People Still Like Minecraft
So, within hours of the release of Minecraft on Xbox Live Arcade, it was not only profitable but broke all previous sales records for the platform, with over 400,000 downloads in the first day. And that’s despite being - if I’m not mistaken - the priciest XBLA game to date at 1600 MS Points. Which I guess proves Activision’s point in overcharging for Call of Duty’s map packs; if something is popular enough, it doesn’t matter how large the number on the price tag is.
But I digress. Yesterday, I decided to join the mob after downloading the Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition trial. My first few hours with the game were well-documented but since then I had not returned, mainly because it had failed to hook me but also because it had changed so much, with new modes and new mechanics I couldn’t bring myself to wrap my head around. The port, however, is more resemblant of the state the game was in when I started playing, though the word is that it will brought up to date further down the line (you wouldn’t want to disappoint those 400,000 consumers, after all).
This will probably surprise no-one but already I prefer playing Minecraft on the console than on the PC. But not for the reasons you probably think.
A Week With… League of Legends - Day 7
I’d like to begin this instalment with a short visual presentation:
A Week With… League of Legends - Day 6
I think I might be getting really invested in this.
Strangely, I came to this revelation about League of Legends in the wake of a defeat. It wasn’t a blowout but it wasn’t a close call either. Respectable stats on both sides, the other team’s were just slightly better. All that mattered to me were the three numbers next to my name on the overview screen.
8. 6. 1.
Eight kills, six deaths, one assist. After an utterly shambolic performance yesterday, I suddenly found myself with a winning record. And I felt pretty chuffed.
Therefore, I am placing the blame for that incident squarely on the shoulders of my cohorts Craig and Caithan. Quit holding me back, guys. Honestly.
A Week With… League of Legends - Day 5
Since yesterday saw an unscheduled intermission (I was tired), I made up for it tonight by playing two matches. Although my session threatened to finish before it had even started. While waiting to begin a co-op vs. AI match, and waiting several years for one player to connect, my ping suddenly sky-rocketed and I found myself back at my desktop. After trying several times just to get back into the client, I eventually made it and found myself in the same game I’d initially joined. So nice of them to save a spot for me.
By now, it’s pretty clear that Summoner’s Rift is really the only map in the game. It’s the only one available for co-op vs. AI games and outside of that no-one seems to care for the others. I honestly don’t see where the lasting appeal lies in a single map, but I guess 11 million people can’t be wrong…
A Week With… League of Legends - Day 4
Ready to put last night’s unpleasant events behind me, tonight’s session of League of Legends begins with a rendezvous on Skype. My lackey tonight is Craig, a relative newcomer to LoL himself but with weeks more experience than me. So, I guess that makes me the lackey. Disgruntled face.
Together, we leap into a co-op versus AI match on Summoner’s Rift, the same map I’ve been playing on before. Why the repetition? Complaint #4: League of Legends has only four maps. Many more are still to come, apparently, but have yet to materialise. Until then…
A Week With… League of Legends - Day 3
Control is a really understated feature in games, I feel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s the most important feature. It’s the conduit between the player and the plaything, yet in most people’s eyes it takes a back seat to the fidelity of the graphics or the breadth of the game’s content. If I don’t feel like I’m in complete control of what happens on screen, I tend not to enjoy myself. It’s what frustrates me about games I otherwise really like, such as Street Fighter and NBA 2K. Think about first-time players, too. If the controls don’t make a good first impression, they become disconnected, disinterested and disheartened before they can adjust.
A Week With… League of Legends - Day 2
Last time, we outlined LoL’s premise, rules and basic gameplay. Now let’s talk about progression. What fills the RPG quota of this RTS-RPG?
After logging in, I swing past my summoner profile; since I’ve yet to participate in any real matches, I have no statistics to speak of. It is here that I start to piece together the game’s monetary system. Outside of battle, LoL has two currencies: Riot Points and Influence Points (in battle, gold is the only currency). IP are earned for simply playing the game, ranking up etc. RP are purchased with real money. Both of these currencies can be used to unlock champions and other items, though some things can only be purchased with RP.
A Week With… League of Legends - Day 1
After a relatively harmless download and install, plus a couple of patches, I’m ready to throw myself into the unknown. I pray for a safe return. Got my safety rope and flare gun handy, just in case.
After a simple login, I’m asked what kind of players I’d like to be matched up against, with four difficulty levels to choose from - Beginner, RTS Player, Veteran and Expert. I’m no stranger to RTS games, but like fighting games and PC shooters, I tend to steer clear of their online components for fear of emasculation. I humbly choose Beginner.
A Week With… League of Legends - Prologue
Since I started writing about games, I’ve held the belief that scepticism does not give way to slander. There’s nothing wrong in looking at a game, film or TV show that many regard in awe and saying “it’s not for me”, but broadcasting any unjustified and defaming conclusions you’ve drawn on it is something I personally take offense to (looking at you, fanboys). You won’t know until you try.
I, for instance, once sat down and attempted to watch Twilight, to see if it merited the somewhat negative light the internet has shone upon it. I made it about halfway through before I had to stop. Not out of protest for its portrayal of vampires, or fear of catching ‘the gay’, but out of sheer boredom. It’s a dreadfully bland film, like it was written by emotionally overbearing high school students.
On the flipside, earlier this year I decided to see what all the fuss was about the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. As of yesterday, I’ve now watched every episode. I’m not about to devote myself to the ‘brony’ cause, but I will defend the show if I have to. It looks amazing, the cast is terrific, its morals are all in the right place, it doesn’t try to beat you over the head with its cuteness and - most surprisingly of all - it’s funny.
You won’t know until you try.
For when we can’t keep up with the latest releases, this is…
I am a sucker for science fiction, particularly space and futuristic technology. There’s a good reason that Sunshine is one of my favourite movies of all time, that Star Wars: The Old Republic always seemed more appealing than World of Warcraft, that I’ve always preferred Warhammer 40,000 to it’s technologically-impaired predecessor. I’ve never really been one for medieval settings, dragons or wizards. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big fan of Dungeons and Dragons and am going to soon lose my life to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but give me a chance to explore the vast unknowns of outer space and to travel to new worlds and galaxies, and you may as well hand me my space suit right now.
While there are no shortage of sci-fi experiences available in videogames, one particular niche remains almost completely unexplored - the space-based first person shooter. I’m not talking about Halo, or Section 8 here, where a reduction in gravity and a suit of power armour are the pick of the day. I want a first person experience set against the backdrop of distant stars, where gravity is nowhere to be found, and where the only thing standing between you and the nearest planet is a firey atmospheric re-entry. That’s why I bought Shattered Horizon the moment it became available back in 2009.