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Archive for the ‘Game Previews & Industry News’ Category

#YOHTAI – A Place For Hearthstone.. Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Posted by Yogizilla on April 17, 2014

Over at Geeky Antics we have been keeping busy reporting the latest #Hearthstone news.  We have info on how to get Hearthstone on the iPad or iPhone now.  We even have some sneak peeks for the upcoming Adventure Mode (Curse of Naxxramas), new cards, and shifts in the meta.  It’s an exciting time to be a geek – especially if you are on a budget!

Stan Faryna has started the #YOHTAI initiative as we prepare for some collaborative livestreams, special video series, and game nights.  Help us out by sharing your Battle Tag over at Geeky Antics and sharing via social media.  Tweet, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Squidoo..  Whatever you use, get it out there – we can do it!

Our hope is that this will help us all find more worthy opponents where the competition is more balanced.  Matchmaking still leaves a bit to be desired on Hearthstone but we reckon the mobile apps and single-player content will change that a lot.  There’s also Arena Mode, which we highly recommend once you get a good grasp on the basics.

Show Stan some love.  Share this and leave comments with your BNet Battle Tag (in the format USERNAME#ID).  Feel free to leave your Twitter, Twitch, Skype, Raptr, and other pertinent social media stuff.

This is #1 of the series and we hope to see many more.  We can’t make it happen without you.  Let’s do this!

GAME ON!

Ye Olde #Hearthstone Tavern and Inn (16 April 2014) Issue No. 1.

via Ye Olde #Hearthstone Tavern and Inn (16 April 2014) Issue No. 1.

Posted in Duel Strategies, Free Games, Freemium Games, Game Mechanics & Design, Game Previews & Industry News, Game Updates & Announcements, Social Media, Strategic Gaming, Tips Tricks & Strategies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NSFW: Horseplay Podcast EP 1 – Crazy Indie Games & LoL Ranked Preseason 4 Favorites

Posted by Yogizilla on December 13, 2013

Sexy Katarina - League of Legends

WARNING:  NSFW!

After a crazy pilot episode, we really get into our groove with the Horseplay Gaming Podcast EPISODE 1.  Since we do not follow specific themes or scripts, we talk about everything in the 2 1/2 hours we stream live here but we focus heavily on indie games, the ho-hum next-gen consoles, and, of course, League of Legends.

As we will likely do every week, we discuss the most-played LoL champions.  No real shockers here.  ADCs dominate the rankings as usual, making it clear that most just want to kill things and teamwork is often an afterthought.  Lee Sin is moving up the ranks while staples such as Yi, Caitlyn, Ezreal, and Vayne stay amongst the Top 20 in ranked play.

Personally, I’m surprised Katarina is not higher on the list..  She still pwnz in 5v5..  Unless maybe you play at Diamond or higher tiers.  BTW, we also discuss the top skins on League of Legends.  Most skins suck but I think these picks are solid.

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Preseason 4 has been super exciting and we are stoked to see what Patch 3.15 and beyond will bring.  The new champion, Yasou, seems to be a flexible champion who can jungle, top, or support.  It also seems that he will be an excellent counter for annoying pokemasters like Caitlyn and Nidalee.

In other news, we discuss the stupidity of big gaming companies shutting down content and enforcing stupid contract clauses.  Amongst the moments in derpdom are the LCS debacle and YouTube’s move to shut down video game playthrough videos.  WTF?!

I discuss games I am revisiting or planning to revisit..  Plus games I am finally getting around to playing in the Dust Off.  Amongst these games is the strangest title I have played in a long time: Insectipede.  With all these ballsy indie games and spiritual successors, I am hoping someone remakes Seventh Cross Evolution, previously on the Dreamcast, the greatest console of all time.

Tired of corporate greed and lack of customer appreciation in the gaming industry?  We are too.  In fact, that is one of our biggest rants in this episode.  Come give us a listen!

http://www.twitch.tv/yogizilla/c/3389583

http://www.youtube.com/obionex2

Posted in and Streams, Anime, Console Gaming, Free Games, Freemium Games, Game Business & Politics, Game Previews & Industry News, League of Legends & MOBAs, Steam & SteamOS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review & Tips: Marvel Puzzle Quest By Demiurge

Posted by Yogizilla on November 15, 2013

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign Preview Version

Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign is a puzzle fighting game much akin to Puzzle Figher. At first glance, people will think you are playing that horrribad, spammy game on Facebook called Candy Crush.. Or PopCap’s own Columns rip-off, Bejeweled. While this is another three-match puzzle game at heart, it’s differences are what make it truly shine.

First, here is the stuff that should be familiar or expected to most. Puzzle Quest is free to play but they monetize via the usual “pay to win”/”speed up your progression” value proposition. It is a social media enhanced game so sharing with and inviting friends does get you some loot. Paying players have an edge but the game is very balanced.

Now for the good stuff!

Puzzle Quest Virtual Economy And Core Mechanics

The standard format in Puzzle Quest is 3v3 but sometimes you will face one or two buffed-up opponents, like Venom, who can literally eat you whole if you are not careful. Damage is dealt by matching colors with higher values. The value or damage hits depend upon your team. If you assemble bruisers in your squad, color matches do more damage.

Color matches collect the tiles for AP (action/ability points) of the respective color. Typically, you need 6 or more of ay given color to really execute anything worthwhile. You will find that some heroes and villains have reduced AP costs the more you train those powers. For example, Venom’s stun, the Symbote Snare, costs 6 AP or less at higher levels.

To train powers, you can use matching covers or Hero Points. I do not recommend the latter as those points are best used for expanding your team size and cover storage (same thing). Hero Points are also hard to come by and ultimately cost money if you are in a pinch. You can only level up characters once their powers are trained. Each power level and rarity has it’s own level cap. The elusive isotope, ISO-8, is what you will typically use to level up your toons.

Sometimes, players will find themselves stuck. Fortunately, you can replay old missions to earn additional rewards. Some missions offer four distinct rewards but distribution is random. This means you will have to do some grinding.

Now, back to how damage is dealt.. Matching four of a color clears a lane and collects all AP in it. matching five or more earns you an extra move and massive opponent damage. Five-tile matches usually produce a critical tile, which increases damage dealt by 10-20% and serves as a wildcard.

As you can see, there is lots of depth here but there’s much more…

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Posted in Game Mechanics & Design, Game Previews & Industry News, Game Reviews, Strategic Gaming, Tips Tricks & Strategies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CyGames Goes Full-On Retard With Rage Of Bahamut

Posted by Yogizilla on October 1, 2013

It’s time for a classic Yogizilla rant!

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Summertime Amelia - Rage of Bahamut

The latest update released for the uber popular Rage of Bahamut game on Mobage proves that CyGames has no clue what they are doing..  and they have possibly gone retarded on us (no offense to those that have actual mental challenges and aren’t just plain stupid).  For me, a guy that happens to love this game in spite of it’s growing pains, it almost seems like they are purposely trying to chase away gamers and lose money – it’s utter madness!

Rage of Bahamut got a significant update that gave the UI (graphical interface) a face-lift and forced annoying features on us while neglecting game mechanics and glaring issues the community has been very vocal about.  On my Android-based Samsung Galaxy tablet, I am unable to exit the game easily and the background music comes back no matter how many times I turn it off.  The foremost issue would be all right if I were able to jump right into the game any time but, instead, it times out and tells me pages are no available.  Enter the force close.

These issues alone have been enough for me to quit other Mobage games but it gets better, I mean, worse.  In an effort to monetize further, Cygames introduced a new currency system in Rage of Bahamut.  This system is overly-complicated and provides real benefit to the users. The system involves tokens, souls, virtue points, card sacrifices, and some other crap.

Thanks but I’ll pass.

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Posted in Game Previews & Industry News, Game Reviews, Geeky Reviews, Mobile Gaming, Strategic Gaming, The Angry Mob | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SteamOS Announced – What’s Next For Valve And Next-Gen Gaming?

Posted by Yogizilla on September 25, 2013

Today, the gaming world got a wonderful surprise from Valve when they announced that they are releasing SteamOS to make their games more portable and bring the PC gaming experience to your living room.  This comes at a perfect time as it is clear that the big three consoles aren’t doing much to innovate and drive value to the consumer.  That’s right, I said it!

As much as I am curious about the XBox One, I know that the only reason I will get it is to play games with my friends.  The other stuff I do not care about as I have devices that cover my other entertainment needs.  The same goes for PS4 and Wii U, except I would rather buy the latter than anything from Sony as a personal preference as it comes down to peripherals, games, and online play to me there.  Microsoft still dominates in my opinion there.

SteamOS will be a great thing for the marketplace for countless reasons but here are a few:

* You can enjoy the games you already own in more places.
* You can play these same games with more devices and peripherals.
* It will force the consoles to offer more value and innovate tons more.  Competition keeps people more honest!
* Smaller developers will have easier distribution channels, better tools, and greater market share to work with.  More variety and competition!
* Games will run more smoothly on a Linux based operating system built strictly for gaming and nothing else.

The implications of the news I have come across would have me believing that this will make Steam more valuable than ever for gamers looking for great deals and fresh content.  I also see that Valve is committed to creating their own ecosystem for gamers by gamers in many ways.  What’s more exciting is that we will see games natively supported for optimal performance and everything else played in a streaming or virtual machine format for portability/accessibility.  Awesome!

Valve has two more huge announcements this week.  It’s fairly obvious that the second one will be the expected hardware component.  But what is the third announcement?  It’s time for some predictions and wishlists!

SteamDrive: Official SteamOS Hardware?

There are a few things that can happen here.  The easiest opportunity would be to enter the home console market and make Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft step their game up.  The implications here are:

* Nintendo likely will not release another console after the Wii U.
* If so, Nintendo may go the Sega route or enter exclusive deals for leading platforms.
* Any hopes of Microsoft-licensed games on Steam may be shot.

There’s more but that is what comes to mind.  With the cost of home consoles, it’s hard for the market to really support more than three major platforms unless the gaming console in question offers a niche experience like Nintendo has been doing since the Gamecube.  Of course, we see what lack of third-party support can do to you there.  You can only milk exclusive franchises for so long, Nintendo.  We gamers demand fresh content to justify our investments!

With all that in mind, Valve may decide to simply release a thin client device along the lines of ChromeCast or Roku.  If such a device would be upgradeable, then gamers would have the option of streaming from their PC or installing/running locally.

Whatever route Valve takes for hardware deployment, I reckon PC gamers are ready to pony up more money and finally divorce home consoles if they haven’t already.  Just look at the Stem System Kickstarter project, where they set the goal at 250k and are close to 1MM in less than a month.  We PC gamers generally don’t blink when it comes to investing in our gaming rigs because we know they will last us a long time.

Even if Valve goes the safe route with a set-top box and peripheral(s) for SteamOS, it’s gonns be awesome. This also means the chances of a Half-Life 3 announcement are the least probable. After all, their focus here seems to be on living room gaming…

But Isn’t PC Gaming Already In The Living Room?

Some of us more cynical gamers may not be impressed yet. I mean, we have our gaming rigs hooked up to large TVs using HDMI or we’re using multi-monitor configurations so it’s not like we are missing out. Fair enough.

SteamOS seems to be more geared towards first giving existing users easier ways to enjoy their favorite games wherever they want. From there, I see Valve starting to tap into the gaming console market and converting people over to computers, not mere toys. Conversely, home consoles are becoming more media centers than anything else so it would be nice to see a more pure, dedicated gaming environment.

Steam has come a long way from it’s humble origins. It went from being a platform for curbing piracy and distributing Valve games in digital format to something much bigger. The only thing plaguing it now is having an OS that consistently runs games at acceptable quality and performance levels right out of the box, which is where gaming consoles have shined most.

Needless to say, I see great potential here!

Steam Channel Partners & How Consumers Benefit

I can see Valve pairing up SteamOS with established gaming hardware manufacturers as well as new players in the market. Razer, Sharkoon, Alienware, and even Asus come to mind. Of course, don’t doubt that Google won’t jump in somehow. What this all means is that smart businesses here will see the potential and jump in early. It also means better support for our favorite hardware because developers will have a vested interested in compatibility: more ways to play, more people buying!

I know I would love to see Valve team up with Razer. Razer peripherals have always showcased great engineering in terms of look and feel. There’s no arguing that their stuff is responsive but the software is always a hit-or-miss proposition. Valve can help there and rally third party form developers.

Imagine having your favorite peripherals and accessories supported natively. No more messing with macros/mappings, clunky drivers, third-party tools, and messy configurations. Just plug the stuff in and get some gaming in!

This approach will make PC gamers less on the fence about where they will focus their resources and playtime. The more native support and out-of-box functionality we get with an official SteamOS device, the more convenient it is for us.. and the less relevant gaming consoles as we know them become.

Of course, open source means we will still see finer performance tweaks and streamlining for the power users who want to squeeze out higher bit rates, consistent frame rates, and stutter-free gameplay. Mods and user-generated content will reach a larger, more dedicated audience. Yes, PC gamers are generally more hardcore but this will seal the deal for those of us that have become more casual due to the headaches involved with getting computer games to play nice.

What’s Next For Valve, Steam, And Gaming?

Now there’s the third and final huge announcement Steam/Valve has under wraps. Considering all that we have discussed, I think the smartest move would be to expand the Steam Workshop to make it more accessible to small dev shops and the average user. I’m talking about rapid development tools and training resources that will ensure Steam content never goes stale and every title has a real shot at developing a captive audience.

If Valve succeeds at opening up the Steam and SteamOS framework enough that updates are more steady and more quality games are released (and not abandoned), this would be a huge game changer. Think RPG Maker or any extensive object editor from a game like Hammerwatch, Scribblenauts, Starcraft II, or Warcraft III. In fact, I can totally see Valve pulling a Google by buying out or at least partnering with the developers behind RPG Maker, Blender, Physx, Unity3D, etc.

Imagine a complete software RDE, not just a simple SDK, with seamless integration with Steam and SteamOS. Steam Greenlight and Microsoft Indie Games are great indicators of this bake a bigger pie (thanks Guy Kawasaki) approach. We see that smaller developers can produce better games than Triple A developers when given the tools. We also see the mod community is going strong as well.

There are people with great vision out there but no means to really materialize those things without jumping through hoops. The Steam ecosystem will provide the development tools and the monetization and funding paths as well. I think Valve had this planned all along, just based upon the evolution of Steam itself. It’s become an ecosystem for game distribution, support groups, community events, and so much more.

So the third announcement could very well be that they are releasing a cross-platform agile development programming suite. Perhaps that is wishful thinking but this would complete the trifecta of development, distribution, and delight for me. If it’s not this, then what else?

The only logical choice that is left is attacking the mobile space. Seeing Steam co-exist with Google Play and iTunes is likely a tall order to fill so that leaves me to think that there is a chance we will see a gaming-optimized tablet running SteamOS. It may not play today’s high-end games but there is still great value here:

* Using mobile devices to enhance core experiences, much like Dreamcast VMUs and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles did (and how Wii U promises to do, if Nintendo ever gets online play right).
* Offering a dirt-cheap alternative to the major tablet computing devices (i.e. Samsung G-Tab, Google Nexus, Apple iPad, and Windows Surface).
* Playing games like Scrolls, Magic the Gatherinf: Duels of the Planeswalkers, and Scribblenauts, which likely will work better with touch screen devices anyway.

It may seem a bit grandoise to think this big but that’s just the kick to the arse the gaming industry needs right now to get back on track. We’re seeing too much of a focus on regurgitated content and dollar bills. It’s time for change!

Other things Valve may announce are still floating about the interwebz. Perhaps we’ll see a full-scale loyalty/rewards program with tons of freebies and perks, further incentivizing supporting smaller developers and clocking in more gaming hours. There’s also the pay-what-you-want and support-your-favorite-charity trends to consider but perhaps Humble Bundle should be left alone to rock out what they do best there.

Whatever Valve has in mind, we know it will cause great ripples in the gaming industry. I know they have the collective gonads to take some big risks and they also have the money to reinvest into massive projects. Things are looking mighty encouraging as we approach 2014 and the next generation of gaming.

Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft: take notes!

Posted in Game Previews & Industry News, Mobile Gaming, Online Gaming, Valve & Steam, XBox LIVE | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rage Of Bahamut – Dragon’s Awakening – 6MM+ Players Worldwide!

Posted by Yogizilla on April 26, 2013

Rage of Bahamut recently hit 6MM Users Worldwide! To celebrate, the elusive “Rage of Bahamut Management Team” sent every player a free SSR base card (that’s a base card for Legend, the highest rarity in the game). Pretty awesome!

Of course, us Rage vets know there is always a catch to Cygames’ generosity. Altiai is not a PWR 20-26 throwaway card but she’s not a superstar, either. I would compare her to Elven Queen with a much weaker skill. Base stats in FF (final form) are better than cards like Diana, Dark Angel Olivia, Saccharine Witch, or the completely laughable Queen Lucie (man realm base SR now selling for 4HP or less a pop) so it’s something.. Plus she has an event skill which is awesome!

The real catch is that Altiai can’t be traded or sold at all… EVER – not even on the bazaar! Yes, that means you have to work the Dragon’s Awakening stamina event hard and/or hope for lucky CP (Card Pack) draws.

In spite of the shortcomings, Cygames is beginning to show the community that they appreciate the business and our loyalty. We hope for more freebies like this. Who knows, maybe there will be another FREE ten-card super pack in the near future.. Hopefully before the next event!

BTW, Dragon’s Awakening is the return of the Castle In The Sky. Now we get to feed a dragon instead of a fairy. It’s a nice change of pace and the rewards have been great. Second half just started and we have until May 6th to score some phat loot.

Good luck, Ragers!!

Posted in Free Games, Game Previews & Industry News, Game Reviews, Mobile Gaming | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mass Effect 3: Is Disappointment Over The Endings Justified?

Posted by Yogizilla on March 25, 2012

About three weeks ago, just over a week from the official release, Mass Effect 3 posts seemed to pop up on every gaming and tech site possible.  The topic, of course, is the outrage over the disappointing Mass Effect 3 ending.  The discussions all boil down to this:

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Are we gamers insatiable or was Bioware really lazy here?

Justin Germino of DragonBlogger.com put it all into a good perspective by discussing Five Worse Video Game Endings.  Still, I think core issues have been completely neglected in these discussions.

First and foremost, when one considers that dedicated Mass Effect fans have invested anywhere between 70 to 180 hours of total gameplay throughout the trilogy, you have to wonder, “Was this really worth it?”  I beat Mass Effect 3 about six days after starting it and I must say: I found the missions very satisfying.  Character and plot development alike were very well done, too.

Though I kept my expectations for the ending very low, I expected some sort of closure.  I got that.  What I did not get was an ending worthy of the time invested and all the build-up.  The climax in Mass Effect 3 leaves you hoping there will be at least more DLCs and multiplayer opportunities, if only to keep the addictive gameplay going.

Yes, the ending was disappointing yet it was to be expected.

The Mass Effect 3 Ending Feels Forced

For all the foreshadowing and tragedies that less up to the final moments of the Mass Effect 3 storyline, I can’t help but feel that the ending was forced.  You get a maximum of three possible ending choices and none of them are very satisfying.

The Bioware team did a great job of foreshadowing by making it clear how hopeless and impossible the scenario was..  yet I can’t help but feel that the glimmers of hope were misleading, even after everything goes awry time after time.  I believe Bioware wanted to allow for a truly happy ending but they got themselves stuck and did the only thing they could do: present us with controversial, perhaps incomplete content and let our imaginations do the rest.

I know that by now this horse has been beaten dead but I’m still having a video game hangover due to the severe disappointment here. I almost want all those hours invested back.

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Posted in Game Business & Politics, Game Mechanics & Design, Game Previews & Industry News, Rantings, The Angry Mob | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Look At The Gaming Industry, Gamer Motivation, And Social Media Marketing

Posted by Yogizilla on February 2, 2012

For those not interested in the business side of gaming, skip this..  But I will say this: we gamers RULE!

I’ve been working on some projects lately with heavy social media and game mechanics involved.  Thing is, the majority of online marketers, brands, and businessses still do not see the massive opportunity here.  I think these numbers speak for themselves:

”]ESRB Video Game Industry Facts & Figures

What’s interesting to me here is that the data hints that socializers are the biggest group of gamers.  I look at everyone as a player, though not all players are necessarily gamers (being a gamer, in the more traditional sense, is more of a lifestyle choice, a conscious commitment)..  Yet we all play games in our lives: reward programs, social influence scoring platforms, sweepstakes, blogging, etc.

Socializers are driven by the interaction and engagement between others.  There is endless opportunity here for thought leaders, inbound marketers, brands, and, well, everyone.  I think the major paradigm shift here is in value propositions.  We’ve always thought of value and ROI in terms of dollars and cents (or traffic and visibility, the mass marketing, noise-making ways of old), yet Nexon, Zynga, FourSquare, and countless others have shown us that a virtual economy can ultimately be profitable, while keeping your overhead costs down.

These market leaders have also shown us that players may not be driven by achievement, high-level competition, or even curiousity.  As human beings, we are driven to feel connected, if not validated and accepted, even if we may be tagged as socially-recluse.  There is power in feeling like you’re a part of something bigger than you, a community, and networking with like-minded individuals..  even more so when we can meet our goals together!  Social is beating the pants off traditional marketing, especially for small businesses and start-ups trying to stay lean.

Zynga was valued at over 7 BILLION, last I checked..  their games are free and very similar to the myriad of mobile and Facebook games out there.  I’d say that should create urgency for us all.

Have you considered implementing game mechanics and design into your online projects?  How about now?

Posted in Game Mechanics & Design, Game Previews & Industry News, Online Gaming, Online Marketing, Social Media | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Will Modern Warfare 3 Steal Battlefield 3’s Thunder? Probably Not.

Posted by Yogizilla on November 3, 2011

I’ve been so deep in Battlefield 3 that I almost forgot Modern Warfare 3 comes out next week. It was my fellow clanmate Joe Fisher (PhallicDragon on XBox LIVE) that reminded me. A small part of me is excited but, for the most part, this will be a game I will put on rotation so I don’t over-play Battlefield 3.

Every credible non-fanboy review I’ve read seems to point at the fact that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 feels more like an expansive map pack than a full sequel. While Joe and other fellow gamers say that Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 are too distinct to compare, I already know Battlefield 3 will be my main game. I also know that the Gears of War 3 Season Pass looks more tempting than a Call of Duty Elite subscription.

With that in mind, there are a few things that make Modern Warfare 3 and Elite subscription tempting…

This. Is. Sparta! Err, I mean Modern Warfare 3.

This. Is. Sparta! Err, I mean Modern Warfare 3.

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Posted in Game Mechanics & Design, Game Previews & Industry News, Geeky Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »