Re: Your First (Videogame) Love

Response to aander14’s blog post here.

For me, I had bunch of small moments that fell in the right place. For me when I started playing video game, I wasn’t much of an enthusiast. My parents were fairly strict and (Dare I say) somewhat backwards when it comes to new technology. Here’s the list of firsts that got me into playing video games.

The first time I ever met the digital world was probably in school when I was a kid. That’s when schools started to teach kids about graphic design and how to draw stuff on computers. The first computer I remember using was a Macintosh, I’m talking the years before the iMac went on the market and every school in my district pretty much had something from the late 80’s. Most distinctive piece of software was the paint program for it where you use dynamite to “blow up” your creations. Later as each classroom got it’s own computer, the district went forward with getting PC’s. Before the Apple computers were phased out of the computer lab, I remember playing Battle Chess or a variant of it. Until my parents finally got an SNES, this so happens to be the first exposure to video games in my entire life.

Then I got the SNES, or Super Nintendo for those who are a tad young and asking “what’s a SNES?” Remember how my parents were so strict on me playing video games? They were probably the epitome of tiger parents before the term even came around as “tiger parenting”. So essentially when they got me the SNES, they thought I was too young to have it and too young to do anything besides go to school and get good grades. My sibling on the other hand turned the argument around and got us the SNES. First game we got was Super Mario All Stars and at the time even with my parents putting money to this game console, the would hardly let us play it until we were done our homework or we had nothing else to do. After awhile, our library to include Super Mario World and Gladius II which was given to use by relatives. Later on in grade school, I met other people who owned the Playstation and the N64. At the time, the PS had GTA but I never touched it until a buddy of mine at the time got it and told me to try it. I mostly stayed on their N64 and my SNES. First exposure with platformers aside, I got into cinematic cutscenes and gun play of Perfect Dark. I got deep into the singleplayer and enjoyed the split screen, big head cheat fun of of PD.

The same buddy that got Perfect Dark got Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and they let me play it. That was when everything just click. I liked sandbox, violence and open world games. Even to this day, these are the tenets of video games I like especially when it’s not overly exaggerated and just allows some escape from reality. As I got older, my parents seemed to relax a little and got me the Game Boy Advance and some games for it. For the most part, I stuck to Mario Kart for the GBA and Pokemon Red. By this time I was coming up to my teen years and I was fairly entertained through cartoon violence. So Mario and friends later got boring to me, lacking the things I want in games. I laid fairly dormant with my GBA until I was around 13 when I finally got my first PC.

Growing up in lower middle class, my parents couldn’t afford what I wanted in a PC so I got something a bit low brow. More attuned to a workstation than a gaming rig, I got this 512 MB with 40 GB computer running the last Intel Pentium ever created. This was my gateway to the world. To top it off my parents let the world wide web into the house with DSL and that’s when everything starting to ramp up for myself when I played the many games I soon to find to be everywhere. Firs it started with browser games that are precursors to Facebook games. Then I got a collection of pirated games from my sibling when they moved away for university; but mostly I remember Mechwarrior 3. By this time, my life starting to go downhill. In my child-like mind, the world didn’t seem as beautiful and carefree. As I entered high school, I already accumulated a lot of time into my first MMO, Kal Online which was a Korean MMO taken place in Korean lore. I got as far as I could in the game but in the end at level 25-ish, I gave up after feeling the grind of the game. Of course I moved on; Silkroad Online, WarRock, and Cabal comes to mind. Perhaps there a dozens I’ve played and forgotten. After my first PC finally gave, I got a new PC and continued playing. First on the roster if memory serves was NavyField which was a Korean MMO naval arena. Of course the game has been updated many times over the years; when I remembered it, the game only had 4 nations (US, GB, Germany and Japan). This second PC lasted me a good while and I even tried to go off gaming to pursue increasing my grades. With all my efforts and looking back on it, it was indeed a futile effort and regardless of any scientific study; it didn’t change my grades, I was still the below average student since grade school. Fondest memory was the closest time I went into Major League Gaming; yes that’s right, I was close to MLG material at the ripe age of 15/16. At the time, I was playing America’s Army with a clan I was in trying to get a team together into MLG. In short, the power went out and I lost my shot at a small pot of cash at a small growing gaming tournament league. I believe the cash prize was about $14-18 grand USD per person. In it’s finality of it continuing to this day, my parents view of video games is damning. Video games is a form of entertainment and not a business you can get into, so they say. Yet I could’ve been the coolest kid in high school since I won $14 000.

By now, it was about 8 years ago where I finally found a job and made some money to get myself a custom gaming PC. This is where everything went to hell in a hand basket and yet opened me to the world of video games on an addictive level. When I got my current rig, I went to town on my bank account and bought games. I spent it as wisely as I could starting with putting it into games I can play on Steam. I bought the Orange Box which as Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2 series and Portal for a cheap price. I went back to my roots somewhat and got GTA IV, I even stuck around cyberspace to explore the free games it has to offer. Before my 8800 GT GPU died and my hard drive in need a refurbishment, I think I played about the same amount of games I had played in the past over a span of 4-5 years. Which brings us to the last 3 years and now.

Now, I’m stuck to sharing games with others. I like aspects of co-op games and sandboxes. I’m stuck to my old ways where I play games I like. If my play time in Star Trek Online isn’t proof of my past, I don’t know what would prove where I was in the past 3 years. Moving forward, I want to break away from my parents opinions on video games. I want to making a small inkling in playing video games. If I can’t, at least I want to do is share my love for video games to the world at large.

Quick Change

Recently I have been taking stock of the past year; like every year before it, I try and compare myself to the previous year and find what I can do to improve myself. In the ebb and flow of time, the past year has felt more like burning bridges than building them.

From the start, I started out in a low part of my life. I thought six years ago was the lowest part of my life, within a short time I’ve definitely lucked out with the best parts of me. At the same time, I embarked a different things. I began exercising more regularly for starters. It hasn’t yielded results, it is something I want to commit to myself to live better and healthier. I have to admit I haven’t keeping up with it lately, I partially blame the season. The heat is a tad absent and the weather seems a bit more damp. Trust me, I’m trying to be fit and healthy and all that jazz.

Since January, I’ve revived my YouTube channel devoted to sharing games I like to play. For the moment I’ve stayed away from Kerbal Space Program since construction and travel takes awhile to do. Rendezvous with KOLab orbital station takes awhile in vanilla and I would like to play the entire series without the mods available to me. For now, hiatus on KSP but I’m working on playing other games. At the moment in the line-up, I am playing the early access of Interstellar Marines while using IndieDB to find interesting games to play like The Dwarves. Artistically, I have stepped away from making title cards for every video I’m making. I think rather than trying to promote my channel through a video, I should just focus on the gameplay. I’ll still make thumbnails though because it looks cleaner and well organized. A few things I should improve upon should be getting more games to play and demo. This is a bit more complicated because I don’t budget for entertainment stuff in my life. At the moment, my focus is on early access games and free to play. There are a good games that need to be out there than playing the trends. Though I do get into the mainstream and popular games, I want to show you guys the new and obscure games you’re missing.

I noticed my upload schedule has been a bit down lately, it’s for an important reason. I would like to devote more time looking for a job and trying to sort out stuff that’s going on in my life in meatspace. Only if I was a popular YouTuber or had some entrepreneurial prowess to start an internet company that just plays video games. It would be pretty amazing.

Until next time, this thanksgiving I am just thankful that even in all the bad things I don’t want to mention, there are shards of hope and happiness. And I hope this thanksgiving you guys are thankful for the happiness the world has brought upon you.

Summer Festival, Refits, and Shuttles

Star Trek Online has started their 2014 Summer Lohlunat Festival on Risa. Once again like the 2014 Winter Wonderland, I’m not even surprised the goodies in this event involves a ship. Last year’s inaugural festival contained the Risan Corvette, this year we have the Risan Luxury Cruiser. Ever since they released the ship specification, I’ve been comparing it to ships of it’s class and other ships to find a comparatively similar variant. There’s an underlying theme for Risan ships; speed, turn rate and flight speed. From the corvette and the luxury cruiser, they don’t necessary top out as the fastest ships but it comes close to being the fastest. By comparison, the corvette is close to a Tactical Escort and the cruiser this year is close to a Assault Cruiser or a Heavy Cruiser. In an escort, speed is important; not so much on a cruiser but it does help with getting away from sticky situations. In larger ships, you would also have to account for inertia as well; for the cruiser this year, she’s a big girl when it comes to slowing down and speeding up. With double the amount of inertia, it is predictable to see the drift effect seen in the Odyssey cruisers and carriers. Also it would take the ship long to reach top speed, so running in and out of combat would be a bit more difficult. Out of all the analogous ships she can be compared to, the closest resemblance would be the Odyssey for the fact of here lethality and configuration. In the Dev Blog, she boasts 5 engineering consoles, high hull damage and passive subsystem boosts to shields. Along with the obvious Cruiser Comms Array, it solidifies her position as a a busty boat. However what makes her Risan by design aside from the aesthetics is her unrelenting speed and unique console piece which completes the 2-piece set. Overall, I’m a bit excited to own the cruiser, however fitting her for a combat role would be a challenge.

Recently I managed to gather the credits in game to make refits to my Fleet Tactical Escort Retrofit, it was  a pricey operation to get her up to date with the new Fluidic antiproton cannons but it’s slowing paying off. More proof Cryptic pushes endgame with overpowered gear. My main priority now is to get my Jem Hadar Dreadnought ready to go with canon weaponry. At the moment I have most of the weapons excluding the torpedo launchers I need as well as engineering and tactical consoles being unfilled. Once again with my handy dandy escort, console grinding should be relatively simple much like bashing your head against the wall. With both the Dreadnought and Luxury Cruiser now taking up ship slots, I have to put up with grinding dilithum again for Zen for additional ship slots; I am not looking forward to it.

Underutilized, I still believe having an armed shuttle is a priority. With the new Counter-Command rep project and Cryptic releasing shuttle mission variants for a limited time, I managed the opportunity to experiment with the two ship sets. For the most part, the weapons are definitely underpowered when facing races with a high resistance to phaser and disruptor damage. The tactical console is weak considering the small boost to damage compared to other console. The powers provided by the set is really useless in a shuttle setting but the power and shield strength is pretty useful on a shuttle. Though I only tried it on my Delta class shuttle, I think both the stats and the looks make the shuttle useful, however the weapon/console set is off putting because of the lack of damage. I would just prefer an antiproton turret and quantum torpedoes compared to the special phaser turret and photon torpedo. So I scrapped the idea of a Counter-Command shuttle in favour of a mix of items that work well together. Even then, I still need to find more consoles to help me get it all together.

Summer of Star Trek, year two. I think this is the longest game I’ve played ever.

Flashpoint Marathon – “Why isn’t this a video game?”

I can’t get enough of the show; since the finale, I’ve been just watching this chronologically whenever I want to watch to watch a straightforward cop drama. I watched stuff like CSI and Law & Order, it never appealed to me because it was a rinse and repeat method of television with names changed and subtle generic plot twists.

Flashpoint is still the only cop drama I’ve enjoyed because it was live action. The camera work was up close and natural which put the viewer into the situation. The story arcs were mixed and compelling in terms of exploring secondary characters and personalities of the primaries. Revolving around an elite team of police officers similar to SWAT, the show follows the internal and external struggles of law enforcement and the effects it has to the individuals in the team. Fundamentally, the writers did a good job on challenging TV character and item tropes like infinite ammo for the weapons and the good or bad cop. Most surprisingly is the intricate gunplay. When I first watched the entire series, I was on edge wondering when they would shoot someone throughout the series after seeing the first episode. After awhile, the show put you into the frame of mind where there is a grey area where you start to understand when they should use their firearms. In the entirety regardless of whether it was the first or the latest time I’ve watched it, the back of my mind wants this to be a video game.

Let’s assume the best that I was a programmer and I could pull it off, lets visualize this. The pacing should be fairly episodic like you play a character in the story; when you die, that’s the end of the character. So we can assume some extent of character customization like facial customization, body height, voice and maybe character traits. For the episodic pace, likely a mission progression system with key NPC’s reappearing in later content. With that said, I think players would get bored of playing the same missions over an over in a set mode. So probably have some procedurally generated mission system to increase difficulty and positions of NPC’s to offer different scenarios. To make it interesting the levels would have to have a lot of walking room. In my head, it would make sense to have a first person perspective to put the players into their characters. That takes care of the gunplay; the contained scenes where characters negotiate, meaning in game it should have some aspect of that. So an advance AI system that can distinguish combat and negotiation mode and a system that doesn’t necessarily provide right or wrong answers excluding right and wrong answers to diffuse the current situation. There should be a listen and respond component. At the same time, there should be animations to signal mood and behaviour to the player to and respond in a timely manner. Which brings out the animation and the detailing to it. Mostly sticking to face like facial features and body language. In terms of gameplay mechanics, the animations should include things like takedowns seen in Halo and Battlefield 3. Maybe get deeper to that to have a takedown and struggle mechanic where takedowns are more to slow progress and the struggle forces players to go into QTE’s (Quick Time Events) to disarm weapons or escape headlocks. Establishing that, let’s examine the various scenarios which can be in this imaginary game we can make!

In the show I’ve seen a bunch of hostage situations as well as just mentally unstable individuals which can display the AI mechanic, in terms of combat there could be scenarios where players would have to confront situations where it’s non-negotiable. Example would be the player would have to resort into shooting a hostage taker when they feel negotiations aren’t working or have failed. Bomb disposal was part of show in bits so probably have items and mechanics to deal with bomb disposal. So definitely snipping wires could be a thing.

In terms of multiplayer, a lot of games are mostly multiplayer with either a small single player campaign or a tutorial. In this case I think it should be a tutorial and multiplayer to get the basic controls and teach basic game mechanics. The multiplayer would have to co-op since there can be more content and gameplay than just multiplayer for this. The best I could personally see if this was going to be a player versus player would be some sort of deathmatch, Counter-Strike like demolition, or a capture game mode. So not much in terms of being accurate to the show but would remove the AI component. In a cooperative setting, it would likely yield more content in terms of procedural AI spawns, traits and situations. Also allows the character customization to be more important for the player to humanize their character rather be an expendable player especially with certain gameplay traits. Also it opens up opportunity to do things like have AI attack wave after wave.

I wouldn’t be too sure if I would play this but if someone built it and had my attention, I might give it a shot. It would definitely be a change from guns blazing to taking things slow with opportunities to use the weapons and items.

Until next time, keep on daydreaming!

Game Idea and Concept – Hacker ARG

Believe me when I say I’m part of a small minority of gamers that really want something better for their genre or franchise. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be invention, but be innovation. Opening boundaries from what I’ve seen must always be the next level to their games. Where one asks for more destruction, one gets collapsible buildings. One wants realism, one receives physics. Though not necessarily invention, innovation the franchise does open up new ideas and fresh views.I’ve jotted a few things down for a game I would like to see or would like existing games to have.

There is likely a small community out there with their drive for a hacker/text-based game that want to be dissolved into their own world of hackers. Why not have this go all out? I don’t mean have hackers roaming the internet playing mind games with actual websites. But what if it was played more like a ARG (Augmented Reality Game)?Consider it a network of networked computer on the internet to play mutual mind games with each other. In this “hackernet”, hackers (AKA Players) get to play in a part to change this cyberspace for themselves. They choose sides by hacking into fake sites to gain information to barter for new hacking programs (which are buffs/debuffs of a variety). While gathering certain information, you can also be vulnerable to attack from other hackers which can be countered by hacking back to other players. As incentive, the more information you can get; the more likely a player can hack you while at the same time, players can join in and try and help you hack while receiving a split of the bounty. As players progress in the game, they passively align themselves with game entities that provide them “programs” (much like equipment or skills) to specifically use as long as you are allied to them. Of course players can betray and rejoin these partnerships ranging from companies, AI hackers, institutions or random entities with ulterior motives. Along with this, players can also go rogue in terms of not being allied with anyone and creating their own groups which can help them hack information as well as used a social hub much like guilds in other games. However what I would like to see is a never ending storyline to the game as new content is introduced. Much like the actual internet, websites in this game will go up and down and reinvent themselves. This game should be a test of typing skill and speed, instead of visual acuity and game based knowledge. Mixing PvE and PvP with an opportunity to do either. The art should be an emulation to current cyber culture and trends, either to emulate or mock the visual look, security and accessibility. Gameplay should have the open-ended sandbox of a first person shooter; no levels, just the weapons you get and the player who’s in the hot seat. But wait, there’s more! Aside from being a PC game, it should have a mobile application that adds to accessibility to hack and let players the chance to PvP on the go and probably if tech allows it, play against local players to steal and trade.

Though I’m not quite sure of any game at the moment that has this or does this, but I however would like to play this game. Until next time, play more games!

Sphere of Influence – Prelude to Season 8

Hopefully not just one episode to open up this can of worms, Star Trek Online this past week has been revving up for their 8th season instalment continuing the franchise’s epic. This prelude covering the introduction to a new enemy as well as introduction of a new ship available through the fleet system mechanic.

The mission is available to players from level 10 and onward, which takes you in the depths of New Romulus to bring you to speed with the reactivation of an ancient Iconian gateway designed to take people from one place to another. As the ambassador of your faction’s delegation; the Romulan Republic, Klingon Defence Force or Starfleet, you are tasked to oversee the researcher’s work to reactivate the gateway. As power begins to breathe life back into this ancient device, something goes terribly wrong forcing the only escape through the gateway. You find yourself stranded in a room with survivors of the disaster to only find a dastardly plot be afoot. Along with you for the ride is Ambassador Worf voiced by Michael Dorn as you find out who might be behind this facility and its purpose.

Highly attentive to detail, I found a few errors in the script writing; just spelling errors. However very little can diminish the plot in bridging the story to the new content. At first I must admit, there wasn’t much in terms of new mechanics or graphics excluding new textures and Iconian technology in the form of hostile drones. Upon exiting the second map, leads you into a large surveillance room which I found to be very eerie yet spectacular. As you move platform to platform, the scenery changes depicting the worlds each platform describes. The last platform provides a “Simon says” like prompt in the mission does give some sense of urgency even though there were no necessary threats. Aside from the necessary pathway to take to the final platform, the side platforms provide additional information, if not cryptic, about the Iconians. The last transition before the space combat begins seems to be really rushed piece since it so happens to be identified as a bridge and the game puts you in command of an old carrier  loaded out with some heavy weapons and unique skills. Though it doesn’t necessary connect the episode to the main content of the Dyson Sphere, perhaps it is an indicator of the constructors of the structure and perhaps the reason why the Voth are occupying it. Without much context, I must say Sphere of Influence is much of a cliff hanger as you step into the last gateway at the end of the surveillance room.

For extra goodies, here’s some easter eggs I found:

  1. By walking off the main path, you can obtain very rare Swarmer hangar pets. Just go through every console off of every branch. Once you got the 4th auxiliary console, head back to the previous. You get 2 per console and 6 in total. Note: this item can be equipped on the new Obelisk class carriers only.
  2. In in gateway chamber when the researcher asks for the power variances, there are two number references significant to the entire franchise. One of the variances is “47” while the last two numbers when added is also 47.
  3. The commander that dies on the examination table is a red shirt. Reference to the original series.
  4. When Captain Shon is attacked, he’s wearing a yellow shirt. Possible reference to Voyager in which the Voth are introduced.

Overall the episode provides a diverse mix of in depth story and ever evolving gameplay to entice the generational demographic, either new to the franchise or veterans of the saga. For the moment it breathes new life to the game regardless of the upcoming gameplay problems when introducing new items or mechanics to the game. Where there’s new content, there’s always bugs.

DLC, Map Pack, Expansion, Add-On: Which one is it?

As gamers, we usually enjoy one game and find the next obsession like drug addicted maniacs (don’t do drugs). Sometimes, dealers (I mean developers) release content after months of the initial release of the game. At times, the press release doesn’t necessarily define what is going to the follow up content and they announce it generically a DLC or Downloadable Content. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that phrase when it comes to downloading said content. However, it annoys me when the phrase isn’t relevant to what it is; so I’m going to give you my interpretation of what DLC are to me and how they are broken down.

DLC’s, simply downloadable content which should be additional gameplay tacked on to the base game you can receive through an internet connection. If you need a physical copy, then that to me would be an expansion. “DLC” and “expansion” terms  are the umbrellas for the other downloadable content. Expansions traditionally are optional content that would seem more like an epilogue to the main story to the game or adding a large continuation to the game. Whether it is a larger map size in an MMO or an additional story to the game.

Map packs are prevalent with first person shooters which add additional scenery and areas to play on. Some companies at the same time also release maps as well as additional game modes or content as well, in which case this gets a bit more messy to whether it’s a DLC or a map pack. Oh wait, it’s not! It’s both a DLC and a map pack however the “map pack” nomenclature is included if there is a set of maps and not just one map in the content release in my opinion. This goes with “weapon packs” or any kinds of item addition which sometimes deliver through the same genre. However if it’s just a singular item in any game, I would consider it as a add on (addon or add-on, just pick one) since it’s only a small update to the game and does not open much more gameplay.

At the consumer end, to have some standardization even through terminology to convey what you are trying to advertise. Until next time, keep on gaming!

Gone Home Review (And spoilers…lots of spoilers)

I just spent a good three hours playing this game and I’m in such a euphoric mood that I must share it with you. Every inch of the story and every bit I got out of it. From it being a game and it being an artistic piece narrative storytelling. Do note, loads of spoilers but I’ll let you know when to stop reading.

The premise of the game is that you are the protagonist coming home from gallivanting across Europe. As you arrive to this beautiful mansion, you are no greeted by a welcoming party but the eerie pattering of rain and thunder outside the covered porch. You must go inside and find out what happened to everyone. The game is non-combat and very explorative so be ready to put on your thinking caps and figure out what’s going on.

The game style is very simple with a first person experience. A fixed inventory for quest items and a map that opens up as you explore the level. The physics are fairly realistic with objects colliding with the player and other objects. While we’re on the subject of realism, the lighting enhanced the spooky feeling inside the mansion. The randomly generated lighting made me jump a few times considering it felt like a stereotypical horror flick. The sound effects were accurate to every squeak and thud while the voice acting made the story very believable as though the characters were having a conversation with you.

The storyline is set in 1995 which spans throughout the game which addresses some issues still relevant in today’s society and culture. It’s very down to earth and homely but doesn’t necessarily come out so exploring the level does gain the player perspective and hints to the reality of the situation.

As a FPS gamer, I feel very conflicted when it came to playing this since I wasn’t so sure if I was going to be scared or curious for most of the time. There were times when I felt like I didn’t want to read and just “win” the game; however I recommend to read and do everything after the first playthrough to fulfill the story and not the goal. As a bibliophilic noob, it was very thought provoking and engaging where everything must be read and done to get the full picture. Definitely the experience was unique for me for it was not much of a puzzler or a shooter, it was indeed uniquely adventure.

What did I really think? Well, this is where the spoilers come in. You already been warned, don’t be surprised.

Here are the spoilers! Spoilers in bound!

The narrative is Katie is coming home from a vacation in Europe to only arrive in a middle of a thunder storm to an empty mansion owned by her father, Terrence Greenbriar. The story opens up to another protagonist named Samantha which is followed throughout the game as voiceover journal entries addressed to Katie. As you progress through the game, you discover activities conducted by Samantha and her parents. Such as a slow separation between Jan (her mother) and Terry leading to an affair, the ghost investigation of the former owner and the developing love story between Lonnie DeSoto and Samantha. As the story progresses, the characters slowly fall apart as you read through documents and letters. Her parents drift away emotionally and intimately seen by the self help books laying around their bedroom and the unopened condom in the drawer. Journal entries of the trials and tribulations of the lesbian sister as she tries to come out to her distressed parents and to herself.

As the player travels through the level, the stories is slowly realized as not a first person narrative but a second person narrative through Sam which redirects Kate’s homecoming to a story about teen gender realization within a homophobic culture. Since Kate cannot change the past, she experiences it presently through Sam’s journal as well as letter to her mother and father. In an non-dramatic way, it was foreshadowed by the family portrait in the foyer as Kate and Sam look very similar which could be intentional to indicate the narrative shifts between Kate to Sam. As Kate discovers, everything seems to develop a conflict at the same time. She learns Sam becomes very lonely to only fall in love with Lonnie and whether or not Sam is sure about the emotions she is development. While at the very same time, their parents slowly drift apart as her father receives a lot of bad news about a lot of publishing deals resorting him to be very distant to his wife and possibly developing a tendency to drink. This is speculative on the fact that a rejection letter from the publisher is found in the den along with empty shot glasses and an empty rack of liquor. Due to her husband’s drinking habit, she takes on additional roles as a forest conservationist which results into her having a small affair with a co-worker named Richard.

In the end, it climaxes to a cryptic entry of Sam which sounds like she has given up hope as Lonnie tells her she is going away with the military, which leaves her in a depressed state that can sound just depressive or even suicidal. Her parents resolve their conflict through couples counselling around their anniversary which is ironically why they left the house. As before Lonnie leaves they say good bye to the ghost of Mr. Masan, Sam and her lover lay in the attic for one last intimate night before she leaves. In a few entries, she mentions she woke up in the middle of the night in the attic and she received a call to pick up Lonnie as she got off the bus. Saying she couldn’t go forward with joining the army and wanted to be with Sam. Thus Sam leaving the home and running away with Lonnie.

Though all human characters are presented chronologically, the developers left plot devices early in the game to maintain the mood of a stereotypical haunted house. For example the raspy telephone message on answering machine. As well as introducing additional characters through photos such as the obituary article of Oscar Masan and the JROTC photograph of Lonnie in the first hallway, as well introducing the main characters through the family portrait. The log book of the paranormal investigation also foreshadows future locations where Kate will travel past such as the attic and the basement while maintaining a false plot of a haunted house. other examples such as the dictation from Sam where she’s called “the Psycho House Girl”, “blood” in the bathtub and the malfunctioning lights to reinforce the haunted house motif and the horror game genre. The mansion itself is a character containing all the characters held within, the house seems very Victorian with each room trying to tell a small fragment of the entire story as well as using the objects within to provide character development and depth without a need of a narrative. The bedrooms are very prime examples of this. The parents bedrooms is representative of a conservative couple with growing conflict with hidden literature under Jan’s side of the bed. Sam’s bedroom is representative of an average teenage girl’s room with feminine colours like light blues and pink with a sense of innocence with the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling. Her budding maturity with her relationship with Lonnie can be seen with objects belonging to Lonnie such as a document and a cassette which foreshadows her growing interest. Her room also conflicts with the stereotypic teenage girl with masculine objects like a skull and crossbones (pirate flag) and her obsession with videos to even writing down Street Fighter combos on paper. A bit further, Kate discovers Sam’s growing sexual identity through the adult magazines found in the locker in her room. The most peculiar is Kate’s room which is boxed up and her belongings in the closet and in the basement later on. Since the room is no decorated, it is to safe to assume her parents regarded her as the normal daughter as well as a budding athlete by the trophies in the foyer. While the basement articles indicate Kate is straightforward and above average in school. Which is dualistic to Sam since the assignment of the female reproductive cycle is identical but Sam was pretty creative in her answer but only receiving an average grade of C minus.

Though that isn’t the first time the player encounters duality. Aside from the visual light and darkness, the player through Kate’s perspective see the duality of liberalism and conservatism between sibling and parent. While Sam stands firmly as lesbian, her parents deject this epiphany as just a phase in adolescent development. She also begins to express more openly her music rather than containing her personality represented by her room. As she creates this space where it is a hybrid between herself and Lonnie. Within this room, it contained music she enjoys and contains music interests shared between Sam and Lonnie which contrasts to her brightly painted bedroom. The room in the basement also has a sense of two people where Sam and Lonnie shared an intimate moment while her bedroom contained the innocence of herself.

That’s my take on it; play the game if you really want to get your own take on it. Until next time, love yourself and love each other.

Cubed Mania (Cube World alpha Review)

It seems more and more I’m getting back to my roots to 16 bit and 8 bit graphical games. Recently I got my hands onto the alpha test of Cube World. Though at the moment I’ve explored through the single player and I have not got into the multiplayer.

At the beginning when I start up the game, I am introduced to a 3D rendering of the in-game environment. Which seems less noisy and bring back to something reminiscent to old blocky RPG games from Zelda with simple tiles as well as it’s RPG element with various monsters and bosses in gameplay. The environment features a bit of random generation based on a numerical seed. In sort when you create a world, you can put down a random number and it will do its thing to seed the world. The character creation is simple through a set of types of body parts. Along with the character creation screen, you choose out of 4 classes which also restricts the weapons and armour. Which also at the moment restricts what materials you need to create armour. Good time to get into the mechanics.

In the alpha version at the moment, you can explore the world and participate in random quests in killing monsters marked on the map. The map displays the kingdom and the explored areas visited. Within each kingdom that I’ve noticed is that it contains one city which sells separate set of items from other cities while maintaining the 3 other mechanics available in each city. In these cities you have particular areas to let you trade, craft and get pets while the fourth district in the city seems more for switching subclasses; two for each of the 4 main classes. Crafting seems pretty straight forward from what I’ve experienced in Runes Of Magic where you gather your resources and go to a certain place to craft it. Same with food which heals health over time; which potions do as well without but with higher heals over time while not needing a place to craft. Pet however gets a tad technical which requires killing a bunch of mobs for pet food and feeding it to a certain mob. Wait! Here’s a really weird and complicated part. From the wiki pages I’ve managed to flip though to figure out how to get pets, certain kind of mobs will drop certain kinds of human food; mostly desserts. Unlike Star Trek Online, the frequent game I play, all pets can fight and some you can ride as long as you have the skill.

At the moment at this iteration, the game is fairly repetitive. It’s a slash and kill, open world adventure game.  With these random dungeon quests provides a small layer of non-linear play where you run through a dungeon and kill a boss. I haven’t tried the multiplayer since it is mostly like Minecraft where you have to find an IP address and hope in directly (If anyone wants to send an invite to their server, feel free to comment to this with a server IP). The current redeeming quality to the game compared to something closely comparable is the hang-gliding, boating and mounts through pets. The game size also might entice people to carry the client around to join from different computers. If I could recommend it, this would be partly recommendable if you are into the open-world aspect or just a casual player looking for something a bit halfway of nothing serious to something that can be ridiculously time-consuming. For not much story, content and gameplay; it returns with an open cubed world which is worth a small peak.

Not much of a Legacy…

Just last week, the Legacy of Romulus expansion came out after a long dry spell from Cryptic. Personal first impressions seemed more or less a content update rather than bring a refreshing take to the Star Trek franchise. In the expansion for those who haven’t been caught up, the Star Trek Online expansion puts players into the reformation of the Romulan Star Empire. Now the newly minted Romulan Republic faces the perils from former allies. As the quadrant fights wars on multiple fronts, the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets come to the aid of a silent enemy while another “Silent Enemy” lurks within the shadows. Out of the storyline, players get access to the infamous Nimbus III. It’s a social and combat zone that accompanies the new five missions introducing the newest enemies to the game; the Elachi. As the quadrant backs the Romulan Republic, the Romulans are beginning to spread its wings as a power. Allowing players to choose at the start which faction to begin with rather than waiting for level 20 to be Klingon. Fresh off, you can choose Federation, Klingon or the new Romulan factions. Small additions to game is a new item slow on ships give you additional stats through obtaining a warp core, respec of traits to allow players a larger array of traits and Tholian Reputation missions to facilitate obtaining a new ground and space set.

When I returned from my vacation, I hopped on to check out the new content. At first I change my HUD to one of the new HUDs available, the Voyager HUD scheme. Of course like any game with a large content release, there was a lot of congested server traffic resulting in a queue. I had time to sit in the queue but when I was in the front of the line, I was booted. I tried once more with the same error, “Login Error”. After a week, the game has stabilized and as of the moment I’m writing this, no longer have a server queue (I guess a lot of people just gave up). On my capped character, I began blazing through the new content. Respec’d my character and checking out the new warp core additions. From what I can tell, the warp cores boost subsystems excluding weapons and provides a passive boost to slipstream and transwarp abilities. As I beamed down to Nimbus III in the Tau Dewa sector, same place New Romulus is located, I notice a inhospitable environment with a small settlement built out of what appears to be salvaged metals from a crashed wreck nearby scattered across the ridge overseeing the valley. Plagued by pirates and the Orion Syndicate oppressing the local populace. Within a few hours, I was able to play through the five episodes. The Tholian reputation is unimpressive and deepens the the developer’s intent to keep the reputation system to provide a currency sink.

I’m all for new content especially adding to the story, but the new content seems a bit more lackluster considering the time taken and the game I wanted more of which is the story. The Romulan faction is a nice touch but seems a tad out of place if there is a theme to the expansion. Of course the theme is about the resurgence of the secretive Romulan Tal Shiar to undermine the new government, but it’s overshadowed by the ulterior motives of the mysterious Elachi. All things considered aside from the minor bugs and a vague expansion theme with a hype about Romulans, it has so far provided me a place to farm experience and mission essential items. And that’s the legacy I will remember fondly of about this expansion.