Video Game News
Overwatch, Blizzard Entertainment's newest IP, just released on PCs and Consoles within the last week. Ive played some of the open beta and a handful of hours since the game's launch (my gameplay videos can be found here), and I have to say that it is quite a testament to good game design from the very start.
But what is it exactly that makes Overwatch so special, in a sea of multiplayer competitive games? Is it the cool characters? The fast and exciting gameplay? The use of abilities over weapons? Or is it something else?
Movie Review, Video Game News
The time is finally upon us, and even though I heard of it years ago, it's hard for me to believe that we're actually getting a live-action Warcraft feature film. Thoughts and feelings of its expected quality aside, Warcraft stands on very important ground. The ground has been broken before, but we've never gotten very deep in it, and the war between Orcs and Humans has the potential to send us deeper than ever before in the world of video game films.
Sure, we're getting the Ratchet and Clank film, which by all rights looks excellent, but it isn't doing much to separate the traditionalist expectation that video games are for children, or adults who haven't grown out of being children. Much like comic books before the films Batman Begins or Iron Man proved, on a very successful level, that the stories within the illustrated pages of a graphic novel could be enjoyed by anyone, many people still see video games as a time-waster for kids. Though that belief is diminishing as years go by and the success of sites like Youtube and Twitch become ever more present. I'm still waiting for the day when Pew Die Pie or someone in a similar position will purchase a mansion across the street from Kanye. That's when we'll know we've reached the point of true video game acceptance into our culture.
Video Game News
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has been out for a couple of years now, and the game has taken on a speed and pace all it's own. While there are decks and builds in which you can adopt a slow, meticulous game, if you're wanting to climb the ladder in ranked play, you're going to need a deck that hits the ground running on turn one and Never. Lets. Up.
Blizzard has been aware of this, and they've tried to incorporate cards which would change the pace of the game. Cards like Loatheb, Emperor Thaurissan, Reno Jackson, and others are best served in slower decks, and the mechanic informally referred to as Joust also seemed to be a way to make games become more of a strategic puzzle and less of a practice of emptying your hand.
Enter the Old Gods, and sure enough, the game takes on a brand new identity.
Writing, Video Game News, Round 10
It has been a difficult few weeks for writing. Where I once knocked out the first episode and a half of Astral Tides: The Shadows of Uhmakhet inside of 10 days, a personal best for me, the events of my life through the month of August have since left me unable to focus long enough to write more than 1000 words at a time. It doesn't matter that I have the entire plot of AT:tSoU meticulously planned out and am already spit-balling ideas for the third book, I still find it hard to sit down and actually write.
So, in an effort to turn label a temporary distraction as lateral progression, I decided to write a blog post, if for nothing else than to give my writing juices that much more of a flow.
I'd be lying if I said that I've been working diligently each day. While an effort has been made every day to sit down and type some words -- any words -- I think it would be dishonest to call it 'diligent work'. So this blog post will be about the various distractions that have been plaguing my mind lately, from revisiting old video games, to new board games, to my own game development.
A couple of weeks after my wedding, my best man arranged to have me kidnapped by a mutual friend and brought to the Twin Cities for a day of tabletop gaming and Minnesota Twins spectating. One of the things we did that day was play a demo version of the XCOM Board Game from Fantasy Flight Games. It's a tabletop adaptation of one of my favorite PS3 games, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It was simple, tense, and fun, especially once we were running cooperative play with four players. It was so addicting, and offered enough of a challenge that I ordered myself a copy from Amazon a couple days after returning home, and have since been delving into it every few days or so for a solo game here or there (since my wife hasn't felt up to learning another board game).
Single player is a true challenge, since a large part of the game's difficulty rests in the fact that players only have a handful of seconds (never more than 30) to make specific decisions about how to handle the threats that are placed before them. And when you're one player attempting to control all four of the roles in the game, it can become pretty frantic as you throw pieces on the board and hope you didn't go over budget.
Another time-waster I've rediscovered recently is Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Though it is almost two years old, I have never beaten it, and I picked it back up a couple of months ago and have made a little progress each week. This is one of the very few games that I actually have a desire to complete 100% of all the side objectives, collectibles and challenges. I've always said that if Rockstar Games made a pirate video game, similar to Red Dead Redemption, I'd be in love. Well, the fact that Ubisoft's own pirate adventure has me so enthralled is a testament to how good it is. And I was a gamer who dropped the AC franchise after the first one, because I got bored in with how repetitive it was (this coming from a guy who plays MMOs seems a little hypocritical, I know).
Finally, the last form of entertainment that has been eating up my time is the new video game that released on PS4, Until Dawn. Now, I'm not actually playing it, since I do not own a PS4, but my wife and I have been watching a play through from our favorite YouTube personalities, Matt and Pat from Two Best Friends Play. It plays out like your typical teen slasher horror flick, with characters and relationships and drama making up the meat of the early game, with some chills and jump scares thrown in to remind you that 'shit will get real at some point'. It's incredibly entertaining and I find myself thoroughly excited to see where it goes in each episode. While Telltale has been own the adventure game corner for quite some time, it's nice to see other companies release their own, original, adventure games that are taking the bar set by Telltale and raising it even more.
But, at some point, I need to get back to my writing, though that may not be in the 4k+ words a day range again until after this next play is over with. I, once again, have found it impossible to say no to community theater, and will be staring in a production of Bill W. And Dr. Bob, a comedic drama about the founding of AA. I enjoy this play, and I am excited to share the stage with this wonderful cast and work with the talented crew.
Until such a time when Astral Tides: The Shadows of Uhmakhet is released, you can always pick up your copy of Astral Tides: Rimward, or even Cybersaurus: The Awakening, from the Kory Stories store!
Video Game News
The reason I skipped my regularly scheduled Friday post was because it was BlizzCon weekend, and I was excitedly sitting in front of my television, enjoying the virtual ticket I had purchased, watching the Blizzard Entertainment convention that I had been salivating for over the past few weeks. Sure, I probably could've pulled myself away from the streaming videos of pro-Starcraft players to write up a quick post, but I didn't really feel like it.
At the head of the BlizzCon opening ceremonies, they dropped quite a bomb of an announcement. We were all expecting to hear about something new, something noteworthy. Some speculated it to be the next World of Warcraft expansion, some expected it to be something related to Starcraft or maybe even Diablo. Some, like me, expected a new intellectual property entirely.
Shortly after 11:00am Pacific Standard, we were given our first views of Blizzard's next universe, the newest world to stand beside those of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo.
We were given Overwatch.