, I heard a hundred people groan at that one!  Either way, the more gold you get the higher your level.  Yup, you level up, and you use those levels for one of four stats. Speed, Carry, Armor and Firebreath.  All pretty self-explanatory.  There is no perfect formula, there is just what matches your technique.  Like fights? Get armor and firebreath. A little extra speed to help with those close escapes, too.  Want to loot everything in the kingdom? Get more Carry, you’ll carry everything you can hold in your.. uh.. kangaroo pouch ; ).   But that isn’t everything! Shit man!

So, as you loot and pillage and burn, the timer, which I forgot to mention, is ticking down.  The further along things get, the more loot carriers level up.  First they are wagons, then full on carts then there are the royal carriages!  Now this is where things really start getting good.  You burn the carriages, they give you loot AND your very own little princess to take back to your lair to terrorize.  Yet, it gets better!  They send knights after you to capture the princess back!  Every single one drops a respectable sum, too, and when her timer runs out, she is ransomed off!  I swear these people must shit gold.

Gives new meaning to a butt-load of loot! Ha ha!

Gives new meaning to a butt-load of loot! Ha ha!

Level up, grab as much gold as you can and when the timer runs out, the scores are tallied to see who was the biggest fire-breathing badass in all the land.  Does it matter that you can burn trees down with your fire? NO! FUCK no!  But as a dragon, isn’t burning trees going to be your first go-to on list of things to test out?  I know it was mine!  Psh, burn that leafy little bitch.  Now, you see in the right side of the picture just up there that little Stonehenge-looking thing?  Yea, that is your new best friend and worst enemy in this game.  Every so often it belches out little powerups that spin in the air like little, sexy pinwheels.  Grab that and you might move faster, spit fireballs, breathe ice or some other cool shit!  But if your enemy gets it? FUCK!  Get that shit, don’t let that miserly prick get it. Just don’t.

What did I miss? Castles, villages, windmills, crops, knights, archers: in this the Joker was right. EVERYTHING burns. O! DLC.  You don’t think all this is enough? Dynamite Roll! was the first DLC featuring bomb carts, which you light and they explode to kill things nearby.  That includes you so, mind the gap.  Sometimes cash crops will appear that give extra cash. And bell-towers in towns provide heal power-ups, and that is useful as fuuuck!  More achievements and more maps in this baby, too.  Then there is the Flame-Broiled SANDwich DLC which takes things to a whole new level, or rather, landscape.  In this one the game flies over to the mystical sands of a desert continent.  Everything looks all cool and middle-eastern, and generally speaking, it looks fucking awesome.  Buildings, castles, enemies.  Fuck, I need to buy this DLC as soon as I get some cash. And with the total package of everything being $11.49 on Steam, you best believe it is worth the dough!

With all the flying and burning, there has to be something about this game that burns my biscuits.  Well, there fucking is!  Each playthrough takes only ten minutes, so naturally, this is a game you could play once before work to get a game fix in, right? DO NOT UNDER ANY FUCKING CIRCUMSTANCES PLAY THIS SHIT BEFORE GOING SOMEWHERE IMPORTANT!  You will play through hours in this game before you realize just how much life you missed! Seriously! Don’t believe me? Play it!  Each match is just such an exhilarating whirl that you will play another, and another, then you’re 35 and still in your parents basement! Agh! Luckily, I only got to 27, so I still have some good years left, but FUCK that was close! Also, those pricks on the Meta-Critic gave this a fucking 65. A SIXTY FUCKING FIVE! This is fun, graphics are respectable and it does its job.  It’s like they focused on the one thing that this game lacks, which would be any fucking story.  But you’re a goddamned dragon! What story do you need?!  Fuck those assholes. They deserve to fester in a dragon’s asshole for a bit! Give them an idea of what shit really looks like!

 

Steam and its box

steam

 

Possibly the best thing ever invented for gamers.  When this baby came out in 2003, it forced a fuck-ton of Counter-strikers the world over to download it.  It was a little rough around the edges and infuriated a LOT of people, but Valve cleaned it up and it is now the first thing I download on a new rig after Chrome.  It’s like iTunes if iTunes let you keep everything you ever bought rather than limiting you to 5 downloads.  Assholes.  But Steam sells you the licence for the software and you can download, uninstall, download, uninstall etc. ad infinitum.  Why am I even bringing this up? ‘Cause I fucking LOVE it!  I am currently debating with myself where I want to get the above image tattooed on my body.

But its other fantastic features include non-video game software like Maya, fantastic sales, an immense library of indie games and community-selected greenlighting on games.  If you don’t use Steam Jesus doesn’t love you.  If you still hold fast to your skepticism, you can make your friends buy you games you like by adding them to a wishlist, gain early access to pre-release games, earn achievements and check out any number of stats on games you love.  It even recommends games to you based on games you already play!!!1!11!  If you still think this isn’t for you, go get a console.  I will always love you Steam.

Valve-SteamBox

Oh, right.  Need I mention the Steambox?  A console that you can use to play Steam games?  Xbox and PS4 won’t even know what hit them.  I have been saying they should make this baby since 2005!  Of course, I just googled ‘Steambox release date’ and I found this article calling it the Steam Machine.  It was updated today, too, but there is no release date.  It looks like Valve is just like, “Fuck your consoles, get a console that lets developers push the envelope, would ya?”  That is nice to hear since us PC gamers look at the console wars like a bunch of retards arguing over their favorite color flower.  But everyone in the world plays console games ( as they want you to think ), so in a lot of ways gaming has been held back repeatedly by its slowest evolving component.

This offers a chance to up the ante in the console wars.  Maybe.  You can talk a mean talk, but when your new console boasts an i5 processor, 16 gb RAM and an NVidia GTX 780… Hey. That is almost exactly what I have in this computer.  I just built it, and it cost me $2000 on Newegg.  Granted, it has a much larger case a monitor and a new mouse on that price tag, but the processor, graphics card and RAM altogether will run you around $1190.  Granted, the Steambox doesn’t have a centralized developer.  It’s licensed out to developers and each of them makes a version of the system that will match the base requirements for running Steam, not any particular games.  A netbook could probably run Steam, so that worries me.  If this system is going to sport the power of my system and be like $900, what is the point of getting a bitchin’ computer rig?  At that point only computer hobbyists would, but I doubt that such a competitive price is even possible.  Oh, wait, did I say competitive?  The PS4 and Xbox One are half that price albeit with a fraction of the computing power.  Did I mention that Valve is hinting at virtual reality support? True life.  Just scroll to the section of the aforementioned article labelled ‘Virtual Whispers’. Sounds kinda sexy.  And there is the point that the Steambox’s controller looks like an alien pleasure device.  Who is supposed to use this thing, jedi?  There are prettier versions, but it looks as intuitive at first-glance as a Ouija board.  I am a proponent of what Valve’s Steambox proposes to do, which is ass rape its competition until they are firmly relegated to historical footnotes, but at what cost?  I would say that innovation is the key to owning the future, but sometimes it can lead you to the Wii U.  And as this guy details, such shenanigans will lead you to ruin.  I hope they know what kind of shitstorm this is setting up because if Valve is not careful they’ll be the ones left without an umbrella.