OnLive Privacy Policy Issues

I wanted to take another look at OnLive today – just launching up the client for now. It prompted me to accept new usage and privacy policies. Reading the privacy policy I decided to definitely not use OnLive and to remove my account.

Choosing to do so is easy for me as I did not invest any money into it gladly. No idea how that would have worked out, because they do not seem to provide an option to use bought products under the then used policies as would be required by law.

Before stating how collected information is or can be used or passed on by them they extensively list different types of information they collect. Yet, they fail to differentiate between any types of data when writing about how they may be used.

III. HOW WE USE YOUR INFORMATION

When you provide us with your Personal Information, we and/or authorized third parties may use such information for a number of purposes identified below.

Notice we are talking not only about aggregated, anonymized or anonymous data, we are talking about personal information.

Continue reading

Removing Accounts in the Free-to-Play Model

In todays time of massive hard disk space I don’t get how as a Free to Play publisher you set an inactivity limit to accounts and delete them upon hitting it.

id Software does that in Quake Live. After my last mail landed in a spam filter my account was finally removed. I may have played again, but now that my account has been removed, I very probably will not. I’m not sure what their thought behind this is. Getting people to log in and play again so the account does not expire? On me it worked twice in the past.

Or maybe getting people who don’t pay out? Well, that worked as well in the end. But they also lost an occasional (/rare) player and any chance of him converting to a customer.

Mafia 2 – console port, issues, no update or fix since release

Wow … Over two years after release, Mafia 2 is still totally buggy.

After launching the game, without ever having played it, it already showed 18% game completion in the game statistics. When choosing story mode and the first option “continue story” the game crashed. Choosing new game worked though. After playing the first chapter, a bit into the second graphical glitches began to appear. A big white smoky texture, flickering across the screen.

The game itself smells a bit of console port as well. The atmosphere at the beginning of chapter 2 was great. But playing the game, I felt a bit limited/restricted (cover system, keyboard layout, scripted stuff …). And how come the audio is so different in tone and place from rendered cutscenes to in-game?

So, over two years after release, this console port has not been polished at all. In fact, it’s still version 1.0 if I can believe the readme that opened on first launch.

Natural Selection 2

I pre-purchased Natural Selection 2 along with Overgrowth as a bundle quite a while back, and played it in the beta. Now, after release I played it again. It has come a long way, looks beautiful and is a lot of fun.

Very interesting and unique.
The gameplay has much variance, making each game an interesting development.
The provided training videos (tutorials/explanations about the game and game mechanics) are awesome! The advanced ones provide great detail about the games mechanics, which I miss in so many other games where you don’t exactly know how you have to control the game for maximum efficiency.

The split of commander strategy and players first person action is one of this games selling points, but obviously the single commander is a single point of failure. I can’t oversee how much influence this has in practice, but if your team does not have a commander and the other does, or your team has a way worse one than the other, this will certainly be an issue. Non-theless you can still have fun even in those cases, and in the end, the other elements of gameplay and general game concepts are very polished and seem to work out very well. Hence, it’s only a minor issue.

Valve and the TF2 and Dota 2 Halloween Events – Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation

In their tradition of Halloween events in Team Fortress 2 (this year as well),
Valve implemented a Halloween event in Dota 2 as well.

I think the end-result is a lot better in Dota 2 than in TF2 this year. I’m not talking about the technical or story-line implementation, which are both great, but that in TF2 two event Achievements are featured, and the Halloween boss that has to be killed for them has to be killed cooperatively with both opposing teams. The boss though, and his/the event-game-mechanics strongly encourage you to continue killing enemies / playing against enemies. An adequate coorperation does not occur – at least not in such a high level that would be necessary to kill the boss in the two minutes given.
Again, also out of my own take on the event and my experience with it, I come back to intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation in video-games.
The Achievements encourage extrinsic motivation; the fixed set goal you have to work for, where you rather than enjoying the experience itself you enjoy overcoming the goal. As the boss opens a portal at the end, and killing him is an objective you can strive for, this is a second aspect to the extrinsic motivation – I also believe you get an item at the end.
In the end though, you never reach the goal and it becomes a kind of frustrating experience. You have to be careful and aware to still enjoy the event at all, and not constantly rage at all the players not focusing on the boss 100 % (even then he is not easy to beat). It seems killing him just won’t happen on normal public servers.

From what I saw of the Dota 2 event (checked out a video) it is much more appealing. In the first phase, it introduces an adapted ctf-style gameplay where you play against the enemy team. In phase two, the boss appears but is not ready to be taken on yet. In phase three, your and the enemy team unite, resulting in no player-damage to one another, and focusing on the – still hard to beat – boss.
I feel like the Dota 2 has the much more enjoyable event – even though I did not play it.

Smite impressions

I have been playing a lot of Smite recently. It’s a third person MOBA game bringing a whole new perspective and gameplay to MOBA. Vision, looking around and positioning becomes even more important. I felt it’s a lot more action-packed than the classical MOBAs (LoL), allowing for early ganks and kills, but also the early game not taking too long until the game gets a lot more dynamic, with people being able to roam across lanes, trying to disturb and initiate team-engagements.

You play as a god – gods are available from very different mythologies and religions. The game is fair and seemingly well balanced.

Smite is still in beta, but keys are available without much hassle – be it from one of the streamers or viewers on a Smite live-stream, or the subreddit /r/sharesmite, or somewhere else. It will be free to play, and god-unlocks for the style you want to play are not really a problem – it’s doable after an acceptable timespan of playtime. The godpack with the first 30 gods (not all announced yet) is 30 USD / 24 €, so not that expensive at all.

Awesomenauts impressions

Awesomenauts is awesome. It’s a 2d side-scrolling MOBA game. Its graphics style is a colorful comic style, its music and audio fits the happy and crazy, fun style perfectly. Its a good port to PC. Characters are and play very differently, providing great variation and options.

I had a ton of fun with my Froggy, for quite some time! I Recommend!

Guild Wars 2 impressions

I didn’t get around to writing about any of these three games Guild Wars 2, Awesomenauts and Smite, which I can absolutely recommend. So finally, here I go. Starting with Guild Wars 2 in this post. The others to follow quite soon.

Heavily anticipated by a lot of people, MMORPG and role-playing, and Guild Wars 1 gamers as well as others, glancing onto this new kind of MMORPG – changing several aspects of gameplay.

 

In the end, it became a great and very dynamic MMORPG, with no monthly fee, a big world and a lot of options in choosing your preferred play-style. You will not (absolutely) need to play a certain and specific way, or play in every way possible. Choose between the different classes and weapons resulting in different play-styles. Choose from the races to get different starting areas and story-beginnings. Play your own story, alone or with others, or simply roam around the world and participate in whatever NPCs or other players ask you to – local tasks, occasional events. If you don’t like fighting get a profession and construct or cook stuff and play the natives games.

Of course all these things have limits and not everything is new. Events lead to other events but will eventually cycle back in the event-chain. Others have had stuff like a persistent world for everyone, professions and some games experimented with dynamic events.

What Guild Wars 2 does differently is that it’s very fair, makes gameplay/combat easy to access but still skill-full through action-orientation and meaningful positioning and actions (dodging becomes more and more important for example). And it does this while encouraging team-play and participation very much! Continue reading

Changing Sacrifice Resolution to Widescreen and Native Resolution

Sacrifice, the good old game, the lovely abstract and crazy third-person magician strategy game has the following issue on modern systems: The options menu does not allow you to set it to use modern widescreen resolutions.

There is however a way to make it use widescreen and native resolutions non-the-less. After someone asked me on GoG via PM again, where I posted on the forums a bit of information in the (distant) past, I improved my post to be a well documented guide. But as the GoG forum may not be the best for that, here goes, with some better formatting and images, my guide:

Sacrifice saves its settings in the windows registry. Thus, you can set your resolution manually in the registry, including the resolution. Continue reading

Funding Videogames – Project Giana, The Other Brothers and Castle Story

I started backing via Kickstarter
Here’s my three recent picks:

Project Giana looks especially great and polished (19 days to go)
kickstarter.com/projects/project-giana/project-giana
According to Black Forest Games, previously known as Spellbound Entertainment, the core technology and mechanics are done, what they are still missing is finishing up and adding some more content. Unsatisfied with publishers offerings they decided to Kickstart their Game instead of waiting for some funds to be able to finish it. Check out the introduction video, looks great. A fast-paced platformer, visually dynamic and interesting/beautiful.
For 10 USD you already get the full game. The (first) following pledges include Soundtrack and artbook.

The Other Brothers (17 days to go)
kickstarter.com/projects/theotherbrothers/the-other-brothers
An 8-bit style platformer. Looks very “cute” and interesting. Targetted at playtime of only one hour though. (The description talks about it being episodic.)
For 15 USD you get the full game.

Castle Story (already funded, but still running)
kickstarter.com/projects/902505202/castle-story
A strategy game where you plan out the structures you let your minions build yourself. Explore the magic environment on the floating island you are on, and defend yourself against monsters.
For 15 USD you get the full game.