13 November 2010

Cracked Theories - possible spoilers for persona 3

Yes, it has been a while, yes I have been working on Persona 4 again. in the mean time, here are some of the cracked theories we came up with on Persona 3.

  • The protagonist is a persona of the 'creepy kid' who is behind it all. Ok this was a bit too close for comfort, but this came about because of the opening sequence ever notice how it looks like the protagonist is wearing a mask like a shadow? So what if the protagonist was a new type of shadow created or augments by the Corporation
  • Mitsuru is behind it all, yep she was sent along to form this team and watch over it to keep those able to stop the corporation from world domination in line. 
  • Nozomi Suemitsu is behind it, he is revealed to be a religious fanatic so perhaps he is actually behind all of this talk of the end of the world because of how sinful people are.
More next time but hope this whets your appetite for more cracked theories on games We have a BUNCH for persona 4!

27 July 2010

Persona 3 FES

This was my first foray into the Persona Universe. Let me say 2 things up front about this game First it is Dark  As you know I like dark. Second - while I would call this a Mature Game, it is not Leisure Suit Larry or even GTA. The game deals with death. people die, people you like, people you do not like. Do not give this game to anyone under 16, you will scar them for life.

That said : on with it. Yes Another one off the stack - almost.

Start up and synopsis:
     You are a second year transfer student to Gekkoukan High School. You also happen to be an orphan and there is no explanation of You arrive late at night at the station on April 1st and head to the dorm.  As midnight strikes most people are suddenly replaced with coffins. You continue on listening to your headphones. It seems you have seen this before. Or just do not care. Upon arriving at the dorm, you are greeted by a creepy kid and have to sign some sort of contract. OKAY So you sign and suddenly there are people in the lobby, one of them has a gun!  They are both acting a little odd but the girl with the gun shows you to your room (Could I have an escort without a gun please?)
     You get up the next morning and a seemingly normal High School rpg begins. There is a lot talk about Apathy Syndrome sweeping the nation. People just stop and stay where they are. You hear students gossiping at the gate about it. You find your class meet some people and the game at this point does not really allow you to make many choices, this is one long set up.
     Then they come, shadows attack the dorm drawn there by Akihiko, one of the dorm residents. You head for the roof with the girl with the gun  you have found out her name is Yukari. I call her annoying.  Sh points the gun to her head and is unable to pull the trigger.  You grab the gun, point it at your head and know instinctively what this is, it is not a gun but an evoker. You utter the word Persona and the first of your persona's appears and kicks the Shadows' ass.  End of basic game set up and tutorial. Ok so it's a little strange that you have to shoot yourself in the head.

     The truth comes out that these Shadows attack people,  and their nest is is the location of Gekkoukan High School. But it is only accessible during the dark hour.  that weird time at midnight when most people are in their coffins. The few that are not are Persona Users. The students at the dorm have formed SEES - "Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad".  You the player are special user in that you can use multiple personas.   So of course they wanted you to join. Eventually you find out there is an opposing group - Strega led by a nihilist prophet -Takaya. They use the dark hour to carry out assassination requests they received through their Revenge Website.  You are told you have 1 year to get to the root of the problem. Once the truth about Nyx is revealed, they become the center of a cult wishing for her arrival and the annihilation of society and of course they try to thwart your plans to save the world.
     In being special you find there is a door in Tartarus that none but you can see.  Behind it is a room with a man, Igor who gives you advice concerning social links.  He has the contract you signed and reminds you of it periodically. He also allows you to fuse personas (DO NOT DO THIS YET) to form new ones. His odd sidekick Elizabeth can store them and makes some odd requests of you.  Most of which are fun. 
     As the plot thickens there are lots of betrayals, revelations and some deaths.  It turns out there is a reason you are special. There are people who help and some who hinder. but eventually it boils down to you have to save the world from the eventual coming of Nyx the mother of all shadows and her desire to wipe the slate and start over. You have to make some hard choices and that is part of the fun.

 Somehow the game manages to combine a card fighter with a High School RPG. It does so well and with minimal annoyances.  By day you attend classes and clubs, hang out with your friends, work on social links or stat increases through various activities. and  do some of the side quests given to you by Elizabeth. By night you have the option to  fight shadows in Tartarus, increase your courage by singing Karaoke, increase knowledge by studying, there are some social links that are available only at night as well. The stats you can increase affect your ability to get some social links started.  The social links affect the types of Persona you can fuse. It is better to complete a social link than to have multiple ones almost complete.  Only completed ones count in the end.
   Battle in Tartarus is easy enough each persona has different strengths and weaknesses. Like any RPG of this nature, you gain more party members. You can bring 3 into Tartarus with you and each has their strengths and weaknesses as well.
With a little forethought you can have a party ready for almost anything. The more time you spend in the Shadow's nest, the more tired you become. If you are too tired you are forced to leave the dungeon. If you stay on a floor too long death comes after you. Eventually you must fight him.  Do not try it before you are ready.
  Each character in addition to have a persona also has a weapon type. Some shadows have the ability to block Junpei's slashes but not Akihiko's punches.  This becomes important especially in the higher levels of the nest as you hit more and more shadows with only
    The daily grind is broken up by Boss battles that take place somewhere in town.  Each boss appears at the full moon and the completion of the battle reveals more of the story.Sometimes party members get ill or you do  on those days you may not be able to form a party to fight. And your other life intrudes in the form of exams holidays and school functions so time management is necessary.
     However there is still the grind of leveling and gaining money so that you can store and unstore persona. If you get to the goal in Tartarus early, you get the bonus of gonad. Harder mobs no death to stalk you, it was fin but not needed. So no sweat if you are cutting it too close to the deadline.
Some loads take a while. When I completed the game, it did not save the completed version. So if there is anything to unlock I cannot do it. Other than that no technical issues.

  • The party sometimes gets in each other's way.  
  • I really hate cutesy stuff.  The dog story is cool the dog in the party is not. 
  • What is it with robot girls in these things. This one actually has a story plot but you know, this is just getting old. 
  • The music wears on your ear after a while thank goodness for my ZEN Mp3 Player. Celldweller and Five Finger Death Punch worked well as background music in the dungeons when grinding.
  • Speaking of wearing on you, so did Mitsuru's and later Fuuka's words of encouragement. Let us lose them please.
  • Having to enter the velvet room to save persona, leave to dismiss persona then come back in to take others out of the compendium.
  • The final boss battle. COP OUT. I wanted an epic battle. But at least if you were going to do it like that you did not make me waste hours. 
  • Sometimes the forced  story portions went on too long. I needed places to break or save. Sometimes I got them, usually I did not. 

  • The story does not pull punches. I like that it is dark and while things turn out ok they do not for everyone on a personal level.
  • The social links and their stories were interesting and varied. The nice answer was not always the best depending on to whom you were speaking.
  • The gameplay was solid and consistent. No technical issue (except perhaps that the end.
  • Lots of slots for saving. I like this in an RPG lets me branch decisions.

 I liked the game. I will play it again in hard mode. Easy is too easy BTW. This time I will work on the social links and stats more. I highly recommend it. Out 10 I give the Journey portion of this a 9.

Ok so the Answer is a second game on this. It takes place after the events above on March 31st.  The last day of your year. I will not review that here.  As a matter of fact I MAY not finish it, it is shaping up to be a major grind with no social links
and less of a story to hold my interest.

25 July 2010

Paper Tiger Games - Smooth Site

This is just a quickie to let people know about Paper Tiger games.  I have been talking lately about casual games that are run on Face book.  Most of these games are simplistic. many are brain teasers or action flash ones, but the thing is most of them on Facebook cost money or are extremely limited.

Paper Tiger games is basically a kid's site chock full of casual games. All I found are free to play even to download.  When school is in session, the site can be busy, in the summer months there is peace and quiet.  The site boasts 316 games. I will be honest, I did not try them all.  I used only Opera and Firefox on the site. Guess what, not one was broken, not one over drove my fan or coprocessor, all were fast to load and all were free.

So if you are looking for checkers, connect 4, connect 2 (a sort of solitaire majong variation) reversi or even a fps, check out this site. It gets a thumbs up from me!

24 July 2010

Farmville The Cash Cow

Zynga has many other games as of this writing in this same format and using the same structure.  Alas I could not take any more excitement. So I jump straight to the game Zynga seems to put the most time and money into and that seems to be the most popular - Farmville. And why not at last estimate (April or thereabouts) Farmville had an estimated 80 million people playing it worldwide. Think about that is 9 New Yorks. THat is the entire population of the coutry of Germany. Needless to say  employers are up in arms about employees playing it on their time and people have claimed addiction much like the WarCrack games.

You are a farmer. You plow the field, plant the crop, harvest the crop. You add things to your farm, expand it, visit neighbors farms and partake in monthly collection contests.

Game status:
Beta (aren't they all?)

Game play
Yeah you guessed it : Clickety Click Click.  Recruit players. Spend real world money for in game decorations and perks.

Of all the games of this design this seems to be the smoothest running. Yes things still disappear from the gift boxes.  Yes it is still a HOG and graphics take forever to load sometimes so that your farm looks partly green and partly white space. Yes the moving of the toon from one place to another is INCREDIBLY slow and tedious, so much so that most players have trapped the spawn point. Yet people seem to like this game.

I am not certain WHAT the appeal is, perhaps the ability to  do virtually nothing except click, move up the ladder of your friends and watch the crops grow?

So now that I have taken all I can of the clickety click I can stand I would like to point out that Before Farmville there were other apps on Facebook that basically did the same thing.  So I put it you readers to explain, Why is Farmville more appealing than MyFarm or any other sim like game? Why is it now included on xfire? Something I once thought was a semi-reputable gaming site. Anyone? Is anyone reading or is it time to harvest your soybeans?

22 July 2010

Cafe World - Needs more Spice

Now for the one that was tied with Fishville for next to last.  The reason Fishville won was basically lousy coding and poor communication as well as being the last of the games Zynga Games of that design to update to code to match the others. This one is just damn slow and stupid.

You own a Cafe, you cook dishes sell them and people eat them. The more you sell the more profit you make, the more profit the bigger the Cafe can be. You can and make dishes and hire more employees. Oh wait this is sort of like Fishville Oh well.

Clickety click click. Click on stove to select recipe click on stove 3 more times to 'add ingredients (all hard coded, no choices here), click on the stove to serve the dish, click on the stove to clean it, click on the stove to repeat. - Ho Hum. Unless of course you get the special stoves by either recruiting an army of friends and begging them for stuff or paying Cafe Dollars (Yep bought with RW money) The it is just clickety click. Faster Ho Hum. Oh and can anyone tell me why it takes 9 hours or more to make eggs sunny side up. Denny's would be out of business if their short order cooks took that long!

It takes FOREVER to load. It is nice the little green bar shows that it is loading greenstuff (whatever that is) but why does the game run in the background? People get up come in leave, wait, but the player can do nothing until game load is complete.  I thought the purpose of a game was for someone to play it, not for it to play itself.  Here is an idea, stop eating up the ram by having the toons do stuff and use it to load stuff faster. Things disappear from the gift boxes, special features to be completes hang about and the graphics load is awful.  For example, the floor in a cafe done with 2 different tiles alternating loads one set of tiles then about 3 minutes later (No exaggeration : it timed in at 2:53.). Last but not least down time seems to be frequent with suggestions to play from the Zynga site or another of their games instead (which is probably down too.)

So All in all this is just another beta that IS a beta (unlike Fishville or Treasure Isle which seem to be in alpha stages.) If you are into clicking and voyeurism this is for you, If however you are a gamer looking for a time fill on your lunch break, try solitare.

21 July 2010

Fishville Fry

It took a while for me to decide what the next worst game in the Zynga pool is. I have come to the conclusion it is Fishville Ok so maybe it is stress management thing. THEY say aquariums are relaxing. I maintain THEY either want to sell you more stuff or never actually ran one, but it is relaxing to watch. This game however is anything but relaxing.

Again the premise is about as difficult as any on the Neopets site or any other kid's site, only this is for adults?? Basically you raise sell and keep some fish.and decorate the tank. Watch the fish grow, fight the fish, feed the fish, watch the fish die if you forget to feed them.

So you have your aquarium and you can chose some gravel and backgrounds for free or pay RW money to get some others. Then you do the same with fish and decorations. Surprise surprise. The next step is ts to drop the fish eggs - if they work that is and of course recruit neighbors to play because well you know this is a game that REALLY requires a multi-player environment. You feed your fish and then come back when they say to feed them again. Rinse, repeat till full grown then either keep or sell. Oh and you get mastery points for each sale as well as money and .. well if you read the previous blog you know how it works, only instead of digging you feed fish.

Now for the exciting difference! You can fight your fish! Yep just like the arena in Neopets only not. There is no actually live interaction involved. You click say fight pick an opponent. You win or lose based on stats only and that is it.

Next comes the visiting neighbor's tanks and feeding their fish. And of course yours. 

Game play:
Clickety Click Click once in a while you may click and drag something.

First when you mouse over or click on a fish it should tell you how long till next feeding - except their 13 hours must be equal to my 5. And sometimes the fish return to their same level of hunger. Perhaps they have sustain cast on them? The game takes a long time to load, some items do not work, others disappear after placing or on the way to the gift box.  Fishville seems to be the red-headed stepchild. It gets the updates LAST if at all. This may be due to it's lack of profitability or due to other issues. I do not care, I do care that it seems that they want me to pay for a game that they do not maintain at the same level that they do others in the look and feel. 

While we are on the subject of paying ALL these games have BETA on the splash screen. Most sane people will NOT pay to be BETA tester, It used to be beta testers were paid or at least given a free copy of whatever it was they were testing.

Zynga games seem to come in two basic formats the * Wars one or the *ville one. All have the same basic look and feel. There is very little strategy or even mathematical prowess required for Fishville. So, if you want to wade through a boring game with lots of non functioning functions be my guest. Perhaps it will ease your stress.

30 May 2010

Zynga - the new Amway

Once in a while I step back from MUDDING, console games and PC games and look at what is considered casual gaming. Zynga has lately been one of the names that is splashed all over such games - much as EPIC and IGN was in the past. They have become a staple of social sites such as MySpace and Facebook and have developed (I use that term loosely) multiple Flash games. Yet they leave something to be desired as a game developer. Perhaps it is a sense that gamers or even coders are developing the games instead of the accounting department. So over the next few weeks I shall take each Zynga game and critique it here - starting at the bottom.

Ah what IS the bottom - that is a good question. There are several games that vie for this position in my mind in the Zynga list of games. I think though Treasure Island maybe the winner. You begin this game on your own island with a hut. a shovel and little garden plot in which to grow fruit. Oh and a gem tree which grows a certain color of gem.

The basic game premise is that you travel to islands on a map and dig to find treasure. Each island has 3 treasure collection types hidden on it. Each collection contains 5 items to collect. The idea is that digging uses energy and returns fruit, experience points,a treasure chest, a special or nothing. Eating fruit restores a certain percentage of energy. Gaining a level restores it all and increases the max. So you click on a picture of a map, click on an island on the map, click on a spot on the island and watch your basic low grade toon go through some lame animation. Tinse and repeat till out of energy, eat fruit, go again.

Not boring enough for you? But wait there is more! See you can travel to friends' islands click on a button to chase off sea gulls or clean it or something and gain xp. Then get a gem from their tree. They may have a different color gem tree and this becomes important because you NEED these gems to unlock Tiki heads to gain access to certain parts of some of the islands. How exciting! Of course this means you must recruit friends to play the game and they have to agree to be your neighbors.

So what is the problem with this game other than the Ho Hum factor? Well, first if you do not have enough friends who cannot sleep at night and need something tedious to do, you are unlikely to get the gems needed to proceed. Unless you purchase, find or earn 'Island Cash' see Island cash is used for in game items. Like most Zynga games this is a lame excuse to get real world money out of its players.

As if that were not enough, the collections are so few that the RNG for any collection chest discovered returns the same items over and over. Figure 21 chests on an island 15 possible items to fill 3 collections, so why do i get 6 of the same
two items OFTEN and few of the others even to the point of obtaining NONE of one of the collections? Perhaps they are all behind the Tikis i cannot unlock because most of MY gaming friends have at least some taste

The final thing that makes this the bottom of the list, other than the stereotyping of islands and their dwellers, is just lazy coding. Performance is awful. Why does EVERY Zynga game kick my fan off into high on my machine? It is not like any real processing or even hardcore graphics are going on. I think most of the artists at Zynga use children's coloring books as templates for items and characters. Why can't pop ups for actions wait their turn? Why do they interfere with each other? And most of all I want to know why it is you can track how long since a neighbor logged in but cannot return a different message than you have already collected this from this neighbor today. How difficult is it to make another object to return upon that if statement? here let me GIVE you logic zynga -

Check neighbor gem counter //max number of gems that by be collected from island
Check last neighbor login //last login of island owner
Check PC obtained time //date and time of last gem obtained from this island by pc

on command get gem from basket
secure pc
IF neighbor login > 24 hours //island owner not played in over a day
return "Sorry your neighbor.name has not been around to harvest any gems. Suggest
neighbor.name come play with you on Treasure Island."
goto fail
IF neighbor gems <= 0 // max gems distributed
return "Sorry, neighbor.name's gems have all been claimed."
IF pc obtained time gem <= 24 hours //player got one from here already today
return "Return later you already got a gem from this basket today."
ELSE //valid collection condition
PC gems = pc gems +1
neighbor.gem counter -1
PC obtained time reset to server time

unsecure pc

Ok sort of messy psuedo code but when a game is about the intelligence level of a 3rd grader on a site that requires you be 13 or older to have an account. I figure there is a serious lack of basic understanding of logic in the coding team. Even Neopets has more exciting games than this and they are MEANT for kids. So as far as casual gaming goes this one FAILS.

21 January 2010

Gaming Social sites

This was written for a class I am taking

There are several networking sites of which I am member. I have discovered that I prefer sites that are focused on one aspect or another such as tech support, writing, business or as in the case of these two sites, gaming. The purpose of the gaming social sites is provide a means of communication outside of the games so that players who have formed relationships over the course of a game may communicate.

Two such sites are WGFriends and GamerDNA. Both started with very focused intentions. They were a means for people who play online games to keep in contact. Both have evolved very differently.

GamerDNA began as a site known as GuildCafe. Its main emphasis was a way for Guilds members in Guildwars to communicate and share information when not in game. Its features include a free forum/website for the Guild with some predefined graphics or the ability to upload your own and to set security levels for your members so that Guild officers had places to plan before announcing to the general membership any changes or raids. The site also has general forums for discussion about games and gaming and a news feed on the gaming industry. The site also allowed the creation of other games' guilds and clans and the users could add the games to the database. While this was great from a user standpoint, it lent itself to other issues such as the duplication of games in the database, for example Valhalla MUD and ValhallaMUD.

Then EVERYTHING went online, not just PC games but consoles and even mobile devices. In an effort to support all of these the site evolved into what it is today a Facebook/Twitter clone with a gaming and marketing emphasis. It now also features things such as live Twitter feeds, information of who is playing what game provided though other sites such as Xfire, PS3 online, Wii Online and other live console and game interfaces. This is provided the game is in their database which now features mainstream commercial games and very few independent efforts. True industry news is buried in marketing hype press releases and they have shifted the emphasis from the general gamer to "the male, 18-34 demographic." Many of these features are useful - most are not to all players and development seems to have halted on the older features. Many visually impaired gamers have complained that the site is no longer as accessible as it was in the past.

WGFriends on the other hand started out as a way for those who follow independent and smaller games. They began as a MUD rating site and have expanded to include Twitter and Facebook feeds as users' options. They are lacking the comprehensive newsfeed and security levels within user made forums, but as they are expanding they are constantly polling all of their users as to the functionality and usefulness of each feature. They keep in mind the W3 standards and while their growth is not as explosive as other sites have been there is steady growth that the owners address regularly.

Of the two sites I am presently leaning toward preferring WGFriends not so much for the features it presently provides, but rather the service that the owners provide.