Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday Special: Vib-Ribbon

Wednesday Special is a new, weekly post about any random thought I may have about gaming.  The only rule for this column is that it will always be 500 characters or less.

Last year when I played BIT.TRIP RUNNER for the very first time, I couldn't help but have the nagging feeling that I saw something like it before.  Then it hit me: Vib-RibbonIf you never heard of it, blame it on the fact that it was a Playstation One game with simplistic black-and-white graphics and never was released in the United States.  Here's hoping for an eventual Playstation Network release.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Ballad of Ricky Collins

This Ricky Collins fellow is a popular dude
For the past two weeks, the iOS games from the guys at Nimblebit have me hooked.  All it took was a friend showing me her Tiny Tower and seeing the little "bitizens" dressed in various costumes.  Somehow I avoided the game up until this point.  Prior to this, my only familiarity with the game was when Zynga made its own version of the game, just with Farmville characters

The game started out simple enough: build a floor to your tower, either apartments or shops, move in more bitizens, assign them jobs in the shops, and keep the stores stocked.  Then you get more money so you can build more floors, upgrade the shops to hold more stock, try to assign people their dream jobs, evict bitizens who aren't skilled at their jobs, save up so you can get a faster elevator, keep checking to see if you have the appropriate stores to complete missions, curse when you just paid six tower bux to speed up the completion of your new floor and two construction worker VIPs show up in a row, agonize over what an appropriate costume would be for a bitizen working at a Frozen Yogurt shop, think for hours about a creative name for the Soda Brewery...

It just goes on and on and on.  If you want to take a look at my current tower, here it is.

The alternate title of this post was "Is That a Plane in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?"
Then Nimblebit went ahead and released Pocket Planes.  At first, I didn't think I liked it.  I thought it didn't have the same addictive charm of Tiny Tower.  "Who cares about running an airline?"  Then the game grew on me.  My small network of airports located in Central America started to expand to the rest of the Americas.  My fleet grew in number.  As I received more revenue I could open higher class airports that could support larger airplanes, as more jobs completed equals more money.  And more money lets you buy more airplanes and more airports, which gets you more money, which... hey, this sounds a lot like Tiny Tower!

What's next, Outer Space?  (Oh, wait, Angry Birds already did that...)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Giving Intellectual Property a Chance

The cast of Humble Indie Bundle V
Last week, EA's Senior Vice President of Global Ecommerce David DeMartini attacked rival Valve's Steam digital distribution service for its frequent sales and deep discounts on games, saying that it "cheapens intellectual property."

Yes, it is disappointing to developers when a game they spent years working on sits on store shelves at full price and fails to sell enough to fund a sequel or even another game. Given that many consumers can only afford or even justify a few game purchases a year at $60 a pop, people will tend to stick with franchises that they recognize instead of plunking down three Andrew Jacksons on something unknown to them.

But does that mean the value of a popular franchise, such as Call of Duty, is much greater than a game that didn't find a wide audience, like Beyond Good & Evil?  My answer: it depends on the person.

Many gamers fall into the category of only playing (and paying for) games that they know are popular, are already familiar with, or received a personal recommendation.  For the most part, they will not be willing to take a chance on a random game on the store shelf at full price.

The keyword here is "full price."  Now, if that same random game had a very steep discount and that same gamer looked at the back of the box, read the description and looked at the screenshots, there's a possibility that they would end up buying the game.  "Hey, it's only $7.49, I'll give it a shot.  It's not like I paid $60 and traded it in to Gamestop two weeks later for five bucks."

Looking back to last year's Steam Summer Sale, I purchased 16 games for about $50 total.  The most I paid for any of those was Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition at $10.  (Though I didn't play it yet... someday!)  Now I'm going to quote my article from last year regarding those purchases:

So checking my playtime so far of these titles, I've installed and played five of them and put in about 15 hours, which I imagine there were some $50 games that I didn't put that much time into.  So at least when you purchase a game on the cheap, if it turns out to be a dud, at least it wasn't a $50 dud.  Though now I am less likely to buy any game at full price, the pricing of games during this sale made me more willing to take a chance on a game.
Which I suppose is the point I'm trying to make with this article.  Prior to the sale, I was not interested in those games at full price, or even at all.  But if the game is presented at a fine price, I am more willing to take a chance on it.  And for every Indie Bundle I buy, there is usually at least one surprise in the pack that I never would have had the pleasure to enjoy were it not for buying it in the bundle.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

There and Back Again

I used to write a videogame blog, but then I took an arrow... Hey, wait a minute!  I said the exact same thing all the way back in December in my last post.  And that wasn't even a proper post.  For the last post where I dedicated longer than two minutes to write, you'd have to go back to October for the lonely first part of my post-New York Comic Con experience (which still needs its second part).

So... what happened?  Last time I blamed Skyrim as being the only game I played for an extended period of time and various other obligations.  So what's my excuse now?  Well, I continued to play Skyrim and according to Steam I logged almost 150 hours into that game and I never finished the main quest line (which I still intend to do, someday).  I've played things other than Skyrim, though not nearly to that extent.  I starting working on a project in January that has nothing to do with video games, so that takes up some more free time.  I've also began some sewing projects, one of which is an attempt to make a Max plush (of Sam and Max fame).  So far I'm perfecting the head and I'm altering the pattern until it looks just right.

When I put more time into other projects, this blog was pushed to the back of my mind.  What honestly felt like weeks since my last update quickly turned into months.  Now is the time to change that.  I'm going to try to set myself into a regular posting schedule instead of "whenever I feel like it," as that strategy obviously didn't work. 

My current plan is to start slowly with one post per week on Sundays.  If I can stick to that schedule, hopefully I can get up to two posts per week.  I have to start somewhere (again).