Category Archives: Console Gaming

I have played a ton of games in my life, but rarely do I finish games, and even rarer still does a game grip me so completely that I play it more than once.

Here are my top 5 non-mmo video games.

5. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga (PS2)

Introduced a most intriguing concept to me (representing a world within a world in a game), and was my formal introduction to the Shin Megami Tensei staple of games.

4. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

First introduced me to the concept of death of a main character in a storyline. My very first RPG. Also, the first game that made me think critically about games and made me realize that some games are more valuable than others in teaching values and life lessons to people.

3. Front Mission 3 (PS1)

Oh god, this game. I spent nearly 250 hours playing both storylines of this game.

THIS GAME HAS FILIPINOS. FUCK YEAH! Bring about the DAGAT AHAS (Sea Snake)!

2. Azure Dreams (PS1)

Were it not for an unfortunate mishap on the 40th floor of a dungeon, I would have eventually finished this game with my +37 Gold sword and my pet kicking ass and taking names.

Also, first dating sim type game.

1. Parasite EVE II (PS1)

I spent three Christmas seasons repeating this game, sort of like a holiday ritual. I loved this game so much because it was always constantly challenging, and I loved the story… and I had a crush on Aya Brea.

BONUS: Fallout 1

Before I ever finished Baldur’s Gate, my copy of the game came with a free copy of Fallout 1. I repeated that game probably 7 times, all with a similar sort of loadout… trying to explore story paths that seemed likely.


Due to how my computer, monitors, and PlayStation 3 are set up, I can actually type this while looking at the television screen showing the PS3 interface. I’ve decided to try liveblogging the first few hours of FFXIII-2 to see if I like playing the game in this manner, and to gauge my personal interest in dividing my attention in this particular fashion in an attempt to try something new and blog more.

How it’ll work: most liveblogs use some kind of software that I have no idea where to get in order to liveblog quickly and efficiently. While I won’t be using that software, I can use their format of updating in tweet-like fashion, with the entries going chronologically upwards from the beginning (the bottom-most entry) to the most recent entry (directly below this paragraph) using military time to denote hours in the GMT+8 timezone.

I’ll begin in approximately 30 minutes from this post, at 19:30, after I grab dinner.

See you folks in a bit. :)

————– LIVEBLOG BELOW ————–

22:15 Standing in front of the First Time Gate. Will continue some other time.

22:13 It seems there’s also a map percentage aspect to the game. Can’t seem to trigger 100% on the first map though. Strange.

21:57 There appear to be sidequests for Artefacts and other items. Hmm… not sure what to think about fetch quests.

21:38 Got an artefact… Why not spell it Artifact? Is there a big difference?

21:27 So Snow actually left Serah to find Lightning for his fiance. That’s nice.

21:18 So the moogle is some kind of a treasure hunting device and a weapon. How multifunctional!

21:04 Oh man. I can save anywhere and it saves to the same file I made at the start of the game. That’s cool. :D

20:57 Crystarium has been altered somewhat. Not sure how to explain it, but basically, each crystal allows you to choose your path of development.

20:48 Staring at a meteorite. Amazed it crashed without making a bigger crater.

20:43 LOL. First non-tutorial boss is called Gogmagog. :D

20:35 The game uses random encounters that require you to encounter the enemy in a time limit. That’s a nice implementation of two existing battle type tropes.

20:26 Hmm… early enemies dropping Accessories. :D

20:19 So… they give a brief overview of the ending of FFXIII through dialogue in the first hour. Not bad. :)

20:17 And the kupos of the moogle are weird. Some kind of dialogue weirdness.

20:07 LOL. Jumping mechanics included in the game now. :D

20:05 Live Trigger… Branching Dialog options, it seems.

20:01 Magical Changing Clothes. Go Squeenix go!

19:59 Noel Kreiss…. jumps into a time gate.

19:54 First Tutorial battle of the game completed, Multi-stage, very forgiving, extremely epic.

19:50 I guess they use gameplay footage to allow for cinematic actions. I got to choose how to engage my enemy in the cinema.

19:44 Apparently, the enemy is a fricking Bahamut of Chaos.

19:42 Cutscenes become actual gameplay footage now. Tutorial stage played as Lightning Riding Odin.

19:40 Caius and Lightning fight. Beasties galore in battle. :D

19:38 Opening Cinematic of the game. Lightning looks over the sea.

19:36 Game gives a bonus reward if you have FFXIII save data, and asks you to create a data file upon starting game. Autosave and manual save is available.

19:34 Game loaded, Opening Sequence playing. Pretty Cool. :D

19:30 Turning on PS3. :D


… and I’m feeling good.

—- The Rest of the Post —-

2012 is a new year, and if the naysayers in this world would have it, the last year for humans to exist on the planet.

I don’t want to believe that. I mean, there’s so much to be thankful for.

Like Free Speech, and its counterpart, Using Words Responsibly.

Like Being Happy, and its counterpart, Choosing to be Angry.

And GAMES! Oh so many games!

This year, I choose to speak my mind more about the things that interest me, even if it makes me uncomfortable to open up in that way.

I will play the games I want and I will enjoy (or not enjoy) them at my leisure.

I will respect the minds of others, even if I disagree with their ideas.

I will not limit myself to one avenue of thought, and I will open up to other ideas and not act in a passive-aggressive manner to people of perceived authority.

I will not let the negativity of others invalidate what I feel towards a game.

I will balance my gaming with healthier pursuits.

I will finish that first book that’s been in my head and evolved since I was a kid.

I will define who I am by what I do and think, and not by what people think of me.

I will play more Final Fantasy XIV and maybe even get Final Fantasy XIII-2 on the PS3.

I will experience games I never thought to try out. That may include superhero MMORPGs.

I will keep writing about games!

I will stay smiling and awesome, the way I envision myself as being for the rest of my life.


Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend who wanted to understand the nature of online game purchases a little bit better. While I understand the general processes in my head without much trouble, explaining online games and microtransactions to a non-gamer is actually rather difficult.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to leave a friend without the requisite knowledge, of course. To that end, I’ve created this primer of sorts on microtransactions, using some of my own terminologies, for the sort of person who doesn’t really play games.

When we refer to commerce in this day and age, we usually think of the exchange of money or credit for good and services. In games, there is also commerce on numerous levels, with each sort of transaction allowing for different goods and services to those playing the game.

There are two sorts of transactions one would typically think of when it comes to games: the purchase transaction and the in-game transaction.

In a purchase transaction, a consumer who wishes to play a game, either through ownership of the game or acquisition of a license to use the game software, pays a fee (in cash or credit, online or in the real world) before he can acquire the means necessary to play that game.

With in-game transactions, we refer to the transactions within a game that allow a user to acquire items, equipment and services specific to that game. This necessitates paying a fee comprised of that game’s particular currency in order to complete the transaction. Whether it comes in the form of in-game gold, gil, zenny, or megabucks, these are simply virtual goods that, under specific circumstances, are not actually traded for any form of real-world currency.

Examples of purchase transactions include the use of Philippine Pesos or US Dollars to purchase a game like Diablo II. Using the currency within Diablo II, namely gold, to purchase weapons, armor, and potions is an example of an in-game transaction.

So far, this is all easy to understand, but complexity arises when we realize that there are other ways by which companies can earn revenue from games. There are a variety of ways in which games in this Internet-connected reality we live in can foster additional revenue, and that is mostly done through a set of transactions that are commonly known as microtransactions.

Unlike purchase transactions or in-game transactions, the word “microtransactions” is a blanket terminology referring to the use of real-world currency (again, either through cash or credit, though usually credit) to acquire goods, services, or additional game content for a game one is already playing, The term is known a microtransaction due to the current trend for microtransactions to generally, though not always, cost less than the price one would pay to acquire the game or continue to gain access to it.

If you remember the example earlier about using in-game gold to purchase weapons and armor in Diablo II, you’d expect in-game gold to have no real-world value. The truth, however, as a result of games growing increasingly more connected to the internet is that currency, goods, and services within a game can have a real-world monetary value assigned to them that can also be affected by market forces.

Many types of microtransactions exist at present due to the nature of games in this day and age, but for non-gamers (and probably concerned parents who don’t know how microtransactions work), an introduction on some of the broad types of microtransactions would be in order.

First off, there are direct microtransactions. These microtransactions are basically an exchange of real-world currency for a specific good or service within a game, or for additional content that is either locked away as a result of the game’s code (thus meaning you’ve paid real money for a key to unlock the additional content) or added to a game after that game’s release.

Direct microtransactions is really a broad term I’m using to refer to a wide-range of potential microtransaction types, but it simplifies the process simply because this sort of microtransaction describes the means by which one acquires a specific good or service while (usually) supporting the developers of a game or an entity connected to the company that developed the game being played.

An online role-playing game like World of Warcraft allows for the purchase of in-game pets, flying mounts, or character renaming services for a fee: this is a direct microtransaction. Most games on mobile devices such as the iPad that do not require a purchase transaction (and are thus touted as being free to download and begin playing) use direct microtransactions to unlock the full game and all its capabilities. Some games on personal computers and consoles (such as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3) which have purchase transactions also get additional game content delivered through the console or computer’s connection to the Internet after launch, and these require the use of one-time credit card transactions (which are direct microtransactions) to download and play.

There is a second type of microtransaction that is a little easier to define, but a bit more difficult to peg in terms of its overall legitimacy as a microtransaction. These are what I’d define as currency microtransactions.These types of microtransactions are microtransactions in which a player would use real-world money to purchase the currency required to create an in-game transaction. Now, while in-game currency is also a form of virtual good, I’ve set it aside as its own microtransaction type due to how this particular form of virtual good can be used legitimately by certain game developers and unethically by certain companies.

Let me give an example of a both currency microtransaction types. Legitimate currency microtransactions occur in a free iOS game called Tiny Tower. While the game itself is free, the game allows players to use the credit cards connected to their iTunes account to purchase an in-game currency known as Tower Bux, which can be used to speed up the construction of an amenity in-game.These legitimate currency microtransactions are the main means by which the developer gains revenue from their game, allowing them to continue developing more games.

Unethical (a loaded word, but I lack a better word to replace it with) currency microtransactions are commonplace in certain massively multiplayer online role-playing games such as, again, World of Warcraft. Certain companies employ people to acquire the virtual currency of a game like World of Warcraft in order to sell the currency to players for real-world money. In some cases, these companies will try and gain access into people’s game accounts to take virtual currency away from other players in order to sell it online. Very little of this real-world money goes back into funding the development of the game, and the experience of play is somewhat diminished by the encroachment of gold sellers into the virtual space.

Non-gamers, including those responsible for children who are gamers, would do well to reflect upon the implications of microtransactions on real-world wallets. Younger gamers who do not pay attention or who do not understand what microtransactions are can fall prey to unintended purchasing sprees, often on the parental dime.

One well-known report among gaming circles is the story of one Brendan Jordan, who racked up a 1000-pound bill on the console service known as Xbox Live. There was nothing illegal about the purchases, and while the mother of Jordan wants the game companies to bear some responsibility for the mess, it can be argued that game consoles have protections in place to prevent minors from accessing purchase-based microtransaction services.

In any event, non-gamers and parents should be more mindful of what games these days can and can’t do, and what capabilities the technologies of today allow. Ultimately, this will keep misunderstanding at a minimum and proper parenting at the ready.


Over on Bitmob, Brad Grenz wrote an update regarding the PSN issue that I think should be shared to people to quell some of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt currently plaguing the gaming public.

Grenz found a post on the Beyond3D forums that detailed what some quick thinking and even quicker researching could do. Writes Grenz,

One member of the Beyond3D forum, deathindustrial, was curious about the outdated server software claim and did a very brief amount of very interesting research into the issue….

(Beyond3D’s community has a unique combination of technically knowledgable user with a low rate of console fanboyism, allowing for an honest discussion of things like the PSN data breach without the conversation devolving into another proxy battle in the great fanboy wars.)

As it turns out, it is fairly simple to use Google’s webcache to show what version of Apache the PSN servers were using back in March. According to a page request archived by Google on March 23, 2011, at that time Sony was running version 2.2.17 of the software. You can see from Apache’s website that 2.2.17 is the latest stable version of the webserver available even today. This is a direct repudiation of the claims being made that Sony’s webservers were out of date by as much as five years.

In connection to this, the poster, deathindustrial, also noted the exact quote said by Dr. Stafford, the “security expert,” during the testimony before congress. Instead of turning there, it might be better if I link to Pete’s post over on Dragonchasers from a few days back, which has the quote written down but also put in video form. As it stands, Stafford had “no information about what protections they had in place,” which sort of makes his testimony a rather moot point.

Of course, we’re all still waiting for word on Sony’s PSN servers, but if we spread the word and get people to think more rationally about the situation, it may prove to our benefit that folks don’t jump to conclusions about the reputation of an entity as important as Sony.

EDIT:

I just had a thought about this. Seeing as Sony’s already mentioned and apologized for flaws in their security, it’s probably good to note that up-to-date servers may not necessarily mean completely secure servers (though I doubt there is something like a completely secure server, anyway, but I digress).

I’ll take my own advice and not make the logical leap from one idea to the next without thinking about it further. Apologies to all.

Update:

I checked back on the post that this write-up is based on, and there appears to be another wrinkle in the entire thing. Bitmob commenter Psycho Logikal is asserting that the news post written on Bitmob is inaccurate, for lack of a better way of putting it.

According to Psycho Logikal, the research done was in reference only to a subset of the servers Sony was using for PSN. If such is the case, then the article from Bitmob would be inaccurate to a certain degree by virtue of bad wording, but contains otherwise useful information.

I’ll watch the discussion for more information as it becomes available.


Planning on Getting Fallout: New Vegas? You may want to wait a while for the definitive Game of the Year version, as Bethesda has announced three DLC packs for the game, which will be made available over the course of the next three months.

The three packs, dubbed Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, and Lonesome Road will not only give the Courier of New Vegas some new adventures; it’ll also flesh out the finale of the game by introducing Ulysses, the courier who wouldn’t take the job you took, and his reasons for doing so.

Seeing as the full press release has tons more spoilers than what I just mentioned above, I’ll just leave this link here, and a copy of the main body of the press release after the cut.

(more…)


Elementalistly took to writing what I consider to be a spirited discourse on why the MMO community is beginning to disappoint him, and while I understand his sentiments, I cannot say I completely agree with him.

While I won’t try to refute all his points (another writer, Nightwreath of Massively Multiverse, seems to have done that ahead of anyone else), I do wish to point out something I’ve noticed about the gaming community at large.

By some measures, it can be said that there is a significantly larger number of gamers now as compared to during gaming’s infancy. Comparatively speaking, the number of people playing MMORPGs during the Everquest I era were far fewer when placed against the era of World of Warcraft’s dominance. Couple that with the fact that console gaming is a significantly larger enterprise now when compared to gaming on personal computers, and you have the stirrings of a large console gaming base that could potentially spill onto or share commonalities with the fanbase of MMORPG games.

That said, there is one thing that made me think when I read Elementalistly’s post, and that had something to do with what I call the Chun Li -Bison Dichotomy.

During the latter half of Street Fighter: The Movie, we are introduced to Raul Julia’s famous conversation with Ming-na, set as a confrontation between M. Bison and Chun Li:

Chun-Li: It was twenty years ago. You hadn’t promoted yourself to general yet. You were just a petty drug lord. You and your gang of murderers gathered your small ounce of courage to raid across the border for food, weapons, slave labor…my father was the village magistrate. A simple man with a simple code: justice. He gathered the few people that he could to stand against you. You and your bullies were driven back by farmers with pitchforks! My father saved his village at the cost of his own life. You had him shot as you ran away! A hero… at a thousand paces.

M. Bison: I’m sorry… I don’t remember any of it.

Chun-Li: You don’t remember?!

M. Bison: For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me… it was Tuesday.

The Chun Li-Bison dichotomy is the term I use for the situation wherein two entities have a disconnect over the perceived value of a particular event.  The analogy holds firm in the face of two masses of gamers, and this is where the main discussion point begins.
I feel that Elementalistly fails to take into account not only the overlaps between the console and PC gaming communities, but also the inherent perceived value individual players have over what makes a game worthwhile to spend time on.

My awkward reference to a game being “worthwhile to spend time on” is written specifically to avoid confusion and to necessitate a thought process with the reader. One person will find a game is worthwhile to spend time on because of a variety of factors that will potentially differ from the next person. In my personal case, a game is worthwhile to spend time on if it provides me with an experience that I can lose myself in temporarily, regardless of whether I “finish” the game or complete my objective or not. For another person, a game may be worthwhile to spend time on because it allows for decidedly short-term bursts of entertainment or amusement.  For yet another, a game is worthwhile to spend time on because of the achievements and recognition one can get from mastering it.

The MMO community at large has changed from the time of Ultima Online. The Community is no longer a few thousand strong but is, instead, a society of millions connected by different games. To say that the MMO community is disappointing seems to presuppose that everyone places the same value on a game one holds dear when compared to other available games, when most games are, as Elementalistly would put it, damn fine games.

If a game has provided a person with what he needs and values most in his leisure, then that should be enough, and few should remain disappointed if they have enjoyed their time, found their personal tastes to be more attuned towards something else, and moved on. If a person has found a game wanting and moved on, respecting that others may find a game more to their liking than he, then is he not an upstanding member of the gaming community at large for being mature enough to cut ties cleanly without blaming someone for purchasing something that ultimately did not agree with him, regardless of how much or how little time he spent playing the game?

It is only when one sounds the death knell of hostile criticism and negativity upon leaving that I become concerned for the well-being of a community. With that point, I must say, if we took negativity from all comers as a sign of the impending doom of the things we love, then what are we truly left with other than disconcerting emotions and an utterly useless Street Fighter: The Movie analogy?


Kotaku reports that Nintendo sent out a release earlier today which confirmed the rumors that the company would be coming out with a new console.

While the new console has no official name yet, the announcement (which you can see the English version of above) states that the new console will be shown at the E3 expo in Los Angeles in June.

Furthermore, the announcement reads, “Sales of the new system have not been included in the financial forecasts announced today for the fiscal term ending March 2012.” This certainly begs the question, “When will it go on sale?” We’ll probably have to wait for E3 to know more, so until then, sit tight!

Image Source: Kotaku


Category: Console Gaming
Tags: ,

Namco Bandai has announced that a localization of the PS3 RPG Tales of Graces F is coming to North America.

The news was made known a few hours ago through the unveiling of a Tales of Graces F American website, as well as an official announcement on Facebook.

More information can be found on the Wikipedia Page for the game. In the meantime, I’m saving some money and hoping it gets released in my country as well.

 

Source: Destructoid


Category: Console Gaming

Back in September of 2010, I wrote about how I found myself falling prey to gaming hype and how I seemed to gravitate towards games with the purpose of becoming a pundit of sorts. I’ve altered my stance on the the idea of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the game blogging world (there are far better things to worry about, like finding a job, falling in love, and learning how to manage finances). Since then, I’ve noticed I’ve been making a rather large number of gaming purchases, which worries me somewhat.

The ever lessening time I spend affixed to one game (a month ago, I was playing Guild Wars, then two weeks ago, Everquest 1′s trial, and now, I just bought Dead Space and Magicka on Steam) makes me think that I am less of a gamer because I do not love gaming, per se, but rather have grown to love the idea of a game.

This is worrying because I have yet to find a job. This is also worrying because it’s a waste of money that could be accruing interest in the bank. This is worrying because falling in love with the idea of something, ANYTHING, instead of the reality that is there makes me think I haven’t grown as a person.

Around seven or eight years ago, I was enrolled in a mandatory college class for religion (Catholic universities like the one I went to have mandatory religion subjects to foster personal growth in students) called  Marriage and Human Sexuality. One of the things I learned in that class was that there’s a difference between loving someone and falling in love with someone.

According to that class, you can fall in and out of love with someone, and that feeling you get when you fall in love might seem genuine, but can quite possibly be a mixture of a crush with your own projections of what you want in a partner, which may not actually be in that person you’ve fallen in love with. Once the honeymoon phase is over, and the cracks begin to show in the relationship, the illusion reveals itself, and you fall out of love.

Back then, I realized that, lonely as I was, I knew I didn’t want to simply “fall in love” with a personal illusion of a woman I’d gotten to know. I wanted to love and accept someone for the good aspects and not-so-good aspects they had.

I thought I could extend that sort of thinking to all the different aspects of my life, which is why I try and take pains to think about the things I do or engage in. When it comes to gaming though, I feel like I never learned anything from my class back in college.

True, games and people are different things and I may be too hard on myself, but it doesn’t diminish the distress I feel when I think about how I buy games, play them for a short while, and then never finish them. It’s like I’ve fallen in love with the idea of the game, but found that my projections of what I expect that game to be do not mesh well with the reality of the game, and I shelve the game for failing my perceived ideal.

It’s a waste, and yet even with that realization in tow, I cannot help but still want to purchase new games with the hope that they will astound me and lead me to some great divine epiphany of awesome that I cannot comprehend but simply bask in.

It scares me to think I haven’t grown as a person. Perhaps I should give myself some credit for at least realizing that something might be faulty in my acceptance of hype and my constant failed relationships with games.

That said, I wonder if the ones who are truly fanatical about games can even see the deficiencies in the games they say they love. That blindness to truth seems even scarier than any issue I might have at present.


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