Are Early Adopters Punished? Or Patient Gamers Rewarded?

doom 2016 discount

Are Games Even Worth Full Price Anymore?

I mean, really? For example, DOOM had a great release, and was a well received AAA game. Still, it was 40% off during the Steam summer sale barely one month later. It was just $17.09 on Green Man Gaming for the 2016 Black Friday sale. Speaking of GMG, they quite frequently offer games at a HUGE discount for NEW titles, in excess of 20%. Online retailer Amazon commonly offers 20% off new titles for Prime members. So what is a game’s actual price nowadays then? I’m sure it’s some kind of marketing magic, but it’s beginning to look like a blatant cash grab by developers to me. I suppose the good news is that new games don’t actually cost $60 anymore?

Saving Bundles Of Money

Then there’s the bundle sites. Most notable is probably Humble Bundle, known for its portion of charitable donation. There are also other sites who focus on other aspects such as Indie games (BundleStars, IndieGala) and DRM Free (GoG). The idea is all pretty much the same. They bundle popular titles together for very reasonable, very low prices. While these sites are becoming more popular, you kind of have to stop and laugh a little. In the age of digital media, where we want our music one song at the time instead of bundled together, we don’t want our games one at a time, but instead bundled together. Go figure? I suppose a big reason they come bundled is to get exposure for Indie or smaller titles, and eek out a little more life for older ones. These are generally not factors gamers consider when buying these bundles though.

Fact: Drunken Platypuses Determine Discounts

So when does a game become worth $30? $20? Where is the dartboard that companies use to price items for their in-game store? I know there’s math, and science to a degree, behind all this pricing somewhere. As a consumer though, I start to wonder more and more if I’m being cheated somehow. I got DOOM through Amazon for $48. I thoroughly enjoyed the storymode. The map creation mode seemed fun, but very limited at the time. So did I buy the game too soon? I’ve only got 34 hours into it, would I have been better off waiting to buy it? We’re talking $12 to wait 5 weeks, and $31 to wait 25 weeks. With all these bundles, sales, and discounts, both $12 and $31 can go a long way. That’s an extra bundle, or new title.

drunken platypus monetization

Clear As Mud Pricing

Obviously game companies need money to fund new games, be them AAA developers or Indie developers. I just think that maybe the current system of video game pricing is still in the process of settling. While it’s not exactly a race to the bottom of the barrel, it’s definitely a race that benefits gamers. Amazing Indie titles like ARK also bring down prices by offering just as much content, if not more, than AAA games, and still MSRP priced substantially lower. Early Access muddies the water too, confusing the price of Free to Play games and up-and-coming AAA titles alike. It’s the American Wild West of video game monetization and pricing right now. There are bargains to be had on properties for gold prospecting, and there are snake oil salesmen on every corner.

Making Every Dollar Count

I’m not a wealthy person. $12 is a fair amount of money to me. I’ve started meticulously tracking how much money I spend on games, and how much time I spend in them. It’s deterred me from buying a game more than once, and later I was glad I had waited. Of course as time progresses, games will always be cheaper. They also get dated somehow, magically. Weird right? A game you’ve never played is somehow boring and uninteresting. Mostly I think it’s the graphics, though I’ve found I can tolerate older graphics more than most. Still, I guess I could sum up this article by asking one question:

When is the right time to buy a game?

Tactics and Strategy Guide for Space Hulk: Deathwing

Tactics and Strategy Guide for Space Hulk: Deathwing

Surviving Space Hulk Oletheros

For the most part though, I feel like most of the players I have come across in Space Hulk: Deathwing take the game pretty casually.

  • There’s little to no communication beyond “I WILL GO AHEAD. FOLLOW ME.” sound bites over and over, urging you to move follow that person.
  • There’s always someone just running ahead, either getting themselves killed, or the group they left behind overwhelmed.
  • Halfway through the chapter, someone always asks, “is ff on?” after killing two teammates, despite me hosting the game with the title ‘FF ON, Difficulty Hard’
  • While I don’t have definitive proof, I don’t think most people play multiplayer co-op on hard because of the above behaviors.

It’s been a little frustrating for me in this regard, so I’ve decided to put together a guide for Space Hulk: Deathwing players like myself. I prefer teamwork in games. That’s one of the major reasons I decided to buy Space Hulk: Deathwing, even though it’s completely PvE centered. The opportunity to form up into a squad, relentlessly pushing back hordes of enemy xenos, is a dream I have. Read this guide, and dream with me brothers and sisters of the Deathwing!

Moving Through The Space Hulk

If one or two players are ahead of the others, this makes it easier to surround or overwhelm both groups. Stay close together, don’t get split up. Additionally, friendly fire can become even more of an issue. Shooting something off of yourself can spray fire onto allies, and vice versa. This can also be a problem when an unexpected swarm arrives. The other players pushing too far ahead may have no idea that the marines in the rear have been engaged. Be patient, and stick together.

Enemies don’t always come from in front of you. Someone should always be watching your backs. This doesn’t always have to be the same person. You can designate someone, but it can get boring at times. If you’re in the back when the firing starts, just keep a guard on your rear. This doesn’t have to be a 24/7 job, but at least give it a visual sweep every few seconds.

Speaking of blocking doors, don’t get upset if someone blocks a door you don’t want blocked. There is more than one way through sometimes. Don’t get focused on going a certain way, just because you went that way last time. Exploring new areas improves provides ‘combat’ experience, and improves your judgement on future decisions. If you do end up blocking the wrong door, or going the wrong way, it’s fine. Now the whole squad knows, and everyone’s proficiency goes up a notch.

Don’t just walk haphazardly down the middle of a hallway. You’re blocking lines of fire from everyone behind you. Stay to one side as you travel down a corridor. Walking to the far left or right side opens lines of fire for allies walking behind you, and keeps you from getting shot in the back.

Sometimes the Apothecary can’t keep up with the damage. Waiting for cooldowns can get a little long if you have an impatient group, or you’re not at a safe place to stop. Keep the wounded in the middle of the group. This spreads out the damage a little, and keeps the group moving.

Sometimes your environment can help you. Look around for exploding barrels, and pipes that might leak napalm onto passing genestealers. Try not to focus completely on what you’re shooting at, look around and behind it too. Recognizing explosive containers, and hazardous pipelines can help thin the xenos herd.

While playing one time, I was hanging back and blocking all the doors. Well, after a bit someone else decided they wanted to block the door – and ended up blocking me out. I had to knock down the door to get through, leaving us vulnerable from behind. Delegate one person to block all the doors, and it should cause a lot less problems.

Choosing Where To Fight

Stairs are your friend. You can use elevation to maximize your firepower. Stack two towards the top of the stairs, and two towards the bottom. If you’ve given yourselves enough elevation, the ones at the top will be able to fire safely over the tops of the heads of those on the bottom.

When all four of you are walking down a hallway, it’s impossible to walk side-by-side. When the genestealers start pouring in though, you’re going to need more than one gun firing. Since you’re all right handed, this makes things somewhat difficult. Look for alcoves in hallways you can get into clear up fire lanes. This will easily clear up enough room for three players to fire down the hallway. The fourth should be watching your backs!

Often when coming into large rooms, the floorplan just opens up, leaving you extremely vulnerable. It’s the perfect time for an ambush! Quickly scan these rooms and look for choke points to stay behind. These could be stairs, or even narrow portions of the room. Don’t try to make a stand where the ambush starts. There’s a reason that spot was chosen to ambush you! Don’t fall into the trap! Some of these rooms may funnel out from a choke point. In these rooms, set up a position at the chokepoint, then use scouts to test the room. This way you can trigger the ambush, and then bring the fight to a place of YOUR choosing.

Closing Tactical Advice

It all boils down to a couple of fundamentals. Situational awareness: paying attention to where you are, in relation to where you need to be and where you have to go. And teamwork, knowing where your team is at all times, and compensating for each other’s weaknesses (low health, pushing too fast, etc). There was one playthrough where I felt like we were all on the same sheet of music. I’ve added it below for you to check out. As you’ll see, it’s not really hardcore to play like this, it all just comes from experience. With enough experience, you’ll eventually learn to recognize advantageous – and not so advantageous – situations, and how to survive both.

Reviewing Star Conflict

is star conflict good

Starfighter Scale Space Combat

If you’ve ever played Star Wars: The Old Republic, you’ve at least heard of Galactic Starfighter. Well Star Conflict is everything Galactic Starfighter could have been. SWTOR could have done it better too with the Star Wars IP behind it, but I digress. In Star Conflict, you battle amongst the stars in starfighter-scale combat. There are slightly larger freighters (think Millenium falcon size) and larger still Destroyers (think Consular Ship in Episode I). No massive capital ships though, setting this apart from games like Fractured Space and Dreadnought.

General Information

Seems I kind of flock to this World of VEHICLE game model. Like other games of this type, Star Conflict is free and on Steam. Free is a powerful incentive to give something a try. This game has PvE and PvP, both with a variety of game modes. This game stands out in that regard with a HUGE variety of game modes. There are multiple game modes for your PvX preference. Some are small variations of others, but nonetheless they do ‘feel’ different enough to break up the monotony. You can play starfighters, freighters, or work up to the small-scale capital ship Destroyers at the higher tiers (starting at 8). It has an extremely friendly new-player system that i’ll describe in depth in the next section. Suffice to say that this game offers the most assistance in pairing veteran players who want to help a new friend join from the beginning. Monetization is done heavily through customization, which is well implemented, and spending premium currency on converting XP (AKA faster progression).

What Makes It Fun

The graphics are just plain amazing. Each map so far has been either breathtaking or captivating in some way. The colors, the setting, it’s all incredibly well done. Next up is just how friendly this game is to getting your friends to join. It departs from the usual step of managing ‘garage’ slots in this genre. Once you unlock a ship, that’s it. You never have to remove it from your bar to make room. When you want to play it again, you literally just click on it, and it’s ready to go. No having to pay real money to unlock a slot, then re-buy and old ship with your limited funds. It is such a refreshing mechanic that I hope to see other games emulate. There’s also a referral code to give your friends which hooks them up with some premium currency when they join, and hooks you up if they stick around. Finally, the ‘medals’ you get after each battle are presented really well. I find myself wanting to scroll through the list after each battle, and sometimes it can get rather long. It gives a good sense of pride after each game, which helps boost your ego. I can’t really explain how it’s different from other games, but when I see them flash on screen during the match, I always look forward to seeing what it was after the game.

What Makes It…Not

My biggest gripe with this game is all of the currencies, and to that end the micro-progression that uses them. I still don’t understand exactly where each currencies come from, how to replenish them, and when I should be using them. That’s with 10+ hours in game now. I just avoid spending any currencies, and will continue to avoid them until I know what their purpose is. Obviously I’m making do without them just fine, but I know that’s not idea. That’s really it as far as negatives go. I don’t have a lot to complain about in this game.

The Bottom Line

I definitely recommend Star Conflict. It really brings back that Galactic Starfighter feeling from SWTOR. It’s very casual friendly, and at the same time it offers enough depth into your ship loadout that you can crank up the level of complexity a bit. Experience progression seems reasonable so far, I’m at Tier 5 of 15 after just 10 hours, and that’s starting over slightly to help a friend catch up. There are some nice innovations in the cash shop like ‘taunts’ that you can buy. Whenever you kill someone, a small little window will popup and taunt the dead player with a picture and matching spoken trash talk! This game is doing a lot of things right, and well deserving of your time if you’re looking for someone on the science-fiction end of things.

Pondering the Merits of Early Access

steam early access

Is Early Access Worth It?

This is apparently a hot-button topic. I think a lot of the problem lies in the definition. I have seen games go from Early Access straight to full release. This kind of clouds the whole Alpha-Beta process for games. A sense of misgiving also comes from broken promises. For example, I read an Early Access game statement the other day that said their intention was to stay in Early Access for 6 months. That statement was over 2 years old. Games that are perpetually in Early Access are a bit of a problem. I want to go over the pros and the cons, but for full disclosure, I am pro-early access.

Paying For Inconvenience

First up is paying for Alpha/Beta access. As a player of Early Access games, you are essentially paying to play an unfinished, buggy game. Generally developers give this kind of access for free because you are doing them the favor. So why should players now pay to test games? I think this is the strongest argument against Early Access. I personally don’t have a direct answer for it. I do think there is a more important consideration, which I’ll point out later.

It Always Comes Down To Money

The next part of this discussion is cost. In my experience, Early Access games are generally cheaper than AAA game titles. Most EA titles run right around the $20 mark, while AAA titles almost always start at $60. This is because you are investing in a game. It works the same way as investing in the real world. You are putting money into an Early Access game now, hoping it will be worth more in the long run. EA games definitely do not offer the same quality and amount of content when they start. Early Access is essentially self-funding. EA developers are using your money to continue development of a game. The alternative is having a big money developer back their title, but that comes with a huge price. Games that are released too soon, cutting features or mechanics to ‘dumb down’ things, and various other loss of control related cuts. EA developers don’t answer to shareholders, they answer to customers. Also worth mentioning, some EA games raise their price on release day. So getting in early can literally save you more money too.

Infinite Possibilities

I’ve saved what I consider the most important consideration for Early Access. I mentioned investing already from a monetary sense, but you’re also investing in a broader sense. How many games have you played where you thought, “If they added just this one feature, this game would be amazing.”? I bet even games you’ve enjoyed, you’ve still had some idea of how to make it better. Well, EA games are bringing those ideas to fruition. The alternative is to wait for some AAA developer to pick up the idea, and statistically, well, good luck with that. What was the last big AAA dinosaur title? ARK started as an Early Access game, and I love ARK. I’d argue that it’s a complete AAA sized game now, but the point is that dinosaur-lovers like myself have a game to play that involves dinosaurs thanks to an EA title. It offers PvE, PvP, as well as mods to make whatever play experience you could want. What other game could dino-lovers play that offers even half of that? EA games expand options for us, and I personally think this is the most important reason to back Early Access games. Otherwise, we’re stuck settling for what some corporate bean counter says will make them the most money. There’s an entire company with a reputation for releasing games early, and ironically they share the EA abbreviation.

Measure Value In Early Access Games

Early Access gives developers time. They can fund their development by selling copies of the game, instead of having to answer to timetables of profit-hungry investors. It clearly evokes some strong emotions in some people. I know people that will outright ignore any early access game, no matter how far along or how proven a game it is. I’ll look at a game, watch it for a little while, and then buy in. You’ll notice several games on my Black Friday shopping list are early release. For me, price is definitely the deciding factor for investing in Early Access. The earlier it is in development, the less I’m willing to spend. At the end of the day though, my measure of success for Early Access isn’t whether it releases or not, but if I have fun playing it. If I’ve gotten hundreds of hours out of a $20 early access game, I don’t care one bit if it ever makes it to full release or not.

Do you approve of Early Access?

Share why are you for, or against, Early Access games?

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada Review

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada Review

Capital Ship Combat in the Warhammer 40,000 Universe

I watched this game’s release come and go. It seemed interesting, but I had never delved into the Warhammer 40k universe before, and money is always a big concern. Several people on my Steam friends list were playing it on and off though. I really didn’t put much effort into researching it further until I couldn’t play Company of Heroes 2 anymore. I wanted another RTS that didn’t require peon and base management. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada definitely delivers in that department. Not only is it space ship combat, but capital ship combat! When I finally got into full research mode, I watched a stream on Twitch and was BLOWN AWAY. Pun intended.

General Information

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada retails for $39.99 MSRP, and it’s always great to see games that don’t follow the standard pricing model. More on that later. The game itself is an RTS game where you take control of a fleet of ships. The size of your fleet varies based on the faction you choose to some extent, but the rest is determined by points. Each ship has a value based on its configuration. If your ship is stock, it is cheaper. Upgrades will raise the point value of your ship. You start out on the smaller capital ships, and more, larger ships become available as you rank up. Your ships rank up individually too. If you lose one in a battle, there is a price to pay! There are also escort ships to fill out your fleet, and these are your fodder to sacrifice to keep your ships-of-the-line alive. They are in infinite supply, and there is no penalty for losing these.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada has a campaign mode if you want a story experience, but I haven’t touched that. I don’t focus on PvE content for my creative channels. Steam users give the story good reviews, for what that’s worth to you (73% overall rating as of this review). I’ve spent 19 hours so far fully immersed in the multiplayer mode, doing both PvE and PvP battles. Orks, The Imperium, Chaos, and Eldar are the four basic factions, with more factions being added via DLC with a $6.99 price tag. Space Marines, which I picked up too, and Tau are also available now. The game seems very complete. Matches go very quickly, generally less than 10 minutes in multiplayer. It’s great for someone with kids who doesn’t have that solid block of time to dedicate to gaming all the time/anymore.

What Makes It Fun

I mentioned being blown away before, and I wasn’t kidding. The first thing that struck me about this game is just how beautiful it is. The graphics are just AMAZING. This is one of the most visually appealing games I have ever played. Even with a 4 year old graphics card, I can boost settings to ultra and enjoy the view. The surprisingly wide variety of game modes is also a big plus. I’m never bored of just doing the same thing, even if I don’t particularly care for the mode I’m playing. Protect your space stations against an enemy fleet, defend your admiral ship while still managing your engagement, and stealing valuable data are just a few of the game modes available. I also want to give a little love to the price tag. $40 MSRP for a game like this is perfect. I picked it up for $20 during Black Friday 2016 sales, and other sales have ranged from 20% to 40% off.  If you want to help me out, you can click here to check Green Man Gaming which usually offer at least 20% off. Sales just make it an even better value.

As I mentioned before, I like non-traditional RTS games where you aren’t managing peons and base construction. There’s no management once you get into the game, it’s all focused on strategy and tactics. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is really shines in this department. Angles, speed, and timing are such critical factors. I also thoroughly enjoy the capital ship experience. Finding a game I enjoy that focuses on capital ships is difficult, usually it’s from the smaller fighter-scale perspective. Finally, I really enjoy the repercussions for losing your ships built into the game. You can’t just drive your ships wildly into battle without consequences. When ships are destroyed, they need repairs, you lose the kill-streak stat on your ship, and gain no XP from the match it was destroyed in. You can speed up repairs, but there is a currency payment penalty required.

What Makes It…Not

I really don’t have much to dump on about Battlefleet Gothic: Armada. I was a little disappointed at the scale. The trailer for the game really pushes the whole large-scale fleet action. I really want an enormous capital ship fleet versus fleet battle in a game. You can crank up the points in some of the games to a considerable amount, but not enough to satisfy anyone looking for Warhammer 40,000 space combat on a massive scale. Maybe a dozen ships if you play with a lot of the escort ships? A lot of this probably how to do with how great the game looks. You can’t spam models all over the screen, particle effects blazing, and expect to maintain peak performance on a wide variety of machines.

The Bottom Line

This is probably the easiest game for me to recommend to date. If you like RTS games, Warhammer 40k/sci fi settings, it’s a no brainer. I’m actually surprised it’s not more popular. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is not a twitch based game. Whether you spend those extra seconds maneuvering, or just reacting, it still feels like a fast-paced battle. It’s not a good or bad thing, in fact it opens up the age range of players, keeping both older and younger gamers competitive with each other. I think this bodes well for the long-term life of the game. So if the game is good, and the price is right, then many battles await you in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada!