Sony Is “For The Players”, and Now Incredibly Hostile!

Sony has become a bit of a standout in the industry, with a new display of hostility towards developers bringing fresh outrage…

Sony, Sony please stop being hostile.

Time to bring this up again…

Sony has a history of pro-consumerism. The PS4 is built upon this logic. Just like I have noted in the past however, it’s not holding up. It only took a few years to break down into hostility.

Cross Platform What?

Hostility prevents the PS4 from joining in

This is the future?

Hop back to E3 2017 for a moment.

Unfortunately it’s a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders, and I’m not going to get into the detail of that on this particular instance. And I can see your eyes rolling.

We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base

Everybody has to take their own decisions. We’ll do that. Like I say, we have no philosophical stance against cross-play at all.

That said, to my knowledge, there is no live conversation ongoing at the moment.

Source (Seriously read it all, it is pure gold!)

This is how Sony’s Jim Ryan responded to Eurogamer about not allowing cross-platform play with other consoles in both Rocket League and Minecraft. No one consistent answer was given.

Yeah this isn’t a good look but wait, there is now more.

This was based, we assumed, on fear, and wanting to keep their install base. A company that built a base on pro-consumer moves in the wake of the Xbox One now does the things they said they wouldn’t.

Now however, we see what it is truly based on.

 

Sony Is Acting on Pure Hostility

Fortnite is blocked to PS4. Not a good look.

Do you like Fortnite? Got some bad news…

Fortnite just released on the Nintendo Switch! This would be great news. Turns out, if your Epic Games account has ever touched a PS4, that account can now never be used on Xbox One or Nintendo Switch. No, deleting the link doesn’t work. Once it’s been there, it’s locked away forever.

The same is true in reverse. If you link an account to Switch or Xbox, it won’t work on PS4. This is a huge problem, as Fortnite links progress to your Epic account, which we should stress is a third-party account.

Many PS4 users have found this to be an issue, wanting to play on Switch. This has gone beyond simply not allowing play between systems. This is now wrestling a third-party account and wanting you to only play on PS4.

This is hostility towards other systems. They want to be the only place you ever play games, and they are doing their damnedest to keep their users to them, by inconveniencing them going elsewhere.

It Makes Business Sense…Briefly

Hostility will end the PS4's Dominance it would seem.

The Best Place to Play No Longer

So the constant lies about why they don’t want cross-platform play. The newfound hostility towards the other systems. This all stinks of what we know now as “Arrogant Sony”. Remember the PS3 launch? Top of the world, can do no wrong, and it backfired. They believed consumers had no choice in who they went to, they thought they were on top of the world. Then they fell.

Now the PS4 bounces back, pro-consumer for all of what seemed like 20 minutes. Sure, they want to keep their lead, but now, what benefit is there to playing third-party games on a PS4?

On PC, you get mods. Xbox One X, you get the best console performance. Switch, you get portability. On PS4, you get tied to the system with a brick around your ankles.

Across all of the above, except PS4 of course, you can all talk, play against or with each other in games. In Fortnite, your progress even carries over. This is the future. Developers want it. Epic Games wants it. But the dinosaur that is Sony will not let it happen.

They want control. But the power is with the players now more than ever.

 

So What Do We Do?

 

Some believe the one with the largest install base has nothing to gain. But they do. In the (Increasingly likely if you pay attention) scenario where the PS5 launches and falls behind the next Xbox, these past practices will have caused people to move away. Sure, it’s fine now, but people don’t forget. Especially now the biggest game in the world is the subject.

The answer is simple, play where you want, but remember that the noise will only grow as more and more games adopt this approach. There will be a time where they have to allow it. If not, the mantra of the PlayStation falls apart at the seems.

This is more than Microsoft taking shots at Sony. This is consumers not being treated fairly, and developers not being given the freedoms they deserve.

 

Thanks for reading, and this is an issue that now more than ever needs to be scrutinised. Perhaps the future will change things, but Sony is in a position of power to abuse now…but anyway, go boot up Fortnite and play with whoever YOU want! Happy Gaming!

Impressions: PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds!

An exercise in frustration, or an amazing game with a great concept?

 

So PUBG is something I have been aware of for a few months but never got into for monetary and other reasons. I simply had too much to do. But yesterday, live on stream, I played my first few matches.

 

I had only seen sparse footage of the game, or real discussion about it beyond its influence on Twitch and gaming as a whole. I know the story behind its creation, but not much of the actual gameplay beyond what is, on paper at least, an amazing concept.

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Airdrop up to 100 players into a huge map. Have them scavenge for armour, weaponry, tools and upgrades to their equipment…and kill each other. As they do this, the play area shrinks. Fall outside of this, your health is drained. So you have 100 people being funnelled down into a smaller and smaller area, and the last man standing wins.

This is truly an excellent concept…on paper.

Personally the idea of only two maps is a bit disheartening, until you realise these maps are huge, and the high variance of the games means every play will be different. You’ll never have the same round twice. Almost.

 

The execution of this concept is what drives me to a mixed reaction to it.

There are primarily three scenarios for your time in PUBG:

You are not likely to have two matches play out the same, unless you are unfortunate enough to be airdropped in next to someone, or a few people, who quickly find weapons, and bang, you are out of there within two minutes.

That isn’t the most fun aspect of the game. If you get lucky and don’t die immediately (Great! You got lucky!) you now need to find weapons. You can spend a good while running through open spaces (And thus be an obvious target) between buildings that may or may not end up with you defending yourself. Or dying if someone is hiding in one. That can happen too.

Long and short, you can spend a long time not being able to actually partake in the core of the gameplay.

Finally, you can end up in the third scenario which plays one of two ways. You’ll either get extremely fortunate and end up in semi-frequent bouts of combat and win, or die, or end up not finding anyone until the map shrinks and there are about 20 players left, and then come out on top…or die.

As shown above I made it to 7th place in a match…where I got two kills and spent a good 20 minutes sat in a house waiting for stuff to happen as the play area shrank and shrank, until I got blasted from the side.

This is easily the most fun part of the game. It’s high adrenaline, and goodness knows a grenade or gunshot with headphones on makes you leap out of your skin in what is a quiet world otherwise. Plus the knowledge that combat is inevitable and closing in on you is an amazing feeling.

This is where PUBG works best. Occasional combat instances, good luck finding weapons, and being able to play smart, assuming people don’t snipe you. Of course, you’ve got a 1 in 3 chance of your game even getting that far. More often than not, it feels like it won’t.

 

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Of course that’s just the game design. Visually the game can range from alright to almost N64 style in visual quality, even at full resolution, as sometimes models and textures are incredibly poor. Other times not, which is a weird inconsistency. Maybe this a downside of playing on “Medium” settings, while streaming.

It should be noted I had very few network related issues, even when streaming the game and hosting a Skype call at the same time. That much is very functional at least, which is mandatory for a multiplayer game.

In terms of controls, I used both a Dualshock 4, and Keyboard/Mouse.

Keyboard worked fine for what it is, everything is mercifully within reach, just as I have explained before however, it’s not the most comfortable solution for me as a player. The downside of using a controller means some features like underhanded throws and quick switching through weapons, aren’t available without sacrificing other things. It’s a prioritize what you need kind of situation.

Finally, aiming seems a little…weird. Guns have the appropriate kind of blowback, which means you won’t just fire in a straight line. But reviewing some “Death Cam” footage (It happened a lot), I can see players do have a hard time lining up shots or even getting them to connect. I don’t know if that’s a network thing of if the aiming is just slightly off, but it’s a strange oddity.

 

Overall I can say PUBG on PC is something to at least try out. On Xbox One, I don’t know as I can’t test that version, but from what I have seen it’s not as smooth an experience at the moment, compared to the now out of “Early Access” PC version.

But therein lies the problem: The idea of the game is amazing. It’s just luck as to whether it plays out in a way that you enjoy, or if it effectively ends with you in a boring scenario where nothing happens for a good while, or die immediately upon starting.

 

Thanks for reading this Impressions piece on PUBG! It was an interesting experience and you can bet I will be doing more like this in future! If you enjoyed this article or have your own thoughts on PUBG, let me know on social media or in the comments, and I will see you next time: Happy Gaming!

Behind The Game: Games of the Year!

Rather than do a numbered list, we will just be posting our favourite games of this past year.

 

In reality, a lot of games I played this year were from years past, but I have picked up plenty of 2017 titles, so let’s dive right in, in no particular order of course.

There will be some close omissions, and a fair few popular games are ones I haven’t simply had the time or money to get around to playing this year, such as Persona 5, but I am most definitely aware of their impact and deserved praise.

 

Sonic Mania

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch

Developer: Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, PagodaWest Games

Publisher: SEGA

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We reviewed this game and gave it glowing praise, granted it isn’t perfect, as a testament to what makes a great, fast paced, replayable 2D Adventure. Be it the stunning visuals in all their HD Pixel-y glory, or the jazzy retro soundtrack from Tee Lopes, there is something for any fan of platformers to enjoy. If you want some retro 2D goodness, this is where you go.

 

Chicken Wiggle

Available on Nintendo 3DS Systems

Developer: Atooi

Publisher: Atooi

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From the 2D wizards at Atooi under Jools Watsham we have Chicken Wiggle. This game is certainly a welcome addition to the ever-expanding 3DS family that flew under everyone’s radars amongst all the Switch hype this summer. The gameplay is charming and simple, but buried within is the incredible level creation tools used to create the game with different objectives and the ability to share your creations with other players. Give this one a go if it’s your fancy. This is the prime level creation community game for 3DS!

 

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Available on Nintendo Switch

Developer: Ubisoft Milan/Ubisoft Paris

Publisher: Ubisoft

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Another game we have written about before, this time in the form of a Behind The Game examination, Mario + Rabbids is a game that admittedly drew me in to tactical RPGs. My wallet cries already. Where other games have lost me on overcomplicated mechanics, Kingdom Battle strives ahead with simple but in-depth mechanics, and a true to form presentation backed up by Grant “Noggy” Kirkhope (Sorry Grant, but Twitter doesn’t lie!) and his traditional jaunty tunes bringing each world to life. This is a game full of surprises and well worth picking up, even if it can beat you down without mercy!

 

Metroid: Samus Returns

Available on Nintendo 3DS Systems

Developer: MercurySteam

Publisher: Nintendo

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MercurySteam may have a history with Metroidvania titles, but nothing quite does their talents justice than Samus Returns. Sure the game can be difficult, very difficult at times, and it’s structure being based on Metroid II Return of Samus maybe doesn’t give it quite that open-ended Metroid feel we are used to, it is still a fantastic atmospheric and well-developed title, with unique twists to really make it stand out amongst its 2D Metroid brethren. Even just as an action game, you can’t go wrong here.

 

Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy

Available on PS4

Developer: Vicarious Visions

Publisher: Activision

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Crash is back, and it is truly fantastic. Faithful (At times to a fault) remakes of the original trilogy from the PSone days, this is a trilogy available on PS4 that any PSone, platformer or retro fans want to nab. Difficult, charming, and true to the spirit of the originals we remember, this is the return the Bandicoot deserved. They even threw in some little bonuses and attention to details that fans will appreciate.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Available on Nintendo Switch and Wii U

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

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So full admission going in to this: I’m not a huge fan of 3D Zelda. Something about the slower starts really turns me away. Up to the release of this game the only one I beat was The Wind Waker HD. So to my surprise, the speed at which this game lets you begin, let’s you learn and progress entirely at your own pace and gives you this huge captivating world you want to explore, even if the rewards aren’t all worth it. There are annoyances, but like many games above, this simply captivated me into continuing, just to see what was over the next ridge. This is a game I can safely say will give you an experience totally unique to you.

 

Snake Pass

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch

Developer: Sumo Digital

Publisher: Sumo Digital

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One thing I always adore in games is a unique idea, and this is no different. How do you do a platformer….without the power to jump? Simply put, you use a snake. Snake Pass caught my eye from day one just as something different. Another charming almost throwback to the past, with the unique challenge of learning the physics and how Noodle works to explore the levels. There are plenty of optional challenges should you desire them, especially going for 100%, but impatient sorts will find themselves in a bit of a tangle. Stick with it though, and you’ll soon see what makes this such a gem.

 

Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together!

Available on Nintendo Switch

Developer: SFB Games

Publisher: Nintendo

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Yet another game that caught my eye due to its unique premise. You and a friend, or yourself on your own I suppose, co-operate and communicate in short puzzles that test your cunning, wit, and inevitable use of innuendo to refer to certain strategies. This is a game I am very happy to see get more content, if only for simple fun with friends. This is the top co-operative game this year for me, and nothing beats the blushing, laughter, and sound of gears turning in your mind when you sit down and play with friends for a few hours. You’ll be hard pressed to keep a straight face with this as your friend asks you to “Snip” them!

 

Super Mario Odyssey

Available on Nintendo Switch

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

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Another for us platformer fans. Of course a successor to Super Mario 64 would be great but I had no idea I would be sinking 40 hours of my time, over a few nights, to get 100% in this game. I was unprepared for the variety, the creativity, the sheer joy at even simple actions, in a game that both looks back, and pushes forward. What it has is unique and incredibly solid mechanics and worlds, and only rarely loses focus with the sheer volume of content. This is a game you will come back to in years to come and still find new ways to approach things.

 

Splatoon 2

Available on Nintendo Switch

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

Splatoon-2-Main

Rounding out one of my favourite years in gaming so far is Splatoon 2, a game that manages to pull me back in for an hour or two a week just to mess around with the new content. Fun, colourful, and an improvement over the original, this is my multiplayer game of the year and for good reason: It’s simply fun. Not only does it capture the perfect “One More Round” mentality, but it keeps itself fresh week after week, and the sheer abundance of modes means every time you play, you’ll catch yourself trying something new. This takes an already unique concept one step further by simply giving you more bang for your buck.

 

 

Those are just 10 of my favourite games from this year. Of course I intentionally left out re-releases like Mario Kart and Mega Man, but some genuinely amazing games were also up for consideration.

I’m very glad to have had an amazing year in gaming with both big and small companies providing the good stuff in a multitude of genres and it’s a shame I can’t play them all. I have an ever-growing wish list of 2017 games I still want to pick up and play!

Yes there are the usual suspects, but one can’t forget this year for me has been a year of unexpected gems, and indie developers absolutely bringing their A game.

As always if you enjoyed this or have any other games you personally loved this year, please let us know on social media and give this article a share, and I will see you next time. Until then, Happy Gaming!

 

 

The Problem of AAA Development: Money and Vultures

The news of EA buying Respawn Entertainment (May they rest in peace) has spurred a thought: Is AAA game development actually sustainable?

 

So EA closed Visceral in late 2017, suddenly but to the surprise of no one. As it happens this was just yet another in their hit list: Be it studios swallowed whole or internal studios biting the dust.

Now EA, not long after disbanding Visceral and their single player Star Wars project, has bought Respawn and the IP for Titanfall.

Titanfall 2 was actually surprisingly awesome, and it even made a little marketing push on having no DLC, no micro transactions, and just being a solid game you got the entirety of with one purchase.

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And EA, the publisher, put it right in between Call of Duty, and it’s OWN Battlefield 1, effectively cannibalizing its sales. We now also know with this acquisition that Titanfall 3 is a thing in the works. Taking bets as to how that will turn? Well let’s look back at Dead Space.

 

EA wanted Dead Space to be a multimedia thing. It didn’t happen, but the first two games sold really well. Dead Space 3 however, needed 5 million sales for a future, and had micro transactions and modes added that frankly had no place in a game like that: Sales tanked, Visceral got moved to Battlefield Hardline, that didn’t do too well, and now they are gone.

You can probably tell what Titanfall 3 will be like can’t you? Oh, and the developers get bonuses based on how well the games review. Money talks apparently.

 

Respawn is just yet another studio with talented staff, good IP and a drive to make good games snatched up by proverbial vultures. When, and it isn’t a case of “If”, Respawn is closed by EA, it will be for not meeting expectations. But what are those expectations?

activision

Let’s look at Activision’s Q4 2016 sales figures:

 

Activision Blizzard confirmed during their Q4 2016 Earnings Call that the entire company, across Activision and Blizzard titles, made over $3.6 billion just from in-game content sales. In-game content sales includes Call of Duty Points, Overwatch Loot Boxes, and more.

Link

Now let’s look at Take Two:

“We’ve said that we aim to have recurrent consumer spending opportunities for every title that we put out at this company. It may not always be an online model, it probably won’t always be a virtual currency model, but there will be some ability to engage in an ongoing basis with our titles after release across the board,” Zelnick said.

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EA themselves have quoted games as a service model as a key driver.

 

Let’s be honest though, is this shocking? No. Businesses exist to make money, but the more staff they have to hire, the more the consumer demands better graphics, the more capable the hardware for games becomes, and the longer games take to make, means bigger budgets, more wages, and ultimately, a need to sell more copies. Far, far more.

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Part of this is the “$60” price tag of games. One time purchase, that’s it. No more money for the publishers and developers. So what do they do? Find a way to increase monetization: A constant stream of revenue. Lootboxes, In-app purchases, DLC, it all goes straight to them. But it doesn’t stop at covering costs, it continues to making as much money as humanly possible, often with minimal effort and some very dodgy practices.

Take Call of Duty: WWII for instance. The game has lootboxes, with a twist. Others can see what you get, with the aim of seemingly spurring jealously.

According to redditor cuzseile, who uploaded the video, the supply drop exists in the game world but other players can’t steal it, which you’d expect. But cuzseile reports other players can see what you get from a supply drop

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The psychology of reward and feeling good is at full use here, akin to gambling, and of course, Activision also has that patent, where matchmaking can be based on pushing you via losses and other players into purchasing lootboxes.

Publishers have leapt to the furthest end of the spectrum in seeking additional monetization. Honestly, as many have noted, if the game was free it could easily sustain itself on in-app purchases just on player base. Any game could in theory. In practice though, its not just a case of making ends meet as they claim: Now it’s predatory, and now it is about milking as much as possible.

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Even smaller studios, to loop back to the start of the article, are in need of money. It is why studios are bought up: They need publishers, and a source of income. Why wouldn’t you take that opportunity if presented? But the publishers typically twist and gut the studio into their vision of maximised profits.

 

Personally, I would be fine with a $10 price increase on games. That could go a surprisingly long way to meeting costs and break even points. Sadly though, the big publishers have already tasted the blood in the water, and won’t settle for the more market friendly lesser revenue.

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AAA gaming is a vulture. Or maybe a parasite is more apt? Either way, it swallows creativity whole, and turns studios most people knew and loved of all sizes into factories, producing not games but products.

As an aside, during my time studying Games Design at university, this is the model we were taught: Not to produce games, but products. Plan ahead from the mere conception of a game to form ways of further monetizing, be it DLC, removing content to sell later, or in app purchases. This is something I heartedly disagree with. Yes, in-app purchases have a place, mostly in free games, but not in a title already paid for.

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The games industry is a ravenous beast, hungry for the taste of as much revenue as possible, and all the talent it can absorb to get that revenue. As consumers want more from games, studios need to fund that. They turn to publishers who want as much money as possible, then in a few years see more hardware come out, games look better, cost more to make, and the cycle continues.

 

The industry isn’t unsustainable, at least not yet. It needs change. Perhaps the biggest problem is that it is noticeably cannibalising itself, breaking down what talent it has and the bright futures and ideas of many, in the sake of the now, the money, the gain, and it isn’t looking to the future, where games are solely predatory and more expensive than ever, without any reason to be that way.

I’ve said it before, and I will probably say it forever: Minimal Effort, Maximum Profit.

 

As always if you enjoyed this article leave a comment with your thoguhts, share with your friends, and happy gaming!

 

 

Controllers: Why They Matter, And How I Learned To Love Overwatch

Controls are the most important aspect of how you interface with a game. They come in all shapes and sizes but sometimes they aren’t ideal for the player.

 

Sometimes controls can be weird. Or fun. Or intuitive. Sometimes they can be downright bad.

Now for reference when talking about “Controls” in this context I am referring strictly to the device in your hands that you use to move the player controlled object and interface with the game, not the actual movement of a character, as that’s an entirely different discussion.

So why do controls matter? Well it’s simple. If the way you are playing the game isn’t comfortable, then…well you won’t have as much fun, obviously. This is down to a few things, namely preference, necessity, and layout.

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For instance with controller layouts, there are some that just end up with your hand like a pretzel, the immediate thought being Terraria on PS3. That is definitely a doable experience but is in no way optimal, given the game and it’s design is based around a keyboard layout.

For preference, let’s take aiming in a FPS or Third-Person Shooter. Using an analog stick for this, while doable, is miles from using a mouse or gyroscopic aiming. For note, in Splatoon I use gyro controls for aiming with the analog stick being reserved solely for minor movements on the x axis. Attempting to play something like DOOM (2016) on PS4, while certainly doable, feels slow and clunkier compared to a mouse or gyro. Most likely this is an issue with precision and how fast a mouse/your arm can move compared to an analog stick. Sure, sensitivity adjustment helps, but on an analog stick you lose the ability to stop precisely. You’ll aim in a direction pretty quickly, but stopping where you want is a hassle.

 

Another famous anecdote from across the web is that keyboard and mouse is “Superior”. Now, this is true: But it depends on the game. I can wholeheartedly say playing a 3D platformer with a keyboard is the definition of a nightmare, and actually crosses with something I’ll bring up on a personal level later. But something like ARMA III, you won’t play that in any way other than a keyboard, out of necessity.

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And now we come to the personal anecdote, and I realise that most likely no one else will ever play this game in this way, but it works for me.

 

So I was gifted Overwatch on PC by a friend and after many months of just…well never booting it really, I finally gave it an honest go, keyboard and mouse. And I hated it. The main complaint I had is both personal and one I have stemming from consoles.

So my personal complaint is that keyboard and mouse is just uncomfortable for me. My right hand has injuries that make prolonged mouse use not fun and my left hand doesn’t mesh well to a keyboard for jumping between inputs on a moments notice given the sheer volume of keys.

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The issue stemming from console gaming is actually that of the D-pad. See, WASD at the end of the day on most keyboards is basically a D-pad. The keys are digital, meaning they are either on or off. There are no precise movements like those gained with an analog stick (And Overwatch does in fact have this built in, just you can’t do it with most keyboards), and another huge problem is that Overwatch is a game in a 3D Space, that is based heavily around movement.

Now for the life of me, no matter what it is, I can’t stand the imprecision of digital movement in a 3D space. 2D is more bearable, but in 3D there is more precise movements to be made, due to the nature of the space. Further to that, using WASD is effectively using a D-pad (Only not in an exact + formation, which I admit is fun for muscle memory in 2D games!). You have what is ultimately 8 directions of movement, via 4 digital buttons. It’s a D-Pad in principle. And in Overwatch, as I started to play it, I found not only was I mis-clicking, but also suffering from awkward movement, and my hands were aching. This was a truly miserable experience.

So, with some Discord game development friends they suggested I try a controller. Now that would mean I have to aim with a stick, but we gave it a shot. Now I don’t own an Xbox branded controller anymore (Because of my hand issues that right analog stick is discomfort incarnate) so we went to my next best thing – My default PC controller: The Switch Pro Controller.

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And It’s not supported by Overwatch (Figures, it’s a DInput controller not XInput) but we whipped out some keybinding software, and have it an honest go. Movement with an analog stick, despite still being digital at the end of the day, felt better due to how the analog moves compared to, again, 4 buttons in a 3D Space. So my movement grievances were solved! But then came the aiming.

Never map a mouse to an analog stick. Just don’t. That’s a sensitivity mess that just doesn’t work, as you map the free movement of mouse to a more limited stick.

So we ended up (And props to Nintendo for making Joy-Con individual controllers) a controller setup now dubbed “Controller and Mouse”. And my God, does it work.

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So on the Joy-Con I mapped Jump to ZL, Ability 1 and 2 to ZR and Up, Ultimate to a click of the Stick, and reload to SL where my finger rests. On the mouse is just Fire and Ability 3/Alt Fire where applicable. This obviously requires reconfiguring based on which hero I use, but man. The free aim of the mouse and movement of the Joy-Con has opened this game up to me.

Is this ideal? Probably not. I’m sure Blizzard wants me using keyboard and mouse but again, if you aren’t comfortable in playing the game, you want to stop playing. I was determined to give Overwatch a go, and I did, and I really enjoy it. I don’t love it, but it’s fun.

And across the internet you can find people using special controllers, really kickass fighting game players who are blind, some who swear by fight sticks, and hell, you can even find Super Smash Bros. Melee players who use the Gamecube controller…upside down! That controller is still supported in the series to this day.

 

Controls are a huge factor of a game: The single most important if you ask me. If the game is unintuitive or uncomfortable to play, people will seek a work around where possible.

 

What do our readers think? Leave a comment down below with any games you had hard times controlling, or crazy control schemes you’ve seen, and as always, share the article and happy gaming! 🙂

Behind The Game: Splatoon 2

In this edition of Behind The Game we look at the sequel that many say isn’t a sequel to one of the surprise hits of the past few years: Splatoon 2!

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Revealed January 12th at the Nintendo Switch Event in Japan, showcasing the game, new hub area and characters. Response was positive, with lingering suspicion that it wasn’t unique enough or much of an upgrade over the original from 2015.

Playable at Nintendo Switch events worldwide leading up to the launch of the console, where feedback was positive, ringing along the lines of “It’s definitely Splatoon”, albeit most focus was on the hardware.

Late March brought the Splatoon 2 Global Testfire, following the trend from the original in creating a stress test in the guise of a playable demo for a weekend. This led to feedback directly from a wider range of fans on weapons and presented a limited taste of the game. This was later followed immediately before launch with a Splatfest World Premiere demo, acting as another stress test and highlighting the unique community battles aspect of the franchise, immediately before launch.

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The game was also highlighted in Nintendo Directs, first as a follow-up to a more general game showcase that focused heavily on ARMS, a new IP, and Splatoon 2, which was pushed as a duet of main events, highlighting the pulling power of the franchise.

There was later a full ARMS direct with a Splatoon 2 Story Mode teaser at the end, once again highlighting the two being marketed in tandem, and the promise of the game being used to push a new product.

Finally, a full Splatoon 2 direct aired showing the new hosts, story mode, weapons, update plans, Splatfest plans, and laying out the roadmap and what to expect over two years with the game, as well as new modes and features. This followed on from a large E3 showing highlighting the changes and promise of Splatoon 2 as a competitive spectator sport, with a live tournament of some of the best Squid Squads from around the globe.

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Right up to and after launch, consistent TV spots were played worldwide, highlighting the game to the general consumer, along with other multiplayer titles for the summer.

 

Critical Response

Critically Splatoon 2 fared well. Most loved the game, albeit the lingering feeling of not being fresh enough stayed, both visually and in terms of gameplay, as well as some nagging aspects that could have been better. This general response is an interesting change on the original which said there wasn’t enough content at launch, but the game was a shock the genre needed, and felt addictive to play, holding enough quick-fire gameplay in its matches to warrant returning again and again.

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With the content roadmap clearly laid out, critically the game had less focus on amount of content overall, but how much was new, however, in very few cases did that seem to detract from the game being fun, and a general air of don’t fix what isn’t broken surrounds the game.

 

Fan Response

In the eyes of fans, Splatoon 2 faced much of the same backlash. Visually similar, with the differences early on being visible only side by side. The feeling that it wasn’t worthy of being a sequel lingered right until launch, when new information was pumped out, showing the freshness of this new title in the now series.

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Post-launch the feeling changed, and the game is generally loved, though some fans of the original who played considerable amounts of the game, seem to feel a bit of burn out. Criticism is still levelled at how the game handles aspects like matchmaking and stages, and a lack of wholly original content, but the experience has been received as fun and again, just like with critics, an air of don’t fix what isn’t broken.

 

Sales

Despite being on a system only a few months old at the time of launch, compared to its predecessor, with less total users to possible sell to on launch, Splatoon 2 trounced the original game sales in both the UK and Japan. This shocked many detractors who, like with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, believed that being so soon after the original, who would buy it? This again stems from the “Undeserving sequel” stance many took with the game, however, just like with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is already on its way to best its predecessor commercially, with over 3.6 million copies by the end of September 2017.

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Future

As an evergreen title, with a content roadmap of 2 years and long life ahead of that for general play, as well as a blossoming competitive scene, Splatoon 2 is one of the shocks of the decade, from a new IP in a genre Nintendo never touched, to a hit on Wii U (Even with its low sales), to a sequel that is already on track to best it’s predecessor and live a long life on Switch. The future of the brand is clear, though the confidence in Splatoon 2 from its reveal, mirrors the found confidence after the reveal of the original, an idea that is fun, and works well, that proves the series can grow and reach even more people within the genre, and the inevitable Splatoon 3 will be a hit on Switch or whatever is next, as the franchise cements itself as both a system seller and crowd pleaser.

 

 

As always if you enjoyed this article be sure to leave some comments below letting us know what you think of Splatoon 2 as a package, and share this article with all your friends! Until next time!

Can Multiplayer Focused Games Have Sequels?

The reaction to Splatoon 2 not being “new enough” makes us wonder…can these multiplayer focused games really get sequels?

 

So this is a strange topic. Multiplayer focused games, be it MMOs, fighting games, MOBAs, so on and so forth, build communities around themselves competitively, primarily from the mechanics being engaging and enjoyable to play.

In some franchises, such as first person shooters like Call of Duty, the frequent sequels don’t impact the game much. But for genres that exist with single entries for years at a time, a sequel is a big shake up.  Something like Super Smash Bros. for instance, only gets a new entry every few years. But with it comes a well documented problem: Change.

So within fighting games especially, mechanical changes are hot topics. To this day, there are known showings of events where Smash 4 is played, only for the crowd to demand Melee immediately after due to “Superiority”. Brawl is almost reviled by the community for its mechanics. The change was seen as a bad thing – Too far from Melee, is a bad game for those communities.

So jump ahead to Splatoon. A game that absolutely lives on its mechanics. But the sequel released 2 years later, most likely to bolster the console it was on early in its life, was met with near universal complaints that it “Isn’t new enough”. But the thing is, how much could they change? Too much, it falls into the Brawl trap. Too little, and this complaint arises. With Splatoon, a game so focused on it’s mechanics to stand out, if too much is changed…is it even the same game?

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With other games like this, such as League of Legends, or Overwatch, try to consider a sequel. How much would they actually be able to evolve the gameplay, while keeping it the same game, before hitting the Brawl problem? These games, like Splatoon, live on expansions, some paid and some free.

But then we hit another issue – World of Warcraft is getting expansions-less servers! A basic experience is being touted as a good thing, in the face of how much the game has evolved and changed.

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This is a delicate balance – Multiplayer focused games really can get sequels, but the balance between keeping it similar enough for the community while also doing enough to make it new…is difficult. Who knows, maybe Splatoon 3 will be a big hit and change a lot. Maybe an issue with Splatoon 2 was how quick it arrived in stores?

 

All I know is it will be very interesting to see how other game in the field evolve – if sequels ever come on new consoles like the PS5 or if the game just gets re-released.