Tag Archives: Misscliks

#50 Gamescom 2015

Well met, my friends!

On Wednesday the 5th of August 2015, I attended the media day of Gamescom. Even though there are less people than on the other days, it is still very crowded. Both Anna Prosser-Robinson and Genevieve Livinpink Forgét were at Gamescom. I met up with Anna, who was live streaming from the twitch.tv booth, and gave her an Advance Review Copy of my novel “Age of Torridan.”

Unfortunately Livinpink was too busy, so it did not feel right to encroach on her time during her breaks.

Since this was Gamescom, I did get to try out a few games:

Battleborn

The game reminded me of Blizzard’s Overwatch due to the comic style and wacky heroes with different roles. A refreshing change that will hopefully hold true for the final release was that this was a 5 player co-op vs the computer kind of game. I played some sniper robot butler, which suited my play style. In the demo, the team shared 15 lives. You could play until your team ran out of lives or until you met the first boss. After defeating a semi boss, the actual boss showed up, but after a cutscene the demo was over. I guess that’s what they meant by playing “until the first boss.” Despite or because of that teasing I really enjoyed the demo.

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Skyarena

In the Indiegame area – which is a sort of a hidden gem at Gamescom, located in hall 10.1 – I tried out Skyarena. The game was a kind of confrontational Mariokart with jets. Unfortunately they did not implement the mechanic that the random upgrades are better, the worse you are doing in the game, as it is the case in Mariokart.

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Furthermore, the graphics shown here are probably not indicative of the final product. Still, this indie game ranks at or very near the top of the games I tried out at Gamescom.

Overwatch

Blizzard’s team shooter looked good and was fun to play, but it will depend on the match maker how well the game does. At Gamescom one played with randoms, so the other team happened to be much stronger. I liked that the game warned us when the whole team picked the same character – so grim reaper dude, who just looked cool. Later on I switched to a healer, but we still lost. The in my opinion broken part was that the other team had to defend, but still boxed us into our respawn zone. Two of our guys died and then it was 5 vs 3. When the remaining three died, the other two respawned, so then it was 5 vs 2.

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Hearthstone

Blizzard’s card game presented their tournament expansion. It was paladin vs mage and my paladin completely pummeled the mage. At some point I realized that I would have to leave and would not see any more cards, if I won too quickly, so I kept the other guy at 1 health and kept destroying his creatures. Unfortunately he picked up one of my spells that allowed him to attack one of my minions and die. Up to that point, the new cards were mostly creatures that compared a random creature from both decks and would get a boost, if your own random creature card had a higher casting cost.

Bad presentations

I did attend a particularly terrible presentation, so I will not name and shame the publisher here. It was just a surprise to see something like this, when the awesome Witcher 3 presentation last year already showed everyone how it’s done. Maybe the booth was paid for and they had to show something. Anyway, after a long waiting time, they announced that it is forbidden to take pictures. I thought publicity was in the interest of companies. The presentation itself was just a compilation of very gory headshots with almost no game play…

On a similar note, I wanted to play test a game and they told me I had to wait for 9 other people, because the demo is a 5vs5. This might work on a regular Gamescom day, but not during the media day. I decided to walk away. When I came back later on, 8 people were waiting, but just as I had traversed the maze to get in line, some guys must have jumped the queue and so I saw them disappear into the gaming area. Oh well.

Fable Legend

The demo was a 1 vs 4, with four people playing fantasy heroes and one guy playing an evil overlord, who can direct his minions in a top down perspective. The people at the booth claimed that it was easier with a game pad, but I actually did better with mouse and keyboard (surprise, surprise). The game looked nice, so I signed up for the beta test.

Homefront the Revolution

The last game I saw looked like a shooter, but the presentation was really well done. I stood in line in a fenced walkway. There were guards with (toy) guns walking around. When it was time for the presentation, one of the actors shouted “Ok, ten people, one, two, three, …” and pushed people forward with every count. Inside, an announcement that was repeated in chinese urged people to remain silent. Some inspirational video was shown that was interspersed with atrocities the occupying force commits in the game. Then the guards leave the room. Gun shots and a Wilhelm Scream can be heard. Afterwards the resistance fighters entered the room and showed a video about the mission. I dozed off halfway through, but if I had paid attention this video would have shown what to do in the demo. Consequently I did poorly when it was time to play the game and did not complete it in the time allotted.

Gametrends

Perhaps I’m getting too jaded, but there wasn’t something special or new this time around. The overarching theme seemed to be wacky team based first person combat action games with colorful graphics, like Battleborn, Overwatch, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2, Orcs must die unchained or Paladins.

Final verdict

Despite my sometimes harsh words, I’ll definitely be back at Gamescom next year.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#40 MLG Anaheim

Well met, my friends!

In June I attended MLG Anaheim (Major League Gaming) and Vidcon, which will be covered in a separate blog post. On previous trips to the USA I learnt that taxis are expensive and that there is hardly any free parking in L.A.

Since I would be at the convention center for most of the duration of the trip anyway, I opted not to get a rental car. Thus, I ended up booking with supershuttle to transport me from the airport to my hotel and back (18$ per ride).

Without planning this, I ended up meeting up with some people from the Day[9] gatherings (see my blog posts from May 2013 and March 2014). First, I ran into Jeff at Starbucks. His brother Andy managed to snag a competitor pass for Starcraft 2. The spots in that competition were filled up with up and coming talents as well as a lot of the professional players, who did not qualify directly for MLG.

Later on I saw that Chris “Kobayshi Maru” Negrin posted on twitter that he and his friend Mark were heading to MLG as well. I saved some seats and we did get to hang out and catch up throughout the weekend.

At some point early on I found the Misscliks people: I also write articles for Misscliks.com, which focusses on the achievements of women rolemodels in geek culture and gaming. However, so far I hadn’t met any of them and had only interacted online. To the side of the group, I saw Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson and Stephanie “Missharvey” Harvey. Since they were having a conversation, I did not want to interrupt. Still, I positioned myself next to them, in order to introduce myself once there was a lull in the conversation. This is where Anna Prosser Robinson impressed me: apparently she recognized me from my tiny profile picture and greeted me by name. She proceeded to introduce me to everyone there, the aforementioned iNcontroL, Missharvey, Stephanie Powell and Neil Sharum. In the evening I met the rest of the group, Neal “Koibu” Erickson and Geneviève “Livinpink” Forget, as well as some other cool e-sports people like Jaycie “Gillyweed” Gluck, Matt Wiltshire, Michael Young and Matt Marcou.

Since I was there for leisure and not work I opted to watch some Starcraft (II). Perhaps Blizzard should consider enabling an offline mode. It’s an old game now, there is no need to worry about piracy. I bring this up, because when the internet at the venue gave out, all the other games like Call of Duty and Super Smash Brothers Melee continued, but due to the always online “feature” of Starcraft, its matches were interrupted. On the bright side, it gave everyone the chance to check out the other games.

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To me, one of the big surprises of the event was the popularity of Smash Brothers.

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It was entertaining to watch and the Smash fans cheered even louder than the Starcraft crowd.

My brother is making fun of me for being very selective about my time whenever I am in London. The thing is that I know several dozen people in London and I couldn’t even manage to meet up with everybody, if I am there on a weekend. Thus, when I am there, I plan out different time slots, which I then assign to people. Often times, I also prioritize, leaving the Friday and Saturday night slots for good friends, whereas I’d meet up for lunch with people I am less close with. There are exceptions, of course – people I see on every trip won’t be disappointed, if it only works out for lunch every once in a while. This time I was on the receiving end of this, as a friend of mine was extremely busy and had to juggle around his breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings. Due to scheduling conflicts, I ended up meeting my friend, who is also one of my Alpha readers, for breakfast to talk about game design, magic the gathering and the discoveries I made, while revising Age of Torridan.

Back at the venue, the Starcraft matches were pretty crazy – the best moment was when Scarlett switched from Zerg to Protoss for a game and received standing ovations. I loved the atmosphere and the spectators’ energy. Earlier on I had used up all of my credit on my pay as you go phone. I had one more code to charge another 15 Euros, so I decided I would only use my phone in an emergency. However, when Scarlett switched to Protoss that counted as an emergency, so I enabled roaming to post on twitter about it.

The highlight of the trip proved to be the after party at Matt Wiltshire’s and Michael Young’s hotel room. They nailed the important ingredients for any party and I ended up leaving at 7 a.m. when we were down to six people. Even though I was the only person above thirty, I did not feel out of place – everyone was just so friendly and awesome. Thanks for making me feel welcome, I had an absolutely terrific time!

Hopefully MLG Anaheim and Vidcon will be on consecutive weekends next year as well, as I would love to attend them both again.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

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