Saturday, December 28, 2013

Starbound is lots of fun

This place has a dungeon with a  matter generator next to the spawn, in the alpha sector.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Saints Row: The Third


This over the top third person shooter, disorganized crime simulator and sandbox game delivers suitable doses of entertainment, provided that you can forget anything you know about morality (spoiler: its pretty hard to go from point A to point B without any collateral damage, you might as well enjoy it!).

Lots of customization, lots of crazy challenges, the campaign is completely insane. I did not play a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) game since GTA3,  but these games seem tame and boring in comparison to SR3.

Crazy, unbridled,  fun ... and lots of virtual murder and damage to private property. Don't let your kids play this! But its okay to enjoy in private if you are open minded and know the difference between fiction and reality.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

DLC Quest


So this game was for sale at 75 cents on Steam so I gave it a shot. The game is not bad for this price, but there is probably an other game that you should be playing instead.

 This game parodies downloadable content (DLC) in video games. It is a basic platformer with jokes. You collect coins which you use to buy DLC  There were a few good jokes. Sometimes DLC allows you to advance into the game, some other times is completely useless. I got stuck at the end of the game because I bought to many useless DLC. 
Everything is brown because of a useless DLC
Nope, not fine, I'm done! Bye game.
I did buy those because I thought I was stuck and that some DLC would allow me to progress, but then I found a gate which can only be opened for many more coins than what I have and I don't feel like going back and collecting them. The game lasts less than one hour on the first play through.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Magic the Gathering - Duels of the planeswalker (+ 2012 and 2013 editions)


If you did not know MTG is collectible card game where you play as a wizard who can summon creatures and cast spells. Your goal is to kill your opponent (also a wizard), usually by reducing his hit points to 0. Its a fun game with a lots of strategy and tactics, however its one hell of a pay to win game. For people who realized this, there are usually modes where players don't come with pre-made decks. But they still make  a lot of money by having players buy new random cards for each tournament.

It exists in physical form (go to the store, buy real card) and in digital form (Magic Online which is very old and looks like shit, where you pay the same price for virtual cards!).

Still its been the most played, most complex and interesting card game out there for a long time. So without any major competition, Wizzard, the company behind MTG, has been sitting on its ass for a long time and selling its physical and virtual cards at a ridiculously high prices. Which has always been a turn off form me.

But at some point they released Duels of the planeswalker on steam and Xbox live, where players only play with somewhat balanced pre-made decks (you can swap a few card in and out for each decks). So you don't pay for the card in those games,  you pay once for each of those games (and their expansions) and then you can play against other player with relatively balanced decks. And it can be a lot of fun.

At least the challenges and campaigns are fun. The multiplayer is a bit buggy sometimes, when there a bugged game at the top of the match making list and you always get match to a game where you can't connect. Also since you can only play with premade decks, players cannot do everything they want and play all the modes they play with physical cards (like drafting). But there are new competitors on the tablet and PC markets now and they announced much more features for the planeswalker version of 2014, that's why I'm reviewing these games now.

Also its more fun if you don't buy the card unlocks downloadable content and instead unlock the cards as you play the campaign, it makes the campaign more interesting. So buy the game and expansions but not the unlocks.

I can't find the original (pre 2012 edition) on steam, they probably removed it because there were too many bugs and they did not want to fix them).

2020 edit: Since then I've a played the other planeswalker games, Magic Duels and Magic arena. Magic Arena is probably better maintained (and they will maintain the game instead of releasing a different game each year). But its also different, gone are the pre-built decks and you can now buy cards and virtual currency to play the game. I'm sure that it is very popular and that they are making a lot more money that way ... but it could not retain my attention. I don't feel like spending so much money on virtual cards and games and grinding free to play is also unappealing for me. Things I hated: Losing (or winning) because of mana flood, mana screw, or better cards. The difference between common and rarer cards in magic is too great in my opinion. There are lots of digital card games these days, many of which don't have these problem. See my other CCG game reviews.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Construct 2


Construct 2 makes its incredibly easy to make almost any type of 2D game. No programming required, there is an event system which is not more complicated that an excel spread sheet. There is a free version on steam. Its amazing, try it.

Try the little game I made, it looks like crap and there are only 5 levels, but it only took a few hours to make. Controls are WASD. I could have made hundreds more levels in a few more hours but I'm lazy as hell.

It would be even better if it came with some assets (images, sprites, and sounds). I had to draw everything myself, I used the built-in ms-paint like tool. Who knew I had so much talent to draw cakes?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dota 2


A long time ago, I was playing warcarft III on my laptop Pentium 4 laptop. It had a hard time running the game because it did not have a real graphic card, but it was still a lot fun. I would play the game online via the automatic match making system on good old When I was bored of the vanilla game I would play custom maps. Starcraft and Warcraft III came with great map editors which allowed to completely change the rules of the games within custom maps. A map would be automatically downloaded upon joining a custom game that featured.

The community was very creative and many new genres were born. There were a lots of survival maps, evolve maps, racing, sniper maps, board games,  ect And map creators were able throw-in their own ideas as well as drawing ideas from their peers. Some ideas were great and original and gave birth to their own sub-genre, like tower defence maps.

Warcraft 3 was a RTS where you controlled leveling (RPG style) heroes (as well as building your base and your army). A lot of custom maps put more focus on the heroes and less on the base and on the armies. Armies, creeps(mobs), and bases would exist only for the sake of leveling your heroes and crush your enemies.

What was innovative on the RPG front  in Warcraft 3 and in these maps was that your character would go from level 1 to the maximum level in within the time of game (30-60 minutes). In comparison traditional RPGs have your character slowly level over the course of long campaingns (30+ hours). Making strategic choices for a character is what the fun is all about in RPGs, and its even more fun if you make these choices every 2 minutes instead of every 2 hours.

Also these map often brought a competitive and team work aspect which make the experience much more intense for the player.

 Replay value is ensured by a very large selection of heroes but you'll want to play a the same few heroes lots of times to master their usage in battle and make a difference and win your games.

The most popular "hero battle" map became "Defence of the Ancients" or DOTA. It had a wide selection of carefully balanced and original heroes (in character, in their abilities and use in combat). I'm pretty sure that at some point DOTA became much more popular than vanilla Warcraft 3 as it was becoming harder and harder to find games via the match making system but there was always hundreds of DOTA game listed and these would often attain the maximum number of players in a matter of seconds.

The market was limited to those owning a copy of Warcraft 3 but after few years people realized that this untapped genre could become very popular. Many "MOBA" games (WTF, worst video game genre acronym ever, the only thing is it rhymes with DOTA really)  games were announced. The fact that the free to play business model was becoming increasingly popular probably helped.

I won't waste anymore of my time explaining this read these wikipedia articles if you want:

The Good

The graphics are better than those of Warcraft 3.
The game is free to play.
The game is not pay to win.
Its practically a port of the Warcraft 3 mod, you'll find that the game plays exactly the same, and that 90% of the times the existing heroes of DOTA 1 and their abilities were copy pasted into the game. To this day they are still releasing Heroes of the original map (once every few months or something).
Steam integration is excellent, I got dragged into the games because my friends were playing.

The Bad

Getting a game started takes forever. There are many steps and if anyone disconnects or fails to "accept" or to load the map, its back to square one. For some unexplained reason, even if  my filters are very wide (all game modes) it can take me more than 10 minutes to be matched with other players. After the match making part players have 10 seconds to click the "accept" button. If one of the 10 players fails to click in time, everything is cancelled and its back to square one. After that the game loads the map. THE ONLY ONE MAP. If a player fails to load and connect withing TWO FRIKING MINUTES (everyone else must wait that amount of time) its back to square one. Lets just say that its rare and happy occasion when I use the match making system and it works on the first time. On average it takes me 20 minutes to successfully start a game with strangers and once it was over 20 minutes. These problems should be easy to fix, they come bad designs. First, the match making is broken, they should fix it. Second, THE ONE MAP OF THE GAME should be already loaded from the hardrive, it should have loaded while we were all waiting for the matchmaking system to match us. Then if a player fails to connect or respond after 20 seconds it should be replaced with an other player searching for game INSTEAD OF SENDING BACK THE 9 OTHER PLAYERS BACK TO THE MENU.

Backward logic. You might think that attacking the enemy soldiers all the time and pushing combat zone into the enemy territory is the right thing to do.WRONG. The right thing to do is to only give the finishing blow. This will give you the gold of killing the enemy unit without pushing the combat zone into the range of the enemy tower where you would not be able to give the finishing blow and gain gold. Actually its even better if you get you get your own troop dead to prevent the enemy heroes to gain gold and experience. So that's the game in DOTA, get the finishing blow on enemy or allied soldier while also fighting the enemy heroes. People  even bring monster from the forest to intercept and kill their own soldier to put the enemy heroes at a disadvantage.

The game is full of tricks and secrets. I feel that this is intentional to put newer player at a disadvantage. The game has a "Secret Shop". My experience with secret shop in Warcraft 3 custom map was when a cheater would edit a map and insert a secret shop he could exploit to give himself an advantage. DOTA and DOTA 2 have their own legit, official secret shop. Also the are many unwritten rules that experience players will take advantage to get out of a situation without a scratch where a new player would have lost all his hit point for example: While in the range of an enemy tower, if it attacks you pretending to attack one the soldiers on you side will make the tower target an other unit (and probably save your life or allow you to attack other heroes within the tower's range). Video Link. Other tricks. So basically the game is rigged to give experience an much greater advantage than what they would normally have in a fair game (where all the rules are known by each players).

The game is not welcoming to newer player. To give an example a friend I play with who loves the game, but does not give a damn about the game's complexities, has still not understood how the shop interface works and how to complete a recipe, the secret shop does not help there. He attacks the creeps when he wants to and gets killed by the towers all the time. We played about 20 games. He still has fun with because we are all friends, but in a public match he would be hated and people on his team would complain to him all the time.

Also I took screenshots in the game but cannot find them on my steam profile or on my harddrive. Sooooo no screenshot for you DOTA2.


I play the game with friends once in while, because its accessible (free to play) and we can all play together. However I don't like the community and what has become "acceptable" in this game. The more I learn about the tricks of the game, the less I want to play it. I decided to review the game now even if its in beta because the things I don't like are unlikely to change and I probably won't be playing the game when it releases. I think Valve should not have tried to port the game and bring the bad logic to the new game. The should have taken the good stuff and let go of the what makes the game unwelcoming for new players.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Underscan problems with certain games and ATI Catalyst Control Center

So, I recently installed Windows 8 on a new SSD drive and re-installed my steam games from the backups I had made, and to my horror most of them did not take the whole screen in full screen mode: there were big back borders on each sides of the screen. I remember that I had the problems before in Vista but only when games were running using directx 10. I did not know why and did not bother as most games at the time could run using directx 9.

For the information here is my setup:
Philips LCD sreen with overscan turned off => HDMI cable => DVI adapter => DVI port of the graphic card.

My windows desktop resolution is set at 1920x1080@ 60Hz
And overscan is set to 0% in ATI's Catalyst Control Center (CCC)

This configuration worked perfectly and filled the entire screen in Windows. In half my games, using the same resolution as the desktop would fix any border problem but in the other half there was a big black border.

Turning on the overscan on the screen while these games were running only diminish slightly the black borders. And it made the image slightly blurry.

So I searched on the web saw that many people had similar problems, there were many solution recipes but the first few I tried failed solve the problem for me.

I finally stumbled on this wiki article which made me understand the problem: each resolution AND framerate COMBINATIONS have their own settings in ATI catalyst control center. You can only see the configuration for the combinations which is currently selected in Windows Desktop. In some games you can't select the frequency in the settings and they probably chose 50Hz randomly.

So my current configurations was:
1920x1080@ 60Hz : The configs I had carefully selected in CCC.
1920x1080@ 50Hz: Bullshit configurations I had never seen in CCC.

The solution was to go in the advanced settings for my screen in Windows, switch to 50Hz. Then open CCC, (I could see that the overscan was at its default value), ajust all the settings (putting the overscan at 0).
Then I changed back my windows resolution to 60Hz but when I would start those 50Hz games, they would take the full screen correctly.