The Spring is Always an Overload

Winter at work is always our slow time and it is a nice opportunity to us to catch up on smaller projects and plan things for the year. Spring is what brings in our busy time of the year and this year it has hit us suddenly like a brick. Things have been crazy busy and stressful. I have really found two outlets over the past couple of weeks to really burn off some steam. 

I have had a really energizing experience broadcasting some of my music in the studio on Twitch. I am now to the point where I am experimenting with two cameras and perhaps will expand to even three cameras. I hope over the coming weeks with this setup to do a couple of "live performance shows" or to do some tutorials for the Command Station and my other gear. 

Watch live video from sup909 on Twitch

My other outlet has been through some video games. Its for those nights when I am literally just too tired to want to think about anything. The odd thing is that I haven't found a particular game that I have latched onto. I have bounced around between almost a half-dozen games over the past few weeks, spending a few hours on each of them. Nintendo has found a particular amount of time with me as of late on both the Wii U and the 3DS. I am building up some hype for the upcoming Mario Kart DLC coming out soon and I have picked up Captain Toad for the Wii U, which is a perfect, low stress puzzle game game. It really is a fantastic looking game and really is a strong example of showing how impressive Nintendo games can look. 

The 3DS has also been a great stress relief lately as well. The 3DS has these little collection of games built into it's Mii Plaza which are predicated on collecting users when other 3DS' connect to each other out in the world. It is a brilliant concept implemented on the 3DS and all of those plaza games are great bite sized pieces of content. Each one can be played in about five minutes. 

Spring an summer always end up being the busiest times of the year. Let's hope we can ride through it and enjoy it without it passing by too quickly. 

Warframe - I can't stop playing this game

I have had a small obsession recently with a game called Warfare on the Xbox. It is a free to play PC/Xbox/PS4 game that came out about six months ago. I picked it up initially and played it for a few weeks and then put it down. It came out on the consoles right around the same time as Destiny and it a lot of ways it is the same sort of game as Destiny, except that it is third person to Destiny's first person. It is a loot based, quasi-MMO. You play as a Tenno, a being of some sort that can inhabit bodies call war frames. The story is pretty thin, but the gameplay is quite fun and I honestly think it does right what Destiny was trying to do.

It is a loot grind, which means you will be playing the same missions over and over, but it does succeed in providing you all those juicy item drops that and loot based game does. Recent updates have made the game much more playable on the consoles with a controller and I have found it is one of the few games on the new Xbox that consistently has people chatting in it. 

There is something done right about this nice, mindless online component to Warfare. It is almost all cooperative so if you are the type of person who doesn't enjoy or isn't good at online competitive play, then you can still get into the community here and enjoy your time online. The pacing is just right with the loot you get where you can still keep progressing forward and building more gear for your Tenno. 

What surprised me the mot though is how well the developer has done the FTP aspect. You can earn almost everything in the game without paying a single dollar. The purchase platinum in the game basically gives you really cool cosmetic upgrades and also allows you access to what they call "Prime" versions of war frames and gear. So, I'll admit that I gave the developer $20 and picked out some Platinum to get some cool additional gear. 

SimCity BuildIt is evil, deceptive and surprisingly fun

I don't normally play games on my iPad or iPhone beyond something simple to pass the time while waiting in line. I have always preferred to play games on dedicated gaming devices. Over the Christmas holiday though I downloaded SimCity BuildIt for my iPad. I also made the mistake of introducing my wife to this game. 

SimCity was one of those games that always stuck with me when I was a kid. SimCity 2000 in particular was this perfect mix of resource management and expenditure. The new game, Buildit, which is available on the iPad, takes a lot of its ques from last year's maligned SimCity for the PC. Where that game seemed to fail with gamers the model seems to hit really well on the iPad. Perhaps it is because of the F2P model or the sort of stripped back interface, but this game (which is free) pretty much hits the nail on the head IMO. It nails all of the resource management of the previous games and has the model fit surprisingly well for the sort of "Farmville" model of resource distribution. 

In the original Simcity games your resource restrictions were largely constrained by your tax income. Here that resource constraint is spread out among different building materials. Yes, these have a time factor put onto them, but when you look back at the older games, they really aren't that different from the original concept. Back on those old PC games you were sitting, waiting, gnawing at your fingers waiting for that next chunk of money to come in. The satisfaction and anticipation is all there in this game and I am surprised to say that EA has handled the P2P aspect rather well. I haven't felt the need to buy anything to further my city, which in some ways is too bad. I personally have no qualms about putting in a few dollars to support games I like, but I wish I could put in some money into something besides getting in game cash to speed up builds. Something like a unique tile set of high end buildings would be totally reasonable for me. 

One thing that has really surprised me though is the level of detail going on. Most recently I had to build a hospital for my city and I had several abandoned buildings because of it. After I built the hospital, small ambulances drove out from that hospital and then went to my abandoned buildings. Upon returning to the hospital those buildings began to fill up with people again and my population rose. That was a surprising detail that I thought was really well crafted. I had another similar instance once when I had a building that didn't have garbage service, so you could see bags of garbage being thrown out of the windows into a pile on the side of the building with seagulls circling overhead. 

A surprisingly well crafted game for what it is. 

December 2014 - Videogaming

Video games, video games, video games. 

Fall and early winter is that time of year when all of the blockbuster games come out. There have been some decent games that have come out this fall, but I feel that 2014 overall has been a bit of a lackluster year for gaming. I definitely have played less games this past year, and I am not entirely sure if it is due to the selection of games out or if it has to do with my available time. 

I put a lot of time in at the end of the summer and through the early part of this fall playing Pikmin 3. That game is quite good, but it had one of the most frustrating ending levels I have ever played in any game. I seriously almost did not make it through that game simply due to the ending. 

Just prior to Thanksgiving I also took advantage of a sale over at target and picked up three games; Sunset Overdrive, Shadow of Morodr and Bayonetta 2. 

I had a lot of fun playing Sunset Overdrive. It was a great looking game that had that goofy, over the top mayhem that is reminiscent of the first Crackdown. I beat the single player mode, but I hope to put in a little bit more time playing the multiplayer and getting all of the collectibles. There is a good, mindless sort of fun about the game that really hits well. 

I also started playing Bayonetta 2 over the past couple of weeks. I enjoyed the first game, but this second one really nails the over the top Japanese aesthetic and action along with overt sexuality, subtle and not so subtle puns and crazy fight sequences. The game is fast, smooth and really does look quite gorgeous. For anyone who thinks the Wii U doesn't have games, they really need to look at the releases for 2014 that Nintendo has put out. It really is a stellar system right now. 

Finally I started playing Shadow of Mordor just a couple of weeks ago. That game is straight up an Assassin's Creed clone, right down to the map. I have only put in a few hours so far, but I can't say I am hooked. People online seem to really love this game and many have it as their game of the year. The nemesis system, with the orcs is cool, but the game has not captured me. The opening couple of hours are difficult since the tutorials are almost non-existent. What little information it does put across the screen for you disappears too quickly. The text in the game is also incredibly small and if you are sitting any more than four feet from your TV you simply cannot read it. 

I hear it gets better and I am planning on still playing it. I sort of found myself this weekend though falling back into a game that has to be my game of the year if simply for the hours I have put into it. Titanfall. 

I have played over eighty hours of that game since its release last March. A took a break for a few months as if burned itself out, but Microsoft had it on sale for $12 over the Thanksgiving holiday. I booted it up again this weekend and it is as fun as ever. I am probably going to see myself playing that for another few weeks over the holiday break as well. 

Pikmin 3 is a Darn Good Game

I haven't been playing my Wii U much lately. I have been trying my hardest to try and get some time into Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate on the console. I have spent the better part of the past month though just getting frustrated with that game. I wanted to try and like it. I was in the mood for something very "Japanese feeling", but I just couldn't get myself to like it. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing most of the time and I unfortunately found most of the combat pretty boring. 

My lack of interest in that game had me not really wanting to pickup the Wii U for a while. I finally had to give in and I am thankful I did. I should have thrown the towel in on that game weeks ago and I opened up Pikmin 3 that I downloaded with the purchase of Mario Kart 8. Now Pikmin is quite a good game. It is what I would call the perfect "laid back" experience that Nintendo does so well. The game is calming with very subtle music and design elements.  Tension in the game is mostly low and the payoff really comes from wandering around the world looking for fruit for your ship. 

It has also been the best game to utilize the Wii U's gamepad so far. Not only does it make good use of the map functinality, but the Wii U's pad acts as a communicator device which pays off really well. It is definitely worth the pickup.