Tag Archives: Video Games

I Cannot Believe A Sports Game Has Been My Big Time Sinker This Year

It’s not that I don’t play sports games. Ever since I was little, I loved playing sports games, whether it was NHLPA Hockey 93′ and Mutant League Hockey on the SEGA Genesis, Super Batter Up on the Super Nintendo, NBA Jam at arcades, NHL Hitz 2002 on the PlayStation 2, hell I used to play the NHL series for 4 years in a row online all the time during my Xbox 360 days.

But I burned out. Especially after playing the NHL games for so long and way too seriously, I destroyed my love for these games. Oh and EA Sports had a bit of a hand in that as well, hard for those greedy bastards not to be involved in some way. But for the past 5 years, sports games have been limited to at best 20-30 hours of me playing whatever the game has as an offline “Be a Pro” kind of mode, where I get to play my way up the ladder into becoming the greatest of all-time. Except…I never reach that point. I usually fizzle out of the games around halfway into my first season as a pro player. I get bored really easily, so playing the same thing over and over again usually does go over with me very well and I end up dropping the game pretty quick.

So imagine my surprise after picking up the newest copy of MLB The Show 18 on PlayStation 4. I played the previous year’s edition, probably put like I said before, about 20-30 hours into it. I didn’t hate it, I just can’t play those kinds of games for very long. Well, at least until this edition.

Some of the big names you can unlock through grinding in the game’s “Diamond Dynasty” mode.

Now I think it helped getting into the game a bit later than others, as I started the game in the summer, whereas the game launched at the end of March. But where the game really hooked me was its “Diamond Dynasty” mode, which to EA Sports players, it’s their equivalent to the various Ultimate Team modes out there. You start out getting a ‘meh’ at best set of cards, with no superstars in sight and you work your way towards building the best baseball team possible, using both present day and past players. Hell, there’s even a few “Future Stars” cards where you have beefed up versions of rookies that could potentially be huge stars in a couple years, for example the first one being the Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr.

You play ballgame after ballgame, whether offline or online, grinding out stats on various players and teams, collecting items to complete various collections and all of this unlocks bigger and better players to make your team even more lethal. Y’know, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s some revolutionary thing, but as a veteran RPG player, what this game offered me was perfectly in line with how I enjoy playing JRPGs. I level up, gain more stuff and I’m more powerful as I go on. In MLB 18, I play a few games, achieve either a one-game mission where for example I need to get 3 hits and 2 stolen bases in the same game, or perhaps a much larger long-term mission where I need to grind out say 50 hits and 25 doubles. I’m always working towards something in the end and that’s what ends up keeping me going. I’m not just playing for no reason, I’m continually working at something, with a goal in mind and a reward at the end. I have a full-page Excel document that has all the missions I’m currently working on, as well as missions waiting in the wings as soon as I have an open spot available. Clearing off missions for me is a little like spring cleaning, you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment (yes that pun is completely intended, EA.) making that list a little smaller.

Admittedly, it also helps that I use this game as my “doesn’t demand my full attention” option when I’m listening to live shows, podcasts and more. I’m a podcast junkie, I’ve got at least 30 followed on my Spotify list and a third of them I’m listening to religiously. Maybe I’ll do a post someday about what I’m listening to and give you folks a few suggestions (hold me to this, I won’t remember…) that you might not have been aware of. But yeah, the game doesn’t really demand too much, so it’s a great multi-tasker for me, I can play the game and grind out a couple missions to completion and I can also listen to whatever I need to catch up on and just soak all that information in. I think that, large in part is how this game is working so well for me, because other games I’m big into like Destiny 2, Monster Hunter World and most single-player games where I want to hear everything, they don’t work when I have 3-5 podcasts I also want to listen to as well.

An example of the collections. Mine is a lot more complete than this.

What’s also made this year’s edition better for me is that unlike last year’s edition where I felt I got a respectable number of decent players. I got a couple of Diamond-level players, which is the highest rank, going from Level 85-99, but not many. This year, I’m literally less than 10 present day (or Live Series as they call it in-game) players away from completing the entire collection. Now if we’re talking other cards, I’ve still got a ways to go, there’s a lot of grinding left to do and I definitely won’t finish it all, but the fact I can look at my collection this year and not only see some progress, but a LOT of progress? When taking into account as well that I wasn’t frustrated or bored the entire way through thus far, that’s a major plus.

And the biggest part of it? I spent less than $40 to do what I’ve done. I got the game on sale and I haven’t spent a penny on microtransactions in the game, so to all the suckers out there throwing hundreds of dollars at fake currency just so you can own that extremely rare 94 overall Mike Trout? Suck it, cause I got one without praying for luck in a card pack (aka a loot box) or buying tons of stubs (the game’s currency) to get him. Patience and hard work pays off.

To those reading this that are actually familiar with the game, I’ve been playing the game on and off since June. I never played online and refuse to at this point, as the way people play and try to use every glitch in the book to win a single fake baseball game, it’s not worth it to me. I’ve done everything offline for mission grinding and in terms of making currency, I just slowly worked away at the game’s marketplace and grew my stub numbers over time. I think it helps that I’m so good at micro-managing things, so I was always paying attention to what I was doing and not getting suckered into spending the stubs I’d made through hard work on loot boxes that would’ve never gotten me anything. For example, any pack I’ve ever open has never landed me a Diamond card. Ever. So instead of hoping for luck to shine on me, I always set myself goals and limits that made it work. And to progress the way I’ve had, it feels pretty damn good!

In the end, I think the biggest help is that I am a baseball fan through and through. I played from the age of 6 until I was 14, now I’m back to playing Slo-Pitch Softball with friends and co-workers (I don’t mean to brag, but I’m actually super good. All those years training to be an anime protagonist paid off!) and staying healthy through that, along with other sports. But baseball is my bread and butter, it’s always been a big part of my life, so it’s not that surprising to me that if a sports game was going to really grab my attention this year, it’s a baseball game.

I think it also just has to do with so many other genres starting to dwindle with me. I’m completely Destiny-ed out, I’m finding it really hard to pick up the game and grind some more, even though I don’t necessarily hate the game. I’ve put over 2000 total hours into the series thus far, I’m burning myself out. Open world games aren’t grabbing me the way they used to, there aren’t a lot of great JRPGs out there these days (though I am waiting for Dragon Quest to drop in price…) and I’m also just waiting for games I want to play to go on sale, cause it’s harder and harder for me to justify paying full price for games that I’m not 100% sure I’m going to love.

So I’ll take a baseball game I paid about half-price for, being the game that’s been my time sinker this year. I always need one.

 

Is Suikoden Coming Back?

So apparently Konami has relaunched their Suikoden website for the first time in over 5 years. There’s no reason as to why as of this point, but there’s many ideas floating around:

  • Suikoden or Suikoden II being featured on the PlayStation Classic
  • A digital re-release of the original two PS classics on PS4
  • A remaster of either or both of the original two
  • A new Suikoden game altogether?!!!

I did notice on the website that it mentions every game in the series, so I wonder if that could possibly mean that a potential compilation disc could be released, featuring all five of the main games in the series.

Personally, that would be fantastic for me. I’ve played through Suikoden IV and V, got a little bit into III, but never finished it, but most importantly, I’ve never played the original two, which most fans of the series call the two best. I would love to be able to check out these games, as I’d have a physical copy of the original games already, but have you seen the price of Suikoden II?! It’s like 200 bucks, minimum!

I own all three of the PS2 games and am glad I got my hands on them, but man if there was a re-release of all five games and I didn’t have to dust off the ol’ PS2 to play them? Well, I mean…my PS4 is dusty too, but that’s not the point! Being able to replay the two I’ve beaten, attempt to finish the one I never finished and then play the two originals that I never got a chance to play, as I missed the original PlayStation as a long-time owner of a Nintendo 64 before moving onto the PlayStation 2…

…Yeah. I’m 100% behind that!

 

“Cost Per Hour” Is Fine For Those Who Would Use It

Everyone who plays video games has their own metrics for how they decide what to buy and when to buy it. Some go based on who produces the game, develops the game, directs the game, is a voice actor/actress within the game, what genre the game is from, the series of games it’s from, etc etc. The point is that there is a massive amount of reasons that people take into account when looking into purchasing video games, from the top in terms of who’s making the game, all the way to the bottom with the little things such as art style, music, voice acting, things like that.

But what about games people have never heard of? How do gamers make decisions when it comes to the plethora of random games that pop up on Steam every hour, let alone every day? Sure, most just turn to the trailers, reviews on the game and things like that, but for some there are other ways that people try to make decisions on whether to purchase a game. And Green Man Gaming sought to give players another metric to help them decide, by bringing in “cost per hour” as a part of their metrics with the game. Essentially, they take the average amount of play time within all the players who’ve bought the game and put a price tag to every hour of that average. So if a game was 60 dollars and the average play time was 30 hours, the cost per hour would be 50 cents. Makes sense, right?

Well many outlets don’t seem to think so, and in this case it was Motherboard (published by Matthew Gault) who caught my attention to this “massive issue”.

The majority of the article is spent calling the act of offering the cost per hour option as disgusting and dangerous. They take quotes from Mike Rose of No More Robots, a small indie developer whose current game, Descenders, which is a procedural generating downhill mountain biking game. His comments along with Gault’s, bother me quite a bit.

It all started from a tweet from Rose where he said that GMG was “helping to perpetuate the massively dangerous idea that the price of a game should be based around how many hours you get out of it.”.

First of all, this is an idea that isn’t used by very many as a be all, end all metric. Within my Destiny 2 community, there’s several of us (including myself) who take into account that while yes, Destiny 2 has not been as we hoped, in fact way below expectations, we still got a couple hundred hours worth of play in the game, so we don’t view it as a colossal waste of money. And when we say hundreds of hours worth of play, we don’t just mean we played it and that’s it, we mean we played it and enjoyed it.

This is the major flaw in this argument from the very start. People simply aren’t buying games just because it’s “something long to play”, the idea of cost per hour means we’ll get that much bang for our buck when we pick a game that we sense is also fun to play. It’s not like we’re playing a “cookie clicker” kind of game because it offers 100 hours for let’s say 5 bucks, we pick games like Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Monster Hunter World because those long hours are fun as hell and more than worth our time. If a game is boring, broken and uninspiring, it doesn’t matter how many hours we’ll get out of it, there’s no point in playing a piece of shit game for 100 hours when we can play a much more engaging and entertaining game for 40 hours.

Rose also tries to make the point that movies don’t have this issue, saying “Do you see moviegoers saying, ‘I’ll only see the Avengers movie if it’s longer than the last one? Of course you don’t, so why do we have it in video games?”. Again, what a ridiculous point. Do you think people will say they’ll only play FarCry 5 because it’s 10 hours longer than FarCry 4? No, they want to play FarCry 5 because it’s fucking FarCry 5.

When it comes to indie games however, like the games Rose produces, you will inevitably be under more nitpicking when it comes to gamers making decisions whether to buy your game or not. When you release your game on Day 1 and no one is aware of your game, the first people who see it aren’t seeing your game in the same light they’d see a God of War level game, you’re literally new territory. So what do people do? They start to take apart what your game is, what it represents. The genre, the art style, the gameplay, the music, all these things are taken into account. Cost per hour is just another addition to this list, but it’s not for every gamer. But the idea is there, after all if I’m buying a game I’ve never heard of, from a studio that has no real track record, do I want to pay 30 bucks for a game that may potentially be 3 hours long and on top of that, a broken mess that ends up also being boring and not fun to play? I don’t blame people for thinking this way and there’s nothing wrong with it. That’s the risk you take as a small game developer.

Sure, he also brings up issues like how major games are padding their games out with cutscenes, grinding and all that jazz. But I don’t feel that’s necessarily because of the cost per hour perspective, rather that it’s just lazy development, usually brought on by being severely behind schedule, running out of funds in the budget or by developers who simply believe that their brand, their game series is enough by name alone for people to buy their product, despite the extra time wasted. This is also true for things like microtransactions as well. I’m not denying that cost per hour might be a minor factor in these decisions, but I’m willing to bet it’s not the major reason and especially not the key factor in these games having all this extra time shoved into the game.

Gault’s final quote is what sticks with me the most: “Buy games that look cool to you. Don’t worry too much about what your value per hour is. It sucks to spend $60 for a bad game, but cost per hour won’t stop that from happening. No matter the cost, one hour of something special is better than 100 hours of garbage.”

No shit, Sherlock. When I purchase a game, believe me when I say this, I don’t buy garbage games just because it’ll get me 100 hours. I buy a game because it’ll be a fun game to play AND it’ll get me 100 hours.

I didn’t buy Persona 5 solely because I would get around 100 hours of gameplay. I bought Persona 5 because of the following factors, in order of most important to least important:

  1. I’ve played Persona 3 and 4, enjoyed both of them a lot
  2. It’s a JRPG, a genre of games that I’m way into
  3. The story of the Persona games are especially good with me, as they take some extremely serious themes and make them work so easily within a game world that is mostly spent fighting monsters and hitting on half your friends
  4. I have an affinity for Japanese games, because they do things so different from all the Western games shoved down our throats
  5. The art style is unbelievable, far different from most games I normally play. See reason #3
  6. The music is done by Shoji Meguro, quite possibly my favourite composer today, right up there with Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda
  7. This kind of game will get me at the very least 60-80 hours, if not more if I choose to do extra grinding and sidequesting
  8. I have a history with Atlus’ games, both positive and negative, so at the very least when they make something, I pay attention to what it is
  9. Finding my new Persona waifu

You’ll notice that the number of hours I’d get in the game, or “cost per hour” was not even in my top 5. It’s a factor in why I purchase a game, but it’s not the make or break level of factor that Gault and Rose seem to think it is.

At the end of the day, we buy games for our own different reasons. Matthew and Mike, take a chill pill. Even if it’s the sole reason for some people when it comes to buying games, it’s none of your business. It’s a personal choice of an individual, leave them alone and don’t criticize them or in this case, GMG for making cost per hour a metric.

Just keep doing what you’re doing Matthew, buy the games you like. We do that too.