H1Z1 Splitting into Two Titles

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According to the post Daybreak made on Steam, H1Z1 is going to be split into two separate games. The “normal” version of the game, which is how the game launched into Early Access last January, is now going to be called H1Z1: Just Survive. The other title, a “fast-paced shooter comprised of multiple, fight-to-the-death game modes, including Battle Royale” is going to be called H1Z1: King of the Kill.

The first question that came to mind was “Do I have to pay more money to get these games?” but that was answered a little way into the post, in that anyone who already owns H1Z1 will get access to both games for free (or the price you paid when you first picked it up). Otherwise, the two titles will be $20 a piece after the separation occurs. As to when that’s going to happen: February 17th is split day. So if you haven’t picked up the game, now would be the time to do it, especially since the game is on sale right now for $15. The post also mentions that the King of The Kill version of the game is supposed to come out of Early Access and hit consoles this summer. Just Survive apparently still needs more development time before both of those goals are met for it as well.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. It was apparent that KotK (formerly Battle Royale) was seeing more attention than the Survival portion of the game. Sadly, the Survival portion of the game is the part that sounded the most MMO-like, and seemed like a great idea before they made PvE servers and added BR, which essentially cut the player base in half (the latter part is according to their post). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy BR and I think the game functions well in short bursts, but you don’t get that survival feel they were originally going for. It’s a lobby shooter at that point, and honestly doesn’t function as well as most lobby shooters I’ve played. On one hand, I think that perhaps they should have just nixed the idea of Survival altogether and capitalized on the fact that BR is a fun/popular mode and expanded upon that (which they are doing with King of the Kill). On the other hand, Just Survive is more of what most early adopters wanted out of the game. Personally I haven’t been playing it (the last time I fired it up was last August according to Steam) because of my policy of not over playing Early Access games.

I do like this:

“Through in-game feedback, as well as discussions on Reddit, Steam, and Twitter, our community has been influential to us in arriving at this decision.”

This means the company has held true in its attempt to be transparent and apply community feedback. However, this part doesn’t necessarily make sense:

“The more we developed this game with you, our community, the more we realized that in order to fully support both aspects of H1Z1, and their respective players, we needed to make them their own stand-alone games supported by their own dedicated development teams. Many players in the community have been discussing splitting the game and we’ve heard you loud and clear. We want to make sure we give both titles the support they need and deserve to truly flourish.” 

Weren’t there already devs working on both sides of the game? Aren’t you basically splitting up the team to focus on separate sections of the game who were already doing so? I guess if they are hiring on more employees to work on the separate games then this part makes sense, but otherwise it’s a bunch of words that really make no difference. Plus, sometimes listening to the most vocal parts of your community doesn’t necessarily make the game better. In this case it might, there’s no way to tell just yet. But honestly I think perhaps the better move is to keep the Just Survive portion titled as simply H1Z1, and call the King of the Kill game something entirely different, because it basically isn’t what we thought of when we were purchasing H1Z1. I’d like to see both games flourish, though I think the focus here on making them separate is sort of silly considering they are making an effort to keep them under the same name. Splitting the game off and calling it Battle Royale would have made so much more sense, and would keep people who are interested in only one part of the game from being confused about what to expect from the similarly titled games.

The trouble with the titles now is that they are both entering crowded markets. The Survival genre has exploded over the past couple of years and H1Z1 was already fashionably late to the party. The lobby shooter space is similarly crowded, and without definitively improving their gunplay the King of the Kill game is going to suffer because of it. Having the two games meshed together, giving you a survival experience with the added ability to “unwind” with some session based FPS action was something that set H1Z1 apart from the pack. Now separate, the two games don’t have anything that makes them stand out. Perhaps further development will change my opinion on this, but I have my doubts about the wisdom of this decision.

On a side note, I’m starting to lose my faith and loyalty towards Daybreak. Recently I made a post about Smed and Pixelmage, and in that I stated that I don’t hate the guy despite his repeated failings. The same stood true for DBG, and the reason for my fanboyism or whatever you want to call it (for both DBG/SOE and Smed) was because of the fact that they were responsible for making two of my favorite MMOs and I let them get away with murder because of it. Now that I don’t play either of those MMOs anymore and don’t think I will again, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand behind any of the above mentioned names. I do hope to try out Hero’s Song if it ever makes it to market (mainly because it’s cheap and still sounds interesting), and I will give these H1Z1 games a whirl once they are separate and further developed, but it’s becoming clear to me that I should probably take my money elsewhere. Despite hating the fact that EA/Activision have such a monopoly on games that I rather enjoy and having pushed some shitty business practices onto the market, I still feel like they don’t make stupid decisions as often as the other guys. I hate to be the on giving the greedy mega corporations more money, but when the little guys keep shitting the bed, we have to make a choice with where to go next. I’m not going to stop gaming, so I’m not going to stop spending money, but I’m starting to feel less guilty for buying the latest Call of Duty and Battlefront when the little guys aren’t delivering something worth while.

Early Access Check-In

Back in May, during the NBI’s month-long event, there was a writing prompt discussing Early Access. I said my piece, and I still stand by what I said back then. For the most part, I think Early Access can be a great boon to the games industry. I don’t have a huge library of Early Access games though, as not only am I a bit on the frugal side, but I also tend to be selective in games I choose to back. My selection process probably differs from yours, but either way I have been pretty successful in the games I’ve chosen to support before release, in that they are all still pushing out regular updates. No ships abandoned thus far.

Checking up on a selection of the Early Access titles in my Steam library was included as part of my Gamer To-Do List. That seems to be the bulk of where my Blaugust writing activity will come from, so I figured this was an easy first item to check off of my list. I won’t be covering all of the games I touched upon in that NBI post, but will be talking about Ark, H1Z1, The Forest, Darkest Dungeon, Basement, and Nuclear Throne. Let’s get started shall we?

Basement

On of my more recent purchases, Basement is a strategy simulation where you play a drug kingpin. Actually, it isn’t really clear who you are, but you definitely get to control a variety of employees who will process drugs for you, be it through cultivation, chemistry, distribution or security. The last time I talked about the game it had just released into Early Access, and was a very basic concept. Since then, there have been a number of tweaks and improvements, and my initial complaint was addressed.

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When I first started the game, I had a similarly sized building which I had built up to the point where expansion was the next step. I took over a neighboring building by sending some of my employees over to kill whoever resided there. After having taken the building over however, I found that I couldn’t send my attackers back to the original basement, leading me to hire new employees, but having idle hands. The green block at the top of the building now contains options to move employees back to the original basement, and that’s nice. There’s also an option to destroy garages now, and they have changed one major mechanic around.

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Generators have to be built to power new rooms, but previously, you didn’t need special rooms to hire new employees. Now an employee room is present, and it can be used to hire up to two employees. Employee rooms are to employees as generators are to other rooms. They are essentially another resource to manage. Also, there were previously only one type of dealer room, while there were multiple drug rooms. Now there are matching dealer rooms for each drug type, which allow you to specialize, since the storage rooms can only hold two types of drugs. I went down the path of having only two drug types in one basement, along with matching dealer rooms for maximum profitability. Still feels like there are plenty of features to be added at this stage of the game, but I’m enjoying the direction. Cop raids need to slow down though.

Darkest Dungeon

I picked up Darkest Dungeon a while back, but only played it for a few minutes before being distracted by other things. At this point, I’ve put about 5 hours into it. I picked it up one day at random and kept finding myself coming back to it. It is punishing, but still rewarding at the same time. It’s hard to describe, as most of the time games that are this damned frustrating tend to turn people off, but I find the difficulty and challenge refreshing. It’s sort of the same phenomena as the Souls franchise. It kicks your ass but when you get a minor victory it feels so good.

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There have been changes since it first appeared on Steam though. For one, the Houndmaster class was added, and though it’s cool that there are so many to choose from, you are randomly assigned what shows up in the caravan, so you might not see certain classes for a while. In the end, though each are different skill wise, it still comes down to similar mechanics. Regardless of who you take into the caverns with you, you are bound to lose someone due to full loss of HP or heart attacks due to stress. You’re heroes get stressed out if you have to abandon a quest as well, so sometimes it’s better to just let someone die and try to complete the task at hand. My first estate was lost rather early due to multiple retreats and a lack of gold to continue to fund adventures. I can also report that the Cove and Darkest Dungeon bits have yet to be added to the game, but it seems that updates have stayed regular.

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The Lovecraftian vibe of the game is amazing. It takes typical fantasy tropes and throws them on their heads. The torch mechanic can be frustrating and when creatures from the void appear you’re as good as dead. I took to the idea of naming my characters after Bloggers and my own MMO character naming conventions, but it saddens me even more to see all of my comrades dying left and right. Thankfully there are plenty of names to choose from in the blogosphere!

Ark: Survival Evolved

Ark wasn’t a game I was particularly keen on experiencing so soon, but it was gifted to me and I knew I should at least check it out. I enjoy playing The Forest, so I knew what I was getting into with this game, but adding in Dinosaurs instead of the typical Zombies shtick was a plus. When I first booted it up, I played alone on a private server and just ran around a bit. I didn’t really dive too deep, as the game felt a bit rough around the edges. It felt like it was lacking optimization, and it didn’t look as pretty as I thought it should.

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It looks pretty damn good in the above picture, but even now that I’ve waited a while and gone back to play it more seriously, it still doesn’t look quite right when I’m playing it. I mean there’s definitely some great looking artwork, but things feel off while I’m moving around. I’ve fiddled with the graphics settings, and despite putting it where it’s recommended or at max settings, it seems to run the same. I don’t see a noticeable drop in framerate or anything, but parts of the engine feel wonky or dated. I fought past this irritation and just played anyway, and what I found was a bunch of neat concepts.

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I think my biggest issue is the UI elements. They just look ugly. There’s apparently some sort of storyline and it feels a bit sci-fi meets pre-historic, so maybe that’s what they were going for in the UI. Still, it’s functional, despite not being pretty. Mainly though, it starts off like any other survival title. You gather stuff, you make stuff, you gather more stuff, and you make bigger stuff. There is a leveling system though, and the crafting system feels deeper than say, The Forest’s does, at least at this juncture.

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When you level, not only can you put points towards your character’s stats (health, stamina, etc) but also spend “Engram Points.” These points are put into what amounts to a skill tree, but allows you to learn new items to craft. Eventually you’ll have a range of tools, wearable items and the ability to build buildings. Further still, you can eventually tame dinos and ride them. I didn’t get far enough to see all that the game has to offer, but as I’ve stated before with these Early Access games, I won’t play them too seriously until they’re finished. Until then, they’re just fun to mess around with and write about.

Nuclear Throne

I’ve written about Nuclear Throne a bunch of times, and have posted videos as well. This time around will be no exception. The major updates of late have been less about the mechanics of the game or adding in new guns or creatures, and more about the UI and various changes to the artwork of the game. I have prepared a short video highlighting these differences (though if you don’t follow the game or my past videos, you might not notice much).

H1Z1

I haven’t written about H1Z1 in a while, and frankly it’s because I haven’t been playing it. There have been numerous patches since the last time I did play, which you can see a list of by heading over to the steam community page. I have already expressed being slightly worried about the direction of the game since Smedley’s departure, and seeing as how multiple items on the July Roadmap aren’t implemented yet (correct me if I’m wrong), the effects might already be visible. There has been a Team Battle Royale mode added to the game, though I’m not sure about the leaderboards, the new Zombie type (screamer) or if the Professions have been talked about or added yet. You were supposed to be able to pick a profession upon character creation and currently that’s not possible so I think some of these updates may have been delayed. Constant patches with tweaks and balances have been coming down the pipeline though, so I know the game isn’t standing still, but having a visible Roadmap and no results doesn’t bode well.

The Forest

The same goes for the Forest, in that I haven’t really played it in a while. For the most part, I have gotten what I wanted out of the game as it stands. There have been several patches since the last time I talked about the game (that was back when it was v0.16 — it’s up to v0.21 now) that are mostly bug fixes and tweaks. At this point I’m waiting for the game to be finished, or for the co-op to be playable, as the last time I tried it was not. There aren’t server wipes per se, but the game usually has to be started over after a patch as the saves get corrupted, so I’m not really looking forward to starting over and over again. This game along with Ark and H1Z1 fall under the same blanket of being survival games where your progression is the point of the game, so as long as there are wipes or constant patches I don’t see the point in getting too invested. Upon release I think that will be a different story.

Have you guys played any good Early Access games lately?


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#blaugust #blaugust2015 #earlyaccess #gaming

State of the Game: Monster Summer Sale

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I should go on record and say that this round up, despite originally being planned as a weekly update to my gaming life, isn’t necessarily going to come out each week. I’m relegating it to the same status as my State of the Tweet series, where I only put it out when it’s necessary, i.e. when I have good stuff to share to warrant a round up post. Since weeks past were taken up by the NBI and building my new computer, I didn’t have as much to write about (though that didn’t stop me from more normal posting, just didn’t feel a round up was necessary on top of those posts). This week I pre-planned what I would throw into this post, so here were are. As I said, don’t expect this each week, but it will still be fairly regular.

It’s that time of year again, yeah it’s summer. That means it’s hot outside, the sun is too damn bright, and a myriad of sales are hitting digital storefronts. GOG’s summer sale is winding down, Humble Bundle has always got something great, and of course, the Steam Monster Summer Sale is going on right now.

It never fails, when the summer sale comes along I don’t have the hundreds of dollars I would like to spend, picking up all of the games on my wishlist on the cheap. However, this is probably good for my backlog, which I can’t seem to keep from expanding. I probably finish one game for every 2-3 I pick up. Some of the games I’ve earned through bundles or found for free aren’t all that great though, so I really only count the games I actually want to complete. The deals are still pretty much the same, and the flash deals tend to be a deeper discount than the daily deals, but you never know what’s going to pop up there, and a couple of times I was pleasantly surprised. But I digress.

The promotion this year is a little different, in that there’s an actual game to play, rather than just making votes on what games go on sale. I much prefer this to last year’s event. It’s not much of a game, but it’s a fun little diversion, and you earn cards for participating. So far I’ve reached level 280 at my max, but I have seen people in the 1,500 range, so that’s not as impressive. Either way, I’ve earned the badge that comes with the event, though I haven’t bothered with trying to make the badge with the cards. I just sold those off for more funds to put towards games, as I typically do.

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Again, it’s not the most amazing gaming experience, but I still feel it’s an improvement over last year’s sale. I picked up a few titles, some of which you’ll probably recognize:

I picked up Valkyria Chronicles for $4.99, down from it’s original $20 asking price. It’s actually an old PS3 game that came out quite some time ago, and I had already seen it in action as my brother-in-law had picked it up a few years back. It was only ported to the PC at the tail end of last year, and though I had toyed with picking it up before, I couldn’t pass up the $5 price, especially since I already had that on my account. I have only played through the first few missions, but I like what I have seen so far. I talked about that in more detail on the last episode of Couch Podtatoes though, so I won’t go into it further.

My Dad was in the giving spirit as well, and had told me that he was going to gift me a copy of a game that we both had on our wishlists, but when he purchased the game and tried to play it, it wouldn’t run. So he’s utilizing the new Steam refund service, and gave me the option to pick out a game that was a similar price. I decided to get two less expensive games, and ended up with Ironcast and CS:GO. I’m sure you all know what Counter-Strike is. I actually already own a copy on my PS3, but I wanted it on the PC, where updates are more likely to happen more often. Plus, me and eSports go hand in hand these days, so I figured I’d get plenty of hours into this version. I played a bit earlier and it looks better on the PC as well, in my opinion.

Ironcast is a title you might not recognize, I just happened to catch it when it released and added it to my wishlist. It’s tagged as “Puzzle Quest meets FTL” and has a victorian steampunk feel to it. If you’ve played Puzzle Quest, it will instantly look familiar to you. I loved PQ2, so this was a no-brainer. I don’t have any match-3 type games on my Steam account outside of PQ2, so I figured it was time I got for when I’m in the mood for that type of gameplay. I have yet to try it, so more on that later.

Lastly, I picked up the How To Survive Storm Warning bundle. It’s the base game + expansions. I also noticed that in a couple of weeks there’s a 3rd person mod version coming out that also might be interesting, but I didn’t buy that. I want to make sure I actually like the game before worrying about it. I pulled the trigger simply because I typically like action RPGs, survival games, and zombies. Plus, the whole package was only $.99, so how could I refuse?

Outside of the sale, I have been playing League of Legends and H1Z1 pretty regularly. I’ve been doing a bunch of streaming, recording and video editing recently (outside of the blog posts and podcasting as well) so there isn’t going to be much else for me to talk about, though I have been enjoying all of it very much. My last post contained my H1Z1 gameplay video that I slapped together, and I just finished up making this one for LoL:

I picked up Ekko about a week after his release with IP I had been saving. I also had some RP lying around and picked up a few skins, one of which you’ll see in the video when I’m playing Nautilus (and it’s an awesome skin!). There’s some normals and some ARAMs in the video, and it’s mostly just highlights of big plays, but nothing too amazing. I’m really just putting it out there for feedback on things I can do to improve my video edits. So please, leave some commentary here or on my YouTube channel. Thanks!

That’s all I have for this week. Til next time.

#stateofthegame #steamsummersale #gaming

Battle Royale Antics

Just a quick post today. I mentioned earlier in the week that I had been doing some streaming and recording, and well, I’ve now compiled some of those recording sessions into a short video of highlights. This time around I focused on H1Z1’s Battle Royale mode, and I played both the normal and hardcore versions. It’s been fun having a new system with which to record and stream, and I have more to say on that topic, but I’ll leave it for another post. For now, let’s just check out the H1Z1 Antics:

Let me know what you think. Keep in mind this is basically the first time I’ve done this, so the video isn’t going to be the best thing you’ve ever seen. Still, feedback is appreciated!

#H1Z1 #Battleroyale #PvP

Battle Royale

Murf’s Screenshot Safari has ended, and there were a few things I took note of from the post. First of all, wow, what a great turnout for a great event. The Safari was the heart and soul of this year’s NBI and it shows. Kudos Murf, for a great idea done right. Murf also encouraged us to make more screenshot posts, and to recap our own entries from the event. This is a combination of all that.

My entries into the Safari:

  1. Landscapes (H1Z1 + Bonus)
  2. Going For Gold (Titanfall)
  3. Selfie of the Dead (H1Z1)

If you haven’t noticed a theme yet, it’s H1Z1. Yeah, I think the game is rather pretty, and was almost the only submission from the game, so I rolled with it. Plus, it’s the only MMO like game I’m really playing outside of toying with others.

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Here’s another H1Z1 shot I took the other day while I was recording. I was playing the Battle Royale mode, and it’s a blast! I think they’ve made some improvements to the lighting systems, because the way the sun actually darkens your perception of objects around you feels very realistic. You’ll see what I mean more when I get around to posting a video I’m working on. That’s also why it’s been quiet around here as of late. I’ve been testing out streaming programs and websites, along with doing some recording and video editing. I have stuff in the works, I promise!

#NBI2015Safari #H1Z1