Avatar for secularsage



  • Registered 4 years ago
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I write. I research. I play games.

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Recent comments

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 22 days ago

    Once again, we have a big company trying to get into gaming without developing a unit to focus on it. Apple, Nokia (when it was still a thing), Nvidia and Valve (with its Steam Machines) have all tried and failed to create non-PC platforms and failed; many large tech companies (Amazon, Facebook, Nvidia and Samsung among them) have tried to establish their own platforms for games, and dozens of hardware companies and chip manufacturers have tried and failed to get in on some aspect of console development, game accessory sales or PC gaming add-ons.

    There is a reason so many big tech companies have entered and almost immediately left the gaming sector - it's a really challenging field with a lot of brand loyalty and very challenging barriers to entry in the retail channels and brand relationships. Because gaming is really about entertainment more than it's about hardware, a lot of tech companies mistake features and tech demos for being the same thing as an actual gaming experience.

    The ONLY reason Microsoft was successful in doing so was because they developed a special Xbox division and treated it like a startup that had deep pockets, but was content to lose money on its first generation. And the ONLY reason Sony managed to build PlayStation into such a major brand was because they studied the market extensively (and even hired away some of their competitors' best people) before launching their platform, and then treated it like a serious business unit for consumer electronics rather than a toy company marketing its products to children.

    Posted in Report: Google Planning to Take on Xbox and PlayStation With Gaming Streaming Service and New Hardware

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 25 days ago

    Love my Vita, though I still resent Sony making me shell out 80 bucks for a woefully inadequate 32GB memory card.

    The Vita owners who managed to get in when PS+ started giving away monthly Vita games have prospered the most, but it's still a great system to pick up even today. So many great games are available on the platform, and a lot of them are frequently on sale. I love how many fighting games got good ports (despite the lack of Ultra SF IV), and there are some fantastic action games like Dragon's Crown that are as good or better on the Vita as they are on the big screen.

    It's still the BEST way to play a lot of PSX and PSP titles (especially RPGs), and many indie games (Spelunky, Terraria, Hotline: Miami, Retro City Rampage, Rogue Legacy, Crypt of the Necrodancer and Super Crate Box among them) are perfectly suited to the handheld.

    It's not ideal for remote play, but it does pretty well with a lot of PS4 titles, particularly RPGs. I played a lot of Persona 5 on it, and it's worked surprisingly well for more action-oriented games like Diablo 3 and No Man's Sky with a little bit of fiddling. The only games I don't recommend it for remote play use are shooters or big action games like Horizon where you need every button; the Vita's touch pad/screen substitutes don't work well.

    Still, all in all, a great handheld far too few people got to enjoy.

    Posted in The Vita Deserves to be Remembered as More Than a Failure

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage A month ago

    This is one reason I have been shifting my spending to GOG. Not only do those fine folks have a philosophy, but it's one they'll stand by for better or worse to assert the fact that they believe in their values and don't just cave because of internet uproar.

    Steam is a fine service for keeping many of my purchases in one place, but I don't use the platform for shopping anymore. Humble and Fanatical provide such great deals -and again, with their own values intact!- that I don't even bother with the Steam store. It's such a quagmire that it's become a lot like Desura used to be or the mobile app stores are now: mostly junk, with a few more prominent titles buried in between pages of worthless, poorly made games.

    Posted in Steam's Half-Assed Approach to Content Moderation Will Continue Antagonizing Indie Developers

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage A month ago

    I'm more interested in how it'll fare on PSVR. I know only Create Mode will work for VR, but it seems like a game tailor-made for the advantages VR can offer.

    Posted in Dreams is an Amazing PS4 Toolset I'll Never Build Anything With

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 months ago

    Even more amazing is that the game STILL commands a $30-60 price tag ($30 is its frequent sale price) despite having so many copies sold.

    Rockstar's secret is in making the online portion of the game so compelling that it limits the desire to resell the game (I'll bet they'll do it again with Red Dead Redemption 2), and they've done a fantastic job of making online bigger and better every year. Of course, the core game is so good itself that it's still worth the price paid, even though it's technically a "last gen" game.

    Posted in GTA 5 Sales Figures Get Even More Ridiculous

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 months ago

    Gaming is well past the point of being a bogeyman to anyone beyond the over-60 crowd. Since the Magnavox Odyssey launched, video games have been in homes for nearly 50 years now. Most homes have at least one console. Most people play games. The days of hysteria over the potential for games to be violent and/or shocking are long gone.

    If you want to make a bogeyman out of something, pick a topical game that's all the rage with kids but which adults don't really understand, like Fortnite. Then at least you have a salacious message, even if it's ridiculous.

    Posted in The NRA is Still On Its Anti-Video Game BS

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 months ago

    Having worked on the retail end of things, Nintendo's got a long reputation for introducing weird or innovative ideas and not having them catch fire.

    Labo is one of those ideas that seems cool but also sort of overpriced, and the DIY aspects of Labo make it seem like a lot of work to a casual gamer. There are also a TON of existing DIY kits that use smartphones or Arduino/Raspberry Pi electronics to allow kids to create cool stuff. My suspicion is it'll be one of those things Nintendo quietly kills off before the holidays in favor of more shelf space for its higher-volume products.

    Amiibo were a weird fluke for Nintendo - they seemed to catch the collector's market's attention right as Toys to Life were peaking as a concept, not the market of people who actually use Amiibo for gaming - but most of the time, their odder ideas are only accepted by the Nintendo faithful, and even then, just a subset.

    Posted in Nintendo Labo Only Sold Through 30 Percent of Its Initial Shipment in Japan

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 months ago

    The main problem with Persona 3 is that there needs to be a single edition that does it all, a P3 Midnight Blue edition (or something along those lines) that puts all of the features of the various releases into a single package.

    P3P is the best version in terms of features, but it's missing the 3D graphics during the daytime elements. (It's also missing The Answer, but that's such a grindfest with such scant plot that it's hardly missed.)

    P3 FES is next-best, but it has the flaw of P3's battle system, where your teammates do idiotic things because you can't directly control them. It's also missing the great feature of playing as a female, which was a significant mode in P3P.

    Those who complain about Tartarus have a point - it's just as grindy at Mementos in P5 or some of the dungeons in P4 - and some significant changes to the visual design of the various sections would be welcome just to make things feel different. With that said, Tartarus is pretty easy to plow through, and its monotony is a minor flaw in an otherwise brilliant game.

    Posted in Happy Anniversary to Persona 3 FES, Which Needs a Remaster More Than Ever

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 3 months ago

    On the one hand, P5 has the strongest storytelling (though not necessarily story) of all of the Persona and SMT games, and the dungeons (aside from the final one) and broader world of Tokyo are so well-designed and planned out that it feels like it's far more than an entry-level JRPG.

    On the other hand, there's an argument to be made that it's more style than substance, and there are plenty of gameplay elements that make P5 feel a lot more like a magic trick than an actual adventure. One thing I really resented was how little control I had over my own time, and even though P3 and P4 would have long stretches where you ceded control to the story, I rarely felt as boxed in as I did during swaths of P5.

    I still love P5 and don't regret the 100+ hours I put into it, but unlike P4 (which stuck with me for months after I finished it) and P3 (which had me really bummed for days once I finished it), completing P5 felt like less of a real moment and more of a task to be completed. I chalk a lot of that up to the characters, whom I enjoyed, but never connected with.

    Posted in Reflections on Persona 5 With a Year of Hindsight

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 3 months ago

    I'd say either Spelunky (endlessly replayable) or Rez (especially in VR) or Super Castlevania IV (just a darn good game, and the right length to get through in a single sitting).

    My kids and I also love to replay old co-op arcade games over and over, which sort of skirt your premise, but are still linear, comfortable experiences. Ninja Baseball Batman is the current favorite, but we also enjoy the TMNT arcade games, The Simpsons Arcade and Captain Commando, among others (including Sailor Moon for my daughter).

    Many of Nintendo's franchises (Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, etc.) are worthy of multiple plays, as are like-minded franchises like Sonic, Jak, Ratchet, Sly Cooper, LittleBigPlanet, and so forth. And shooters that focus on visceral action instead of long-winded cutscene storytelling (old school Doom, Halo, Half-Life ) tend to be a lot of fun to replay as well.

    It all boils down to having a relatively simple set of refined mechanics that are easy to learn, but challenging to master. Players need to be able to feel like they're in complete control, but also guided forward to progress rather than being told what to do all the time.

    This is exactly why games like Chrono Trigger hold up so well - the mechanics are simple and the gameplay is engaging, but the player has a lot of room from fairly early on in the game to deviate from the linear path set by the story and explore things if they want to without feeling like they're stumbling into a million sidequests that have to be accomplished. (Chrono Trigger does have long stretches of linear gaming, but there's always a feeling you'll regain your control eventually.) A lot of RPGs wait until the second half of the game to really open up in terms of mechanics and exploration, and by then, many players have dropped off. The Bethesda games (and the Bioware/Black Isle/Obsidian games they borrow from), by contrast, open up so quickly and so massively that they've proven to have huge replayability and staying power.

    Posted in What's Your Most Replayed Game?