Triple A Fails

A thousand games. Yep, I’m a gamer. And this is just my steam library. I have more on twitch, switch, and individual PC games. I had even more until I moved but I gave hundreds of console games, and several consoles, to my kids because I couldn’t afford to move them all.

I am showing you this to say I have spent thousands of dollars on these games, even more if you consider I’ve been purchasing games for more than twenty years and how many I have sold, thrown away, deleted, etc over the years. But now…I’m not that interested in spending money on developers that don’t care about their user base.

Last year was a shit show. Triple A game after Triple A game being put out with game breaking bugs (Anthem, Fallout 76, Left Alive), game devs giving in to angry internet trolls that don’t even play games, game devs firing massive amounts of their people after record profits (EA and Activition,) and just the unbelievable exploitation of loot crates, microtransactions and pay-to-win garbage. $2 for a dot? COME ON!

I’ve had it with Triple A titles. They are supposed to be BETTER because they have the people and the backing to provide better games.

The games I loved last year? Moonlighter. Donut County. Celeste. Gris. Raft. Subnautica (and Subnautica even has a squeal out this year.)

And many older games like Stardew Valley are still adding new content to their games. For FREE.

So many games, and they all have one thing in common: indie studios made them!

And when the players complain about bugs what do they triple A studios do? They get Steam and Epic games to hide reviews. They ban players who highlight the problem with the game. They ban their top player. They ignore feedback, double down on microtransactions because they aren’t making enough, and in general make it worse. Even No Man’s Sky, a game overhyped, released too soon, with many of the features missing, has slowly kept adding those features, fixing their game for free and making it better every year. Instead Fallout, Anthem and other Triple A titles are doubling down.

Oh, and then they transfer IP’s we love to mobile and say “Do you guys not have phones?” They are so out of touch with their community. They aren’t selling to this market anymore, they are trying to break into the Chinese market which is heavily mobile based with microtransactions, and leaving us behind.

I’m not buying Triple A titles anymore until they are out, and vetted by the first players. I will support great games in the indie market and encourage those companies to grow. I will be making videos about them because I love them, and adding them to my recommendeds because I will not support an industry that does not love the games they make. If all you are in this for is money (which Activition and EA clearly are) then you don’t love what you are producing. If you don’t love it then why would I love it?

I’m done. I don’t trust games journalists anymore because I know they are just writing what the big companies tell them to write, and then lowering scores of indie titles so the big companies sell more. That’s why game companies black list so many smaller game reviewers, and even Kotaku, because they don’t want honest reviews. I’m tired of it. I want indie titles to win! Because they are amazing! They are creative, innovative, and actually WORK.

So go buy GOOD games and leave the trash where it belongs.

There are great dangers in the forest…

Jupiter and Cas are out adventuring again, this time in the pass going toward Uldwin, a bustling coastal city. But a trip through a mountain pass is never easy in an RPG. Steel Heart is out today!

If you would prefer to read in KU both Steel Soul and Steel Heart will be available in KU within a couple of days.

You can also get Costume Shop for free today. Costume Shop was the story I released for Halloween, and it has a very R.L. Stein feel to it.

I am already hard at work on book three of my litRPG series, because gaming never ends.

Pax Prime

I guess the are calling it Pax West now, instead of Prime. I had a ticket for yesterday, and managed to get a few hours to go to some of the booths. But this was mostly Gregg’s chance to go connect with all the other creators. He wore his armor, stood on a dragon, and road a t-rex for Arc. It was pretty amazing. Wish I could have enjoyed it with him. Maybe next year.

I did see a number of games I can’t wait to play.

West of Loathing has to be my favorite so far. they took Kingdom of Loathing, made it single player and gave it a graphics interface. Same stick figure style, same rediculouse skills and crafting system. Even more awesome!

Eco just looked beautiful! I didn’t get a chance to play, but from what I was watching on screen it was a complete little planet that you were able to manipulate and watch the eco system change.It was developed to help students learn about ecosystems, and has a $500 price tag for 100 keys per year for five years for a school. I’d like to know if/how this works in a class.

An absolutly beautiful co-op game called The Rabbit and the Owl. The lighting and art for this are just amazing.

A fun little builder game called Project Highrise.

I got some beautiful art from Super Sky Sisters and Wandersong. And an amazing poster from Basement, a game in which you’re building a drug lab in your moms basement. Ya, that’s a thing.

I know I missed out on a lot of stuff, but what little I did catch was pretty awesome.

Geeky Goodness

There are a lot of things filled with geeky goodness going on right now. Like Adam Savage doing a recreation of the space suit from the Martian. And check out this awesome photo of the crescent moon, Venus and a two tailed comet all in the same shot.

So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite geeky things from this week.

I’ve been playing a lot of Stardew Valley lately. It’s a farm sim with a mystery hiding under the layers. While the game has a simple pixel graphic look and feel to it, there are a lot of things to find and places to explore. (But if you play it read this article first. It will save you some headaches.)

And on the subject of games, No Man’s Sky is coming out in June! I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while. It is a (sort of multiplayer) universe simulator. You can fly around in your space ship, or land and discover new planets, and resources. Then you can run like hell from the centennials trying to make sure you don’t destroy planets. I will definitely be getting this game. It is one of the few $60 games I will get.

Then, on a sad note, the final episode of Mythbusters is going up, but they are going out with a bang. Their also sending Buster off with a show stopping bang as well. (I just hope this means the newer seasons will be available on Netflix eventually.)

Deadpool was AWESOME, by the way. I’m also looking forward to Batman vs Superman and Captain America Civil War. But there are A LOT of superhero movies coming out this year. TMNT, Suicide Squad, and a new Independence Day movie… Ya, it’s a good year for movies.

 

Nerdiest convo at work ever.

A customer came in looking to pack his games and game consoles because he’s flying cross country. I suggested shipping as its safer and you can get insurance. He said it was cheaper to take it with him, but he’s worried about his consoles.

Me: see, that’s why all my games are on Steam. If my PC gets hurt I just re-download it to a new pc.

Him: ya, but I gotta have a controller.

Me: but you can use a controller, and there’s the Steam sales.

Him: ya, that’s the only thing that pisses me off. All the games I pay $60 you all get for 2.

Me, with two thumps up: yep, pc gaming all the way!

Him, laughing and smiling: ah, man, don’t give me any of that pc master race shit.

Truth be told I have a bunch of consoles too, and hundreds of games spread between them. But I love my pc. We had a great, if short, chat and I wished him good luck on getting his games across the country.

Mostly this was the geekyest convo I’ve had outside of a convention. I love games, and I wish I could talk about them all the time.

Games

I love games, which I’m sure anyone watching this blog is well aware of. I play tons of video games, (mostly minecraft) board games, and now d&d. I’ll even be streaming to twitch more later this month.

But the best part about games… There are two things I REALLY love about games. One, the people and communities. I love sharing game ideas and talking about our favorite moments  I love chatting while playing a board game. I love watching videos on how to beat levels, or watching someone play a game I’ve never done.

The second thing is the inspiration. There are some amazing and stange games our there. From the heart wrenching opening of “The Last of Us”, the beautiful simplisity of “Jorney”, and the ever expanding world of “Skyrim”  to the Plains of Hyrul and puzzles of Mario.

Each game has its own style and flare. Each one has its own way of touching your heart or funny bone. And it immerses you in ways that TV and movies can not.

I think the only thing more immersive than a game is a book.

With games I have swum with sharks, traveled to new world’s, fought zombies, built magical artifacts, fought dragons, and pilfered ancient temples.

Games are amazing. They keep the mind active. The imagination strong.

Play more games.

Minecraft

I play a lot of minecraft. Too much, maybe. But I think of it as a way to exercise my brain.

Some people call it Legos on the computer, and they aren’t wrong. You do build. It is also resource gathering, time management, and circuit building. Then there are the mods. With miss you can add magic, technology, monsters, animals and more. Sky’s the limit!

Last night I was trying to figure out a tricky problem. I have ars magica and I’m trying to build my magical abilities. Eventually I want to fly. But I didn’t take the easy route like others do and create a fire spell. No, I took the slightly more complicated path and decided to make a leap spell. It has more parts. And it wasn’t easy to find a tutorial about it so I had to figure it out on my own.

But these puzzles, piecing things together, reading manuals, and just perservearing even in the middle of daunting tasks, even in a video game, are useful skills.

Maybe people think Minecraft is a waste of time. It’s a game, and I could be writing instead. I tend to think it’s an excuse to use my mind, and stretch the boundaries of my imagination.

What I Learned from Neopets

ponyI use to play Neopets every day. I’d log in, do my dailies, play some games, then do something else only to come back later in the day to play my favorite games again. I figured if I was going to play those silly little flash games I may as well get something for my trouble. That “something” was a digital pet with color patterns, digital toys, digital books to read, and hours of time… wasted. Right?

I do check in with my Neopets now and then. Now it’s more to waste a little time in between writing, or when I have a spare moment available. Usually my pets are starving when I get there, and they stay starving more often then not. But as I was playing today I realized there were some things about Neopets that reflected lessons I’d learned in my every day life. Lessons that a child playing Neopets could easily understand and use later on.

Buy low, sell high!

This could be a stock exchange commercial. But seriously, it works. It works when you’re buying supplies to make jewelry or trinkets to sell  in your Etsy shop. It works when you’re sourcing the paint for your canvas, or the fabric for your dress. It works when you are scheduling your time for working on your novel. Put in less money then you sell it for. Money includes effort, time, etc.

But remember, the first few are usually the loss leaders. You don’t make money on them, you make money on volume. So don’t out price yourself. Realize that you probably will have to settle for breaking even for a little while until you manage to gain a following and some fans, and then you can go hog wild and make a living.

The more stock the more sales

This was the one that got me thinking about this article. Neopets gives you your own shop where you can sell the digital items you’ve gathered. I was filling up my shop, setting prices, when it dawned on me: the more items in my shop the more likely I was to have sales.

It wasn’t just that my shop would be more visible because I was more likely to have the specific item someone was looking for. It was the fact that the more I had in my shop the more people might just find my shop organically, and the more spur of the moment purchases they might make. Even if the prices were high. Even if they didn’t necessarily want that copy of “Babaa Care”.

It’s the same with my own Amazon store. The more books I have in there the more likely I am to get a random customer. The more likely he is to just pick up a couple of things instead of just one while he’s there. It works with other types of merchandise as well. Who goes into a shop that only sales milk? No, we want a store where we can get eggs, bacon, and cheese too. So give your customers what they want. Create more things for your shop.

Work a little every day for the best rewards.

A big part of Neopets is the dailies. Every day you can go to a website that has a link to all the dailies, or you can remember them. I preferred the websites to start with, though few of them listed all the daily activities you could do. Each activity gave you a new item, a few neopoints, or an avatar. Each one got you closer to the million neopoint mark in your bank.

But this applies to the real world as well. Every day, adding a little bit to your art, or writing, or music.. every day studying or going to your day job. It all adds up, little by little, till you have something to show for it. It’s just another reason for me to write every day, even when it sucks. Even when it’s hard.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Neopets often add items that are limited time, or seasonal. They change games, update areas, add and subtract things. Everything changes, both online and off. Nothing lasts forever. And one of the things you learn in Neopets is that it pays to collect those things that are limited. Just like comic books in the real world. If only a few people can get them, or if they disappear over time, then they slowly become more valuable.

Gambling doesn’t pay.

There is a bit of controversy around the gambling available on Neopets. They have their own version of the Lottery, and scratch cards. You rarely win. In fact you make more money from scratch cards by selling them in your shop then you do by actually scratching them off. Other things, like Poogle Racing and Keno allow you to pay in money, but rarely pay out. Thankfully it’s all neopoints, but you get the picture.

The virtual doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stay virtual.

Some time ago Neopets added real life items to their catalog. Plushies, console games, wearable, etc. Working in digital media as I do with books this is a great lesson for me as well. Digital items shouldn’t always stay digital. There should be some branching over to the 3D world. What if I made a plushy that I could sell? Or a poster? Or wearables? It’s a great marketing strategy and makes the real life and digital life closer to each other because you have something you can touch and feel on this side of the screen. What’s more, they always gave a digital item with the real world item. Tokens, free items, and digital merch to go with the plushy you bought. These items were FREE for Neopets to give away, so it made sense to add value to their real world objects by having digital items go with it. As a writer/artist/etc you can do something similar. Add QR codes for free books, or digital backgrounds. Give something digital away with every real world purchase. At the very least a free (or greatly reduced) ebook with every print book.

I’m sure there are more, but I am too tired to think of them.

Apps are where it’s at!

Not long ago Humble Bundle updated their Android app.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with Humble Bundle it is an online marketplace that bundles games together and let’s you pay what you want for the games. A portion of the proceeds goes to charity. They also expanded to ebooks, digital comics, and often add sound tracks in with their games.

The app use to allow you to download the Android games you bought through their bundles,  now it allows you to download the ebooks,  comics and music as well.

This is amazing news! It is a pain in the neck trying to side load ebooks on my phone or tablet. Now I just open up the Humble Bundle app and download the comics and books I want to read, or the music I want to listen to, and it’s all right there. All accessible and regale right in the app.

This is the future. Eventually someone is going to put an app together that will go around all the side load bs and just let me read the content I bought. It isn’t here yet, but I can see enough people asking for it that it is coming. Eventually. Maybe some authors child will be really into programming and will set it up for them.

Not only that, but if there are apps out there that provide this service then amazon will be forced to add an auto install for ebooks as well, something they haven’t done yet probably because they want it to be hard on you so you buy direct from them.

Truth is I don’t mind buying stuff from amazon  I do it a lot. But I don’t buy EVERYTHING from amazon so I don’t want to be stuck side loading things all over the place. Plus I’d really like to see all my media in one spot so I can just search for books, games, or music I own and download from one app instead of all of them.

It’s interesting times we live in. Things are changing rapidly and in ten years this will probably seen like a minor irritation along the way to progress.

In app game purchase! Grrrrrr!

I went to goggle play looking for a new, interesting game and saw a list of half off games. I’m okay with paying a little bit to own a game and play it whenever I feel like it.

But no, this wasn’t 50% off to own a game. This  was 50% off in app purchases. Because in app purchases make more money.

You might think I’m pissed off at devs for doing this, and you’d be slightly right. It is annoying as F to get interested in a game and really enjoy it only to get half way through and run out of  “energy” or have long ass wait periods for certain things to load. Even worse; power-ups that cost $1 each.

But no, it annoys me far more that people will actually spend $20 or more on Candy Crush on in app purchases, making this a viable option for devs in the first place.

Candy Crush had over 300 levels. If they split the game up into 50 levels a piece and charged $2.99 for each game package, with chances to win power ups, then I would totally buy it. But I’m not their demographic. The people they want to play their game will spend hundreds or even thousands just to solve one more puzzle.

It seems like more and more games are turning to in app purchases.  Thankfully Google now warns you before you download a game. I rejected 20 different games because of the in app purchase tag.

Sadly they don’t tell you what kind of in app purchase is available. If it was a purchase for an expansion, or for new skins I’d be okay with that. It’s pay to win games that really bug me. Or pay to have an enjoyable experience.

Just put a price tag on your game as a whole instead of doing in app purchases!