video games

Star Trek Online Now on Xbox One and PS4

Last weekend was Star Trek Mission New York, a Star Trek convention held in New York City for the first time in years. We were lucky enough to attend and even got a few cool interviews for the Screen Heroes podcast. One of the bigger booths was Perfect World’s Star Trek Online area which boasted playable demos on PS4 and Xbox One. The game went live on those two platforms two days ago on September 6th, making the end to a 6 1\2 year PC exclusive.

The Star Trek Online MMO has been around for a long time, getting updates, new factions, new content, and new expansions on a regular basis. In fact, they released a major expansion “Agents of Yesterday” just this summer, allowing players to jump back in time to the era of Kirk and Spock and eventually become Temporal Agents in the distant future. Star Trek Online was excited to show the world what six years of experience looks like with an all-new engine and they did just that this weekend at Star Trek Mission New York. Let’s take a look at some detail. First, what is Star Trek Online?

Star Trek Online is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online game where players can pioneer their own destiny as Captain of a Federation starship, become a Klingon Warrior and champion the Empire through the far reaches of the galaxy, or rebuild the Romulan legacy as the commander of a Romulan Republic Warbird.Star Trek Online Odyssey at Starbase

Key Features

  • THE DEPTH OF STAR TREK
    Captains can explore the galaxy, visiting all 4 quadrants, including 100+ iconic Star Trek locations. During these missions, they will interact with original characters from the television show voiced by Trek actors, including Jeri Ryan, Michael Dorn, Tim Russ and more.
  • YOUR MISSIONS, YOUR WAY
    Players can choose from three classic Star Trek factions (Federation, Klingon and Romulan) to create their own Captain and customize their bridge crew and starships for a completely personalized Star Trek experience.
  • EXPANSIVE CONTENT
    Star Trek Online on PlayStation®4 and Xbox One will launch with over six years of content, including over 130 featured episodes. The game will receive regular updates to include new locations and characters straight from the Star Trek universe.
  • UPDATED GRAPHICS AND CONTROLS
    A brand new UI and control scheme has been added, allowing players to navigate both space and ground combat with ease. Modern lighting technologies have also been added to improve the overall visual quality of the game.

Brining Star Trek Online to consoles required an entirely new UI, replacing the free moving menus of the PC version. The image below shows an example of this new UI while in space mode.

Star Trek Online Console UI

Over the years, Star Trek Online has been able to leverage canon characters by bringing in veteran Star Trek actors from the likes of Leonard Nimoy, Denise Crosby, and Garrett Wang, among others.

Star Trek Online Canon Characters

Even bigger news broke during the convention as the Star Trek Online team announced that coming soon, you’ll be able to physically print 3D models of your custom starships from the game. This includes custom components, colors, names, etc. The ships are a decent size too, around 10-12″ and leverage the latest 3D printing technology. Below you can see three different examples including the Odyssey class starship used for the Enterprise F in-game (center).

Star Trek Online 3D Printed Models

For more information on Star Trek Online, its jump to Xbox One and PS4, UI changes, content comparisons, and details on the 3D ship printing, listen to this week’s Screen Heroes podcast episode where I interview Al Rivera, Lead Designer behind Star Trek Online, pictured below.

Derreck Interviewing Al Rivera of Star Trek Online

As always, Star Trek Online is free-to-play, even on Xbox One and PS4. You can download the game at no risk, even if you’re a Lifetime PC member like myself. Start up a new faction character just to check out the new UI features and how well these ships handle a controller.

Do you play Star Trek Online? Comment below and maybe we can team up for a mission or two! Live long and prosper.

Star Trek Online Now on Xbox One and PS4

SH S2E11: Star Trek Mission New York

This week, we have a very special episode recorded live at Star Trek: Mission New York! This convention was in celebration of the Star Trek franchise’s 50th anniversary, which is officially Thursday, September 8th. We were lucky enough to attend and interview three fantastic people! First up, we have Kelli Fitzpatrick and Derek Attico. These two were both selected as part of the 10 whose personal Star Trek short stories were chosen for official publication in this year’s Strange New Worlds novel. This book series was annual from 1998 through 2007 but has now returned after its announcement last October with winners selected this past April. I was able to take some of Kelli and Derek’s time this weekend to talk about the experience and their process. Next, we were lucky enough to get some time with Al River, a Lead Designer for Star Trek Online, specifically focusing on the console launch of the game that hit PC over six years ago. The console launch happened yesterday, September 6th and is free-to-play on Xbox One and PS4. We go in-depth on the process of bringing the longtime PC game to consoles, details on UI changes, and more.

Want to join the conversation? Join us live every Tuesday night at 8PM CST on Twitch to chat with us! We’ll answer questions and note comments live on the broadcast! Follow at: twitch.tv\griddaily

Also, stop by our Patreon to see what kinds of cool perks you can get for being one of our contributors: patreon.com\griddaily

Star Trek Mission New York Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Rachel Stewart

Special Guest
Derek Attico
Kelli Fitzpatrick
Al Rivera

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

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SH S2E11: Star Trek Mission New York

Bastion, Should He Be Nerfed?

Should Bastion be nerfed in Blizzard’s Overwatch? Perhaps, but before we tackle this we got to ask ourselves if there is a problem. I’d say yes.

Turtling

 

Turtling

I’ve seen teams on defense get crushed and pushed back on payload missions just to get to the very end of the map and then the losing team “turtles up” and gets several players using Bastion. Bastion is a fine character but with their backs to the wall and near spawn points, Bastion is much more overpowered than normal. It’s not uncommon to see not only one or two players go as Bastion but I’ve seen 3 or 4 players do this, taking turtling to a whole new level.

 

Teams Stacked With Bastions

During most parts of the map teams full of Bastions can be dealt with easily enough, usually by flanking or with characters that can infiltrate such as Reaper with his teleport ability. But the problem is that at the end of the map the terrain favors defense, this makes sense as it makes games exciting to have that final push be all that much harder.  But having teams full of Bastions is way more difficult than it should be.

bastion highlight

Backs to the Wall

What makes this so hard is you can’t get behind the team that is stacked with Bastions at the end of a payload, their backs are literal against the wall. The map doesn’t go on, there is no path behind them. Also there are limited alternate routes to approach the target. There may be only one or two routes to the objective and they can easily have two Bastion characters watching both of these paths. With the amount of fire power Bastion brings to bear, two players can do most of the defense for a team, freeing up other players to go on the offensive.

 

The Expected Method

The usual method of countering them, aside from getting behind them, would be sniping them with Widowmaker  or Hanzo, or even a ranged attack from Pharah. The problem is that many of the end points of final maps don’t have lines of site for these sorts of tactics. The only way to get lined up with a turtling team of Bastions it to put yourself way too close to them. If you can see a Bastion in sentry mode, then he can see you and it’s a lot easier for him to spray bullets your way than you’d like.

350px-Pharah-portrait

 

Spray and Pray

The problem is worsened by having no damage fall off with distance such as with Team Fortress 2. Bastion can fire down a long corridor spraying bullets at a suspected sniper spot and all it takes is one or two lucky bullets to kill a squishy sniper. All a Bastion needs to do is “spray and pray” with his 200 round magazine. But it takes a lot more skill for a sniper to get a one shot kill. Skill should be rewarded not blind firing.

 

Skill vs Luck

The same with another skill based character Genji. Sure, Genji could reflect the fire back at the Bastion but that takes some good timing. All Bastion has to do is see Genji and stop firing for a couple of seconds, wait for the cool down timer for Genji’s reflect to start again and then Bastion resumes fire. It takes a real dumb Bastion to fall for it and it takes a skilled Genji to pull it off. Not to mention if the team has Bastion placements with fields of fire protecting each other this is an all but impossible tactic, not to mention if the Bastion has only the slightest bit of help.

genji overwatch

 

Bastion With Few Limitations

Compounding all of this is the short setup time with no limitations of resources. In Team Fortress 2 an equivalent sentry takes some time to build up, not to mention ammo. But Bastion can plant himself down very quickly and be ready to fire immediately after spawn. This is especially difficult at the end of the map where the defense doesn’t have to travel far to defend the point. Just spawn and plop down Bastion and you have the point covered, way too easy to defend.

TF2 Sentry

 

Squad Ratios

It’s true there are more advanced ways of handling a Bastion stacked team. I imagine as players get more experienced at team work then cooperation will happen naturally, but it’s not a good equation when you have something like Mercy and Pharah teaming up to take down one Bastion, a 2:1 ratio favoring defense. This is even worse with six-player teams where this unfavorable ratio gets more one-sided. Imagine a team that is half Bastions. Besides the high damage output of Bastion easily out paces both Mercy and Lucio’s ability to heal. Bastion just deals out way too much raw firepower. Defense is way too easy with Bastion.

 

No Adversary for Bastion

You never see this kinda problem in Team Fortress 2, as a class heavy team will have problems. For one thing, team size in Team Fortress 2 makes team staking harder, at about 20 players. Overwatch only has but 6 players per team. but more importantly both Heavys and Engineers and their sentry’s aren’t perfect; they have major weaknesses.  In some ways Bastion is similar to both of these TF2 classes. So why not consider some of the drawbacks of both the Heavy and the Engineers’ sentry?  The Heavy doesn’t really do all that great of damage at greater ranges and has limited ammo. His damage drop over range is considerable. So you have to get close to be effective, similar to D. Va in Overwatch. As for the Engineers’ sentry, it has a limited targeting range but more importantly there is always an angle to attack a sentry. There is no such thing as a perfect spot for a sentry because of how the maps are designed, that and natural counters to the Engineers’ sentry are Spies and Demomen. These adversarial classes are usually something the Engineer always has to worry about. Bastion on the other hand doesn’t really have a dedicated class that opposes him. Genji isn’t nearly as threatening as a Spy or Demoman.

junkrat overwatch

The equivalent class in Overwatch of the Demoman would be Junkrat and he does specialize in indirect fire like the Demoman, but because of current map layouts, it’s hard for him to get the job done all by himself. Where the map limits his options as far as angles to bounce explosive, the enemy team can way too easily harass him. There is no good angle for him to attack the point on most maps. I don’t know how many times I’d take out one or two Bastions just to have them re-spawn and turtle up before we even have a chance to move in and capitalize on the kills.

 

Bringing Down the Nerf Hammer

It’s never a good idea to bring down the “Nerf Hammer” too soon, especially with everyone is still getting used to the game, but I’m getting tired of easily pushing back an entire team and having half of the team suddenly go all Bastion when the going gets tough. Just as when the offense is about to win they turn it around because they have their backs to the wall with limited approaches angles to be attacked. A simple thing may be to increase Bastion’s reload times or his clip size, or limiting the damage over range to Bastion would eliminate the “spray and pray” tactic that people use. This has been done before with McCree, adjusting his damage over range so he doesn’t just spam out the shots at clusters of people from across the map. I believe the best way of correcting this is altering the maps to give more approaches to final points. Sure, the defense should have the advantage at the end of a map but Bastion heavy teams are nailing down limited paths way too easily. Another option, though very blunt, is to limit how many people can go Bastion. Maybe even having one Bastion per team but this may be a little to harsh but seeing teams go 3 or 4 Bastions at the end and having losing teams become unbeatable makes the game significantly less enjoyable.

Nerf

What are your thoughts on the Bastion Overwatch character? Should he be nerfed? Sound off below!

Bastion, Should He Be Nerfed?

SH S1E22: Broforce & Action Films

With Rae unavailable this week, Ryan and Derreck bring in their friend Jon to play some Broforce on the PS4. For those who don’t know, Broforce is a Indie platformer where you play as various classic action stars including Terminator, Rambo, Robocop, and even some new surprises. There’s tons of characters that you unlock as you rescue hostages. The game is very tongue-in-cheek and plays off the classic 80’s action stereotypes. As we play the game, we talk about the various characters we play as plus their films. For example, when playing as Will Smith’s Agent J from Men in Black, we talk about our thoughts on the franchise’s third film.

If you’re interested in the game play, check out our video on Twitch.tv\griddaily or YouTube.

Don’t forget to join us every Tuesday night at 8PM CST on Twitch to watch us record Screen Heroes live! And if you like what you see but think it could be better, help support us at Patreon.com\GridDaily. Every bit helps so we can get better equipment like cameras and microphones!

Broforce Podcast Credits

Hosts
Derreck Mayer
Ryan Couture

Special Guest
Jon Czerwinski

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

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contact@griddaily.com

SH S1E22: Broforce & Action Films

Ratchet & Clank: A Video Game Movie

The latest video game turned movie comes in the form of Ratchet & Clank. The original game of the same name debuted on the PlayStation 2 developed by Insomniac Games back in 2002 with 11 different incarnations including the new game that released earlier this month for the PlayStation 4.

“When the galaxy comes under the threat of a nefarious space captain, a mechanic and his newfound robot ally join an elite squad of combatants to save the universe.”

The film has a solid casting including James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Johnny Test) as Ratchet and David Kaye (Up, Dragon Ball Z) as Clank. The movie also includes Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Daredevil, Seven Pounds), Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Saving Private Ryan, Cold Souls), John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Monsters Inc.), Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, BioShock 2), and Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Creed, The Expendables).

Ratchet & Clank Poster

The film is in theaters now and has a solid 8.3 rating on IMDB. Have you seen it yet? Were you a big fan of the games? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Ratchet & Clank: A Video Game Movie

Ryan gets dominated in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Check out Ryan’s latest video game spree and he takes on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive live on our Twitch channel! Be sure to subscribe at http://www.twitch.tv/griddaily to get notifications when we go live playing video games and even filming our podcasts and other media. Last week’s Screen Heroes took viewer votes in our first ever Versus match!

What did you think? Should Ryan keep practicing or is it time to move on to another game? Comment below and he might just listen.

If you’d like to see more Twitch videos, hit up http://griddaily.com/twitch for our gallery of nothing but video game streams.

If you’d like to see other stuff, we’ve got a full YouTube page with Rae’s I Ship It, plus unboxing videos, and live broadcasts of our Screen Heroes podcast!

Nintendo Set for Pokemon Sun and Moon

With Nintendo’s latest Direct set to come tomorrow and planned to focus completely on the ever popular Pokemon series, it looks like we’re also going to get two new games, Pokemon Sun and Moon. This comes in the wake of most people assuming Pokemon Z was on the way to round out the X & Y games and complete the trilogy. According to the wonder images provided by Nerdleaks, the trademarks were filed today but that didn’t stop the video game world from picking up the news and spreading it quickly.

Nintendo has a lot planned for the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon franchise including the TBD release of Pokemon Go, the augmented reality and geolocation game. Additionally, tons of stores are using this Saturday, February 27th as Pokemon Day with places like GameStop and Toys R Us providing special events full of sales, posters, and more goodies.

The special Nintendo Direct is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, February 26th at 9:00AM CST (10:00AM EST) with streams available through Nintendo’s website and their Twitch channel.

Pokemon Moon Pokemon SunPokemon Sun and Moon TrademarksWhat do you think of the news? Do you think the games will be for 3DS or will Nintendo have these as launch titles for the mysterious Nintendo NX console? Will you tune in tomorrow for the Nintendo Direct? Comment below!

(Sourced from Nerdleaks)

Nintendo Set for Pokemon Sun and Moon

Twitch with The Grid Daily

Do you like video games? Well then we have something for you! This past week, The Grid Daily launched our very own Twitch channel! What is Twitch? Twitch is an online service that allows people to watch live video streams of video game play. It also allows viewers to talk to the streamers via chat. We’ve only just started producing content for our channel but there are several videos available right now! That’s right, Twitch allows us to save our live broadcasts, making them available on our Twitch channel and allow us to export them to our YouTube channel. Check out our game play of the original Borderlands below, where Ryan (Screen Heroes and Buster Costumes and Props) joins me for my first play-through of the game.

If you liked our video, please subscribe to our YouTube page and our Twitch channel so you don’t miss our latest videos and game streams. We’ve got a lot planned including so classic video game play on consoles like the SNES and N64 as well as brand new games like Rocket League.

Are there games you’d like to see? Comment below and we might just make it happen!

 

Twitch with The Grid Daily

Top 10 Star Wars Video Games

Due to the release of The Force Awakens, I decided to take a look back at the Star Wars video games I had played in my formative years. I believe it can certainly be said that Star Wars video games are some of the greatest and richest parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Star Wars Legends).



10. Star Wars: Episode 1 RacerStar Wars: Episode I Pod Racer

Many rail on this game as being an example of what was wrong with The Phantom Menace however, I always found the podrace scene to be rather enthralling and intense. Inspired by the chariot race from Ben-Hur, the podrace scene was instantly captivating and spectacular save for the rather bad performance by Jake Lloyd. Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer successfully replicated the fast-paced feel of that scene with its supremely fast gameplay and quick reaction times in order to stay on the track. With a variety of tracks and playable racers, this game marks one of the few racing games I have ever enjoyed.

9. Star Wars: Shadows of the EmpireStar Wars: Shadows of the Empire

Often hailed as the first of the “good” Star Wars games, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was the game in Lucasfilm’s attempt to cr eate an entire multimedia lineup for a movie that didn’t exist. Following Dash Rendar, a mercenary turned Rebel sympathizer, as he engages in an adventure to save Princess Leia from Prince Xizor, leader of the Black Sun crime syndicate. Featuring more immersive gameplay than any Star Wars game before it, Shadows of the Empire remains a time honored classic.

8. Star Wars: Dark ForcesStar Wars: Dark Forces

Following in the footsteps of Shadows of the Empire, Dark Forces was another early game that sought to set itself apart from the film saga. Set before A New Hope and following Kyle Katarn, a former Imperial-turned-Mercenary, as he embarks on his Rebel-sponsored job of recovering the first Death Star plans. Once complete, Katarn is hired for a second job to uncover the hidden plans to the Dark Trooper project before they can be used to wipe out the Rebel Alliance. Whilst the gameplay is certainly inspired by the Doom franchise, there is enough differences in gameplay, along with an unmistakable Star Wars style, that makes this game still entertaining although immensely difficult.

7. Lego Star Wars: The Complete SagaLego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

While much can be said for Traveller’s Tales’s entire lineup of Lego games, none could surpass the nostalgia and general fun that came with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Following fairly closely with the plots of the six main films, Lego Star Wars provided brick building fun along with general entertainment and silly references that would make even the most hardcore fan chuckle.

6. Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds

Taking the engine from Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, Galactic Battlegrounds is the Star Wars RTS to end all. Several attempts at Star Wars RTSs have been made with Empire at War or the much derided Force Commander but none could match up with the simple goodness that appeared in Galactic Battlegrounds. Certainly not the best RTS and certainly no where near the level of Starcraft, Galactic Battlegrounds still provides a good strategy experience to those looking for it.

5. Star Wars: BattlefrontStar Wars: Battlefront

While many point to Battlefront II as thebetter of the two games, I always preferred the first since it was always truer to its premise. Battlefront II introduced too many mechanics I thought betrayed the original idea: lots of normal troops fighting it out on the battlefield. The original Battlefront didn’t feel the need to add pointless space combat or the inclusion of over-powered Jedi to still feel incredibly fun and immersive. While certainly not the best Star Wars game, Battlefront is still one of those games that knew what it was trying to do and accomplished it incredibly well.

4. Star Wars: Rogue SquadronStar Wars: Rogue Squadron

Featuring what I would call the best in Star Wars fighter combat, Rogue Squadron starred Luke as he commanded the titular Rebel fighter unit on several missions against the Empire. While certainly appearing with dated graphics and control scheme, Rogue Squadron still features the most impressive variety of ships which vary in flight and combat abilities. This is also one of the few games to feature an accurate portrayal of using a speeder’s tow cable to take down an AT-AT.

3. Star Wars: Republic CommandoStar Wars: Republic Commando

Possibly the best Star Wars FPS ever made, Republic Commando lets the player take on the role of Delta-38, the leader of a clone commando unit during the Clone Wars. The first mission, taking place during the Battle of Geonosis, follows Delta-38 as he assembles his team and attempts to eliminate high priority targets and silently aid the entirety of the Clone Army in unexpected ways. Featuring a variety of enemy types, weapon types, and the most brilliantly simplified squad combat I’ve ever seen, Republic Commando is an instant favorite for those wanting a more modern and more complex FPS take in the Star Wars universe.

2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old RepublicStar Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Often hailed as one of the greatest Star Wars stories ever told, Knights of the Old Republic presents one of the most expansive and complex storylines not often seen in a Star Wars game, due to their often smaller focus and self-containment. Knights of the Old Republic, however, gives players a look at what the galaxy looked like four thousand years before the films take place with the rise of the Sith Empire and the struggling Old Republic attempting to maintain control over a tense situation. Politics, intense character development and an in-depth look into the nature of The Force are all major aspects of this game and coming from Bioware, the studio that brought us the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series, one can expect deep character interaction and a plot on a scale not known in Star Wars at its time. With its turn-based combat, attribute leveling system, and morality infused dialogue, Knights of the Old Republic is a true Star Wars gem and remains one of Bioware’s legacy gems.

1. Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi OutcastStar Wars: Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast

The ultimate Star Wars experience. Jedi Outcast, the second sequel to Dark Forces, again features Kyle Katarn, this time as a Jedi, as he attempts to stop the Imperial Remnant from gaining another foothold in the galaxy. Led by Dark Jedi Desann, his apprentice Tavion and Imperial Admiral Galak Fyyar, as the Remnant attempts to create Reborn, Dark Jedi soldiers artificially infused with The Force. The player as Katarn, starts off as a non-Jedi, having given up The Force after the events of Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, but he soon realizes that The Force will be needed to defeat Desann. While certainly dated since its release in 2003, Jedi Outcast features the most immersive and most accurate portrayal of Jedi combat not seen in any game of its time or in any game since (aside from its sequel/spin-off Jedi Academy). As the game progresses, more Force powers become available to the player including neutral powers like jump, push, and speed but also features four powers split between the Light and Dark side with force heal and mind trick belonging to the Light and lightning and grip belonging to the Dark. As the game progresses more, these force powers begin to manifest in stronger forms giving near unlimited power to the player if used wisely. By the end of the game with a full arsenal of weapons, force powers, and lightsaber fighting styles, playing as Katarn feels like the truest form of playing as a Jedi in any game along with a good story and impressive level design that makes this game the best Star Wars game ever made.

Top 10 Star Wars Video Games

Best Prank Gift Games on Steam

Here’s a list of some of my favorite games to prank gift on Steam, the PC game platform. Sometimes you want to get back at friend who let you die in a co-op mode. Other times it’s a real life friend you want to give a chuckle. The best games tend to be obviously horrible and don’t cost much and sometimes you can find it on a Steam sale very cheap. I buy’em in bulk and dole them out later.

Best Prank Games on Steam



Lovely Weather We’re Having

Lovely Weather We're Having - On Steam
This game takes an interesting idea, and well … fiddles with it and then lets it die. Using your local weather data to affect the game’s environment is a great way for your friends to waste time. Imagine the weather sucking outside so your friend has to stay indoors and play games and then they find this dud waiting for them. On top of all of that, the game is buggy to boot, a decent choice for a prank gift. Check out the game here.



Bad Rats

bad rats - On Steam

Ugliest of all the Prank Games

Ever longed for those awkward days of video games, the ones with the early Playstation, when game makers were way too ambitious with the graphics and didn’t have any of that 8-bit nostalgia going for them? This is that kinda game; however, it is made fairly recently and looks horrible. So much so that the online website Kotaku described it as “putridly awkward.” And it’s a physics puzzle game for some reason. And oh yea it has something to do with rats killing cats or something. I’ve actually never played. I just give it out to friends. At least it’s cheap prank gift. Check out the game here.

Bad Rats Gif



Barbie Dreamhouse Party

Barbie Dream House - On Steam

Pinkest of Prank Games

The first reflex to give to all of your Black Ops teammates this game isn’t a bad choice. Though it’s usually not on sale, it’s overly pink and girly atmosphere will never let your teammates forget your gesture. Some of the more interesting Steam user tags I’ve seen for this are “Demonic”, “Gun Customization”, “Pyschological Horror” and “Female protagonist”  … naturally. Check out the game here.



The Graveyard

Grave Yard

Most somber of all the Prank Games

Sometimes I like my prank gifts to be summed up in a single sentence. This one would be: “Old lady walks around a grave yard.” That’s it. Judging by the screenshots and the trailer that sums things up succinctly. This is the king of Walking Simulators. Give it to your deep, self-righteously intelligent friends. Tell them to look for the hidden meaning of the game, you know, symbolism and stuff like that. Check out the game here.



Viscera Cleanup Detail

Viscera cleanup detail - On Steam

This is another great game for shooter fans. It has actions scenes with blood, gore, and mayhem. Not that you’ll be participating in any of it, you’ll be cleaing up after everyone else. I hope my shooter fans enjoyed the realistic physics as they put gibs in the trash. Check out the game here.

Viscera cleanup detail



Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015

Shower With Dad - On Steam

Best Prank Gift of All Time

Simply put, this is the best prank gift of all time. With users stating “this game lost me 12 Steam friends in 53 minutes…” and “perfect game to gift to random people.” This is game is perfect for all of your friends, not just the long term Team Fortress friends but even real life friends as well.  Even if you don’t give it away and instead keep it for your self, your friends will be seeing you playing this gem of a game. With an awkward title that is… hard to ignore, what makes this such a great prank gift is not just the title or implied nudity and awkwardness but its price. It usually goes for just twenty five cents when on sale. I usually buy a couple and keep them in my inventory, giving them out to people on servers who irritate me for some reason. Check out the game here.



Goat Simulator

Goat Simulator - On Steam

Goat Prank Games

This is proabably the most classic and best known prank gift. No one actually wants to play a goat, don’t believe the reviews, they’re trying to take advantage of your gulbility. But if you can find a person who’s new to Steam gaming, then throw this at’em. It should at least make them pause and wonder why … Check out the game here.



Confrontation

confrontation - On Steam

Where a lot of prank games are never too serious this game is an honest attempt to make a fun dungeon crawler game. Except that it falls flat on its face due to sub-par graphics, poor game-play, barely functional mechanics, and terrible story. This game deserves its Steam reputation as one of the worst.  I mean even the trailer for it looks bad. Save this one for a birthday to surprise your friends, sneaking it beneath the radar, tricking them into installing it and making them think you care about them. Check out the game here.

confrontation Scene



The Secret of Magic Crystals

Secret of Magic Crystals - On Steam

All I know is, this game has ponies that you groom and train. There is also something about getting special horses like unicorns and stuff. You go about unlocking brushes and other treats. Imagine a horse stable simulator but gone horrible wrong. I usually give this to my online friends who are wound too tight. Pets help with this right? Check out the game here.

Secret of Magic Crystals Horse

Horse Prank Games

Are there any other great Steam prank games out there that I missed? Comment below with your favorite prank games to give out to friends or that annoying online player!

Best Prank Gift Games on Steam

The Trouble with Licensed Games – Part 2

In my last post, I talked about how the key to making a good licensed game is tapping in to what makes that license special and allowing players to experience that for themselves.  Great licensed games allow us to immerse ourselves in that world.  This level of gaming immersion was really first mastered by traditional pen and paper role-playing games, of which Dungeons and Dragons hold prominence.  While not directly a licensed IP (at least not then), D&D was for many players a chance to explore the fantasy realms they grew up with from Tolkien and others.

For me, my first RPG experience was with a licensed IP RPG called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness by Palladium Books.  In this game, you created your own mutant animal character, rolling to determine the extent of the mutation, whether your mutant was secretly trained by ninjas, and what kind of relationship your mutants had with humans.  I made scores of mutant sparrows and wolverines and rhinos to go fight some of the weirdest enemies imaginable.  It was fantastic.  I saw a near-mint copy of the original sourcebook, now long out of print, at a recent convention.  The vendor wanted $100, which seemed ridiculous, but what price do you put on nostalgia?  I almost went and bought it anyway.

TMNT

Maybe not the best system designed, but the nostalgia factor still gets me.

The trouble with RPGs is that they take a lot of time to invest in properly.  They provide the deepest emotional payoffs, but it can be challenging as an adult to find others willing to help you build this common experience.  It’s also impossible short of schizophrenia to engage in these games by yourself.  This is one area in which video games can certainly shine.  When a video game captures the experience of an IP we love, the result can be magical, and, for the company behind it, incredibly lucrative.  Just how much money has LucasArts made again?  And I promise you, if they were to re-release their classic X-Wing and TIE Fighter series of flight simulators today with updated graphics, the internet might near break from glee.

To me, though, the peak period of licensed video game tie-ins seems to have passed.  For every Star Wars: Battlefront we get, we have to wade through tons of terrible Spiderman or Transformer games.  Maybe there’s something like an uncanny valley effect taking place.  As we get closer to photorealistic games that might as well be movies themselves, the experience seems a little more artificial and isolated.  The theme of that property seems to get lost in the constant pressure of console wars and frames-per-second and trying to figure out just how old my graphics card is.

This is one of the reasons I have turned to the blossoming market that is modern board games.  They seem for me to be the happy medium, balanced somewhere between the creativeness of a video game and the imagination that fuels an RPG.  When done right, board games can create powerful experiences with a great license.  There have been a number of hits in this space, as well as plenty of misses, but my feeling is aside from the Cash Grab games, they’re getting more right than wrong right now.

To provide an example, let’s look at the world of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. An undeniable cult classic, we Browncoats have been dying for more from this setting. I’ve read the comic books, what few there are. I’ve thumbed through the Firefly RPG. I’ve played almost every non-Cash Grab board game that exists (Firefly Yahtzee Special Edition I’m looking at you…). There’s a Firefly Online MMO in development, the first real video game treatment of note, which has me feeling more cautious than hopeful. Let’s look at two board games that will show how it works – Firefly: the Game by Gale Force Nine and Firefly: Shiny Dice by Upper Deck Entertainment.

Firefly Boardgame

Firefly: The Game being played at a recent convention.

Firefly: the Game has players captaining one of several vessels, typically Firefly-class transports, with each ship being led by one of several key characters from the show. The slogan for the game is “Find a Crew. Find a Job. Get Paid”, and that describes the gameplay fairly well. You fly your ship around the ‘Verse, avoiding Reavers and the Alliance Cruiser, looking to take jobs from various key characters in the series, trying to hire crew that were also characters in the series, and accomplish a set of goals to complete a game. It takes a long time to play, typically 2 – 3 hours once you know the rules (longer if you’re learning), but the game drips with theme. It creates stories that feel like they could just as easily have been ripped from the show. The game mechanically isn’t much more than a traditional “pickup and deliver” game, but it uses the Firefly theme to great effect. There’s a real depth to the setting, and it’s tough to imagine this game working as well with a different setting. I love it; I own all the expansions, and can’t wait to play it again, which I’m planning to do soon.

Firefly Shiny Dice

At least I can use the playmats as mousepads?

Firefly: Shiny Dice is a lightweight, push-your-luck game of rolling dice, resolving their effects, then spending dice to cancel other dice. Some dice have faces that represent the crew from Firefly, some dice have other cast members or supplies, and still others have villains on their faces. Once you finish spending and canceling dice, you get paid some money if you didn’t fail, and can then decide if you want to keep going with fewer dice to press your luck. There are some cards that give you various dice modification effects, and the cards have lots of flavor text on them reciting famous lines or moments from the TV show. You could absolutely replace every component in this box with a couple of different colors of six-sided dice and some cards with text and nothing would be any different. The theme just didn’t work. It’s not a terrible game (though not a very interesting one), but nothing in this game felt like Firefly to me. In fact, failing to deliver the promised theme took a game that would have been just mediocre and made me hate it.

This is why so many licensed IP games fail. What is Firefly about? It’s about pulling together a misfit crew and struggling to make your way through an unfriendly universe and do the best you can. If you can help me recreate that experience, regardless of the medium, respect what it’s about, I will happily throw my money at you over and over again and tell all my friends to do so, too. If you’re going to try to trick me into buying the Top Gun drinking game turned Party Game, expect me to ignore anything else you have to say.

What games do you think really capture the spirit of an IP best?  Let me know what I’m missing out on in the comment section below.

The Trouble with Licensed Games – Part 2

Starcraft II – Legacy of the Void

It’s been over five years since Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty was released, where we followed Jim Raynor through a series of events that led to finally freeing Sarah Kerrigan from the Zerg.

It’s been two-and-a-half years since Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm showed us Sarah returning to the Zerg, but retaining control over herself in order to seek justice against the forces that had manipulated her.

Now we have a release date for the final installment of the saga, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void.  The game will release on November 10, 2015.

And based on the cinematic trailer that accompanied the announcement of the release date, at least part of the story for the game will revolve around the Protoss attempting to retake their homeworld, Aiur, from the Zerg.  I can’t wait.

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void Trailer

What are your thoughts on the latest Starcraft

Starcraft II – Legacy of the Void