Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2012

The Secret World Has Me Now

Signing up for a $50 game with a $15/month subscription price is a bad, bad habit.  Such is the over-glutted nature of the MMORPG genre that such a price is hardly competitive. Even worse is when a company double dips, charging you both $15/month and having micro-payments to buy frills.  That $15/mo was supposed to cover the frills, otherwise why not just go play a subscription-free game that makes the frills the means of paying for it?

Despite the ridiculously steep price, and my limited income, I found myself shelling out for The Secret World, Funcom's latest such game.  I don't know why.  Perhaps there's still an angsty teen inside of me who hopes that this game would prove a little portal to escapism instead of what these games inevitably are: theme parks, where nothing ever changes no matter how many mobs you whack, where you are directed to toil in repetitive tasks to gain a sense of achievement in something of no more consequence than a few bits on a hard drive in s…

Skyrim's Magic vrs Melee balance

For a post entitled The Impossible Goal Of A Balanced Skyrim, that was certainly a fair-from-comprehensive answer, and for a debatably good reason that balancing a game isn't exactly easy, especially when that game is an RPG with open-ended character progression.

Yet, it seems I've managed to get my Skyrim groove back on by diverting my rampant altaholicism to the idea that I should probably become an archmage, a master in all six spell schools, before worrying at all about the warrior or the thief skills at all.  In focusing on getting all the various spell effects, I'm prioritizing maximum player-usable effect versatility, perhaps the only real way to keep a game diverse enough for somebody as finicky as me to keep playing it.  Then, after I get the spells, I can worry about something as simple as swinging a sword or picking pockets.  (Admittedly, this isn't so much an avoidance of altaholicism so much as it is a consolidation of all my alts into one character and, g…

The Impossible Goal Of A Balanced Skyrim

Skyrim is an open-world game and, like many open world games, it has a screwed up game balance that looks something like this (graphs found on Don Dueck's blog).

You start off in Skyrim in a hard-to-get-started form.  You've basically no real skills other than a few points determined wholly by race selection, all at values low enough that they're somewhat indistinguishable in performance from any other race.  So you can poke and prod away freely, albeit awkwardly due to your character's weakness in all things, until you settle upon a few skills you like.

Mid-game, you should have been focused on mostly leveling a few prominent skills, and you're now in the process of catching up to the game's difficulty curve.  Before too long, you should be able to reasonably handle just about anything the game will throw at you.  This may take longer if you've been generalizing in several skills, or if you have been focusing primarily on skills that do not help you in com…

Conditioned For Boredom

I'd like to finish Skyrim, just to say I did and also to enjoy the epic content in this game, but I'm afraid I've learned to hate the game.  And words such as "learned" and "conditioned" apply well to the situation, because that's exactly what's going on

As you play games, and learn to "beat" them, you learn lessons that you then take on to other games.  Sometimes, these lessons will actually ruin the next game, whether because it's such a clone that there's nothing new to learn, or because you're conditioned to play the game in a way that is less enjoyable from previous games you've played.

My foremost trouble with Skyrim is that my lessons from massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) translate poorly here. There's a natural temptation to apply those lessons there because, after all, both have massive worlds and your job, as the player, is to beef up your characters to unlock more content until yo…

The Trouble With Skyrim? It Has No End Game.

Bethesda, I love your work, I really do.  I don't want to make slamming your games a habit here.  However, as I took the weekend trying to finish Skyrim, I'm reminded about how Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim (and others) scored a lot higher with players and professional reviewers than they deserved.

True, these games are gorgeous, the attention to architecture is neigh unparalleled, and (with more suspension of disbelief than Yahtzee Croshaw could spare for them) they provide a more immersive experience than most games can ever hope to.  However, if you play them long enough, you start encountering issues which suggest the gameplay could have used a great deal more refinement.

In this specific focus of gameplay depth and refinement, Skyrim has been improved noticeably over its predecessors, but there's still enough things wrong that its legacy as an Oblivion-derivative preserves.  Here's a list of a few that are currently bothering me during my attempts to get back in…