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Rob On Stuff Videogames

Genshin Impact And Beyond

Folks reviewing a free to play game (especially a gacha game) saying they managed to play through a videogame without feeling the need to cough up only tells me how able they are to walk past a fruit machine, not how invasive the monetisation is. Even more so in the first few weeks when the monetisation is especially light yet somehow the game is making a shitload of money all the same.

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Rob On Stuff Videogames

Game Wikis, Accessibility And An Assistant For No Man’s Sky

I keep forgetting to mention this, because I’m rubbish. Also because I keep forgetting things.

I know it’s very much the in thing at the mo to have games that are built around having a subset of players catalogue their workings. I don’t particularly mind it but given my incredibly flakey memory these days, it’s definitely something that makes playing games a lot more difficult for me.

When I can’t remember where I put my phone down two minutes ago, I’m sure you can imagine how messy it is trying to remember crafting recipes or whatever other videogame nonsense I need to follow.

Take ESO, for example, when I’m doing anything that isn’t just hitting stuff or fishing for stuff, I have a whole bunch of blog posts and wiki posts open in tabs. One for survey maps, one for treasure maps, one for crafting recipes, one for blue shiny collectibles and so on.

I’ve always had a memory like a sieve! Long before the pain and brainfog made things more difficult I used to be one of those people who kept notes, drew maps and the likes. Even back in 1984, I had a folder full of notes me and mum made, tips and advice for tricky bits copied from magazines and filed. Pokes, things to avoid because oops, broke the game there. This stuff has always been a part of games for me.

Just games are really big now. Games are often non-linear, they have more things going on at any one time, more overlapping tasks, shopping lists of stuff to do, a whole host of recipes, tricks and locations and stuff. So much stuff. For someone with a shit memory, it’s a proper nightmare some days.

I guess it’s one of those things where folks take their own abilities for granted, you know? Like, the ability to juggle 30 guides, to hold a bunch of crafting recipes in their bonce without it being really stressful (or borderline impossible, depending on the day). Perhaps entirely unaware that even juggling a bunch of wiki pages can be super stressful and difficult to keep track of. It’s not just looking up information, it’s spending precious spoons.

It’s also kinda unfortunate that the games I like the most are the ones I’m likely to be unable to keep track of. Talk about awkward. Why couldn’t I just stick to flashing lights at myself like a sensible person.

Because of all this, I am extremely grateful for Kurt Louren’s Assistant For No Man’s Sky app. It obviously doesn’t solve anything for, like, any other game but for No Man’s Sky it’s been an absolutely wonderful resource having all this stuff in a findable, searchable, easy to flit through way that’s always on hand.

It’s not the first app of its type for a game, won’t be the last either, but it is an absolutely excellent one. I’m talking well above and beyond the call of duty in keeping it tidy, updated often and with pointers to other resources too.

OK, so I’m around 2,000 hours deep into the game across a couple of formats, a couple of saves. I’m very much in the endgame faffing around and doing what I want part of the game. As you’d expect from that, I don’t need the app as much as I would were I trying to plough through the game from the start. It’s still been absurdly handy, even if that’s just to catch up on where the ongoing story is up to at the mo.

There’s also no way on Molyneux’s sweet Earth I’d be able to manage the cooking (in the game, natch) without it. Juggling multiple levels of crafting just isn’t going to happen any other way for me.

There’s definitely a part of me that’s all “it shouldn’t be up to the community and audience to build this stuff” because it’s an accessibility issue full stop. Also, when the game has sold a shedload, it’s absolutely within the power of the studio to sort! That doesn’t stop me from being grateful when the community steps up to sort stuff out though, yeah? Especially when it’s so well done, and this NMS app is really well done.

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Rob On Stuff Videogames

The MS/Bethesda thing is about so much more than Gamepass.

I think it’s really easy to be blindsided by the obvious and incredibly explicit push MS are making to ensure Gamepass has an enviable amount of videogames propping it up.

Yes, that’s A Thing and it’s certainly not wrong to point at it. But, and it is a big but (sorry, I will never tire of that) it’s missing the big picture that MS are taking advantage of what I could politely describe as “a decade where we rebuilt the games industry, same as before, but with new kings”.

As a result of that, this generational shift brings the old generational shift problems of bigger companies being able to absorb the costs whilst mid tier (our new mid tier is quite a high bar to reach too) studios find themselves rightly concerned about their future.

In other words, we fixed nothing of use nor note in this structural department with our great rebuilding videogames but now with indie too! We’re kind of a bit back where we started from and ah, whoops. Combine that with larger companies having built up an absolutely enormous amount of money and someone was going to spot the opportunity to, well, “do a Disney” and hoard precious works whilst the conditions are favourable, whilst studios are especially vulnerable, and just with having access to enough money to pull off showy “ooh that’s a lot of money!!!” headlines to dazzle as they go.

So yeah, obviously in the same way Disney are using Disney+ (and whatever the other streaming thing for grown ups is that we don’t get in the UK) to have an incredible amount of control around how people are permitted to access the works, obviously that’s where Gamepass fits in. Like I say, not wrong to point at it. It matters.

Just alongside this, Microsoft are steadily acquiring an absolutely enormous amount of our videogame culture a la Disney and I’d be very, very surprised if Microsoft didn’t keep going.

There’s a heck of a lot of fighting for the ownership of the future of videogames (not The Future Of Videogames, that’s me and no-one wants to buy me). Microsoft’s play is to do the Disney. Epic’s is to smooth the way for Fortnite to become the metaverse platform, the same as Facebook’s play for VR – that’s a fight for where people exist. Google and Amazon will be fighting for who owns the access to the stuff that they don’t need to own (just like you don’t get to own the games too, hohoho etc…) and Valve are happy to hoover up as much of a bit of everything they can as normal.

Like, I’m proper excited for what this next tech leap is going to mean for what games can be built and how it’ll make a substantial difference to what can be made.

I’m also excited for games because I’ve seen what’s possible now at every level and for an old git like me who has grown up alongside the entire game industry, it’s magic to see what people are doing now. Especially, especially, especially outside of the big names. Itch.io is a treasure trove of wonder, every day.

Just, the future is also going to be an absolute shitshow.

Forget the console wars, they’re so PS3 and Xbox! Those days are gone and no-one of any importance in how the future will play out gives a flying squirrel about them. Why fight for selling all the boxes from a warehouse when a company can own a chunk of the future that lasts beyond any concept of a videogame generation, beyond the box, beyond the current fad of a subscription service.

In the case of MS, why not just buy all the things for keepsies? Whichever way the future pans out, the company gets a guaranteed slice of it. By owning so many prominent pieces of videogames culture, Microsoft gets a say in it too.

It’s going to be fun times ahead*, brace yourself.

*and I’m ignoring the rise of the right and climate disasters and a bloody pandemic offing us here, obv.