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Salamolign wrote

With just 2 months to go until @EGX, the news of what will be on this years' show floor is slowly trickling out. The biggest playable title so far is perhaps Gran Turismo Sport, but it's still early days and the window for submissions from independent developers has not yet closed and I expect larger teams are busy working out the contractual details. I picked up tickets as soon as they released, way back in March, so I'm excited to see what will be featuring this time around at the UK's biggest gaming event. Rather than wait for news, I've put together a wish list of games and studios I'd like to see present, based on my experiences over the past year.


First off, and a major contender for my time over the past six months is the MMORPG Black Desert Online. They're due to appear at Gamescom next month, with a fancy booth and some 80+ high end PCs to showcase some of the game's upcoming content. It's a Korean game, but the localisation for the west is handled by Daum Games Europe, a Dutch company. Given their appearance at Gamescom I'm really hoping to see them at EGX and would love to get my hands on some BDO swag.


Introversion Software has become one of my favourite UK game developers since discovering Prison Architect at a gaming event a number of years ago. Always happy to chat to fans, some rather funny development vlogs and an excellent release of PA (winning a BAFTA) last year really has put this company back in the spotlight. I remember reading about Darwinia, their second release, in a gaming magazine a decade ago, I never did try it but it was graphically... unique. IV Software have been at every EGX and Rezzed event for as long as I can remember, so it would be a shame for them not to turn up and show off their newest creations, a couple of which were covered in a dev vlog a few months ago.


Ark: Survival Evolved is due to officially release towards the end of this year, although many of us have been playing it solidly for a year in early access. Studio Wildcard have done tremendously well to come out of nowhere and create a game enjoyed by so many. They took a life sized Rex model for photo ops to a show in the US recently, so I've got my fingers crossed for the same here.


I've fallen out of love with Telltale Games after the Minecraft release. I really struggled to enjoy the play through, but I put it down to me not really being the target audience for that particular title. They've done so well over the past few years with fantastic titles, Batman should be in full swing by the time EGX comes around, and we're still waiting for a third TWD instalment. There's a lot to talk about for Telltale Games and I hope to see them there.


League of Legends is another game I've put on the backburner recently. As fun as it is, it's the main source of conflict between my friends. It's put me off for now, but I'll return one day. A couple of years ago EGX had an area dedicated to proper live shout casting and it was surprisingly entertaining to watch people playing RIOT's extremely successful F2P MOBA. A similar thing this year would be excellent, as would a panel talking about the wild success of the game and perhaps how to get cash shops right.


Rocket League was another game that came out of nowhere in the last year. As with ARK, after a brief period of PC only, it's released on consoles to roaring success. The simplicity of the premise, the depth of the gameplay, the talent and skill required to pull off the plays at the higher levels... this game is attractive to all gamers and a Rocket League tournament at EGX would be a big hit.


If I were to choose a "least likely to attend" candidate from this list, it would be Rockstar. Despite being a fairly new arrival to PC, GTAV has been out a lot longer on the previous generation of consoles. We must be due some GTA6 information soon, and with rumours suggesting we could see it set in London, what better place to announce GTA6 than the UK. GTA:Online seems to be doing quite well if reports are to be believed. I don't quite know who is spending money on shark cards, but it's encouraging new content at a fairly rapid pace. I only wish we'd see more heists... but that could be something they announce at EGX, fingers crossed!


Last on my list of potential guests is the mobile phenominon that is taking the world by storm. I'm talking, of course, about Pokemon Go. Whilst the likelyhood of mobile games appearing at EGX is fairly low, I'd love to see Niantic talk about the success of Pokemon Go and how they feel about getting millions of social recluses outside, interacting and being healthy.


And that's it. I expect I'll wake up in the middle of the night because I forgot something awesome, but if I do, I'll be sure to add it. Thanks for reading. Are you going to EGX in Birmingham this year? Anything you'd like to see?

Salamolign wrote

Last year's E3 prompted me to catch up with the Assassin's Creed series and try to make a dent on the Fallout franchise. It also added to the hype surrounding releases in other popular franchises including the Tom Clancy games, Star Wars, Hitman, Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy. So I made a list, games I owned and needed to play before playing the new iterations:


One year on, we're once again in the midst of E3 and it's time for another list of games I want to get through. I've picked up a lot of titles in bundles this year, I've probably picked up more than I'll ever play, but I did ensure where I could that the money spent went to good charities... and that makes me feel good about buying too many games! Once again I'll do these in alphabetical order:

* 80 Days

* Alan Wake's American Nightmare

* Amnesia

* Anno 2070


* Assassin's Creed (Finished up to Black Flag... my word that game was good. I have Rogue but haven't start yet)

* Back to the Future

* Batman (I'll also had the Telltale game in here when I go on a Batman splurge)

* The Binding of Isaac (I got right to the end... mom stomped me...)

* Bioshock

* Borderlands (Now including Tales!)

* Broken Age

* Broken Sword

* Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons (I hear this isn't even that long and I've still got it installed since last year)

* Brothers in Arms (Did Road to Hill 30 previously, want to do the others)

* Call of Duty (MW+ I like the campaigns!)

* Call of Juarez

* Castle Crashers

* Cibele

* The Crew

* Crysis

* Dark Souls (Last year I said I wasn't bothered about the first, now there are three and I want to beat them all!)

* Darksiders

* Dead Island

* Dead Space

* Deus Ex

* Dishonored (I think this one will get done, the 2nd instalment arrives this year)

* DmC: Devil May Cry

* Dragon Age (I got half way through this, then I got back into ARK, then XCOM2 released and I didn't go back)

* Dreamfall Chapters

* Dungeon of the Endless (I WILL get them to the end!)

* TES: Oblivion

* Enslaved

* The Evil Within

* FEAR (No progress all year on this. Finished the first and expansions)

* Far Cry

* Final Fantasy (Did 7 this year, have 8 installed, 9 and 10 are on my wishlist)

* Hand of Fate (I've heard good things, this was in a bundle)

* Her Story (Winner of a bunch of BAFTAs, another bundle buy)

* Hitman (I tried the original and couldn't get on with it. It was too old. I'll try the 2nd and 3rd generations before picking up the current episodic title)

* Jurassic Park (A telltale title, bundled with a lot of other good TT stuff I gave away as gifts)

* Kraven Manor

* LA Noire (Was lucky enough to have a conversation with Alexis Cruz (Skaara in Stargate(SG1 and the movie)) a month ago, apparently he is a cop in the game. Did the whole facial recognition shebang and has pages of lines. He's still acting but also writing graphic novels, one of which he kindly signed for me!)

* Legend of Grimrock

* Life is Strange (Finished episode 1 this year, haven't had the urge to pick up the others, but I will when the price is right)

* Lost Planet

* Lucius

* Magicka

* Max Payne

* Medal of Honor

* Metro 2033 / Last Light (Didn't make a start on them, however I now have them both in Redux edition)

* Shadow of Mordor

* Minecraft: Storymode (Begrudgingly I will finish the series... it's just not for grown-ups!)

* Mirror's Edge (The second instalment releases this year)

* Outlast

* Red Faction

* Remember Me

* Resident Evil (I have a few of these with funky suffixes, I'll have to figure out an order)


* Saint's Row

* Sam & Max

* Seraph (Developed by a university colleague, so I feel I should give it a good go)

* Serious Sam

* Space Hulk

* The Stanley Parable

* Stellaris (Will finish a campaign one day!)

* Tesla Effect

* Tom Clancy (I'll condense Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six here)

* Tomb Raider

* Trine (Finally picked up the third, don't think I've finished any)

* TW: Warhammer

* Watch Dogs

* X


Some of the games I finished this year were so good I'll go back and do them again one day. DLC is still being pumped out for The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4... both of which I could play again without the additions! The last 5 months have been taken up largely by Black Desert Online, and while it's great to have a game I want to play all the time, I wish I could set it aside long enough to play some of the fantastic titles listed above!


When I'm done with the above games (hahaha) the following are on my wishlist:


For the rest of the year, I think I'm probably looking forward to the new Battlefield most of all. If I play and enjoy both Dishonored and Watch Dogs, those sequels will also be high on the list of games to pick up. Other than that, tradition dictates I pick up FIFA17; The new story mode is certainly a break from the norm, I just hope it isn't awful!


Marketplace bots @BDO_News - So, this has been bugging me for a few weeks. I don't have the global chat on, so I expect it happens there too but I've mostly seen it in guild chat and on forums/reddit.


Some items are scarce, so much so that there's a Notice system allowing you to be notified when an item has been registered to the marketplace. Between 15 and 30 minutes later, the item appears to buy (or doesn't because it was cancelled by the seller) and you can pick it up after putting in your security code.


There are literally hundreds of thousands of people playing the game. Why is it so baffling to some people that items that are visibly in demand (due to them being sold out) are wanted by more than just YOU? The moment the item appears on the marketplace, there are going to be other players furiously hammering in the security code too, hoping to get the item before you do.


It's clear to me, as an observer, that if I see someone in guild chat telling us he's going for this super rare item, that it's highly likely there are many other players in other guilds that have the same goal. Heck, if it's worth getting, I wouldn't be surprised if one of us snipes it ourselves! So when someone gets the "Item already sold" message it's really flippin' stupid to blame it on marketplace bots. How is it that you can't comprehend that another player of the same game, online at the same time, has the same goals as you do?


I'm not saying that bots do not exist in BDO, I'd be surprised if they didn't. But it's far, far more likely that for the Marketplace, and that new shiny, you were just a little slower than the other guy. If it makes you feel better, there might have been a hundred other players that were even slower than you. Just stop with the whining and the whingeing, accept that you lost out and I'll wish you the best of luck for next time.

Alkali and GiftCarden are now following The Lounge.
Salamolign wrote

It's been five months since I last posted anything of length here on Anook. I've still been dropping updates on Twitter, which has been serving as a diary of my heavily game-influenced life, so if you haven't yet, do follow me @Salamolign.


Sadly, back in December, one of my best friends passed away. Since then it's been far easier to lose myself in games rather than outwardly project anything that even closely resembles positive productivity. Losing anyone is hard, but being so closely connected to another person who you visited regularly in the real world and was a staple party member in most games you played seems to add another level of sadness. He still follows me on Twitter, he's still my Facebook friend and he's still on my Steam list. He was still in our Skype group until we decided to move over to Discord a month or two back. We're still connected on Spotify and he'll still be my friend in Guild Wars 2, ArcheAge, Guild Wars and all the other MMOs I encouraged him to buy, although he was still in a hopeless love/hate relationship with WoW. Rockstar Social Club, Origin and UPlay will also keep reminding me of how many days it's been since he last logged in, and that's pretty hard. Out in the "real world" we've been to gaming as well as film and TV cons. He was also my gig and festival bud; this Saturday will mark the last of such events that I'd prebooked tickets for. I'm looking forward to it but it'll be tempered with sadness as the other recent events have been. It includes a sword class with Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel of Game of Thrones fame) and meeting the cast of Stargate, a show my friend absolutely adored.


I was hoping to write a little about the games I've been losing myself in recently too. I picked up GTA:Online again but found my character had been assassinated and replaced by a Russian. After working through the issue (which took about a week) with support I had my levels restored to the wrong character and given the sum of the items deleted in cash. It came to around $10million, but my journey had to start anew... my rugged psychotic pastey white killer had become a strong independent black woman. She's extremely classy with her top-of-the-range superyacht but I'm going to miss the cold killer eyes I used to have. It didn't take long before regular play meant regular interactions with hackers, some of which spawned millions of in game cash for everyone on the map and I decided it's not much fun to play with people I don't know.


I've been playing FIFA 16 on and off, won the Premiership and now my team looks completely different from when I took it over. The game then loses its charm a little because it's no longer mirroring the realism of my club... And that was one of my arguments for why FIFA will always beat out unlicensed competitors for me.


At the turn of the year I decided to crack on with XCOM: Enemy Unknown. At the halfway point it solidified my decision to pre-order XCOM2. By the end I was pretty hyped, but as there was a month to wait and little else that interested me I invested in an ARK server (which is still alive - currently open to members of DkR, see the forums!) and sunk a couple hundred more hours into that beast of a game. Prior to that, I picked up a relatively cheap 970, so I could now see the game in all its glory! Pet breeding was a bit of a let down, but swinging dead babies around was disturbingly funny, for a short while. Massive changes have been made since I stopped playing last summer, all for the better. It's quite astounding just how the game came from nowhere to being a super hit and so well received in the space of a year.


I tried to get into Dragon Age, but XCOM2 put a stop to that. Highly recommended, I will certainly return to play it again some day soon! I picked up Grow Home and completed that in one sitting, mechanically excellent but entirely too short. I tried the Division Beta but wasn't blown away, I've been tempted on several occasions to pick it up since then but the negativity at the moment surrounding it is staying my hand. And then Black Desert happened.


Holy cow did that come out of nowhere for me! Korean MMOs do tend to look fabulous, they also tend to come out all the time so it's hard to find the diamonds in the rough but boy did this one blow me away. Since I tried the Beta in the middle of February I've played little else. This entire post was started with the intent that I would cover the first two months of the launch, and the feeling that the hype might finally be settling down so that I can go back to playing other things. The hype has certainly dropped, but I'm only sinking time into this post because the servers are undergoing maintenance right now. There are a bunch of screenshots I've been posting here somewhere of my adventures and whilst the giddy feeling might be going away, I feel there's a pretty solid game there that could keep me occupied for a good long while!


Hopefully I'll be back to contribute more to Anook (I even bought a hoody the other day!) because it allows me to expand on the tweets I post regularly and really get across my opinions without being restricted to 140 characters!

Salamolign shared their post

As a fan of Minecraft since the Alpha days and lover of Telltale's new format that began with TWD, I was excited about a coming together of two of my favourites in Minecraft: Storymode. I was a little skeptical due to the lack of a story behind Minecraft, but it left Telltale with a blank canvas with which to create a masterpiece. Sadly I feel they've taken the easy option and crafted a dull story, forgettable characters, inconsequential player choices and dialogue that might amount to one weak smile per episode. I expect the game to sell well and may even be their biggest selling game to date due to the IP; and that worries me because I don't want to see Telltale leave behind a formula that I enjoy in favor of bigger profits.


This is not a game for grown-ups like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us or Game of Thrones. There isn't an adult storyline, nor are there enough subtle nods to grown-ups for it to be enjoyed, ala Disney. I would struggle to even recommend it to anyone with kids, Minecraft lovers or not because it's just not very entertaining.

Salamolign shared their picture

The brave settlers and Minutemen (and women) that died defending The Castle. Unfortunately one was turned into dust, so he's represented by the ashtray at the end.

Salamolign shared their picture

I spent far too long dressing Cait up. I went with a lightweight option so she can carry more of my junk. Matching shades... so everyone knows we are together...

Salamolign wrote

I don't play a lot of single player games. Well, I play more than most people, but not as many as most gamers. And by gamers, I suppose I mean the "hardcore" gamers... not the ones that seem to have slipped in to our group according to the media, with their mobile and Facebook games. The type that spend so much money on mobile doll-dressing-farm-seeding-house-designing flash based simulators, that KONAMI has given up on real gamers altogether ( ) because, frankly, this new market is easy money.


I own a truckload of single player titles but, as was made evident in my list ( ) a few months ago, I've got so many games I haven't finished. Around the time I made the list, I got sucked (not suckered!) into ARK so I haven't gotten very far through the list... in fact I don't think I've made a dent. I did, however, get caught up on Telltale's Game of Thrones and finish the storymodes for both Battlefield 3 and 4. I also made a start on the very first Fallout but struggled with just how old it felt... I'm fairly sure I'll try it again though. I can't say the same for the early Hitman games and, like with Tomb Raider and XCOM, I think I'll leave the past where it belongs, especially since we have a shiny new generation.


I had to think long and hard about the difficulty levels of a lot of these single player games. Some don't have the option, but others, especially shooters, seem to change the game drastically. I will have to admit that over the past decade, I've played most things on the easiest option, a big part of that is down to playing mainly for the story. BF 3 and 4 were on Hard, but I played all 3 of The Witcher titles on Easy/Normal... but for the Witcher 3 I wish I'd played it on the hardest, just so it lasted longer. I even went back for a ragey, post-bad-ending hardmode speedrun but got stuck trying to find Ciri on that misty island. Unfortunately, when it says "Recommended level 19" it means that 11 just isn't good enough.


I've been lucky enough to have been playing FIFA16 since it launched in the US, despite being in the UK (screw you region specific release dates!) but I may have made a mistake. I played FIFA15 a fair amount on Professional (which I suppose is Normal) and was doing far too well... so I decided to start FIFA16 on World Class (which would be Hard). Despite what non-FIFA players say (to me, all the time. Damnit guys I get it, you hate annual sports titles!) there are differences in the playstyle, the mechanics and the AI. Perhaps it feels REALLY hard because I'm not used to the changes, or because I'm playing with a fresh team that hasn't had a few seasons to develop or moulded into something that suits me to the ground. It's probably both of those things, but it's having an adverse effect on my enjoyment of the game... I think. I'm not losing EVERY time... in fact it's probably around 50/50 and the wins feel SO good. It's just, I like winning. I have a better time when I'm winning and even though, if I keep at it, I'll get better... right now I'm not as enthusiastic to play it as I thought I might be.


If I drop the difficulty I'll feel defeated... and I'll have to start my career(s) over. I don't think I'll do that, I wanted a more realistic set of results for my team. We're not league beaters and we're certainly not likely to go a whole season undefeated (like my last season of FIFA15). It's led me to question the difficulty I play other games at though. Nobody likes dying over and over... this is particularly true if the game wasn't designed to accommodate people playing on a harder difficulty. The gameplay and AI flaws are exposed rapidly when you have to do a section of a level a dozen times in quicktime-esque FPS (I'm looking at you, Battlefield 4).


On the other hand, like with The Witcher 3, there's a decent amount of the game you can hack and slash your way through without feeling threatened if you're not playing at the highest difficulty. But even then, there are glaring flaws in the system because, in short, it's not Dark Souls.


Perhaps, simply, games are designed for Normal mode. Both Hard and Easy add or take away game mechanics and challenges, but are unfortunately not as polished as the game's Normal setting. For FIFA16 normal mode also means normal teams, and not a lower league outfit... The "Normal" teams have the stadiums in the game and photorealistic faces. That's been the case for a few years now, but this time there's an additional difference that isn't merely cosmetic. A large part of the movement of players is FIFA's new "no touch dribbling" which is where you hold a button down and your player moves but doesn't touch the ball. Granted it leads to more freedom and better mobility... but the lower league players don't all have the "skillmoves" or the stats in balance/agility/strength to pull it off.


So once again I'm playing a game in a specific way that doesn't benefit from the polish afforded to the "Normal" way of playing it. If nothing else though, I think I've decided which difficulty I'll be playing that massive list of games on :)

Salamolign uploaded a picture

"These are the end times..."


I've been playing a lot of @survivetheark ARK: Survival Evolved recently and been having a blast. Well over 600 hours clocked up according to Steam, but now I have to face up …


"Abominable beasts ruled backwoods, highways, and former battlefields alike.

In cities and villages, folk were left wondering:

What had happened to the witchers..."


The first Witcher 3 expansion is due to release on the 13th of October with the second set for release in Q1 of 2016.


In my head I constructed a ragey Witcher 3 ending post, but it was never put to paper (e-paper?) because to do so would be to spoil an otherwise fantastic game for someone who has yet to play it. What's startling is how I can go from wanting to play the first in the series back some 7 years ago (but not being able to due to technical issues) to fanboying the heck out of the series and lore in the run-up to, and during the release of The Witcher 3; to feeling a little sick and more than a little angry post-game completion every time I think about it.


As I touched on 3 weeks ago after finishing all the Star Trek TV episodes, when you invest a lot of time into something engrossing, you develop an attachment, and you feel a little lost when it ends. The fact that it ends is one thing, the way it ends is another thing entirely. Having a (or the) main character die isn't always a bad thing. It's sad, certainly, but it draws a line under it. Having them ride off "into the sunset" to either settle down or carry on isn't so bad either... it leaves it open to further development in the future or simply speculation from the audience. I don't think Half-Life's series ending is good, but it does leave it open for a threequel; and I don't feel particularly angry or emotionally attached. It'll come when it comes, or not at all.


But the Witcher 3? Well over a hundred hours were spent solving the world's problems, but it's irrelevant. You could save every villager and improve the lives of every single citizen, killing every monster you find on the way, and settling contracts with each and every contract-holder at such a low profit margin, you'd be better off retiring and becoming a pig-farmer. You could pump your money into every brothel, drink every alehouse dry and solve every problem the game throws at you. None of these things matter. Even the hours you spend fraternising with Triss or Yennifer can become null and void if you make the "wrong" choice on half a dozen instinct driven, seemingly meaningless, deeply embedded conversation responses.




The Walking Dead's first big choice in episode one is "SAVE CARLEY OR DOUG." I don't want to make the choice between two people, but I know I have to. I know that if I save one the other will die. I know it's an important choice. It's also pretty obvious it will affect a good portion of the story (even if it has little relevance on the long term outcome). In The Witcher 3, Ciri is having issues mastering magic. The two choices you get are, “Relax, you don’t have to be good at everything,” and "I know what will make you feel better." What the game does not tell you is that one of these choices will lead to her death and your suicide. The immediate outcomes, for those who don't know or remember are either throwing snowballs at each other or drinking ale. However, you don't know the immediate outcome as a player, or, of course, the eventual one (the first time around, assuming you don't cheat!). You don't know what Geralt will do to make her feel better... and let's face it, in modern society, people go out to get drunk as a way of feeling better far more often than they toss snowballs around.


There are other choices that make more sense with regards to the wellbeing of Ciri in the story. For example, when her friend dies, making time to give him a proper burial is obviously the preferred choice to "Sorry Ciri, there's no time for that." It's not as clear cut as "SAVE CARLEY OR DOUG" but it's easy to see which answer is the better one to go for. The snowball/ale one however, that's one that could easily come down to a flip-of-the-coin response that's likely to have no impact on the game's story; much like 95% of the other conversation options which just branch off, only to rejoin the main conversation arc two sentences later.


The Sorceress' Lodge part, as well as the Elve's lab also royally piss me off. It does NOT make logical sense to smash up the life's work of a friendly, extremely powerful elf, that has saved Ciri's life more times than can be recalled. She needs to chill the f**k out and realise that people have been chasing her power for centuries and, when compared to others, this particular elf isn't all that bad. So no, you will NOT smash up this lab, if you have a problem, talk to him, don't act like a petulant child.


Sigh. So let's go back to the start, where Geralt is looking for Yennifer. That's all he really wants, to find his friend and ex-lover. He's pretty much assuming Ciri is dead, heck, he probably doesn't even think about her... afterall he only looked after her for a few years. It's not his daughter and it's not his life's goal or sole purpose. He later begrudgingly looks for Ciri with the promise of a reward.


Now, compare this with the "shitty" ending. Ciri doesn't come back from the portal... assumed dead. Geralt (for me) had been planning a life with Triss beforehand. But now, since Ciri is gone, Geralt is "depressed" despite not really having emotions. The romance (with Triss) and any plans made are irrelevant because Ciri didn't come back, it's like it just gets deleted from his memory. So Geralt goes on to sit in a house, lay his sword down, and wait for the incoming monsters to eat him. And that's how it ends. On so many levels this just does not make sense. So much of the story from the books through the games wove together to make a fantastic story... then it just falls to bits at the end.


The developers say that Geralt has to inspire and give independence to Ciri. To prepare her for her task and to be a good father figure. Right, well if I've been a shitty father figure and clearly haven't been deemed to care enough about Ciri, why can't I forget about her and go shack up with the redhead? I suppose my conclusion is that if that happened, I'd not really care about losing Ciri, and I'd be pretty happy that after everything I went through I have a sexy Ms Merrigold to warm my bed at night.


And they'd probably be right.

First Witcher 3 expansion gets a release date
The Witcher 3 expansion Heart of Stone will be released 13th October, CD Projekt Red has announced. This is …
Salamolign wrote

When you're tired and want to play a game to wake up rather than make you sleepier, what do you play? Help me out? Grinding in any MMO was always best done when you're awake and alert. The repetitive nature never helped snap me out of a sleepy slumber. Music on top of the grind probably did help, but I've tried to avoid external music lately. I like dialogue and the in game music, it's just not often very lively... Even voiceover isn't often very excitable and a lot of game atmospheres are "dreamy" by nature. I'm not looking at grinding in an MMO because I'm not playing one at the moment and I couldn't possibly grind in ARK without sound, it's far too dangerous!