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31Dec/180

My personal Games Of The Year 2018

Posted by Mythor

Looking back on the year, as one does on New Year's Eve, I initially assumed it would be hard to find enough good games to make a list worth reading. It's not that I haven't played many games this year, just that a lot of the big titles I have either skipped, or not really enjoyed.

As it happens, I'd just forgotten a couple of great games from earlier in the year! So here are my top five games of the year, in roughly their order of personal enjoyment.

5. FAR: Lone Sails.

Repair, upgrade and sail across a desolate landscape until you reach the end. There's not really a story to it, it's really short, but it's a wonderfully serene ride, interspersed with occasional bits of tension. Most of the puzzles are fairly easy, but satisfying to figure out.

4. Jurassic World Evolution

A park building simulator with a bunch of dinosaurs? Yes please.

Being that it's based particularly on the more recent Jurassic World series, it's not just straight up genetic replication as you can alter the animals' genetic makeup. Changing everything from colouration to aggression levels can make your zoo more popular, but also much harder to manage. Dinosaurs can break out of their enclosures, and then there's screaming and running... and sedating the beasts from your helicopter!

There's only a set number of maps, no real open plan or random generated terrain. But that hardly matters as you can tinker with your various paddocks pretty much endlessly.

3. Monster Hunter: World

The Monster Hunter series has a long history in Japan, where it has been insanely popular over many generations. While some entries have done quite well in "The West", it's never really taken off. Partly because of some really clunky mechanics, like the many loading screens needed to finish a single monster hunt.

All that is gone in World, you can chase monsters across a pretty large, completely open map. Actually, a half dozen maps in total, each featuring a very different environment in which to stab, bash, ride and shoot monsters.

BIG monsters. With so many different weapons and armour sets to collect, you could be at it for hundreds of hours. If you've the patience, anyway. It can become something of a grind, particularly past Hunter Rank 50.

2. Fallout 76

Yes, it's buggy as heck. And feels kinda unpolished in parts. And you're at the mercy of the internet's reliability, and the people on the internet not being as terrible as usual.

But it's so much fun exploring Appalachia, reading the stories of people who survived the apocalypse, collecting loot, building up your personal camp, taking down dangerous mutated wildlife, tweaking your character build, helping friends, fighting with or against other players...

Fallout 4 is still my favourite, but I've been playing Fallout 76 pretty much every day since it was released.

For more on this, see my article on Player Attack: Fallout 76 is still fun for the lonely and friendless.

1. Frostpunk

A post-apocalyptic city building survival hybrid? The world has entered a new ice age and you're the mayor of one of the last cities on Earth. Build warm houses, set up furnaces to keep everyone warm and enact laws to keep everyone in line.

Things usually start off fairly easy, with the temperature barely below zero. As you start building up your city, gaining new people and better facilities the temperature will start dropping, sometimes precipitously as storms strike, with occasional thaws to give you time to recover.

It's probably the toughest city builder ever made, but so fantastically well designed it never feels like an impossible challenge, if you can just research that next tech or get that new building finished...

Frostpunk also happens to be my favourite review of the year. Can't take all the credit as all I did was write the script while excellent bosslady Jessica Citizen presented it for the Player Attack TV show. But the result is wonderful, if I do say so myself. Please watch it!

Hope everyone has a wonderful 2019!

18Aug/150

The Quest for a World of Warcraft Token

Posted by Mythor

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably seen my various tweets over the last week and a half chronicling my efforts to earn enough in-game gold to purchase a World of Warcraft Token.

Well, the experiment is over and I did not reach my goal.

However, starting a character (almost) from scratch and getting to level 63 with over 6,000 gold in the bank is no mean feat, especially when it all needed to be done within a 10 day trial of Warlords of Draenor.

I say "almost from scratch" as I did use chest and shoulder pieces of armour from the Heirloom system, as well as two of the swords. The armour provided a 20% experience boost and the swords and armour both automatically level up, making gear hunting fairly unimportant. There are actually two more pieces of armour I could have had, but they require membership in a guild. I think.

That covered the levelling up part, but the money making I did entirely from zero. And the truth is that with more patience and diligence I probably could have made quite a bit more. 6,000 gold really represents the "quick and dirty" approach.

All you really need is to take up the Mining and Skinning professions as soon as practical, then sell all the ore and skins you find on the Auction House with the assistance of an auctioneering addon. I used Auctioneer but Auctionator is also supposed to be good.

There's no real trick to it. As a Human I would visit Stormwind regularly while adventuring and check the Auction House each time. Hit the Scan button that Auctioneer adds and wait for it to collect all the listings. The first few times, preferably over the course of two days or so, just scan the auction house and hold on to your goods.

Once the addon has built up a fairly reliable set of numbers you can go to the Post tab and put all your Copper Ore (or Bars, if you've smelted it - neither seems more or less profitable at low levels) up for auction, telling it to undercut your competitors.

That's where you could stand to make a bit more money. By tweaking the undercut percentage or only selling when you know that prices are high, you can get more for your goods. As I was under a time constraint and also didn't really want to go to too much effort, I mostly just listed it for whatever Auctioneer said and moved on. Time spent dithering on that screen was time I wasn't out levelling up or digging up more things to auction off.

So, why didn't I reach my goal? Well, the current price of a WoW Token is 27,000 gold, or thereabouts. With a full month I expect I could reach that total, but in 10 days with no assistance I'm not sure it can be done.

But gosh, it was fun to try.

8Aug/150

Saturday MMO Blargle

Posted by Mythor

I hadn't been playing any MMOs in a while, not until my old Star Wars Galaxies friends decided to hop on one of the server emulators. Since then it's been about all I have played, in just about every spare chunk of time I could find.

But in the last couple of weeks SWG friend number one hasn't even logged in and SWG friend number two is moving to another city for work and won't be playing for at least two months. It's not as much fun when there's nobody to babble at and issues with the emulator are also sucking the fun out of it.

With all the Star Wars excitement around at the moment I tried to finish Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic, but it is so horribly clunky and is really showing its age now. And I already know the big twist because it's Star Wars and I know EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.

Maybe the other Star Wars MMO? Resubscribed, played through the newbie area for Jedi Knights, got fed up, unsubscribed.

Then, at Gamescom, the next World of Warcraft expansion was announced. Legion. They're adding Demon Hunters and cool artifact weapons and a newer kind of garrison thing. And probably other things.

The last time I played WoW was during the Warlords of Draenor beta, when I wrote a thing for Player Attack on the Garrisons that you could read here, if you want. I thought my previous stint outside of betas must have been during Cataclysm as I remembered playing a Worgen. Yet somehow I have a Pandaren? A not very high level one, mind, but I do have one.

Did quite enjoy the couple of weeks I spent in the beta but didn't want to continue a character that would inevitably be wiped, nor did I want to get back into the normal game at the time. So I left!

Warlords of Draenor has been out a long time now and the bugs in the Garrisons should be mostly worked out and I should have ample time to reach the level cap before Legion is released.

Also, WoW Tokens! Theoretically pay for your subscription with in-game gold. I am kinda curious as to the viability of that, particularly for someone who hasn't been playing consistently, or even someone starting over. I may as well be starting over since my highest level character is 80 and flat broke.

Or I could be scientific and start on a fresh server, no handouts from other characters, see if I can afford a WoW Token from scratch. See if I can even be bothered playing that long, unlike SWTOR.

And what class should I try this with? And which race? And why don't any of my friends play WoW anymore?

... and why don't I ever get anything done?

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4Dec/146

I used Australia Post’s ShopMate and it didn’t suck.

Posted by Mythor

If you're an Aussie and you've ever tried ordering things over the internet you've probably discovered the prices are lower on any number of things in America, but American stores typically won't ship to Australia. Why? Nobody knows!

Previously you could use services like Shipito to circumvent some of these restrictions. You get a US based address with them and have your goods delivered there, then they ship them to you for a small fee plus postage.

I guess AusPost wanted a slice of that pie because they recently launched ShopMate, where you get a US based address to ship your goods to then pay AusPost the cost of bringing them to you.

So, cool. Does it work?

Yes!

What made me try it was a Star Wars themed "mystery box" that ThinkGeek wouldn't ship outside the US. Why not? I have the box now and I still don't know. Maybe it's illegal to export Death Stars, even when they're only tea infusers?

Anyway, I chucked that and some themed polo shirts in my cart and placed an order on the 12th of November. ThinkGeek shipped it the 13th and it arrived at ShopMate on... the 20th. A whole week for delivery within the US. Okay.

It then took another week to go from their warehouse to my door, halfway round the world. Arriving on the 27th means it took 15 days, which isn't particularly fast but not painfully slow.

As for the cost? If ThinkGeek had been willing to ship directly to me it would have cost around $US55. As it was technically being shipped to a US address and they had free shipping at the time I only had to pay the ShopMate fee.

Which came to $AU59.70. It ain't cheap, but after the currency conversion it worked out cheaper than the direct option, oddly enough.

The only really disappointing part of the whole experience was the lack of tracking available between ShopMate's US location and the parcel arriving in Australia. You don't get any kind of update until it's in the country and ready for delivery. It's a bit of a nitpick, it doesn't really matter so long as your stuff arrives, but it would be nice. Maybe you can track it and I just can't find the right bit?

One test run isn't conclusive but so far it's reasonably priced, reasonably quick and super easy to use. I'll certainly be using it again. Possibly to get some Lego...

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25Jul/140

Shared DNA: Destiny and Defiance

Posted by Mythor

Skipping around the internet consuming everything Destiny I have occasionally (foolishly) wandered into comment sections. The most common complaint?

"It's just another generic shooter."

It isn't. Read Brenna Hillier's piece on that over on VG247.

The most common compliment? It's doing something new in the shooter genre, or it's something new to consoles.

It isn't, on either count. Trion did pretty much everything you love about Destiny with last year's Defiance.

Defiance is a shared-world shooter with RPG staples like character advancement and loot mixed in. Open world events? Sure, plenty of those.

If you want to be really nitpicky they're even both set after apocalyptic events kicked off by the arrival of aliens. But that's neither here nor there.

Many of the quests in Defiance are done without ever leaving the open world and the rare times you do venture into a private area it's only after traipsing across the terrain to get there.

Random events pop up as you wander from place to place, ranging from very simple roadblocks to storming crashed space ships, fighting your way inside and facing down an epic boss. There's also large set pieces that are only active every so often and can draw quite the crowd.

There aren't any classes in Defiance, instead you choose one of four key skills to have in your loadout and then invest further points in various perks as you advance. It's fewer than Destiny's options, yet affords a little more freedom since you're not locked into one set of skills and perks.

Weaponry can be looted, awarded by quests or bought from vendors. There's rarity levels for weaponry (plus shields and grenades) and in addition to a selection of built-in stat boosts you earn experience for each weapon, eventually unlocking a further boost. While Destiny has addons like scopes and barrels as part of the weapon skills/perks system, Defiance has scopes and barrels and stocks as individual items so you can choose which ones suit you.

Grenades are open season as well, with players able to equip whichever they like in Defiance.

It's a recurring theme when comparing the two. If Destiny has something, Defiance usually does too. Often with a greater degree of freedom.

Yet ever since the Destiny beta opened it's pretty much all I want to play. Everything just flows so much better, from the gunplay to the missions right down to looting new gear. Don't need to press a button to collect my loot? Good heavens, such luxury.

Destiny's not really a new idea at this point, though it may well have been when it started development. Bungie's been dropping hints since 2009 and all that time has clearly been well spent as Destiny is a supremely well polished game.

If only it was on PC, not just the consoles. Keyboard and mouse for life, y'all.

11Jun/130

E3 – Day One Highlights

Posted by Mythor

Having already twittered quite enough about the entire thing today I thought I would break the blog out of semi-retirement for a short babble on some of the things that impressed me most from the first day of E3.

Obviously the big things were the Microsoft and Sony presentations but I don't have a lot to say there that hasn't been said everywhere else already. Sony "won" the traditional battle of E3. Microsoft put on a good show for their console but pretty much every fair criticism of the Xbox One is something Sony is doing the "right" way with Playstation 4. Coupled with smart multimedia deals, pursuing indie developers to get them onboard and some neat exclusive games and if you can only purchase one console the PS4 is the clear choice. All that could change before launch, but Microsoft's pretty deep into their particular hole, so I'm not betting on it.

But what about the games?

There were a few standouts for me, so in no particular order:

  • Destiny (Gameplay video) - From Bungie, the guys who made Halo, comes another shooter which I had honestly dismissed prior to E3. The images shown prior could just as easily have been from a Halo title and nobody would have known. Seeing it in motion is a whole different thing. Beautiful lighting, vibrant colours, some interesting AI to fight, literal drop-in multiplayer, a public event (read: boss battles) system and bunches of loot to collect? Very much my cup of tea. (Multi-platform)
  • Ryse: Son of Rome (Gameplay video) - Better known for Far Cry and Crysis, Crytek have branched out for an historical action fighter-y thing. The gameplay video shows the player storming a castle as a Roman Centurion, which is a thing I would like to do. The quick time events system may end up ruining this as there was a lot of "Press X to finish him" stuff going on... but it's Rome and sword and such! (Xbox One)
  • The Division (Gameplay video) - It's actually "Tom Clancy's" The Division, but who cares. Shortly after the breakdown of society in an open world setting you raid buildings for supplies and... you know, I'm really not sure what the goal is, other than shooting a bunch of things. But it all looks fantastic. The gameplay video has players shooting precise bullet holes through glass and metal on cars, using skills and combined tactics to defeat their enemies and at one point a drone pilot drops in to assist them before buzzing back off to parts unknown.

Those're just three truly new games I saw that really grabbed my interest. There are no doubt more I'll see in the next week that I'll also fancy. Not to mention games I already knew were coming, like Watch Dogs.

But the one I'm most excited about is also the one there's virtually no information on: Star Wars Battlefront, coming from the creators of the Battlefield series of games, DICE. And that's all the information there is on Battlefront.

Please sir, I'd like some more!

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1Jan/132

The Definitive Game Of The Year 2012 List

Posted by Mythor

Most every gaming site puts out a game of the year list once all the major releases are accounted for and most every gaming site gets it hopelessly, horribly wrong.

But that's half the fun, isn't it? Ask five random gamers and you're not going to get the same answer out of all five and the same applies when it's five separate groups of ill informed clowns.

Of course some places are objectively wrong, and you should absolutely tell them that. Loudly. And often!

But in the spirit of flailing a hand in the air and begging for attention, here's my not at all comprehensive list of games I thought were really pretty great in 2012.

28Aug/120

Stuff I Like: ‘splorin’.

Posted by Mythor

Not every game leaves much room for exploration and even those that let you wander off the beaten path don't always have anything to see when you get there.

Guild Wars 2 has things to see and do in obscure locations, but even if it didn't, I think I'd still waste a bunch of my time exploring...

Climb ALL the mountains.

17Aug/120

Stuff I Like: Chasing my friends’ high scores in Zombie Driver

Posted by Mythor

Lots of games have high score boards. It's been a staple of gaming practically since gaming was invented. Old arcade machines let you choose three letters to digitally scratch on the board beside your score and in the modern era a lot of score based games upload your result to the internet, assuring virtual immortality.

And that's neat.

But Zombie Driver stores a player's Slaughter-mode high scores on the internet via Steam. So you can see exactly how well your friends have done on any given map and set yourself a target.

The bit I really like? While playing the game your next highest scoring friend has their name in the upper right corner of the screen, alongside how many more points you need to surpass them.

Keating, you are bad at this game.

It's such a small thing to include and many may never even know it's there. But I like it.

Zombie Driver is just $10 on Steam, if running over zombies while competing against your friends is stuff you like.

27Jul/120

Why I Make Lady Avatars

Posted by Mythor

When given a choice between a male and female when creating and customising a new avatar for a game, more often than not I'll choose a female. My primary alter ego in most MMOs is a redheaded, ponytailed lady, when customisation options allow.

This isn't a gender identity issue, I don't think I'm a woman trapped inside the body of a manchild. And it isn't the oft-repeated reason of other male gamers - if you're going to stare at an arse for hundreds of hours it may as well be a ladybum. Nor do I ever pretend I am a lady in real life, mostly because the people who ask such things are only asking because they're sleazebags.

No, the reason I do it is because when it comes to customising a look and choosing an outfit and all the rest of it, it's a lot more fun doing so for a woman than it is a man. In part because it's not something I could do ordinarily, where I could dress a bloke up however I wanted, whenever I wanted, because I am a bloke.

But also because most games offer a more interesting set of options for female avatars. Sometimes that just means more "revealing" clothing or a slider for boob size, but not always.

I know it seems a little silly, especially in games where designing an image for a character is lost on most due to combat oriented gameplay being at the forefront.

But what it comes down to is that this:

My white haired avatar in Guild Wars 2.

Is much more interesting to me than this:

My boring red clad dude in Guild Wars 2

Maybe it is an issue that exists more in my mind than in reality. Most games do offer plenty of options when creating male characters and have heaps of clothing/armour to choose from. Yet most of the time I get sick of trying to create a guy I'm happy with and start the creation process over as a chick.

I really wanted to post some more pictures of past female characters but it turns out that, even when I do remember to take screenshots, I don't have any sort of plan to keep track of the resulting files.

Since I have a blog, I might start taking a nice picture or two of my character/s when I inevitably play more games. Maybe I'll include a little bit about whatever the game is, what that character's goals are... maybe I'll just throw a picture up.

Maybe I'll forget altogether and this will be the last entry on the subject.

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