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Star Citizen Black Hole

Star Citizen – One game to avoid or one to embrace?

…and will Star Citizen ever be delivered?

Ah. Star Citizen.
I avoided posting anything about Star Citizen on my blog for years now.

I’m an original backer since when it first was announced way back in 2012.

I wanted to distance myself from the game before posting on my blog since Star Citizen is (still) in development.
Thoughts about the game’s development tend to be polarized and I did not want my fan enthusiasm to compromise my perception of the game.

I used to stream Star Citizen all the time on Twitch (you will make me smile if you go follow my channel right now!).

Maybe now’s the time to clarify some misconceptions and point some concerns regarding Chris Robert’s massively crowdfunded project.

I won’t hide it.

I am biased in favor of Star Citizen.
The skepticism of some people is understandable, and the wait isn’t for everyone. -Are you one of these people?

Hopefully, you’ll find out after reading this article.

I will try to analyze some of the frustrations, doubts, and expectations that the fans and the haters are experiencing or discussing – hopefully enlightening newcomers to the game.

The aim of this article is to clarify and avoid buyer regrets.

Should you avoid Star Citizen?

A little bit of context first.

What is Star Citizen?

Star Citizen Cockpit

Star Citizen is hard to define, but let’s start by saying that it is one gigantic sandbox for many different types of emergent gameplay. Composed of two parts, it will feature a single-player campaign (Squadron 42) and an online Persistent Universe (MMOG-like).

They create the universe, you make the rules.

As with most 4X space games, FREEDOM is the keyword for the universe. Star Citizen allows you to become a space farmer, a miner, a bounty hunter, an explorer, a smuggler, a racer, a law enforcer and anything in-between.

The Star Citizen team is looking to develop a sandbox universe that provides a fertile ground for emergent gameplay. They are creating the tools for you to become whatever you want to be.
As an example, for a while, I had fancy a ship called Constellation Phoenix, which I planned to rent out to factions interested in using it for important meetings. During their stay, I would provide them with drinks, entertainment, and security.

I eventually traded the Connie for the Endeavour – a sprawling modular ship that will allow me to cultivate plants and make drugs on the same ship (legal …or otherwise) – it even stars a hangar to allow willing traders to dock with my ship!

The game will feature unprecedented sci-fi realism and a ton of complex missions and mini-games that will require learning and skill to master.

Nothing is dull or simple in Star Citizen.

Star Citizen FPS Mining

As an example, mining requires foreplanning and skill – unlike most space games, you actually have to learn how to mine and be very careful when doing it in order to avoid damage to your ship or even loss of life.
Selling your minerals won’t be linear either. Prices fluctuate according to supply and demand in different parts of the Universe, influenced by real-time player and NPC interaction. This was also analyzed in my other post that discusses economics.

This sandbox gameplay leads to many venues of gameplay exploration. This freedom to do whatever you want is the core focus of Star Citizen.

I also expect this game to become a major social hub for me and my friends.

COMPLAINT #1 – The game has no objective.

Objective – Achieve fun (0/100)

There’s no denying it. It’s true.
Is that REALLY a problem though?

Just like Grand Theft Auto online, or Red Dead Redemption 2 online. Star Citizen’s Persistent Universe won’t hold your hand or set you on a campaign path. You get to choose what to do, where to go, what to see and who to meet.

If you really think you need guidance, then why not set YOUR OWN goals?
Why not set a personal goal to explore every single system?
…or instead to amass wealth and spend it all on a luxury liner like the 890 Jump?

890 Jump
890 Jump

The ghost cruise ship of enjoyment

A long time ago, I used to play a game that had very much the same essence of Star CitizenFreelancer, a game by the same head developer (Chris Roberts) that I mentioned in my previous post.
When playing Freelancer online, you would find yourself cruising the star lanes for long periods of time on your way to make a trade.
One day I was crossing a remote part of the game’s universe when I spotted a massive player ship that was constantly communicating in system chat. Oblivious to my presence, this was his message to his own imaginary crew of tourists:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have now arrived at the Tau-31 system. To our left, you will be able to spot the beautiful semi-desertic landscape of Planet Harris, one of the first terraforming efforts by Planetform, Inc.
Please return to your seats.
We will dock at the Holman Outpost in 5 minutes.”

To think that this player was investing his time roleplaying as a tourist cruise ship really blew my mind. That route was probably not even profitable – but he didn’t care – because having fun was his objective. And whatever he was doing was fun for him.

Oh, by the way, there’s no “endgame” in Star Citizen either. Sandbox.

If you can’t understand the concept of setting your own goals, then please stop reading now. This is NOT the game for you – Abandon ship!

COMPLAINT #2 – The game is pay-to-win.

As I discussed in one of my previous Youtube videos, the concept of Pay-to-Win is that you get an edge in a competitive environment by injecting real money into the game.
Whoever pays the most has the most chances of “winning“.

Star Citizen Pay to Win Youtube Video

Although it is true that you are able, through various means, to buy in-game credits or ships with real money, the real question is WHY would you do it when the game has no end-goal…

Star Citizen is not about genital length comparisons. There’s no point in spending money in this game except for two very honorable reasons:

  1. To support the game development process if you believe in it
  2. To unlock new gameplay layers without having to grind to get there

However, if grinding is made fun (which seems like it will be with so many different things to do), you will actually be LOSING content by skipping gameplay aspects that you would otherwise have to explore and experience to achieve your final objective.

That sense of progression

This is exactly the reason why I’ve considered giving away all my ships – so I could start with the smallest, cheapest one ever and see my own game story grow from there.

If you believe SC is still pay-to-win then embrace it this way – or Abandon ship!

Instead, think of the guy cruising his tourists for fun.
-Does it really matter how he bought his ship?
-How does his enjoyment affect you?
-What are his goals?

Star Citizen Cockpit

COMPLAINT #3 – The game is too expensive!

You’ll often see news titles like “Player X has spent over 15.000$ to play Star Citizen“, or “Star Citizen’s new ship pack costs an absurd amount of money

Today, the cheapest game package costs 50$.

A few years ago you could buy one for 26$…

Sure, there are ships that cost over 400$ and there are ship packages which include a ton of ships (which are actually at a bargain price when you consider each ship’s individual price). But those ships and packages are NOT intended for just one person or a newcomer. They require several people to play.

Think of the Banu Merchantman which has a crew capacity for 8 people and costs 430$. Divide 430$ by 8 people and you get the price of the cheapest game package. Go gather your friends and buy one!

Banu Merchantman

These massive ships are NOT intended for solo play.

People who buy large ships now are simply trying to support the game’s development.

Also: every ship will be available to purchase with in-game money.
GTA V does this well. It gives people a reason to try to make in-game money. Something to strive for. An objective.

COMPLAINT #4 – The game will never be finished

Star Citizen has been in development for 8 years now.
The same amount of time as the sci-fi single-player game Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt Red studios – which is expected to be delivered in 2020.

However, unlike Cyberpunk, Star Citizen is nowhere near completion.
At the same time, and unlike Cyberpunk, it shares its progress with the community regularly, instead of working behind the scenes and ultimately presenting a finished game. The complexity of developing each game is also radically different.

Some claim that the game will never be finished because of the feature-creep-Cthulhu. Others say their plan is actually to never even deliver a finished game. Even more skeptic ones say that Chris Roberts has run away with the crowdfunded money to a tropical island in the Pacific.

Feature Creep

Star Citizen Drake Dragonfly
Drake Dragonfly – hover bike

If you’re one of the investors (a.k.a. players) who feels frustrated by the way that they seem to keep adding new features and delaying the final delivery – then consider accepting it as a requirement or, instead, by blaming it on the idealistic dreams of the community.

A couple of years into development Chris Roberts suggested he could deliver a simplified game in two or three years.
One day a poll showed up on the Star Citizen website. The developer wanted to figure out whether the community would prefer to see a simplified version of Star Citizen within their initially planned timeframe or instead to deliver a more in-depth experience, one which would require a longer development stage.

As I somewhat expected, the community overwhelmingly (I believe almost 70%) asked for the later without knowing exactly what the real timeframe would be.

This meant that Chris Roberts could freely deliver his dream game. One he had been preparing for most of his career as a film director and game developer (Wing Commander, Privateer, Freelancer). Now he had big plans for Star Citizen and hiring the feature expansionist Tony Zuroveck (Ultima series) would only reinforce his interest in developing very in-depth and detailed game mechanics.

Innovation and delay

Even though many of these features or minigames are a gameplay delight, they take time to develop. A very long time for some. They also exponentially increase the number of bugs to tackle and problems to solve.

One of these features is the planetary tech they’ve developed. To render such massive planets and avoid loading screens sure was impressive – but it was also one of the reasons why the so-difficult 64-bit precision had to be accomplished in the engine.

Ships, in order to support the newly added features or concepts also have to be redesigned from scratch, like the Cutlass Red which serves as an ambulance and integrates with the health system, or the Carrack for the exploratory aspects of the game.

As a result, yes, feature creep is real and a real concern. It does divide the community between those who just want to play the game as is but in a more polished state and those who instead want the game to become better, with more content, features, and professions to explore.

star citizen medical

Star Citizen will never be released!

We should consider that the initial team for Star Citizen was rather small (50 employees) and the company had to slowly grow. Now they employ approximately 500 people in 5 studios across the world. This meant that more people had to be introduced, and teams still had to learn to work together on core aspects of the game, which ultimately lead to a slow start.

To support the growing number of employees, the initial record sales of the game wouldn’t suffice.

Looking at their latest financial report, one would quickly realize that what’s keeping this game in active development aren’t the initial sales anymore, but rather the on-going ship purchases, upgrades and merchandising. These sales sustain the whole team throughout the year.

Some people claim that they’re only making ships and concepts for ships to make money.

Well… this is… true.
They need to do so, in order to keep the project alive and proceed with development.

The reality is that the players are frequently buying paper ideas that aren’t yet realized in-game and are likely to change. Understandably, spending a lot of money on something that doesn’t yet exist seems difficult to accept for many outsiders.

Tic Tac Tic Tac

Adding to all this, as time goes by, age takes a toll on the game’s engine and assets, which has to be updated from time to time. Physics-Based Rendering (PBR) wasn’t a common feature in games back in 2012, but as time passes and technology evolves, it had to be introduced to avoid the pitfall of ending up with an already outdated game on release.
This meant refactoring all ships once again.

The same happened when the components feature was introduced. Ship components are parts of the ship that can be handled, fixed or replaced. The ships weren’t prepared for that and had to be refactored one more time.

Due to the live development approach, CIG prefers to deliver functional updates to allow the players to access other features or content.
These features are developed iteratively, being later on optimized, improved or further developed to add new innovations. The fact that they keep revamping the same features over and over is not a pre-planning issue but instead a requirement of the live development process.

Star Citizen Tumbril Ranger Bike
Tumbril Ranger Bike

Drinking Mojitos

I don’t think Chris Roberts is on an island in the Pacific.

This is his dream work. His unique chance to build his masterpiece.

His previous games have revolved around this theme and now he’s finally got a chance to make his vision truly come to fruition on his terms without any form of corporate pressure. Why waste the opportunity?

This is what led me to back this project. I’m a huge fan of his sadly incomplete Freelancer and I really want to see Star Citizen succeed.
I’m usually relaxed and I don’t excited about a game easily. Well maybe except for Red Dead Redemption 2 and Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020!

My concern

The fact that the game development costs are just as high as their regular revenue is a concern as there’s a point when players stop investing in new ships and merchandise. They will constantly need to reach out to new players in order to keep development going.
This could also be seen as financially and strategically sound to work as fast as they can with the assets they have access to.

Apparently, last month was one of the most profitable ones for Star Citizen with many new citizens joining the ranks.

I’m convinced by my peer’s attitudes towards this game that there is a significant amount of people who are actually interested in the game but still patiently waiting for it to release before buying it. Maybe still afraid of it being vaporware.
If true, this should act as a life-saving device as they can “release” the game whenever they want and get a large influx of fresh new money to sustain development for a few more months or years. The truth is that the game is more than playable right now, even if it still lacks content.

Eclipsing thoughts

Star Citizen is said to be being developed to achieve a 10-year longevity goal. This is the main reason why they wish to build a solid core game engine that allows for improvements and extra content over time.

Game development tends to become faster and faster as more of the foundational game mechanics are set in place.
We should see a LOT more content coming in 2020.

What are your thoughts on Star Citizen and this article?
Do you share my view? What are your concerns?

Leave me a comment below, or check one of my other posts!
If you liked this one, you might also like THIS one.

You should also check out my Star Citizen Ship Comparison Tool which is currently on standby waiting for some support from the community. Leave me a comment if you would like to see it shine again!

I just made a new post on the economy of Red Dead Redemption 2 that analyzes Star Citizen’s economy layout. Go check it out!

See you in the ‘verse!
-ViLa4480

GTA-Online-Casino-Exterior

Not everyone is allowed to play at the new GTA Online Casino

GTA Online – Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase.

ALERT: Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase. For further help, go to:

This is the message that a bunch of players are seeing when they try buying chips from the cashier at the newly established GTA Online Diamond Casino Spa & Resort in bloody Los Santos.

The very anticipated Casino has just opened today – but gambling is not for everyone. Killing, stealing, trafficking is all well and good in GTA Online but DON’T YOU DARE GAMBLE!

Apparently, people from at least 50 countries, including Portugal, Hungary, Israel and Argentina have been prevented from trading in any chips.

These left-out players aren’t able to access the free daily bonuses at the cashier, or the wheel spin at all. It may also affect bonuses from the Penthouse, missions, world collectibles, and unique clothing and items.

GTA Online Casino
GTA Online Casino

Apparently, there’s a region lock to access the Casino’s features. This includes buying chips and playing with them – effectively limiting all gambling activity for some players.

We’re talking funny money here. In-game cash translates to the same amount of in-game casino chips which can only be refunded to in-game cash.

If there’s one thing Rockstar is used to deal with …is lawsuits.

Apparently, the reason for this region lock is that Rockstar does not want to register as a gambling entity (such as with other online gambling websites). Even if you now have to accept a new EULA, this effectively means that they’re not able to deliver this type of content to a large number of countries.

As far as I understand the law (and other games that do this), the real problem here is the fact that players are able to buy in-game currency with real money and then spend it all gambling (instead of buying new in-game cars).
Well, if that’s the problem, then the already present chip currency could be used to *legally* buy stuff without having to convert it to the real-cash-connected GTA bucks – that wouldn’t be gambling and that would solve the legal conundrum. Think about it Rockstar!

Make sure you follow me on Twitch if you wish to stay up to date about when these things change or a legal alternative has been found!

Most countries have grey-area laws on online gambling.
Most regulate physical gambling effectively but lack online regulation.

Here in the EU, only a few players in Germany seem to be able to access the Casino features. This has sparked a rush to VPN services. Players are trying to connect via VPN to get a German or American IP address in order to play at the Diamond Casino. Note: Some people argue that this practice may get your account banned for trying to bypass common online identity checks.

ALERT: Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase. For further help, go to:

Rockstar support is inefficient

Rockstar support is completely inefficient at informing players why they’re unable to use the Casino. There’s not a single official reply to queries regarding this situation and the players were left to figure it out for themselves.

I’m hoping that they eventually revise their region-lock limitations or that, at the very least, they inform players that they won’t be able to access this content beforehand. Some people are complaining that they bought Twitch Prime to access the “free” content and Penthouse at the now pointless Casino.

Players will eventually find a way around this issue. They’ve done that before with private servers, hacks and the RP server boom in the past couple of years.

They will find a way to make it work – legally, or otherwise.

Nope. She ain’t givin’ you no moneys.

In any case, it feels lame that the largest GTA Online update in years is locked to so many players around the world.

And there I was. Looking at the shiny new slot machine.
Press E to interact.
ALERT: Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase. For further help, go to: www.rockstargames.com/support

So frustrating!

This update should never have been developed in the first place. Their energy should have been spent on new content that everyone would be able to enjoy. Besides the Casino and the Penthouse, the remaining content is just a couple of missions, a few new unremarkable vehicles, and a pair of easily-outdated cosmetics.

Heists is where GTA Online truly shines – co-op missions with cinematics and a story to play with your friends. Yet, no new heists have been released in a VERY long time. Instead, we’ve been stuck with mostly cosmetic updates that don’t effectively expand the story or the replayability of the game.

GTA-Online-Casino-Exterior

The truth is that the game is still fun.

Rockstar-outlawed private servers and RP have given it a boost recently. But the updates have mostly been delivering content that is both very expensive and insubstantial.

I live in Portugal. I’ve got a casino across the street from my home and I’m not able to play on GTA Online with funny money. *shrug*

If, like me, you’re not able to play at the Casino, check out my post on How I became an Undead Pirate in Sea of Thieves. A fun read. I promise. And you won’t lose any chips.

Alternatively, you may also want to check out my Twitch channel and join me playing this and other games!

I’ll see you in Los Santos (but not at the Casino),
-ViLa4480

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshot

What to expect of Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020)

A long, long time ago (back in 1982), Microsoft came up with the first iteration for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It looked amazing for that era and featured unrivaled 3D graphics!
It was the start of a whole lineage of popular flight sims.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 1982

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did not get to experience the joy in flight sims until very recently.
However, even if things look different nowadays, I’m 100% sure that the feeling of accomplishment for taking off the runway was the same as today’s.

Sure, the game grew over time. Immensely.
Better graphics, more planes, more buildings, better flight mechanics, multiplayer.

But at its core, the fun of the hobbyist flight sim experience is definitely the sense of achievement you get for taking off, landing and the idea of freedom, movement, and control (or lack thereof).

I won’t lie. To me, that’s not enough to truly enjoy flight simming. I love the notion of purpose in a sim.

I decided to turn the sim into a game – by adding an objective!

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshot

Make it a game!

During my streams on Twitch and Youtube, I did a trip around the world using Microsoft Flight Simulator X and FSEconomy.

FSE allows you to rent planes and do cargo runs. What usually happened was that I would rent a plane and do short cargo runs from one place to another. I started back in Iceland with a small Cessna 172 hauling mail.

I ended up transporting tourists in Brazil, by going through the eastern coasts of Canada, the US, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Colombia, Venezuela and, finally, Brazil. My plan was to make the cross to Africa, but I couldn’t yet afford a plane large enough to cross the Atlantic. What an adventure!

FSEconomy changed the way I saw flight simulation forever.

Beauty matters.

Over time, graphics have improved drastically. They went from being an IFR flight mechanics simulation to becoming a true world representation simulator which featured accurate flight mechanics.

The new Microsoft Flight Simulator trailer seems to showcase just that.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshot

I’m sure that there’s a lot more to the whole.
But the graphics engine and the weather effects are the real stars in this E3 trailer.

I usually don’t fly large planes.
I get excited by the beautiful landscape and the prospect of doing short hops towards a far-away destination.
The detailed scenery is vital for VFR (low-altitude visual) flights.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshot

Microsoft seems to have nailed this in the previous trailer, by showcasing VERY detailed scenery.
The pyramids in Egipt, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or the Seattle Space Needle are rendered in very high detail.

More than that, it features outstanding (and massive) cloud formations and weather effects. It also shows detailed traffic that is sure to melt CPUs and GPUs everywhere.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshot

To me, however, it is the dynamic details that tease me the most. The pink flamingos flying over the coral area or the giraffes on the plateau demonstrate unprecedented attention to detail towards fauna and flora in different regions of the world.

I’m also expecting Virtual Reality and Multiplayer to be included by default. One can also hope for some degree of mod compatibility with previous releases.

The eternal wait

Microsoft took too long between Flight Simulator versions. The last one, Flight Simulator X was released back in 2006. It was effectively being laid as an improvement to its predecessor, Flight Simulator 2004.

This 13-year hiatus has led to Microsoft losing its unbeaten lead in the world of flight sims.
Nowadays, X-Plane, P3D (a third-party updated FSX version) and AeroflyFS2 are major contenders for the title (Dovetail’s Flight Sim World now excluded!). In the past few years, combat flight sims have also resurged with games like DCS, War Thunder or World of Warplanes.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshot

Nevertheless, the impact of FSX in the flight sim universe was huge – and any new version that Microsoft puts forward will be regarded with hope and expectation.

It will be a few more years until the mod community catches up to the new flight sim. But the prospect of having a brand new engine capable of doing new things is very enticing for every flight sim enthusiast.

Now that we finally have some serious competition from other contenders, it should also spark innovation in the coming years.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshot

Looking forward to the future!

What are your thoughts on this?
-How will Microsoft Flight Simulator succeed in the current Flight Simming scene?
-Do you think that the focus on low-altitude visuals will affect the jetliner flight experience?

I will be sharing more details on this title as they become available.
Subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitch or Twitter to be notified when a new post is published!

Answer in the comments below!

Oh! And make sure you check out my previous post on Microsoft Flight Simulator and how flight sims landed on me!

Clear skies everyone!
-ViLa4480

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshot

Microsoft Flight Simulator and how Flight Sims landed on me

It flew under the radar – Microsoft Flight Simulator was “quietly” announced at E3 this year to be released in 2020.
It reminded me of how I forced myself to learn to enjoy flight sims.
Here’s a story for you:

In the beginning…

I didn’t enjoy flight sims until very recently.
In fact, I couldn’t figure out why people would spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on hardware to be able to fly virtually.

This topic first came to me quite a few years ago. An old gentleman at the local electronics store prompted my colleague about his newly-bought computer hardware. He was unsure whether his graphics card was good enough when compared to whatever was out there on the market.

Now, I don’t really keep up to date with hardware parts and their specs – but my friend does – and he was baffled.

Apparently, he had bought THE most expensive graphics card at the time. That graphics card wasn’t even being sold in my country yet.
He was asking my friend on how to “assemble” it. He clearly had no idea what he was doing.
-But something drove that old man to spend that much money on a piece of hardware. We talked for a little longer and eventually found out he was a flight sim enthusiast.
It all sounded very alien – and outrageous to us – poor Medal of Honor (1999) players. To spend that much and waste it on a flight sim? Pffft!

It hurts to look at… Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004

He certainly did not look like a gamer… But flight sims aren’t games… are they? How can you enjoy spending time on them?
I’ll admit it, I had a certain prejudice and naivety towards flight sims. Back then flight sims looked ugly, boring, complex and geeky.
I was young and unprepared.

But that encounter really stuck with me for quite a few more years and it gently brewed questions in my mind.

It triggered my need to understand flight sims and their appeal.

It took me on the most unexpected voyage in my whole gaming life. One that would consume a few thousand hours and a few hundred bucks.

Surprisingly, the real turning point was Star Citizen.
And Freelancer (2003).
And Freespace (1999).

X-Plane Orbx
When you can’t afford a passenger seat – X-Plane 11 + Orbx

I’ve talked about Freespace in this blog before. A space fighter game which truly opened my eyes to the beauty of sci-fi themes. Then Freelancer, another space sim, came along and it blew my mind with its unprecedented freedom of exploration and trading.
One day I was casually going through Kickstarter titles and I noticed Star Citizen a space sim from the creator of Freelancer.
That description was all it took to get me hooked.

Star Citizen was the game that Chris Roberts dreamed of making all along. With the massive support from the fans, he now had the chance to make the “Best Damn Space Sim Ever“. His vision was so expansive and focused so much on immersion that it triggered in me a need to become one with the game.
So… I bought a joystick!
…A HOTAS actually (it has the thrust control)!

One day I was casually setting up my joystick to try out the WW2 flight sim War Thunder, (in “Realistic” mode). I was having some trouble figuring out how to take off from the runway… and then it clicked.

The large hunk of scrap slowly started to move. It made a lot of noise, the plane jiggled, the aluminum frame clanked… and then… I was flying.

War Thunder – Those trees are moving way too fast!

Fighting was awful with a joystick in War Thunder

…But the views were absurdly beautiful. The sunlight bouncing off the wings and the cockpit. The dials, knobs, and buttons begging to be read and squeezed.
That’s when flight Simming started to make sense to me.

Sure, I had flown planes in the past: Grand Theft Auto, Battlefield, Arma. None had the unavoidable and demanding level of detail you’d find in War Thunder.

I accepted the challenge.
If I was able to appreciate the non-combat aspects of War Thunder or World of Warplanes, maybe I was now able to put prejudice aside and try a real flight sim.

DCS
DCS

It was the 25th of January of 2015 and I had just bought the oldie Microsoft’s Flight Simulator: X (FSX, 2006).

That horrible AND EXTREMELY LOUD music played.
The dark omen for all the pain and pleasure I would endure in the upcoming months.

It took me hours of reading tutorials on how to start a plane. You need to check the levels, man the radios, get the injectors flowing, magnetos, batteries, fuel, parking brakes… -> or instead just press Ctrl+E and it does all of that for you – and off you go!

WEEEEEEE!
In a couple of minutes,
I was flying over my small town.
-It looked terrible.

But there was potential there!

So I decided to install a couple of free HD textures mods to update the old graphics engine.

I live in a very dense, steep-mountainous wine region.
The birds-eye view of the Douro valley near Porto, in Portugal, was absurd.

A photo of the Douro Valley – I’ll take a screenie later on!

It felt great to be able to go anywhere in the world and see the landmarks, the rivers, the cities, and the mountain tops. Feeling the old C172 (small plane) engine growling to my command was awesome.
Preparing to land is surprisingly tense – your attention levels skyrocket!

My perception of what flight simming was had changed dramatically.

Some people care about all the engineering parts of a plane or the technical aspects of flight – I don’t.
What I love is that each trip feels like a long cargo run in Freelancer, where, if you’re not careful, you might lose your cargo, your plane, your life! I also only do low-altitude flights as I love watching the views in my tiny paper planes.

Over time I realized that flight simming represents freedom. Freedom to go anywhere and to decide what to do next.

X-Plane Photorealistic
X-Plane + Orbx

Flight simming is made of layers.

If you truly enjoy flight simulators, then you’ll be spending quite a lot of money on hardware and software. Here’s some of the stuff I bought (I get no commission!):

  • If you follow this blog or my Twitch stream, I’m sure you’ve noticed how I love management games.
    I found out that by using AirHauler you can turn flight sims into an amazing online management game. You’re able to build airports, buy planes, do cargo runs, manage other pilots, build a fleet!
  • By using Flyinside to add Virtual Reality to the simulation, you’ll be blown away by the realism you get – and the real fear of heights when you open the plane’s door mid-flight (I almost fell off my chair…).
  • If immersion is your thing, the Buttkicker bass shaker makes your chair rumble to the plane’s engine and the wind and rain effects on your plane! Hands-down the most surprising piece of hardware I ever bought!
  • Also check out the really cool custom button boxes out there!

Add to that the mandatory joystick and the processor and graphics card upgrades – and now your wallet cries.

BBJSimRacing Buttonbox

It took me years to understand the hobby.

Flight Sims truly push the limits of your hardware in exchange for immersion and fun.

I can FINALLY relate to that old man, who spent that much money on a graphics card that he wasn’t even sure how to install.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

We’ll celebrate 14 years between Microsoft’s Flight Simulator: X (2006) and Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020).
I will be reviewing this on my following post – next week!
Subscribe to the blog and stay tuned!

Clear skies!
-ViLa4480

Thank you DCS, X-Plane, War Thunder, Prepar3D, FSX, Microsoft Flight Simulator – and the amazing Pickinthatbanjo!

Battlefield V Revive 2

There’s something weird about Battlefield V…

I’m trying to figure out what it is…
Something feels different when playing Battlefield V.

As you might have noticed from my previous post on gender wars in Battlefield V, there’s a bunch of stuff in that game that feels out of place.
Slightly strange and even awkward at times!

I know – it all sounds silly – and it is indeed hard to explain.
Battlefield V is very similar to its predecessor, Battlefield 1 (again, EA has trouble with numbering systems), but somehow …its gameplay FEELS totally different.
It isn’t easy to figure out what has changed – but something definitely did.

Overwhelming!

When playing on my first map ever someone was crying in chat:

-“This game has way too many animations!”

I thought that was laughable at first. I couldn’t figure out how that could be a bad thing.

The quantity and especially the quality of animations is one of the key factors in driving immersion in a game. Consider the effort that AAA games are putting into animation nowadays!

GTA V, Star Citizen, The Last of Us or L.A. Noire have amazing casts and technology to provide a truly credible cinematic experience.

Competitive multiplayer games have specific needs…

But I think I get it. He might even be right.
There are so many things moving, running, burning, falling, firing, exploding… down to the micro animations that each character and weapon has!

Player characters are now even able to run while crouched or lay on their backs while firing and also roll around while waiting for a revive.

It does take some time before we’re able to get used to all of that.
For a new player, it may indeed feel a bit overwhelming.

Size matters. Its… complicated.

The maps have been a concern for players since DICE announced they would add “ENORMOUS” maps to Battlefield. Many players are now complaining that they are too small and comparing Battlefield to Call of Duty. No one is ever happy!

The truth is that maps are indeed ENORMOUS …and too small at the same time!
It comes down to what maps are available in each game mode and how player respawns work. Indeed there are gigantic maps but most of the action is focused around one or two objectives and nothing else is going on on the rest of the map.
This is not entirely bad. The problem is the map layout.

The way they built most of the maps as a narrow rectangle doesn’t really entice the enemy to flank and capture an objective behind enemy lines in the Conquest game mode. Which is a good thing as it prevents massive waves of enemies from spawning behind the player.

The problem seems to be the fact that it condenses the action around those two choke or capture points. It becomes a slaughterfest for both sides.

Add to that how easier it is now to spawn next to your squadmate in the middle of a thick battle.

Maps are also uncommonly detailed with plenty of open buildings, rocks and hills, where it is easy to hide for a whole match without the enemy ever seeing you.
Yesterday I spent the whole match lying down inside a truck capping an objective and forcing the enemy to stay in that area not to lose it. They never found me.
Summit1g also did that a few days ago. He just stood there while waves of enemies went by.
Interestingly, at the same time, there are groves everywhere yet it is still terribly difficult for a sniper to get a good and clear vantage point. This pleases some and angers many.

This is actually a very light fog!


Add weather to the mix: wall-thick fog shows up quite often in larger maps.

Thick fog reduces visibility drastically and it forces players to go into close-quarters and melee combat.

Chaos ensues.

Busy bees

Then there’s the fact that there’s so much more to do now.
Starting with the new ability to build fortifications. You are now able to build sandbag defenses, barbed wire, and anti-tank barriers.
This is a cool new feature, but plenty of players die trying to build these often times ineffective defenses.

Imma build ma own fortification now!

Sure, medics are still healing and recons are still sniping.
But you are now able to find new perk packs to picking a class that are probably ignored by most players.
They certainly affect gameplay and may take some time for a new player to figure out.

As an example, Support is the only class able to build stationary turrets in specific maps but that isn’t clear to most players.

Every player is now also able to revive squad members – but medics do it faster and can even run faster IF they equip the Swift Effort perk AND tag a wounded soldier.
We’re not just talking about class-based effects, but combat perk packs that affect how a class performs.

MEDIC!!! I mean.. Squadmates!!!

Having so many new perk options makes the game smarter.
Not everyone appreciates these changes, however.

Personally, I don’t dislike them, but information is lacking when you first start to learn to play with these classes – there are many of them – and indeed they do feel very different to play with – starting with the weapons.

Bang bang!

Weapons feel incredibly different from class to class. Many people complain that medics have water guns and that support isn’t able to use their LMGs to actually kill enemies – instead only able to lay down suppressive fire.
I feel like that’s actually a good thing in disguise.

Even though it is frustrating to play as a medic and not be able to kill the enemy in front of you most of the times, it forces players to focus on their class abilities. In this case, healing and reviving players.

Laying down suppressive fire still feels pointless – and you won’t last long until a sniper gets to you. It only works well in choke points or bad weather where there’s too much going on before a sniper scope finds you.

All these factors only add to the complexity of learning the quirks of the game. It overwhelms new players and it justifies the frustration that many complain about.

Something Fishy…

There’s also something very strange going on with close-quarter combats.

My ping isn’t high, but it seems like I always lose very close quarters 1-on-1 gunfights.
I’m not missing any shots – but somehow I never get to kill the enemy. As if their weapon fires more rounds in the same amount of time. Or if they started firing before me, even though their animation didn’t start before I shot.

Other players complained about this as well.
I’m convinced that this has to do with packet delay management or lag compensation for large numbers of players. It feels unfair quite often.

Above all else, the game has a very different pace.

I’m pretty sure it comes down to the aiming system.
In Battlefield V it seems to be harder to aim properly until you get used to the way it works.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a complex aiming options menu.
You can actually go into detail by adjusting the aiming speed according to the zoom value of your weapon!

Battlefield V - Aiming sensitivity options according to sight zoom levels
Aiming sensitivity options according to sight zoom levels

There are also other options that I’ve never seen before in other FPS franchises like “Soldier Aim Ratio” or “Uniform Soldier Aiming”. They include lengthy descriptions that only make it more cumbersome to understand.

The truth is that this only makes good players better and newbie players worse – as most new players don’t even know how to adjust these settings properly. This leads to newbies calling out good players as cheaters and a lot of bad vibes in chat and frustration to both sides.

Hide. Think. Act.

I REALLY like to have additional complexity in games. I like to feel that my skills and battle sense are progressing over time. But I think that, in the end, Battlefield V is not as newbie-friendly as other previous games.

Enjoy the countryside!

Last night I had a great run.
I was determined to figuring out how to play Battlefield V properly.
I decided to take a more relaxed, counterattacking stance. If someone fired at me I would… Hide. Think. Act.

I wasn’t going to run towards the enemy nor would I shoot as many bullets as possible at them. I realized that two shots to the head or three to the body were all it took for my weapon to kill.
So I started being more mindful of my presence and taking aim before firing or revealing my position.

Aha! I became the top player in most rounds!
I think I may have figured the key to succeeding in Battlefield V.

Something different, something new

In the end, it feels like there’s definitely some balance to do and a learning curve that most players aren’t used to from previous games.

It is hard to understand exactly what to learn and how to progress… 
But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you manage to relax, learn and enjoy the game for what it is, without expecting it to be something else.

Instead of becoming frustrated, I’m actually enjoying the game now!

If you liked this post check out my previous one on Battlefield V’s clubfooted gender wars or how I became an Undead Pirate in Sea of Thieves (funny).
…Or instead subscribe to my blog to receive monthly updates on any new posts! 😊

P.S.: DICE fix the PIAT damn it! It is NOT to be used as a shotgun!

I’ll see you in my squad,
-ViLa4480

Dungeon of the Endless – An Indie Game you won’t dare label!

Did you know Dungeon of the Endless was free for the weekend? If you didn’t that’s likely because you’re not following my Twitter feed!

How innovative can you be these days?

We live in a world where stamping labels on things and people is, sadly, mandatory. There’s no time to waste!
The flow and amount of information to be processed and the need to clarify what something is, or is not, demands that we categorize everything and everyone as quickly as possible.

We have truly entered The Age of Labels.

It is part of who we are as humans.
The Universe doesn’t care whether there’s light or shade, day or night, a half-full glass, a dead cat in a box or a tree falling in an unpopulated forest.

But we humans do care.

This is how our brains save disk storage space. We compress info into tiny boxes with labels.

Concepts are easier to access and we can figure them out quickly by simply reading the label on the box.

Unfortunately, this somewhat compromises our ability to think differently. To be innovative. To think out of the box – and to be appreciated and recognized for that.

Music that doesn’t belong to any genre in particular tends to be ignored by most people, as we tend to flock to our tried-and-true favorite genres. The same happens with movies and games.

This tends to become an even bigger issue when you consider the way we access this content. Check out my ramble on how Valve has made me lose interest in Steam – their content delivery platform – by improving it.

With so much new content available to us each day, the most productive way for a developer to innovate nowadays is to mix genres.
However, like with a nice cocktail, to mix it up properly requires real talent. These guys nailed it.

Missing a label?

Dungeon of the Endless


Somehow I missed Dungeon of the Endless when it first came out in 2014.

Luckily it isn’t a game that gets old with age!
I managed to pick it up recently since it was free-to-play during the weekend and being sold at a discount.

I just tried it out and it really surprised me:

Amplitude delivered Dungeon of the Endless back in 2014 – and it caused an issue for most gaming blogs. Why? Well… there was no easy way to categorize it!

It is NOT a strategy game, not a survival game, not a tower-defense game, not an RPG, not a MOBA, not a dungeon-crawler!
It is all of those things at the same time… and yet, very different.

The point of the game is to exit an abandoned sci-fi ship with a team of heroes and a crystal (similar to Dungeon Keeper’s dungeon heart).

Unfortunately, the ship’s architects decided that it would be fun to build elevators that only take you to the next floor… and build them in different rooms on each floor.
The type of insanity that GlaDOS would be proud of.

Unique.

Dungeon of the Endless is a unique game, yet very familiar. It delivers a real-time-turn-based game pace.
Does that sound confusing enough?

The game presents a real-time game flow, but it grows and expands as you open up doors in an abandoned ship. So, in reality, it only advances when you unlock the next “turn” by opening up doors in real-time.

Over time (aka turns, aka doors opened), you will be gathering supplies and building resource miners or defensive turrets or evolving your heroes.


All these abilities will come in handy when little alien insects start to show up. Apparently, they HATE your beautiful crystal for some reason and will try to destroy it.

Luckily, with all the resources you managed to mine so far, you’ll also be able to unlock new weapons and abilities for your heroes and your temporary “base”.

The game is unlike any other, yet similar to many.

The very pixely graphics and constant smooth animations deliver an intense atmosphere to the game. The very bright colors, somehow akin to fire burning in the background, keep reminding you that you need to escape as quickly as possible from the alien-infested ship. However, some strategy is in order, as resources are limited – but alien attacks are not.


The very pixely graphics and constant smooth animations deliver an intense atmosphere to the game.

The very bright colors, somehow akin to fire burning in the background, keep reminding you that you need to escape as quickly as possible from the alien-infested ship.

However, some strategy is in order, as resources are limited – but alien attacks are not.

The crystal being attacked!
Now's the time to panic.
The crystal being attacked!
Now’s the time to panic.

An endless dungeon

The gameplay is fast and fun, and the base-building aspect adds a lot of flavor to it. Unlocking new abilities, characters and weapons is definitely the main drive for the player. The superb audio and music also make it a very pleasant experience.
I had some trouble with the controls. They’re not complex at all – just very uncommon.
Sadly, there’s not much of a storyline to the game, except for a few less-than-funny jokes between heroes. Co-op is a plus, but not necessary since it truly shines as a great singleplayer game.


I really felt like this innovative game was a breath of fresh air.
That freshness that started around 2010 with very popular indie titles like Braid, Minecraft or Spelunky seems to have faded with all the sequels and adaptations of those popular games (just think of how many games mirrored Minecraft’s gameplay mechanics!) and innovation started to take a toll.

Dungeon of the Endless proves that there are many unlikely game genre combos that haven’t yet been explored.

I’m looking forward to trying out Amplitude’s following success Endless Legend.

Popcorn Score:

I truly enjoyed this game.
Even though it lacks a good storyline, it balances that with a fast and fun gameplay, beautiful graphics and a great ambiance.
If you’re looking for something FRESH, this is the game you want to try.

Do you like my ramblings? Would you like to read some more? Check out my previous post on How Sci-fi changed my life!
You may also want to subscribe to my blog by entering your e-mail on the form to the left or by following me on Twitter!

I’ll find you at my crystal,
-ViLa4480

WW2 – The clubfooted gender war in …Battlefield V

I would like to apologize in advance if this review offends you. If you feel offended, please send me a private message. My views are moderate but I may sound blunt sometimes – English isn’t my first language and this article features sensitive topics that can be easily misunderstood.
Thank you for your understanding.

The saddest day of the year

So, apparently, today is the saddest day of the year.
-“That’s ridiculous!” I thought to myself.
Apparently, it relates to the fact that the holiday season has come and gone and what was new and exciting a couple of weeks ago is now uninspired and unsurprising.
Enough time has passed and now you realize that all your New Year’s resolutions and attempts at becoming a better human have caved miserably – like in every previous year. All that is left is an indiscriminate number of uneventful work days until something happens that actually sparks your interest.

This past season was VERY intense for me. Personal investments, social interactions, and even a brand new blog distracted me… and the season flew by very quickly.
The truth is, I got to skip a load of games and new releases.
But yesterday I felt the need to play something new and something decent.

battlefield 5 women

I was holding back on buying Battlefield V.
The franchise features an over-the-top base price (+DLC content) – and prices tend to lower past the holiday season. So I decided to give it a go.
After a painstakingly lengthy 53Gb download and installation (which I cleverly decided to sleep through it), I finally got to try it out.

This drew me to a very tense debate going on in-game.

Repeating History

Following the footsteps of its predecessor, Battlefield 1 (numbering systems are broken at EA btw), which included a negro-based squad that historically did fight bravely in WW1, Battlefield V surprised everyone when it showcased several female protagonists in a World War 2 setting.

When I first saw the trailer for Battlefield V I thought it was so awesome that they included female characters. At the same time players watching the trailer at the event were concerned on how that could impact the game experience.

Even though the role of women was determinant – and there were a LOT of women fighting throughout Europe – the proportion of battling women in this game is pretty much equal to that of men.
This can be tricky when you’re attempting to be historically accurate in a game.

Apparently, Battlefield V took a huge amount of flak for that decision.
So much that the Battlefield V subReddit moderators started banning users and removing topic-related posts.

“My immersion is RUINED!!!” – someone cried on Twitter.

EA would likely have replied:
Dear Bob,
We are very sorry that your immersion is ruined.

Our statistics show that at least 10% of our audience is female and they are not being accurately represented in our game. This is why we’ve made a game where 50% of our characters are female.
Thank you for understanding.

The gravity and complexity of the situation was clear to me when I noticed 3 female characters dressed as German generals stabbing players in the heat of battle while they were using voicechat to scream “FEMINAZI BANZAI CHARGE!!!”

I felt like My trust in Humanity was gone for good.
At the same time, my history-nerdy-brain proceeded to die a little.

Resultado de imagem para battlefield 5 women

A sad day for a sad society

The truth is, we live in a sad society where women are still being treated differently… and that is truly unnecessary.
EA has taken a bold step to try and break that mold that society imposes on itself. But at what cost? Does it make sense for an entertainment media that takes pride on a certain degree of realism to bring a contemporary perspective to a historical reality through politicized fiction?
Will that somehow affect our understanding of the past and blind us to the future?
Even though it does spark debate, it mostly seems to anger a majority of their mostly male playerbase.

I am a true believer of diversity and equality, but politicized entertainment feels cringy at best.
Are they going for the long run? Re-educating boys into accepting girls in games (when a kid spends 4h every day playing a game he does learn something…), or maybe trying to motivate girls to play in order to expand their female playerbase?

It might be commendable to a certain extent, but let me clarify why this affects me:
I see human beings as human beings.
If I ran a company, “race”, gender, sexual orientation or religion would be irrelevant to me – but being the nerdy type that I am, sacrificing historical accuracy – for what appears to be a business decision based on modern-day politic concerns – is …disappointing.
Playing Battlefield V somehow feels like an advertisement that you paid to play.

Lost in Action

I would LOVE to see a game that focused on the resistance fighters or spies (many of which were women). I would love to see a dramatic aspect to the game that highlighted the effort that young widow mothers had to endure during the war. Women also kept the gun, ammo and canning industries running throughout the war – without that effort who knows how the war would have progressed!
…But a game like this wouldn’t be Battlefield would it?

Imagem relacionada

Battlefield V also fails to represent – and thus lacks respect – for the life and death of the men and women who perished in those fights. Instead it leads young players to believe that this was the true reality of war and even treat it more as a fun historic fact rather than an actual tragic event.

While I value the fact that they’ve actually thought about women and “minorities” and made real steps towards embracing them as equals, I feel like this isn’t the right game nor the right way to demonstrate that so profusely.
It’s like making surgery with a butcher’s knife – and the player’s reaction might even backfire in the long run.
Will EA make every game follow the same logic now? Should it?

It is understandable that Mass Effect does it.

Mass Effect is set in a fictionalized future in an alternate reality of mindset.
…Should we be concerned about how to depict our past if we wish to learn from it?

Resultado de imagem para battlefield 5 women
Battlefield 1

…On a side note, they forgot to add women to Battlefield 1 until the last patch – and she had to be bald – were there no women before WW2?

So, yeah I do understand Bob who shouted that his immersion was ruined… but Bob must realize that even if clubfooted, messy and somewhat reprimandable, this was a step in the right direction.

The features they’ve included are all okay – just in the wrong proportions – and definitely the wrong battlefield.

It’s great that a player is able to pick a female character to play with. It is also great to see more variety in the game and even that women play a non-sexualized protagonist role – just do it in an alternate universe where factual history isn’t a problem.

…well I guess at least EA made sure their clothes weren’t camo bikinis in this game.

Imagem relacionada

I’ll see you on the battlefield,
-ViLa4480

Prison Architect

Paradox is the new Warden for Prison Architect – PANIC!

This is one of my favorite management games of all time.

Prison Architect is now 3 years old (since its final release), but it was first released as an alpha version 6 years ago after a very successful crowdfunding campaign.

Paradox Interactive has recently acquired the rights to the franchise from Introversion Software. How will that affect the game? Why are so many fans outraged? Why would Introversion do it?…

Introversion Software is a small team of developers known for creating small but deeply innovative games such as Multiwinia, Defcon, Darwinia or Uplink.

Prison Architect is their crown jewel.

In fact, the whole Prison Architect venture has been very successful throughout its crowdfunded open development cycle.
The devs kept releasing regular updates with brand new content which maintained a healthy and engaged community over the past few years.

The latest update actually introduced an unexpected and seemingly inadequate feature for a game that has passed its maturity.
They added multiplayer!

You might ask: oh really? Why is multiplayer such a surprise ViLa? Other games have it…
-True. But besides the fact that you won’t find that many multiplayer management games, most of them haven’t been adapted from a single-player game to a multiplayer one.
To have multiplayer in a game is as big as… deciding whether you’re building a 2D or a 3D game! You don’t just build a single-player game and then try to fit multiplayer into it. It doesn’t work that way!
Not if you’re a sane developer that is!

However, we’re talking about Introversion Software here… and adding multiplayer to a singleplayer management game is pretty damn cool.

A new warden has arrived!

The hidden 3D game mode

This is why the news of Paradox buying the Prison Architect franchise hit the fans like a rock. They’re afraid that the garage-built feeling that they get from playing this amazing management game will fade in the hands of Paradox. Above all they fear that Paradox will do what it has done to all of their other games: DLC spam!

In the good old days before the internet, games would either have sequels or expansions. A sequel pretty much meant recycling of previous game ideas and graphics updates.

Expansions or content packs, on the other hand, increased the depth of the current game. This kept the player base interested in the game – at a fraction of the price – until a sequel would be available. If the game was successful, more expansions would be available. This was as a good commercial compromise for a developer.
Instead of building a whole new game they would use the tools that were already in place – this, in turn, saves time and money.
Expansions were actually large when compared to the base game and relatively expensive as they had to justify the physical distribution costs.
Nowadays, expansions are called DLCs and due to the fact that they are now downloaded, they tend to be cheaper and distributed in smaller chunks.

Paradox has become a master at releasing DLCs – Paradox’s Crusader Kings 2 has 30 DLCs.
The reason why Paradox does this is because they specialize in creating niche games (high value to their niche players) that rely on very complex game engines that only they own.

Game engines are the core of a game.

They are the technical aspect of the game that takes the longest to build. It provides games with their core attributes – UI systems, Audio, 2D/3D Rendering, Multiplayer etc.

Resultado de imagem para hearts of iron map

So instead of building a brand new engine for each game, most companies decide to make different games with the same engine. Europa Universalis, Victoria, Hearts of Iron, Crusader Kings, Sengoku, and even Stellaris all use Paradox’s own Clauswitz Engine.

Paradox Interactive (the publisher) is often seen supporting innovative smaller developers such as Colossal Order (Cities in Motion, Cities: Skylines). They seem to be drawn towards developers who own solid custom engines that will be able to support great games in the long-run. Engines that lean towards having less sequels but more expansions.
Paradox is also well known for allowing people to mod their games to exhaustion. Modding adds even more life and value to their games.

DLCspam!

The reason why Crusader Kings 2 has got 30 DLCs in its bag is because the game has been released in February 2012! …Think about it… the game is now 7 years old and it still gets brand new updates like Holy Fury which was released last November.

Most of the DLCs are cheap, most of them are cosmetic, many of their major expansions are VERY deep and have parts of it released for free and most of them are fully available for free when you’re playing in multiplayer if the other player owns them.
The best part: Paradox’s games are deep and solid enough at launch to provide countless hours of gameplay without the need for DLCs.

The reality is… you don’t need to buy any DLCs if you don’t want to.

Now, I understand that my position regarding DLCs will surely anger most fans. And I must clarify that I completely disaprove the idea of launching DLCs when the game has just been released. That is simply ridiculous.

However, most people see DLCs as a money-grab opportunity – which it is… but… is it that bad really? DLCs represent optional content that you’re able to get if you REALLY like the game. It helps support the company so they are able to keep on updating the games you love with brand new content.

-No, Crusader Kings 3 isn’t coming out tomorrow. But an amazing Holy Fury expansion has just been released at a fraction of the cost – have you played it yet?

A Peace Treaty! Please!

Introversion made a good deal when selling their most-valued franchise when their sales after 3 years are surely gone. Let’s celebrate that! A small company making a ton of money that they can use to come up with brand new ideas!

They would not be making Prison Architect 2 anytime soon – it is not in their DNA to rehash games like that. They would likely need a new engine and many new ideas to pick it up again.

Paradox has likely bought the “Architect” franchise so they can make brand new games with the “Architect” title in them …not necessarily Prison Architect 2+50 DLCs!

Finally, some people are also loudly complaining about the fact that a crowdfunded game was sold to a publisher.
Now that the game has been released for 3 years …does that REALLY matter anymore?
Is it possible to be happy for having been able to make this game a reality and enjoy it as it is?

TLDR: This is how I see it:

  • Prison Architect isn’t going anywhere – It is still here. If you own it you’re still able to download and play it!
  • Introversion made some money – I’m happy for them. Can’t wait for more of their innovative game concepts!
  • Paradox bought a great franchise – a great publisher might start using the “Architect” theme in other games we’ll love!
  • DLCs – don’t buy them if you don’t want them!

Have you seen my recent post on How Steam broke my Valve? You might find it interesting! Go check it out!

I’ll see you in the warden’s office!
-ViLa4480

The Best Upcoming Games – 2019

Which games are you most looking forward to play in 2019?

This list will always be under construction!
Let’s build The Best Upcoming Games 2019 list together!

Check it out below and share your suggestions!

Please note that this is an ever-evolving and ever-incomplete list of games based mostly on my own personal taste – but if you guys have any cool suggestions please drop a comment here or via Twitter!
-ViLa4480

[cool-timeline layout=”default” designs=”design-2″ skin=”default” category=”upcoming-games-2019″ show-posts=”10″ order=”ASC” icons=”NO” animations=”none” date-format=”default” story-content=”full” based=”custom” compact-ele-pos=”main-date” pagination=”ajax_load_more” filters=”yes”]

Do you have other games you’d like to see highlighted?

Maybe even a full review? Leave a comment below or via Twitter!

Curious to know what the Best Co-op Game of 2018 was? Check out the extensive reviews here!

Would you like to buy games at a discount? Follow this referral link for discounted games at Kinguin. Go check it out if you would like to support this blog!

I’ll see you in-game!
-ViLa4480

Chewbacca

How Sci-fi & Fantasy changed my life

I’m not exactly sure how I came to discover Star Citizen.
I guess it was a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

In the beginning…

I have to admit. I didn’t grow up with Star Wars, Star Trek, Conan or LOTR. My parents never really enjoyed sci-fi or anything that felt out of this world, unrealistic or fantastic. This meant there were no chewbaccas, elves, action men, or superhero comics during my childhood.
I vividly remember getting two action figures for my birthday and I couldn’t figure out how to play with them.

It is understandable that you might feel an altruistic frustration when reading these lines… Don’t worry, I had a happy childhood. Instead, I turned to legos, puzzles, videogames, TV shows, history books and boardgames. It might sound strange but I honestly had a lot of fun reading dictionaries… Yeah… I guess I am weird that way.
I was never one to go out and play on the street either… even if growing up in Portugal, the land of football (soccer).

This affected the videogames I played during my childhood. Actively avoiding sports games, first person shooter games and any other games that were set in space or fantasy related.
I have to admit… I still do avoid some of these themes.

Something that I am now able to recognize is that the lack of high fiction themes actually made me crave those things.

Surviving childhood

I’m not exactly sure how I survived my fantasy-less childhood… I guess I was enlightened by certain events…

My parents would never buy games for me – they thought buying games was a waste of time and money when I should instead be reading books on Finance and the great classics of literature.

So I had to resort to other forms of getting to them games.

Back in the old cassette or diskette days, pirating games was easy… but not that easy when you don’t know someone who actually owns the game you want.

You have to understand that due to the fact that ads for videogames were pretty much non-existent here in Portugal, most of the times I didn’t even crave for a new game because I didn’t even know it existed in the first place.

One day my father started buying these computer magazines that often times brought diskettes or CDs with plenty of game demos. I would spend hours upon hours playing the same game demos over and over until the next diskette arrived…

I remember playing a demo version of Heroes of Might and Magic III which only allowed you to play for 16 turns! The amazing scenery was quite beautiful – and I often tried to speedrun as much as possible to reveal most of it before the 16 turns were over! …But I never got the chance to actually buy Heroes III.

16 turns to reveal the full map!

Demos make you smarter!

Thinking that I was playing all these game demos, now made me come to the conclusion that this did make me grow up not only as a player but also as a person.
I just realized that I was playing rather complex games and I didn’t even speak the language nor did I understand advanced game mechanics at all.

Since I had no access to other games I was forced to play whatever showed up – and in the process, I had to figure out how they were meant to be played without tips or instructions.
I was not just learning how to play many different game concepts, but also how to react to very different interface systems written in an unfamiliar language!

Kids need to exercise their brains as often as possible and, to be honest, I can’t think of a more intensive and multilayered activity than this.

The Age of the Internet

The Internet came to my door and it slowly became my world. I was too young and naïve back then to realize the impact it would have on everyone. My parents wouldn’t allow me to go online for a few years – and with that crazy modem screaming like it used to when connecting to the web, it really wasn’t easy going online without having other people noticing.

However, the first thing it allowed me to do was to read articles on newly released games and even to be able to order games online that I would otherwise never be able to get my hands on since there were no videogame shops or arcades near me.

I remember getting the game Descent: Freespace by Volition thinking it was a historical strategy game (how did that happen?!). Slightly disappointed since it was sci-fi themed, I reluctantly decided to play it.

I was hooked…
That game broke my ice towards sci-fi games.
For the sake of time I won’t go into too much detail but… It had such brilliant characters and story arc! It simply blew me away and I never saw that coming.

HOLY SHI…van

A couple of years later, with the dawn of DSL and unlimited timeplans, something else and something new was on the horizon.
I decided to try Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory – a brand new and FREE ONLINE GAME!
Reluctantly I decided to play it since it was an FPS game… but… well… at least it was free!

I was hooked…
…and I was GOOD at that game!

Friends mean fun.

One day, while playing Wolfenstein, a bunch of strangers that I was playing with, asked me to go and play with them… “to join a clan” they said via in-game text chat. I had no idea what that meant but I said “Uh… sure…”.
Butcher, Crisplover, Myrdraal were my teammates in that match – each from a different country.

I had a microphone and I installed Teamspeak to join them… but I was too scared to use my voice!
At one point Myrdraal stepped on a mine and I rushed to him unaware that I was screaming “Don’t moooove!!” with my voice comms active.

Everyone on Teamspeak was surprised to hear my voice.
…I was too.

They all laughed and greeted me and welcomed me to the clan.
Later on, I understood that my careless split-second decision to join them that day had turned into something much much greater than I anticipated. I had made new friends.

“IT SPEAKS!!!”

Chewbacca with a lightsaber

I was 18 and I had never ever watched a Star Wars movie before and Freespace was the only sci-fi game I had played until then. Some of my ET friends used to play Star Wars: Jedi Academy when they weren’t playing Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.
I didn’t expect much from a sci-fi game from a franchise that I knew nothing about.
To validate my point, let me clarify that I picked a Sith Wookie as my character …I thought red sabers would go well with brown fur.

Needless to say that I was forced by my roleplaying clanmates to go and watch Star Wars before they allowed me to play with them. And grumpily I did. And it finally opened up my mental doors to sci-fi.

My brain still has trouble digesting weird space creatures or magic and I still don’t see the point in using most of that, but I finally understood… it’s not about the creatures… Sci-fi allows for greater-than-life characters and story arcs. In Stargate SG-1 you barely ever see alien-looking monsters – they’re most often humans with different clothing and earthly needs. But it is the setting that allows a great adventure to happen.

The exact same thing happens with fantasy-themed narratives. I don’t get thrilled by characters using magic… Mordor isn’t fun because of its architecture. It’s fun because it creates a problem that needs solving. The whole Lord of the Rings story is simply about Humanity fighting evil and racing against time – a theme harder to depict in a non-fiction environment.

Fantasy and Sci-fi are an escape from the predictable boring reality of everyday life. It took me some time to grow up and learn that …I dig that.

Growing up

Even if repressed during childhood, sci-fi and fantasy themes managed to crawl into my life and taught me an important lesson.

While writing this article I’m realizing that the stuff that I’m mostly drawn to… are actually sci-fi or fantasy themed! I really feel like I may have lost something during my childhood as I never got to experience those worlds when our imagination runs wild. But at the same time, I feel like this whole process has made me grow up to become a little bit more down-to-earth and pragmatic when it comes to learning and how to enjoy new things.

Today I feel that anything can be enjoyed or learned no matter how much of a lack of interest or mental or physical disadvantage you think you have.

You need to find the fun and motivation in all things.
In my case, it was friendship that dragged me in and the exploratory will to pursue themes that I did not fully understand by playing a game I did not expect to enjoy.
Then my own walls of reluctance caved in when I understood that learning is fun and that having fun while learning makes it easy and achievable.

A couple of years ago I just couldn’t understand why someone would enjoy flight simulators – they seem EXTREMELY boring.
I decided to figure it out – it was hard to understand it at first – but then… I was blown away. The same happened with games like Europa Universalis or Democracy.

For years I thought I wasn’t able to draw.
I lacked the mental ability and the physical coordination to do so.
Last week I was stunned at my very first decent drawings.

Today… I’m loving this brand new blogging adventure.

Keep learning!

Boot
My very first boot!

Next week I’ll post part 2 of this article… on how I got to Star Citizen.
Meanwhile, why not learn more on how I just turned into a blogger?
Not a magic trick. Promise!

I’ll see you in-game,
-ViLa4480

P.S.: If you’re more into historical fantasy… why not try Papers, Please?