Tuesday, October 20, 2020

My Life As A Gamer: The 2020 Palladium X-Mas Grab Bags Are Available

Palladium Books put out the email notification that their annual Christmas Grab Bags are available starting yesterday and until December 24th of this year.

The cost remains $50 USD plus Shipping and Handling. This is what you get.

$95-$100 (sometimes more) worth of Palladium Books products for only $50 plus shipping and handling. You are guaranteed to get an absolute minimum of ninety-five dollars ($95) retail value in your Surprise Package. Often you get $96-$105. Sometimes more! Santa Kevin likes to make gamers squeal with delight and often packs in $100+ worth of goodies into many Surprise Packages.

I've bought these over the years. The cost has remained at this point for about a decade now. The value is as good as they say, but the catch is that you aren't guaranteed to get anything in particular. (I've never gotten a shirt, despite putting in for one every time, for example.) Yes, this includes the autographs and special requests. This is the sort of thing that earns Palladium its nigh-fanatical loyalty from its core customers, and it's one of the reasons that Kevin Siembieda can maintain his operation despite everything else being in a state of holding fast at best and collapsing otherwise.

For those that refuse the ticket, and therefore have to actually build their way to success and prosperity the hard way, this man is a good case study with worthy lessons to learn from- both lessons in success to copy and lessons in failure to warn away from. As for the games themselves, they're hardly flawless but they're still good fun and if you're inclined to tinker then Palladium's a great company to buy from because you'll have to. Someday Palladium--literally or metaphorically--will be gone, and this magic goes with it, so savor it while you can.

Yes, if you're into tabletop RPGs, this is a deal you cannot pass up.

Monday, October 19, 2020

My Life As A Gamer: WOTC Dun Goofed (The Dragonlance Lawsuit)

Wizards of the Coast got sued by Hickman & Weis--creators of Dragonlance--for Breach of Contract. I did not see this coming.

The suit asserts that the termination was unlawful, and "violated multiple aspects of the License Agreement". It goes on to assert that the reasons for the termination were due to WotC being "embroiled in a series of embarrassing public disputes whereby its non-Dragonlance publications were excoriated for racism and sexism. Moreover, the company itself was vilified by well-publicized allegations of misogyny and racist hiring and employment practices by and with respect to artists and employees unrelated to Dragonlance."

In other words, WOTC tried to get H&W to poz Dragonlance and WOTC pushed the two past the point where the latter would accept. Now for the legalese.

NATURE OF THE ACTION

1. Margaret Weis (“Weis”) and Tracy Hickman (“Hickman”) (collectively with Margaret Weis, LLC, “Plaintiff-Creators”) are among the most widely-read and successful living authors and world-creators in the fantasy fiction arena. Over thirty-five years ago, Plaintiff- Creators conceived of and created the Dragonlance universe—a campaign setting for the “Dungeons & Dragons” roleplaying game, the rights to which are owned by Defendant. (In Dungeons & Dragons, gamers assume roles within a storyline and embark on a series of adventures—a “campaign”—in the context of a particular campaign setting.)

2. Plaintiff-Creators’ conception and development of the Dragonlance universe has given rise to, among other things, gaming modules, video games, merchandise, comic books, films, and a series of books set in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy world. While other authors have been invited to participate in creating over 190 separate fictional works within the Dragonlance universe, often with Plaintiff-Creators as editors, Weis’s and Hickman’s own works remain by far the most familiar and salable. Their work has inspired generations of gamers, readers and enthusiasts, beginning in 1984 when they published their groundbreaking novel Dragons of Autumn Twilight, which launched the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy. Their books have sold more than thirty million copies, and their Dragonlance World of Krynn is arguably the most successful and popular world in shared fiction, rivaled in the fantasy realm only by the renowned works created by J.R.R. Tolkien (which do not involve a shared fictional world). Within the Dragonlance universe, Plaintiff-Creators have authored or edited 31 separate books, short story anthologies, game materials, and art and reference books in a related series of works all dedicated to furthering the Dungeons & Dragons/Dragonlance brand.

3. In or around 2017, Plaintiff-Creators learned that Defendant was receptive to licensing its properties with established authors to revitalize the Dungeons & Dragons brand. After a ten-year hiatus, Plaintiff-Creators approached Defendant and began negotiating for a license to author a new Dragonlance trilogy. Plaintiff-Creators viewed the new trilogy as the capstone to their life’s work and as an offering to their multitude of fans who had clamored for a continuation of the series. Given that the Dragonlance series intellectual property is owned by Defendant, there could be no publication without a license. In March, 2019, the negotiations between the parties hereto culminated in new written licensing agreement whereby Weis and Hickman were to personally author and publish a new Dragonlance trilogy in conjunction with Penguin Random House, a highly prestigious book publisher (the “License Agreement”).

4. By the time the License Agreement was signed, Defendant had a full overview of the story and story arc, with considerable detail, of the planned trilogy. Defendant knew exactly the nature of the work it was going to receive and had pre-approved Penguin Random House as the publisher. Indeed, Defendant was at all times aware of the contract between Penguin Random House and Plaintiff-Creators (the “Publishing Agreement”) and its terms. In fact, the License Agreement expressly refers to the Publishing Agreement.

5. By June 2019, Defendant received and approved a full outline of the first contracted book in the trilogy (“Book 1”) and by November 2019 the publisher accepted a manuscript for Book 1. Plaintiff-Creators in turn sent the Book 1 manuscript to Defendant, who approved it in January 2020. In the meantime, Defendant was already approving foreign translation rights and encouraging Plaintiff-Creators to work on the subsequent novels.

6. During the development and writing process, Plaintiff-Creators met all contractual milestones and received all requisite approvals from Defendant. Defendant at all times knew that Hickman and Weis had devoted their full attention and time commitment to completing Book 1 and the trilogy as a whole in conformity with their contractual obligations. During the writing process, Defendant proposed certain changes in keeping with the modern-day zeitgeist of a more inclusive and diverse story-world. At each step, Plaintiff-Creators timely accommodated such requests, and all others, within the framework of their novels. This collaborative process tracks with Section 2(a)(iii) of the License Agreement, which requires Defendant to approve Plaintiff- Creators’ drafts or, alternatively, provide written direction as to the changes that will result in Defendant’s approval of a draft.

7. On or about August 13, 2020, Defendant participated in a telephone conference with Plaintiff-Creators’ agents, which was attended by Defendant’s highest-level executives and attorneys as well as PRH executives and counsel. At that meeting, Defendant declared that it would not approve any further Drafts of Book 1 or any subsequent works in the trilogy, effectively repudiating and terminating the License Agreement. No reason was provided for the termination. (In any event, no material breaches or defaults were indicated or existed upon which to predicate a termination.) The termination was wholly arbitrary and without contractual basis. The termination was unlawful and in violation of multiple aspects of the License Agreement (arguably almost every part of it, in fact). The termination also had the knowing and premeditated effect of precluding publication and destroying the value of Plaintiff-Creators’ work—not to mention their publishing deal with Penguin Random House.

8. Defendant’s acts and failures to act breached the License Agreement and were made in stunning and brazen bad faith. Defendant acted with full knowledge that its unilateral decision would not only interfere with, but also would lay waste to, the years of work that Plaintiff-Creators had, to that point, put into the project. Given that the obligation to obtain a publisher was part and parcel of the License Agreement, Defendant was fully cognizant that its backdoor termination of the License Agreement would nullify the millions of dollars in remuneration to which Plaintiff-Creators were entitled from their publishing contract.

9. As Plaintiff-Creators subsequently learned, Defendant’s arbitrary decision to terminate the License Agreement—and thereby the book publishing contract—was based on events that had nothing to do with either the Work or Plaintiff-Creators. In fact, at nearly the exact point in time of the termination, Defendant was embroiled in a series of embarrassing public disputes whereby its non-Dragonlance publications were excoriated for racism and sexism. Moreover, the company itself was vilified by well-publicized allegations of misogyny and racist hiring and employment practices by and with respect to artists and employees unrelated to Dragonlance. Plaintiff-Creators are informed and believe, and based thereon allege, that a decision was made jointly by Defendant and its parent company, Hasbro, Inc., to deflect any possible criticism or further public outcry regarding Defendant’s other properties by effectively killing the Dragonlance deal with Plaintiff-Creators. The upshot of that was to inflict knowing, malicious and oppressive harm to Plaintiff-Creators and to interfere with their third- party contractual obligations, all to Plaintiff-Creator’s severe detriment and distress.

No matter how this shakes out, let me state the obvious up front: WOTC DUN GOOFED!

I won't comment on the legal claims made here; pass this along to actual lawyers like Nick Rekieta and have them take a look at it. That link is to the full legal filing that EN World linked to, and has what I quoted above plus some more. What I will say is that neither Weis nor Hickman ever seemed the sue-happy sort; that they resorted to lawyers after decades of mutally beneficial cooperation and collaboration, first with TSR and then WOTC, is a very telling sign that the SJWs inside the company are doing a fine job wrecking the company in the service of the Death Cult they adhere to.

And those same SJWs don't realize that Hickman & Weis do not need WOTC to put out gaming products. The same retroclone movement that allowed savvy designers to rebuild pre-3E D&D using the d20 System also allows Hickman & Weis to use the d20 System to rebuild D&D 5E, cutting WOTC out of the loop entirely and with full legal sanction. They only need WOTC for specific IP license matters; if they wanted, they could clone D&D5 via the OGL and put out a Death Gate game. You get the idea.

In any event, this development shows that the company is converged past the point of any but the most draconian measures to save. Hasbro won't do it; they'll cut WOTC loose first. However, that is not necessary; you can play D&D for the rest of your life without giving WOTC (or anyone like them) a penny, so carry on without them and enjoy playing the real game as well as sharing it with others. WOTC needs us; we don't need WOTC. The gaming industry can die in a fire tomorrow, but the gaming scene will endure for as long as folks want it because it doesn't need businesses to survive and thrive, especially now.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

My Life As A Gamer: The Game Is Broken By Design

One of the most influential theorycrafters in the World of Warcraft community, and one of the top Death Knight players in the world, put forth this thread on Twitter yesterday. Started here; will blockquote the rest with mild editing for clarity.

Continued:

Around early/mid 2013, just before the release of the Throne of Thunder raid, I was invited to a private feedback forum for WoW theorycrafters. This was the first incarnation of the "private forums", which many have speculated about ever since.

In its initial stages, this forum was wonderful. Many of the most positive developments in both Mists of Pandaria (MoP) and even the developmental stages of Warlords of Draenor (WoD) were the result of the careful, thoughtful feedback that players on this forum provided. It was also reciprocated with actual, candid discussion on the part of developers, the results of which were probably some of the strongest system and general game design that the game has seen.

Around the end of 2013, a key figure in WoW development (who also happened to be the brainchild behind the forums) left Blizzard. Slowly, but surely, everything began to change. Developer tones became more condescending. The obvious effort put in by players went ignored.

The majority of WoD was miserable for forum dwellers, but it was nothing compared to Legion. If there was ever a true “death” suffered by them, it occurred when the WoW dev team’s line of communication during the Legion Beta became nothing but insults, rudeness, and ignoring us.

The first incarnation of the private forums was deleted during Legion. It was then resurrected (and still exists) with a new crew of feedback givers with some overlap from the old, but continued in the same trend of developers essentially treating feedback givers like trash. In addition, I’m told that there is also an influencers Discord, largely compromising of YouTube content creators and other “prominent” figures in the WoW community. In other words, the current forums are not the only semi-private line of communication the team has.

So when you read Twitter threads complaining about “the masses”, please understand that this team *does* have all the access they need to theorycrafters and players with a key stake in the game’s development. They simply choose to either ignore, insult, or belittle them.

Complaining about “the masses” is facetious. “The masses” have consisted of loud yelling by ignorant, uninformed players since Day 1 of Vanilla. That is the entire reason *behind* the genesis of the private forums and the influencer Discord.

Yet surprisingly “the masses” weren’t an issue in the past — probably because the team at the time actually understood that the best way to obtain good feedback was not by alienating and marginalising the actual rational voices of folks willing to put in the time/effort.

It took me a long time to take a step back and realise how incredibly fucked up it was that the WoW community consists of so many players (especially theorycrafters) that put in so much time and effort into improving the game with zero compensation. And many were happy to do so.

The truth is that it isn’t feedback that has suffered or changed. It is design. It is the state of a game whose system developers have proven themselves to be a bunch of manchildren with egos the size of mountains. Gaslighting your theorycrafter core won’t change that.

All of this (and more) were things I wish I'd included in my final blogpost, but that I refrained from doing out of respect for one person. If you’re reading this: I’m sorry if this damages our personal relationship. But, I can no longer be silent in the face of what’s happening

Judging by the 7 DMs I’ve already received thanking me for this thread, I guess it resonates. My suggestion? Please join me in speaking up, assuming it doesn’t put your safety or wellbeing in jeopardy. Many of you were right there with me, and saw most of what I did.

n case you were wondering what the tone of the private forums is like these days, here’s what someone with current access to them just DM’d me. Guess I’m not the only one who’s just about had it.

Here’s Exhibit 2. Same developer by the way, in case the tone didn’t make it abundantly clear.

Let me restate this again, just to point out how absurd the situation is: This is how WoW system developers continue to speak to and treat players that spent hundreds of hours of their free time trying to help them develop the game, based purely on passion. Let that sink in.

Going to be rounding off this thread and then switching off notifications. First, since multiple people have asked, this was the post I wrote about why I was done with the game in Legion. Consider this thread to be a belated, harsher addendum to it. Second, I’ve retweeted a few acquaintances were on the forums with me — go and give their threads a read too. I never took screenshots (perhaps naively so) while present for the first generation of the forums, so I’m afraid I can’t provide any more. Finally, thank you to everyone for the kind DMs and messages of support — I sincerely appreciate it. FWIW, all that this has really left me feeling is hollow. Glad I got it off my chest, but it’s sad to consider how a four tweet thread was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

A lot of us long-time players have felt that shift. 2013 is during Mists of Pandaria, so this would have been when internal development of Warlords of Draenor. This is just before the decline in player subscriptions fell off a cliff with WoD, and this was also when the remaining original cohort started to make their exits- to other games in the company (Overwatch), to other companies, or flat-out retirement.

The feeling a lot of us got then is that the devs really don't care about the players. They listen to the theorycrafters and the top guilds, as this elite player cohort sets the standards for everyone else to follow and use social pressure to enforce those standards. (It's real; you don't get into anything remotely challenging if you don't conform to the current metagame standards.)

Yesterday this came up during Asmongold's stream, and as he's one of the top neckbeard players--an influencer--for the game then 45,000 people directly got this matter told to them and they'll go out and talk about it to their friends in their guilds, their raid groups, their Arena teams, etc. and r/wow on Reddit has at least one thread about it by now. It's not just going to be ignored.

What Asmongold got at is that the devs ignore the elite players because the devs have different objectives than the elite players. The latter gives feedback on the presumption that the design flaws in the game are actual flaws and not deliberate decisions, because they believe that a game that's properly balanced across the board will be a better game and thus a more popular game that retains current players and draws new ones.

This is not so.

The devs are driven by algorythms, specifically on player subscription retention and maximizing player extraction via paid services and cash shop purchases. The game not only does not need to be properly balanced across the board, the game is intentionally broken to force players to change things up and thus extend paid game time. Some known trends are:

  • Raids are made too hard on purpose to extend the New Car Smell effect ("relevence" as we speak of it) and then later nerfed back to playable status once the elite players find out how to break it, and then nerfed again so everyone else can handle it.
  • Races, Classes and Specializations (etc.) are deliberately over or underpowered not only due to dev favortism, but also to get players to maintain multiple characters they can win with in raiding and PVP, all of which extends paid game time and promotes paid services so players can keep that stable of characters at parity or can easily catch up.
  • Items that break the game are deliberately allowed into the game and placed where they are to entice player participation in a given gameplay mode, extending game time and paid service use so players can get to it and then use it to dominate competition and do status dancing.

The reason that WOW is what it is comes down to the fact that WOW, as an MMORPG, is a service and not a product. The service needs to shake things up to maintain awareness in the larger population and bring lapsed players back. Some players will lapse. Others will return. If the overall population of paying players remains steady, but the amount of money brought in increases then that's superior business for the devs and their superiors than what the elite players want.

This is why the feedback that elite players provide isn't heeded. They aren't giving the devs the feedback that the devs need for their business model, not intentionally. They are providing irrelevant noise most of the time, and it only matters when the next expansion begins its development cycle when need to figure out what they need to shake up this time around, which is why what feedback the elite players provide only tangentially relates to what the devs do to the game.

And it works.

The game is broken BY DESIGN.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

My Life As A Gamer: Those Free Sega Games Are Live

This is a follow-up from earlier this week. Those free games Sega's giving away on Steam? Most of them are available now. Get that.

Golden Axed will be available shortly. Hit up the Sega anniversary page to see if anything else is to your liking.

Friday, October 16, 2020

My Life As A Gamer: The 9.0 Pre-Patch Leveling Experience In "World of Warcraft"

This week in World of Warcraft, the pre-expansion patch for the upcoming Shadowlands expansion dropped. Since I still have game time, I logged in to see what was up.

For those who are new, this time--"pre-patch" as it's called--is when all of the revised game mechanics and character options are put into the game but anything specific to the new expansion's content is not yet available. (It's actually in your game files; you just can get to it.) There's usually some limited time event that goes on related to the new expansion; this time, it's Scourge Invasion 2.0 because the man responsible for control said Scourge got overthrown and his means of control--The Helm of Domination--destroyed.

Yeah, I think it's dumb also. They literally made that shit up a few years ago because they painted themselves into a corner and this was their solution.

This is also a time for players that skipped the current expansion to come back and see if what's coming sparks their interest while they catch up, since they won't need to bother much (if at all) with anything specific to the current expansion. (Keep reading; I'll get more specific on that.) All of the changes to the leveling process are in now, and having done them they are fantastic.

First, this took me 20 hours to do. (That's slow, by the way, I've seen folks doing this in half the time.)

That's one of the new Allied Races for the Horde: the Vulpera. I leveled as a Hunter not because I needed a Hunter alt (I have two just on that server on the Horde side already.) but because I wanted to test the new leveling experience and playing a Hunter is one of the easiest ways to do it.

So what is this?

It's the answer to a long-standing criticism: new players take way too long to join the party at endgame where the real game is.

This is why the character level range got squished from 1-120 to 1-50 (1-60 in Shadowlands). 1-10 is the Starting Zone experience, and almost all characters now have the option to use the same Starting Zone to get going: Exile's Reach.

Exile's Reach is a tightly-guided tutorial experience aimed squarely at brand-new players and returning players who've been away so long that they might as well be new. All of the tutorial tips are hard-enabled; this can be annoying for veterans leveling an alt if they lack patience (i.e. most hardcore PVP and Raid players; my altoholic bros and Auction House players tend to be more chill). It's also a modern AAA videogame cinematic experience; don't skip the cutscenes the first time through, as you get answers to questions like "Where are we, why are we here, and what are we looking for?" This zone is inaccesible to players past Level 10, aside from any unfixed bugs or other glitches, and Pandaren that opt for this zone must declare an Allegience (Alliance or Horde) before entering play.

The new player experience also has a tutorial experience for using instanced content; the climax of the zone is a miniature dungeon, which you actually can do in groups but are able to solo, and you do queue up for it using the Dungeon Finder tool. This dungeon experience has core concepts in it--tank, heal, DPS, don't stand in the fire (not a joke), etc.--so new players get some in-your-face experience at what it feels like herein. It also has gear rewards whose cosmetic appearance cannot be found elsewhere; this is deliberate and meant to entice returning players to level new alts here, leading to another new feature.

Veteran Players that met a modest Achievement requirement can volunteer to be Guides. Guides and New Players gain access to a specialized chat channel, "Newcomer" with "Guide" or "Newcomer" as tags and you'll be expected to field questions from new players on what to do, where to go, how this or that works, etc. To volunteer, talk to the Guide Recruiter outside the Embassay in Orgrimmar (Horde) or Stormwind (Alliance). It is also expected that requests for help are also to come in this chat channel, and a new--but existing--feature is ready-made for helping.

That feature is Party Sync. It's been in the game for a while (and shamelessly copied from Final Fantasy XIV), and it works as you expect: higher-level character joins a party with a lower-level character, syncs (scales) down to their level, and can now participate with the lower-level character as if at that level (and any rewards will scale back up when desynced). This matters, because the new leveling experience takes the code behind this feature and expanded upon it to good end.

When you reach Level 10, you'll be sent to Orgrimmar/Stormwind. New Players are automatically shunted into going straight into Battle For Azeroth; veterans rolling an alt have a choice, which involves going to the Embassy and talking to Chromie the Brone Dragon (in her Gnome form) and choosing any other past expansion. You'll get the prompt for the introduction quest to that expansion, and everything in that expansion will be scaled to your character's level; full XP for quests, mobs that you kill, etc. all the way to Level 50.

You can also go back to Chromie and talk to her again to swap between past expansions; same intro quest popup happens every time. This can be used to speed-level since these quests often are free XP and not insignificant at that. You will also auto-sync if you join a party with someone synced to an expansion other than yours; this is good if you want to quest in one expansion, but run dungeons from another since otherwise you cannot run dungeons outside the timeframe you chose. (N.B.: "Cataclysm" means you do 1-30 in the post-Cata revision of the old zones, and 30-50 in the new Cata zones like Hyjal.)

You get your mount at L10 now, dirt-cheap. L20 is Fast Ground Speed. L30 is Basic Flight access. L40 is Fast Fight. Flight now only has two levels; any character at the old 280% speed got a free upgrade to 310%. Only L40 is expensive (5K gold, minus Reputation discounts); the rest is dirt cheap.

Death Knights and Demon Hunters now start at L8 in their respective class-specific starting zones; you will be L10 when you finish and exit to level like everyone else.

Alled Race alts start at L10 (incl. Death Knights) and can get going right away.

Any questlines specific to a given Expansion (The Class Hall campaign for Legion, War Campaign in Battle For Azeroth, etc.) will not come until you can fly, and it will be gated after that such that you won't be able to complete what was old leveling content until L40 or 45. Gear that tied to the special power mechanic for an expansion (Azerite Armor using the Heart of Azeroth) is reserved for L50 when that power mechanic unlocks, if available at all (RIP Artifact Weapons).

The overall difficult of play ranges from "You can't AFK" to "Pay attention or you'll get pasted", with the latter more apparent if you do dungeons, but still enjoyable even if you've done that before.

Note for speed-leveling: According to testers, Warlords of Draenor is still fastest overall at 10 hours even with the 90% nerf of XP gain from Treasures, with Legion and Battle For Azeroth tied at 12 hours. I took my time, as I'm a zone completionist and not running an optimized route in the least, so 20 hours from 10 to 50 is more likely for most players and that's plenty fine. This Vulpera alt--wearing the Heritage Armor of his race and using one of the skins for the Legion Weapon for Marksmanship Hunters--is ready for the Scourge Invasion and going into the realm of the afterlife in Shadowlands.

(And yes, his name is a reference to Simo Hayha; he is a Marksmanship Hunter.)

Would I recommend trying things out? Sure. Buying into Shadowlands now? No. Let the vets be the first wave through and let you know if it's worth the money. The Beta is still up, so they're still working on content, and that's worrisome. I'll let you know if (and if so, when) it's worth it.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

My Life As A Historian: Sabaton History Talks "The Art of War"

If it's Thursday, it's time for Sabaton History and today the boys are talking about Sun Tzu.

I presume that most of you that are regular readers here have read this book, but if not you need to heed Joakim's words and read it. It's as he says: quick and easy to read; the big think is from digesting what you read, not from parsing the words themselves (i.e. in applying them). Sure, every wargame ever will be ruined for you thereafter (because Sun Tzu is all about intelligence and logistics, something few wargames bother with at all and those that do so do poorly), but this is good stuff and as Indy says it's generally applicable to non-military pursuits where you're running a group- like a household.

Here is the Project Gutenberg link they mentioned. If you'd rather have it in print, Amazon has it in paperback for less than $5 and free in Kindle.

There is one big caveat to the book. Sun Tzu presumes that your opponent can be reasoned with, and that the lives and property of the enemy are worth preserving. This is not universally true, and there are times when it is right and necessary to annihilate the enemy. This is because Sun Tzu wrote under the presumption that wars are between states ruled by competing elites, essentially doing very expensive high-stakes dominance displays ("war as an extention of politics"), and not between parties in an existential conflict where one side must be destroyed for the other to survive ("war as survival from predatory threat").

It is a caveat he would agree with, were he asked; "evil cults" and so on would be sufficiently fanatical to be existential threats and dealt with accordingly.

Today we use zombies and killer robots to get this point across. The reality is that it's still evil cults producing fanatic predators. They just got better at doing the intelligence game, but the dynamic remains the same: they are a predatory existential threat, and they must be destroyed before they wipe us out or we're done.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

My Life As A Gamer: Sega's Anniversary Offerings

Niche Gamer put out a quick trio of newsbites on three games that Sega's going to release on Steam for a limited time to celebrate their anniversary. The games become available starting this Friday; check the links below.

And the Steam store links:

Golden Axed is explicitly free. The other two have no price mentioned yet, so cost is unknown. If you're interested, I suggest throwing them on your Wish List and mind your email Inbox starting this weekend for the emailed notifications that the game is available to acquire.

I do hope they're all cheap or free, especially the latter two as that sort of thing is right up my alley.

In particular I want to take a look at the last game, bugs and all. It's sad that we didn't get any serious follow-ups to the second Golden Axe arcade game (Revenge of Death-Adder), and if anyone wants to make their mark in indie videogame development making a spiritual successor to the original arcade games is a solid route to go.

And I do miss Capcom having competition in the side-scrolling brawler market just as much as I miss that being a staple of arcades generally. For me, side-scrolling brawlers are equal to the side-scrolling or top-scrolling shooter for that which defines videogames. I am glad that they are living on now in home-play, be it in emulation (MAME, et. al.), new sequels/spin-offs (e.g. River City Girls, Streets of Rage IV), or all new titles (e.g. Castle Crashers).

Some folks miss playing tournament fighters like Street Fighter II. I miss four and six-player brawlers. This isn't exactly the same, but I'm not a 10 year old boy in 1984 playing in the arcade while waiting for the pizza to arrive and ignoring the animatronics being all Uncanny Valley. (RIP Chuck E Cheese) It's fine, and I'm glad Sega's put these games--which in a better timeline would be global hits and acclaimed in gaming media--out for us to enjoy, even if they're doing the cynical thing and making it artifically scare via limited time availability.