Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gaming after Thanksgiving

Ahhhh Black Friday.  For most people, this is the day that they give in to impulse shopping and empty their wallets on things they've wanted for a long time.  Others use this day as a Christmas shopping gateway.  But what about for us gamers?  Are there too, amazing one-day deals for us to obtain that one game that Johnny down the street has been bragging about for the past month?  Don't fret, dear gamers.  I've got links to all the gaming and electronic deals that you could ever hope for.


If you don't already know about this site, then I declare you a noob.  Cheap Ass Gamer is the number one stop for getting the best price on any game you could ask for.  With extensive forums, contests/giveaways, game tracking and trading...this place has it all.  And thankfully, every year, they gather all of the different Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals from retailers and put them all together in one neat spot.

Shameless disclaimer note: I take no credit for that list.  All credit goes to user Jodou and

General Electronics

Our next list of deals comes from gaming news site Kotaku. I personally check Kotaku daily due to the sheer awesomeness of their stories and updates on the games and topics that I care about. This year, they've outdone themselves and put together a list of deals on not only games, but consoles, HDTVs, and other electronics. Check this one out if you didn't find what you were looking for above.

Shameless disclaimer note 2: I also take no credit for this list.  All credit goes to

So there you go people.  A short post yes, and only two links.  But I think those two combined give out the majority of the deals taking place on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  At the very least, I hope you learned about a killer deal on a game you've wanted for a while.  

With Respect,

The Venerable Gamer

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Addicting games are addicting

For today's class, I'd like to explore how some games succeed in one of their main goals: pulling you in and never letting you go.  Let's face it, during the days of the original Mario and Zelda, there was little reason to replay the game once you had beaten it.  You finished the main "story", found all the cool little side quests and hidden items, and had basically completed the game 100%.  Yet there was always that pull, that odd sense of, "I really want to play more 'insert game here'".  I'm going to go through some examples of "addicting" games, how some of them fail to accomplish doing so, and generally ponder at how the hell these games pull this off.

Probably the main reason I decided to blog about this subject is because I've been playing a lot of League of Legends recently.  Basically, if you don't know what League of Legends (LoL for short) is, take a peek at the below video.

The main objective of the game is pretty simple.  Destroy the enemy's base before they destroy yours.  Each player chooses a "champion" to play as, each with their own style of gameplay, and push lanes filled with AI enemies (creeps/minions).  Players play against each other, and can build different items for their champion giving them boosted attack, mana, armor, etc...  Now, with the game having such a simple objective and relatively simple gameplay, I wonder why I spend so much time playing it.  So let's take a look at this.  First off, it's a competitive multiplayer game.  As much as I wish there was more of a focus on single player games these days, I can't deny that having multiplayer brings a lot of replay value to any game.  I mean, when I get back from class, do I want to sit down and grind for levels in an RPG?  Hell no.  I want to take my daily rage out on some poor noob in Idaho who made the sorry mistake of getting matched up against me (No offense to Idahoans...wait, that's a word?).  Another reason is that there's so much freedom and unpredictability in LoL.  I can enter a game expecting to dominate the enemy team in twenty minutes and wind up having an epic hour long battle instead.  I can also choose from several different champions based on how I feel like playing. So if I want to run into the middle of the enemy team and tank damage while my team unleashes their fury, I can.  Or if I'd prefer to stealth around the map and backdoor the enemy's base right when they think they've defeated us, I can.  So that's another key element to replay value:  Allowing the player to choose how they want to play and keep the predictability low enough so that it's a fresh experience every time.

So obviously, where some games succeed, some fail.  I'm going to take Fable II as an example here.  While Fable II was a good game, there was just no reason to play it again when I finished it.  Once you complete the relatively short campaign and experience most of what the game has to offer (Sidequests, profiteering, getting married) there's not much else you can do.  There was also less and less of a drawback feeling to the game every time I played it.  As the story grew on, I had decreasing motivation to keep playing, and when it was beaten, I had no desire to go back and play through the game a second time.  This has less to do with the quality of the game, but more of the content.  If you take Mass Effect as a second example, there are many different classes to choose from, as well as a New Game+ feature that helped give the game more life.

So what I'm really wondering is how some games can be so simple in basic concept, yet stay so addicting.  Even with the older games such as the original Zelda, people kept replaying the game over and over again.  Now, granted, back then there wasn't much multiplayer and a lower amount of games you could play, but they still had the ability to pull people in for seconds, thirds, on so on.  Perhaps games today should return to their roots and take a look at how they accomplished keeping gamers interested in their games.  Not only would this cut down on the "stale" games, but it would help support something I really enjoy, which is DLC.  Games that bring out constant DLC can keep their original game and 'update' it with new content and expansions.  This is a great way to experiment with different ideas, and can also give devs hints at what worked and didn't work for their possible sequels.  All in all, I'd like to see more games today focus on replay value, as that really makes or breaks the selling point in many games.

This has nothing to do with my post, but I saw this image last night on Kotaku, and I really wanted to find an excuse to post it somewhere.  Space Giraffe ftw!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Fall of Gaming

Now before you get all bunched up and upset, this isn't about the decline of the gaming industry.  Well, not entirely.  As a matter of fact, the industry is doing quite well with the Supreme Court case this morning and the slew of AAA titles coming out in the past month or so.  But besides the point, I'm talking about the "Fall" season of gaming.  It was a time for many things, including new beginnings, final endings, and some questionable things on the side.  So let's see what's been going on this Fall, and why it was so important.

First off, as I'm sure many of you were aware, Halo: Reach launched in October as Bungie's final Halo title.  As a prequel to the first game, Reach brought about a very in-depth and story driven single player, while keeping the same old Shoot-Melee-Grenade formula that the franchise is famous for.  With the multiplayer, they added on matchmaking to the Firefight mode introduced in Halo: ODST, as well as releasing a slew of different maps and gametypes, such as Headhunter and so forth.  Personally, I think Bungie did a fantastic job giving the fans what they deserved, and I'm excited for whatever new IP they come out with in the future.  Also, a good luck to 343 Industries, who will be picking up the franchise in the near future.

Next, we had a variety of new releases hit the shelves for all types of gamers to get their hands on.  For FPS fans, Medal of Honor was released mid-October and, while it flew under the radar, got some decent reviews.  Many people gave it a chance while waiting for Call of Duty: Black Ops, which will hit shelves next Tuesday, but I have a feeling those who did purchase the game will put it down and hop on the CoD train.

RPG fans saw the release of Fallout: New Vegas, which took the formula of Fallout 3 and gave it a fresh coat of paint.  While there is quite a bit of content in New Vegas, there are also multitudes of bugs and glitches that appeared in Fallout 3 as well.  I cannot forgive Bethesda for not fixing these errors, so I will definitely not pick that one up.  Perhaps a rental in the future, but for now, I'm still happy playing my copy of Fallout 3.

For music gamers, there was Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, Rock Band 3, and DJ Hero 2.  After trying the demo for GH, I have declared the franchise dead, and were the cost of Rock Band 3 a little (or a lot) lower, I would purchase it for sure.  GH just tries too hard to compete with other music games, and ends up coming off stale and unwanted.  Retro gamers had some fun with Sonic 4, and that game received very good reviews as it returned mostly to it's roots and gave Sega fans what they've been wanting for ages.

So as you can see, there have been several top-notch games released recently, and I haven't even mentioned them all (Fable 3, Castelvania, etc).  So, as it happens, I find myself not having the money nor the time to devote to so many games at one time.  Hence the other side of the "Fall" of gaming.  I can blame this on many things (Lack of a job, Classes, Life in general) but I haven't really ever felt this overwhelmed by the releasing of so many games.

Hell, I still need to play through Mass Effect 2 and FFXIII, something I've been wanting to do since the summer!  At times, I wish that the industry would slow it down a notch.  However, that would be a horrendous move, as profits would plummet and the industry would pretty much keel over and die.  But still, it's difficult to really sit down and enjoy a game for what it's worth when a new major title comes around the next week that I'm excited for.