Star-Fired Beef

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Steam Challenge – Noitu Love 2 Devolution

This is part of my Steam Challenge Series (the full list is here).

Time played: 45 minutes

The name kind of gives away the fact that Noitu Love 2 Devolution is a throwback to SNES-era Japanese-inspired side-scrollers. All in all it seems pretty well done for the genre. It just didn’t appeal to me. The controls were a little too awkward for a keyboard/mouse setup, so yet again, this is something I’d probably revisit on console or with a controller. However, the main gripe I have is with the fact that there is no audio or video options menu. The sound, especially, I really wanted to adjust in-game and not have to resort to the speaker volume. Very disappointing.



Steam Challenge – Knytt Underground

This is part of my Steam Challenge Series (the full list is here).

Time played: 7.5 hours

Knytt Underground is a great little puzzle-exploration platformer that, sadly, suffers from being too big. At least for me.

There are three chapters to the game. The first two act as a kind of tutorial that introduce you to some of the characters and the setting, and let you become comfortable with the mechanics. They are fun, and reasonably substantial – it took me about an hour, hour and a half to finish them.

Then you get to the meat of the game, Chapter 3. This is where it got ugly for me. I love the game itself, but there is just too much travel and not enough encouragement to continue. The main objective for the chapter is to ring six bells that are scattered throughout the world. The world is divided up into “rooms” that you need to traverse. Here’s the thing, though: it is a maze. And it is huge. 1728 rooms, to be precise. Granted, some of them are secret rooms, but you can definitely enter every one of them once you find the trick. That is a lot of backtracking.

I’m about 6 hours in, and I have not managed to get to a single bell. The map is not even a third complete. The keyboard controls are not conducive to long sessions – this is clearly better on console. And I am too demoralised to keep going. There is supposed to be a quick travel system available, called the disorder, but it has obscure rules that I need to be taught by certain creatures scattered about the world. So far I have found one of those creatures. I don’t know how many more I need to find to make things useful.

As I said, I love the game itself. The visuals are beautiful, the controls are fairly good, the rooms and puzzles are extremely well-designed. The characters and inhabitants of the world are good. I just ran out of steam. It feels like admitting defeat, but as with iBomber Defence and Jack Lumber, I think I’ve experienced most of what the game has to offer – completing it just feels like a formality. One that I am not keen on pursuing, when I have hundreds more games waiting patiently for my attention.

I would definitely try this again in the future on console, or if I got a controller for the PC. But for now, Knytt Underground is crossed off my list as Played.

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Raiding Is Too Greedy

I wrote a while back about one of the negative consequences of raiding as the primary endgame activity in MMOs. The reasons I gave were social in nature, and not really aimed at the structure of raiding itself, more the attitude of players in general.

This past week there was a series of articles on Massively about the structure of raiding and how it should become a less monolithic part of MMO endgames.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I happen to agree with them entirely. The articles argue, for various reasons, that raiding is too greedy in terms of developer resources. It alienates far too much of the playerbase for frivolous reasons, it promotes social drama (in different ways than I talked about in my post), it actively takes away resources from developing fun and interesting and accessible new features (e.g. faction systems, pet or mount events, new combat systems, new crafting professions, etc) or expanding current ones (e.g. racial Garrison structures, new holiday events, more clothing or pet or mount or collectibles options, new crafting recipes).

I’m a little torn. I don’t mind raids existing, because there is definitely an exclusive rush you get from completing huge battles with a large group of friends. But they should be rare at best. They should be an option that people can participate in, but not something that offers objectively better gear than all other activities. There are many ways that small group and solo play can be just as difficult, just as rewarding to complete, and just as long-lasting as raids are. It’s time that more MMOs realise that and start offering more variety in their ‘endgame’ activities.

Guild Wars 2 and EVE have not been hurt by a lack of raids, The Secret World only has one currently, and will add its second sometime next year I believe, and MMOs in development – such as Star Citizen, EverQuest Next, Shroud of the Avatar, Camelot Unchained, still months or years away from release, and Elite: Dangerous and The Crew, which are due for release in December – are either avoiding raids altogether or making it a small part of the game. I hope that current raid-driven MMOs see the sense in making the switch to that deprioritisation of raiding.