Saturday, December 31, 2016

“A Final Fantasy game for fans and first-timers.”

I guess this is sentence will count as your spoiler alert.

As of last week, I’m pretty confident that I’ve hit the point where I’ve seen everything that I think I’m going to want to see in Final Fantasy XV’s universe. We’ll see if one of the updates that Square recently detailed will interest me enough to boot it back up, but I’m skeptical as of now.

Final Fantasy XV is simultaneously a confusing clusterfuck of disappointments and a handful of intriguing steps for the series. What began in 2009 for me was being sold on the premise of something I’ve wanted since I was a child, a Final Fantasy game with a real-time combat system (even if it was only a spin-off at the time). Instead it entered a prolonged state of development hell and was eventually re-purposed as Final Fantasy XV.

That ‘process’ took ten years and what we ended up with is a mess as far as I’m concerned. It’s not an offensively bad mess, but definitely one I’m flabbergasted whenever I just sit and think about it.
What it was, what it is and what it could have been are so separate it’s fantastic.

So what is it?

2016 Biggest Surprise, 2017's Biggest Hope

I definitely did not expect this to be my personal game of 2016.

Dragon Quest Builders is a game that while flawed, wears those blemishes on its sleeve. It upends the lore of the first game in the series and runs with it to deliver one of the more endearing times I've had with a game this year.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Variety Hour | Eating My Words

Some brief updates and musings on a few of the rabbit holes I've jumped down over the past few month.

Final Fantasy XV

More ironic than a franchise called “Final Fantasy” being one of the longest-running gaming franchises in existence is this new endeavor Square-Enix has made to stubbornly turn entry since XIII into its own platform. Though some good came out of the weird mess that was who-knows-how-many-games-with-Lightning, there’s clearly something counterproductive at work here, and it’s something SE refuses to acknowledge. FFXIV I will give a pass because it’s an MMO, but I’ve already started to see the signs in FFXV’s production as well. I still plan on giving the game a chance whenever it releases, but I stopped actively caring about it years ago, along with Beyond Good & Evil 2 and The Last Guardian. There’s a reason why plenty of us are so enamored with Final Fantasy XIV and it’s because it’s actively showcasing what made the series unique and loveable before X happened, which is the point where the series began relying on a weird and heavy-handed gravitas it never earned in titles past IX (again I’m exempting XI and XIV because their natures are very different). Right now, XV looks like it’s going to be the same mess that XIII was initially, which isn’t surprising but kind of sad, especially since Square clearly is reacting to this (even if they don’t realize it), by doing this platforming of single worlds and things like dragging VII out of its casket for a remake. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if I wound up enjoying World of Final Fantasy more than whatever XV eventually presents as, hell I wouldn’t surprised if I enjoyed Heavensward’s next patch more than I do XV.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ansel - Mirror's Edge Catalyst (2016)

I recently built myself a machine primarily aimed at making use of NVIDIA's new Ansel technology[1]. Mirror's Edge Catalyst was updated yesterday, becoming the first game to make use of it. Unfortunately there is no super resolution feature or other whistles available for it as of now, but a solid freecam is always welcome as far as I'm concerned. Expect similar albums to turn up making use of this in the coming months[2]. Make sure to click on the images if you wish to see the full resolution (4096 x 2304), the full album will be posted below[3].

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Addendum | The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt | Music

Turn The Music Off, At Least Sometimes

“The soundtrack in Wild Hunt is often cloying and overwhelming. At times—usually in cutscenes—it can be just right, but when I explored the open world I sometimes wanted the damned cello solos and wailing combat-vocals-lady to chill the hell out. Try going into the menu and turning down the music entirely. The game feels different; there’s more space as you explore. Every time I do it, I almost immediately stop noticing that there’s no music. I usually turn it back on for main story missions. The problem isn’t really the game’s score but its implementation. Hopefully, someone will come up with a small mod that makes exploration music trigger much less frequently.”

Kirk Hamilton, Tips For Playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt[1]

I had quite a bit left over from my last post, passages and topics I wasn't able to fit in for some reason or another. After looking though all of them, this was the one I chose to refit as a smaller post. I really enjoyed the music in The Wild Hunt, but I very much agree with the above quote. The music can more than often be overbearing and intrusive to plenty of the game's best moments. More often than not, its usage reminded me of a meal’s ideal spice container breaking and pouring all over everything.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

/SP/ | The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt | "Na pohybel skurwysynom"

I suppose the game that’s impressed me the most over the past year is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I’ve no reservations in saying that it deserved all the accolades it received. Were someone to take a cursory glance at my impressions of it since release, their first assumption might be that I hate the damn game. For a while I actually thought that was true myself, but in the end it wound up swinging the other way, hard.

Monday, June 27, 2016

May the RNG Reign, May the Min-Maxer Die

"Zombies in REmake can actually take anywhere between five and nine shots to drop. Add to that some more RNG elements such as headshots and staggers and you'll see that our mental model isn't really valid. Our fate is in the hands of random numbers, thrown out by the game engine. that realization removes certainty from the equation and uncertainty is at the core of suspense in video-games. The Min-maxer in all of us wants to plan out our moves carefully. We want hard numbers and predictable mechanics so that we can reliably exploit game systems. Resident Evil hides even its most basic mechanics to make that impossible. It robs us of any comfort because despite whatever perception we may have in our heads, there is very little certainty in Resident Evil."

[game array] - Resident Evil and The Art of Suspense [link]

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Beauty of Good King Moggle Mog XII

(still working on the Witcher post, so here's a small detour)

Extreme primal fights are a huge part of Final Fantasy XIV's endgame and as of right now we've been treated to nine very unique trial encounters featuring the series most popular deity gods that have always manifested themselves as summons, eikons, etc. While not on the level of the game's true "raids" they're easily the game's second most challenging encounters. While the game's main story quests typically feature a "hard mode" battle that's easily overcome (for the sake not slowing the player's narrative progression), extreme modes take the mechanics featured in the original incarnation, dial it up to 11 and add a handful of other random factors to deal with.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Weekend: June 4th & 5th

I ended up playing more this weekend than I expected, as The Tomorrow Children beta sort of came out of nowhere (for me anyway). In my periphery it always looked like an interesting game but I’m surprised at how much the mood grabbed me when I saw it would be in open beta last weekend. I always tend to hit a wall when it comes to Minecraft-lites or even something as laid back as Animal Crossing. I enjoy them certainly, but there’s a distinct ceiling I hit where everything becomes drab and tedious. The Tomorrow Children seems like the first one of these that I’d actually stick with long term, but also something I could very leisurely jump in and out of on a whim. I spent probably ten hours playing this weekend (which is nine more than I expected to), and the big determining factors for whether or not I’ll actually commit to it lies on one thing...

Monday, May 23, 2016

/SP/ | Artorias of the Abyss | Dark Souls’s Dead Hero

I decided to bring these back given that I still haven’t fully come down from the third game and thought it would be fun to retrace my steps through the series. Specifically, I’d like to talk about each game and how they all put their feet forward in terms of their most dramatic encounters.  They’re all pretty well done and are easily my favorite parts of the Souls games.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Dark Souls 2 Problem

I stuck like fifteen images I was making of Lothric together in a panorama and this is what I got. It felt too right to mess with afterwards.

Listening to people air their grievances with Dark Souls 2 has always been an exercise in patience for me. They tend to speak in an odd marriage of vague and personal terms (which is quite impressive when they manage it even on the more technically specific things in the game) or describe aspects/concepts that exist in droves across the entire series (i.e. tacky object clipping, axis-spinning enemies, etc.) as if it's exclusive to this single game. The way The Souls franchise fans have all individually internalized their love for one game and let it stringently govern how they receive the others is probably one of the most defining and irritating things about the entire series.