Sunday, November 11, 2012

MadCap's Mad Ranting - "Blizzard vs. Greedy Idiot!"

I was sent a link leading to a story of a most idiotic nature. It appears that Blizzard has a class-action lawsuit up against it because someone apparently decided they wanted in on Blizzard's profits for the year Blizzard hasn't been doing its duties to its consumer base playing online games! That's right! Blizzard, the MMORPG titan of the gaming industry has been, to quote the article, "deceptively and unfairly charging some users to secure their data from hackers."


My mock rage disguising my irritation at this aside, this looks just like a mad cash grab by one Benjamin Bell, the plantiff leading the suit against Blizzard. He's claiming that the mighty Bliz has failed to properly protect player information, and when hacks did occur, they failed to properly inform players and take steps to help prevent the incident.

I can already say that that's an enormous load of dung for a simple reason that I actually have already mentioned in my mock-enraged paragraph: Blizzard is the MMORPG titan of the gaming industry. It's not an opinion, they really are, just on World of Warcraft alone. They've set a standard and have done very well off of it (which only leads me to believe more and more that Mr. Bell is attempting to force Blizzard to cough up some cash), and the absolute last thing that they would do would be to misinform players about a security risk that might lose them their profits from their consumers. But this also ties into another issue that kind of destroys Mr. Bell's entire argument.

When you sign up for something online, put information into any system, you're taking a risk. Blizzard does what it can to ensure that all information that they take in from players is protected, but there is no such thing as perfect system. Blizzard, as I've stated above, is more than likely to be doing everything they can to protect player information and inform them of any problems that may develop. It's a security issue, and this is an age where people who know how can easily hack into just about any system and take whatever information they like. It's really just common sense. Of course, Mr. Bell seems to want Blizzard to, in addition to paying damages, not make players sign up for a Battlenet account when they buy a Blizzard game for use online.

It's not only an incredibly stupid demand - how do you improve security without a security system? - but it could affect many similiar systems in the gaming industry.  Xbox Live, for example? Or just about any MMORPG out there?  But I doubt that the illustrious Mr. Bell has thought about the long-term repercussions of this on the world of gaming.

So either Benjamin Bell is a complete idiot or he's greedy. And either way, I hope Blizzard's lawyers send him packing when they actually get to court.

Friday, November 9, 2012

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Mystic Forest"

XBLA "Cover Art"

Obi-Wan Kenobi once spoke of Mos Eisley Spaceport with great infamy, claiming that “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy,” a claim I would make about the Xbox Live Arcade’s Indie Games.  Now I’ve reviewed some indie games in the past – namely the titan that is Minecraft (it’s Xbox 360 port, anyway) Ib, and Cthulhu Saves the World, all of which I’ve enjoyed for one reason or another.  However, with the recent update to Xbox (and seriously, could they find somewhere to place more ads?) I found a “Recommendations” tab based on games that I’ve played in the past or have shown interest in.

While most of them were not really my cup of tea, I found one called “Mystic Forest”, which depicted an anime-style fairy woman with her eyes lidded and her mouth about half open as she was grasped by what I could figure from my best guess were tentacles.

…yes, I know you can see where this is going.

I only picked up the demo, however, because it was free.  I didn’t expect it to be able to learn everything I needed to know about the game in literally five minutes! I’m not sure whether to express my disgust or give the makers of it a medal.

The game begins at the start up menu with a prompt of “Press Start”, which then opens up the real start up menu, and the depiction of two large breasted women clad in a thin sheet of cloth each standing thigh deep in some green liquid that I hoped to God was water. I could use this section of my review to go on a tirade about how this is just cheap pandering in order to bring in what they believe will be their target demographic.  Except this game doesn’t really have a target demographic, as I’m sure you’ll quickly realize.

Developed by Team Shuriken (makers of similar games such as Dream Divers and Ninjas and Priestess, all of which seem to have a similar…ahem, aesthetic appeal), the game puts you in the role of Philippe, a hero who is “no strange to the humdrum life of a farmer as he plos the field”.  Besides the typo (and several others throughout the game, ever heard of editors, guys?) the text based intro is literally a list.  It’s stating facts about a character, in this case “Philippe”, much like I’d write out a grocery list. Of course at that point, I didn’t realize what I was playing was a text adventure.

I’m not a big fan of text adventures, and this game didn’t help me see any sort of light.  And it’s not that I’m not fond of reading, I do read (somewhat sporadically, by my own admission), but this is a game, and last I checked games were supposed to be a visual medium.  One could make the argument that this is indeed being a visual medium with the pictures it displays next to the walls of text as you progress, but as your focus is supposed to be on the text and not on the image, I call BS.  The image is pretty much there as an ornamentation or titillation (anime-style women everywhere, at least we can say the box art doesn’t lie) and serves no purpose beyond that.

But the story picks up with “Philippe”, a peasant farmer - who somehow talks as though he’s a snarky, ironic twenty something – tending to his garden of vegetables for his vegan ex-girlfriend……..never expecting to find a fairy agonizing in his field of salad.

No, that’s almost word for word how it’s written in the game.

The fairy, Elfia, asks for help because, “I can not find the way to my village, which is located in the heart of Mystic Forest.”

Is anyone else seeing a problem yet?

But you get the option to either help her or leave her be with the push of a button.  Choosing to leave her be gets you a smack over the head from the game and a “Try Again” screen, because apparently you’re lame.  If you accept you get the small map screen, which looks like a D&D map that is actually pretty well sketched on a napkin, and some options to travel.  This pretty much represent the entire demo that I played through.  

And just to make sure, I actually went and exhausted every option I was given.  And the one thing I can say about this game is really just that it’s boring. All there is to it is just walls and walls of text.  But I’m sure even fans of text adventures really wouldn’t find this all that appealing.  Even if this were in the era when text adventure games were a big thing, it has so many problems that drag it down.  The typos throughout, a really simplistic narration that almost seems like it’s insulting my intelligence, and just a feeling that I really don’t have any control over what’s going on.  With games, that’s a problem.

I suppose that last thing is what it all boils down to for me, a lack of control.  I don’t expect to be completely in control, that’s no fun, but I expect to have some degree of control and for some of my actions to hold some weight.  Mystic Forest, however, thinks it would be best for me to just pick from a drop down menu of options and watch them get played out.  I don’t feel invested, I almost feel like I’m being insulted when things are explained, and the distinctive lack of anything remotely interactive in what is supposed to be an interactive medium make me scratch my head and wonder how this thing ever came to be.

…and no, by the way, it’s not good porn, either.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

MadCap's Mad Rantings - Will there finally be some Skyrim DLC for PS3?

It may be possible. In the future. I know you all haven't been following my exhaustive ranting on Bethesda and their apparently inability to bring "Dawnguard" to PS3 users. Now, just shortly after the release of their trailer for "Dragonborn", the third DLC in the bunch. It might be that Bethesda is finally getting its stuff together. A recent tweet from the Bethesda reads, quote "To Update: we're close on new Skyrim content for PS3 and PC."

Now does this mean that Dawnguard may be getting its long awaited PS3 release? I don't know, but I suppose that it technically counts as "new" content for PS3 users, as the very least. At least I certain hope that that is what they're doing. Most people by this point, I'm sure, have moved on from it, though the few that remain are still hoping and a move like this is just what Bethesda needs as some damage control for the whole situation. The fact is, they didn't want to release a less than quality product and I can respect that. The problem is that they didn't say what the problem was and when a theory was presentedyou denied it outright. So giving the people who are your consumers nothing to go on, no indication of just what the problem is, and that isn't really enough to keep them loyal. They were left out in the cold, and that's just not good for your image, Bethesda.

I do sincerely hope that this tweet means that they're making at least some progress on taking care of the problems and bringing Dawnguard to the PS3 crowd at long last. They've been waiting a while, Bethesda, and I'll be honest, they deserve it. Especially those of them that have stuck it out for as long as they have waiting.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

MadCap's Trailer Reactions - "Skyrim: Dragonborn"

...well, I need a cigarette.

It seems that in spite of their inability to get Dawnguard out for PS3 and their less than pleasing addition to their DLCs, it seems that Bethesda might finally be hitting the high notes once more with "Dragonborn", a DLC out for release on December 4th of this year, just in time for...a few weeks before Christmas. And I'm not gonna lie, this actually looks really good.

If you've played Skyrim, then chances are you've run into at least one of the Dragon Priests that are entombed in the icy wilderness in various dungeons, caves, and even mountaintops, each one with their own nifty mask and if you could kill them all, you could use their masks to get a super special awesome mask. Now here comes Dragonborn, the third DLC, that teases of 'the first Dragonborn', attempting to rise once again. This is an idea that was teased in vanilla Skyrim, that perhaps the player character was not the only Dragonborn.

And outside of the storyline - Morrowind-esque buildings and scenery, brand new enemies to impale on a sword, and...dragon mounts?! Yes, it seems we will be able to put dragons to use as mounts, though how this will be applied to the game world is left unknown for the time being. All I can say? Sign me up. The whole thing.

And guys, please work it out and send it to the PS3 people, too. (Yes, I'm still on about that)

And I do wonder just how we'll have to deal with the newly-awakened older Dragonborn.  Because, after all...

In the end...there can be only one!

Dragonborn will be available for download from Xbox Live on December 4th for 1600 MSP.

Hopefully it will be available for the PS3 crowd, too...