Lets talk about Pokemon Go

We had a couple of articles about Pokemon Go when it first came out. Mostly positive. Now that its been a year what the real consensus on the game? I still know a few people who easily put £40 into the game a month, I think these people are called whales [thinking-smily-emoji.com].

Unfortunately I lost my interest in the game about 2 months after launch, which is to be somewhat expected of a mobile game. My reason fell more around the fact the game was just broken, instead of being boring.

I find the game to be broken even now, 1 year after launch. The GPS warning is mostly my issue, also the fact that when i do turn it on nothing shows up. I do live in quite a rural area, my road has some 50 people and we are mostly out populated by cows. Should this stop me from playing your game – well no.

Its easy to list off what Niantic need to do in order to fix the game, everyone and their mum has had an opinion on what the game needs to do. If you go to any game forum you will find 10 posts on what a game needs to do and how some unemployed 16 year old can make a game better than you. All i really want is the game to work.

Niantic know what to do but give no fucks; since they are milking this cash cow dry….

Im not sure what Niantic are doing, so their failure so far must boil down to two things: Niantic know what to do but give no fucks; since they are milking this cash cow dry, or they really have no idea what they are doing and have the best contract pitch team in the industry.

Im not even going to talk about the massive failure they managed to pull off at the 1st year anniversary. Another fuck up which could have been avoided by just hiring people who know how to handle large scale event/meet ups. I have never run a company but if i had figures in front of me that said 20 thousand people where going to attend an event i planed – i would probably get a specialist in to handle it.

Every company has issues and a rocky 2-3 months can be somewhat forgiven. Unfortunately i’m confident that if we look back at the game in another years time this article will still be relevant.

 

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Pokemon Go – A Casual Player’s Reaction

If you haven’t heard of this small mobile game that has taken over the world by now I’m pretty sure you’re either living in a cave, or you cut yourself off from all popular culture deliberately as you find yourself above such plebeian pleasures – either of which would make it very unlikely for you to be reading this very blog (although with the second one I still find it hard to believe you wouldn’t have even *heard* of it), so let’s forgo the basic description and get right down to it.

Pokemon Go is a phenomenal success – never in their wildest dreams did Nintendo predict it becoming as popular as it has done. Children run around with their parents, adults who grew up with the original Red and Blue run around with mixed feelings of excitement and nostalgia, hardcore gamers mingling with us casuals and even those who don’t generally play anything more complicated than Candy Crush – all running to parks and public venues to battle gyms/collect items and catch Pokemon.

I think one of the things I have loved about this game is that you see people playing it *everywhere*. Last night the future-husband and I were in the car driving to where we believed a Bulbasaur spawn nest was located, and not only did we see kids running around looking for it, we saw people our own age (and older) in their cars with passengers bathed in the electronic glow of multiple phones. I then went on Facebook and my friend had posted that she had spent her date night with her husband on the hunt for elusive ‘mons. It’s EVERYWHERE.

People have posted time and again how important this game has been in helping people connect, and although I could happily join in I realise I would just be repeating things better said elsewhere, so I will try to limit the gushing. What I will say is something that the FH (see I’m abbreviating it now) said to me when we started playing this together:

“I love that I’m part of something mainstream again.”

We geeks do love and embrace our identity, but sometimes I think we forget how fun it is to be able to engage with something we enjoy with literally anyone. The FH has managed to go out and started to recognise familiar faces on Poke-Hunts, and then start up conversations about what they have caught and if anything good is nearby. I don’t think he realises it, but the quote I shared (probably paraphrased by my terribly memory) is something he has started to regularly say when we talk about the game, or when we’re out together hunting (HA! Never thought there would be an innocent and environmentally way to talk about hunting did you?!), so I know how much he’s enjoying that feeling.

pokemon go loading screen

I will say this though – the game isn’t perfect. Because they didn’t predict the kind of global reaction this game has received, the servers are nowhere near stable and glitch all the goddamn time. And don’t even get me started on my issue with the sensitivity of throwing a bloody pokeball (my depth perception with this isn’t the best either, so I piss through pokeballs which irritates me no end). My last bugbear is the tracking, which is broken to all hell. In fact it is so bad I’m pretty sure that’s why Pokevision has become so popular (although I don’t really believe that, people will do anything to get a legendary).

But I forgive all of these. If the game kicks you out, you just wait and try to get back in when you can. Pokevision is a good alternative to tracking whilst its still broken, and has resorted in some pretty spectacular sights (the FH went out to catch a Snorlax at a school nearby, he arrived at the same time as a bunch of cars, and then proceeded to watch a stream of people break into school grounds and run across to catch this one guy. I would like to point out at this time he did not join in, instead he came back to tell me about it)

The positives definitely outweigh the bugs that come with Nintendo quickly learning how to wrestle this epic beast they have created. They have persuaded people to run around outside, and socialise in groups they wouldn’t otherwise. All whilst playing the most hated of gaming platforms – the free-to-play mobile phone game. I tip my hat to them all.

It also means I can fulfill my dream to become the Joey Rattata of Psyducks. Top percentage of Psyducks here I come!

Marina's_Psyduck

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Hearthstone: C’Thun all up in your face

Recently I plunged myself back into the ever growing world of Hearthstone. The last time I played was when naxxramas was box fresh. With the release of Old Gods I thought it might be time to have a look and see whats changed. With the release you receive 3 Old God packs which give you a sneak peak of all the new Cthulhu’ey cards available, and a little boost into an otherwise daunting game.

One thing I noticed is that deck have now separated out into types with the Old God cards being the newest, followed by the last major event; Grand Tournament and finally the classic cards. Having 600 gold kicking about in my stash I bought an addition 2 of each type to try and expand my classic collection.

Armed with my new cards I stepped forth into the world of competitive online card gaming and lost.. over and over again. Then I remembered why I stopped playing Heathstone, with my inability to handle failure thought i would write this post highlighting what not to do.

I expected to loose, I expected to loose allot; but so far out of the 50 games I’ve played I have won maybe 2 games. This is not looking good. I would like to blame my loses on being out of the game too long or purely being out gunned and not investing enough in the game. After all Hearthstone boarders on the pay-to-win side of F2P.

After a long string of defeats I noticed a new game type floating around: Standard. Standard gives scrubs like me the option to jump in with out being dominated by hardcore players. Standard, only allows classic cards and any card released over the last 2 years letting you jump into the game with a tiny amount of hope that you wont get bulldozed in a 30 hit point combo explosion.

awaken-an-ancient-evil

I put together a modern’ish card deck learning towards utilizing C’thun. Some cards allow you to boost this basic 6/6 card so that when it finally comes into your deck you can place it and “bring the noise” essentially obliterating your opponents board. This event occurs because of C’thun battle-cry; where it deals damage equal to its attack distributed randomly across your enemies minions and hero. A few things stand in your way of happy damage explosion time.

You need to boost C’Thun to make him worth the 10 mana crystal investment. This can be done by using minion cards which boost C’Thun when they are played. Certain scenarios apply to these minion cards which increase C’Thun stats, one of the cards adds 1/1 to him when its healed, another turns him into a tank when the card is played and some just boost him by 1/1 when they are played. If you manage to role none of these cards early enough you could be sitting on a week little Cthulhu… I mean C’Thun.

Its highly possible that you could die before you even get to 10 mana crystal or you could die waiting for him to show up. Hearthstone players have a fetish for the quick game, a swift in and out – get the job done kind of play. To counter this you need a deck which aims to keep you alive for long enough to let you C’Thun explode C’Thun’ness all over your enemies.

Priest seems to work well for me. I have a few minions that do well to boost C’Thun if they are healer (Hooded Acolyte) and few other minion cards which help to keep everyone alive through group heals. Not to mention a few tanks which I boost with double life to slow down the hate. Currently I’am lasting right up to 10 mana crystal and normally C’Thun is sitting pretty on 10/10, which means if he isn’t in my hand I can use Ancient Harbinger to place any 10/10 minion into my hand.

This change in game type and a shift in play style has pushed my winning streak up from, really bad to – it’s ok. I am also enjoying the game more in this mode, Heathstone has also evened out slightly when it comes to new players vs old players. Lately I have come across a few more players who have the basic deck. Im sure this will fizzle out as people slowly drop out of the game after the initial hype but i’m enjoying the new mix of casual/noobs and veterans. The difficulty will also start to scale in this category as more and more players get their hands on the new cards, but this time I can see myself playing Hearthstone for longer than a week.

I might also actually pay for a pack of cards ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Fallout over Game’s farce with the Pipboy Release

Today is the big release day for Fallout 4. Months ago I made a quick post about how my fiancé and I, like many of our friends, had pre-ordered the Pip Boy edition, exclusively sold in the UK by Game.

What we didn’t realise was that we would be entering essentially a Lucky Dip as to whether or not we would get it, and at the price we expected.

Straight away I feel like I should point out that luckily we have received our confirmation email that our copy will be delivered this afternoon, so a tiny part of me feels a little unqualified to comment on this farce that is Game’s exclusive. However, this morning I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine who had gone so far as to book a week’s holiday in order to immerse herself and enjoy the game she pre-ordered 5 months ago. She was charged by Game not for 1, but 2 copies of the game (despite not ordering that many), and today she was heartbroken to find out that despite this, and despite so many phonecalls to their ‘customer service’, she would not be receiving a copy of her game on time, and possibly not at all due to their incompetence at recording her address.

Unsurprisingly she’s pissed, and I would be too if I were in her position. And infuriatingly she isn’t alone. If you search the hashtag #pipboyedition on Twitter you’ll find complaints from upset gamers wondering why their orders got cancelled. Accusations of trickery, incompetence, downright theft – and yet amongst all of this you also see tweets and pictures of Game selling copies of the sold out Pipboy edition in store as part of the midnight release. No wonder #BoycottGameUk is also on Twitter.

Rubbing salt in the wound
Rubbing salt in the wound

So is this Game’s first attempt at a massive UK exclusive and it just happens to have gone wrong? Sadly no – its not even as if they have a good history of these kind of releases and this is just the first one to fail this year. Just a few months ago there was the colossal cock-up with people that pre-ordered copies of Mario Maker getting double-charged. Further back in 2012 with the release of ME 3, there was the blunder of Game not sorting out their stock ready for the release day – resulting in them being unable to fulfil orders that were made months in advance (Reference: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-29-game-not-stocking-mass-effect-3-or-ea-games-past-ssx)

Game Rage

So what can people do if they’ve been shafted? Going back to the story of my friend, she was gutted to realise she wouldn’t be receiving her game. She had tried getting into contact with them to sort things out but felt like she was going nowhere. I suggested she contacted the ombudsman to get it resolved, and she had never heard about them so I felt like it was something I should share with you guys.

So what is an ombudsman? Here is the definition taken from Ombudsman Services:

“Ombudsman Services is here to give independent and impartial decisions on complaints. Our service is free for consumers to use. We operate under appropriate legislation and with the approval of regulatory authorities and trade bodies. We are not a watchdog or a regulator – our job is to resolve complaints, not punish the companies we resolve complaints about. We are independent so we do not take sides.” 

Essentially – if you have made a complaint to the company and you are not happy with their attempt to resolve it, the ombudsman is there to provide an impartial ruling for both sides. They investigate your case and find out whether or not you are due additional compensation, or if there is anything that can be done to resolve your problem another way.

Below is the link for the Consumer Ombudsman. I highly recommend contacting them if you have been on the receiving end of this epic screw-up, and feel like Game are not taking your complaint seriously. You will need to make a formal complaint to Game first, so I suggest writing a letter and making sure you keep copies of any communications you send/receive.

http://www.consumer-ombudsman.org/

People are also setting up petitions to stop Game getting exclusives on game content, creating essentially a monopoly. If you feel strongly about this I recommend finding and signing one of these petitions. Search on places like change.org. If you want to voice your frustrations but don’t wish to sign petitions, use social media! Hashtags such as the ones I’ve already mentioned are in full use – join in with your experiences!

Let us stop retailers having sole exclusives on major game releases, because it’s becoming clear that they are just not up to the job.

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What’s New Kickstarter??????

It’s that time again! Here is another installment in the “WNK” series (and yes, I can see what the initials sound like…). In this series I browse Kickstarter on a monthly basis and pull out a couple of games (mainly board games) that really catch my eye.

I seem to have picked up a theme of family-oriented games this month. Completely by accident I assure you, but I’ve decided to run with it.

So lets see what we have for family-friendly October!

The Great Dinosaur Rush Board Game

Great Dinosaur Rush

Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/13415575/the-great-dinosaur-rush-board-game

Game by APE Gamer
$16,480 pledged of $16,000 goal
41 Days to go (24/11/2015)

This looks to be quite the nifty little game. Playing as 19th Century Palaeontologists, the aim of the game to is dig up and assemble dinosaur skeletons to sell to museums to gain points.  I like the interesting twist that the bones are merely sticks that you can assemble however you want, gaining extra points if you follow the design cards. Every player gets a pretty cool looking screen to hide their creations until the reveal at the end of the round. The artwork for this game is really well done, and I think suits the game’s overall look incredibly well.

dinosaur sticks

Building dinosaurs might be the main way to gain points in this game, but players also have the opportunity to gain by collecting “Notoriety tokens” each round. These are a gamble on the player’s part, as the points on the cards go towards your score, but if you have the highest notoriety score they actually detract from your score – so the objective is to play dirty…but not too dirty. I like that this game encourages a little sneaky tactics and gambling to try and gain points – sometimes you have to take risks in order to make discoveries!

The tiers are pretty reasonable, with the bonus of a little discount if you’ve backed their previous campaign which I do like. It’s a way of rewarding loyal fans, whilst at the same time enticing people to look at other campaigns they have running (if any) to try and see if there are any bonuses elsewhere.

I really like how this game can let you get a little creative, and I like how they show that on the Kickstarter page by showing pictures of ‘dinosaurs’ they liked from people playing at Gen Con and play tests.  Definitely one to pick up if you have children interested in palaeontology, or even if you just like making up dinosaurs yourself.

Publish or Perish – Science Family Game!

publish or perish

Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rombogames/publish-or-perish-0?ref=category_popular

Game by Rombo Games
$4,059 pledged of $20,000 goal
27 Days to go (09/11/2015)

This little science game encourages children to conduct “experiments” by combining quark and lepton particle cards and noting down the results. This can then be compared to the other experiments the team has performed, to deduct the outcome. After that they can publish their discoveries to score points and reach the ultimate goal of winning the Nobel Prize.

There are 2 things I really love about this game :

  1. This game teaches the scientific method in a way that is both interesting and fun and yet at the same time they are learning about sub atomic particles. The part of me that is still sad at failing miserably at A Level Chemistry loves this, I only wish I had something like this when I was younger
  2. This board game uses a mobile app to play animations and sounds from the cards, showing the results of the experiments and publications. How has someone not already thought of integrating board games with mobile technology in this way? I think it’s really clever, and helps keep (particularly younger) children engaged. It’s a brilliant move in my opinion.

Augmented Reality in Action!

I think the artwork is cute, cartoony and very fitting for the demographic it’s aiming towards. I haven’t seen an educational game that makes this amount of effort to engage and be fun for a while, and I really hope that it takes off.

Wolf & Hound

wolf and hound

Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/636070410/wolf-and-hound?ref=category_popular

Game by Ninja Star Games
$3,073 pledged of $10,000 goal
23 Days to go (06/11/2015)

The first thing that caught my eye with this game was the aesthetic. This is a very cute, quite ‘fluffy’ game. The artwork has a lot of soft edges, and the board layout with the little pens and the track which moves the wolf and hound cards around the players is incredibly charming.

wolf and hound board

The rules are pretty simple and quick to learn; you play in pairs as shepherds looking after a little pen of sheep each. Wolves scare your sheep into the dark forest, but hounds bring them back to you. The idea is to strategically move the wolf and hound cards around the track in the centre of the board to minimize the amount of sheep you lose, whilst at the same time knocking out the opposing team. The game ends when 1 player loses all of their sheep. There are a number of cards which can effect the game, and you have to play your cards to save both you and your partner. This means that whilst it’s pretty straightforward to learn, the tactics involved will keep players of any age engaged and entertained.

The Kickstarter page includes video playthroughs which I think really help put across the simplicity of the game whilst at the same time demonstrating the complex strategy that can be employed. One thing the Kickstarter page has that I really like is reviews from parents and children alike – playing to their demographic and showing the mixed age range this game can appeal to is a very clever move.

The backing tiers are incredibly reasonable – $24 gets you a copy of the game which they plan to retail at $37. This shows backers that their support and money is appreciated and is actually worth something, which is something I have found lacking in a lot of campaigns recently. Assuming someone is going to drop $50 to get a copy of a game that they haven’t seen physically and doesn’t even fully exist in some cases is incredibly arrogant in my opinion, and always puts me off from donating.

Overall I think this game is very charming – simplistic, encourages team play and cute aesthetics. A definite thumbs up from me.

Go look at these games that I’ve suggested. In fact – if you do, make sure to comment below letting me know whether they managed to convince you to go post them some money.

If you spot anything you want me to look into, be sure to let us know in the comments!

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