We talk about Steam a fair bit on this week’s Village. Let me precis my current feelings about Steam:
- I like Steam because I can play my games on any computer and not have to worry about losing discs, and because it keeps selling me games at the right prices.
- I worry about Steam becoming too powerful, especially with Steamworks. Steamworks’ features, cloud save-games and community especially, could make it a runaway leader pretty soon. Monopolys for this kind of thing aren’t good – indies like us are already feeling the pinch from “having” to be on Steam to succeed.
- While I am not one of them, I understand that quite a few people are put off by the somewhat bloated Steam client.
- I am convinced that “I have to be online to play my games” will be a complaint no-one cares about in three years’ time.
EC and I have been discussing what it would take to create a viable competitor to Steam. He thinks that a massive exclusive (think Half Life 2 for Steam) could do it.
I think what people really want is all the functionaliy of the Steam client, but as a web app.
I was a pretty massive fan of Red Faction 3 on the 360. Sometimes an open world game really grabs you by the balls, and RF did it for me. EC and I disagreed on the graphics – he thought it was all a little red and I thought it looked great.
So now I’ve had a chance to play it on the PC. List time!
- mouse makes as big a difference as I was expecting. I feel roughly five times as comfortable exploring a first person game with the mouse.
- yes, RF is a first person game. Like Max Payne, it just decided to plonk a model of your character to one side. Unlike most third person games, the actual gameplay is really exactly the same as an fps.
- the DLC, Demons Of The Orient or something, really hits the nail on the head. It’s completely stand-alone, it gives you a more powerful projectile weapon as standard, and it removes the stupid salvage-collection. Being stand-alone is very important when you’re playing dlc on a new platform without your old saves. Honestly, this should be the blueprint for open world DLC. I’m presuming it’s not long enough though.
- having to keep switching between the joypad and the keyboard for vehicles/pedestrianing is a bit irritating.
So is this the definitive version? Well… it’s close. Most people aren’t as obsessed as I am with mouse control (just another facet of the human race I don’t understand) and if that’s you then I’d probably go with the console version. Having said that, I got it as part of Steam’s ridiculous “£26 for the THQ Complete Pack” deal which is on until tomorrow… Jordan, if you’re reading this you should go and get that now. Now!
Finally, Oxford University B Team won our (bridge) match against Oxford City C team last night. Go Cougars!
Visiting the Village returns with a bumper episode packed with even more “lively gaming discussion” than usual. Includes minor arguments about digital distribution, the demoscene, Dante’s Inferno and bazillions of other things that will make your neurons sputter in confusion. Listen quickly!
Check out links from the show on our official Google Reader page.
Sigh. I’m pretty sure Microsoft are actively trying to make GFWL games bad in order to push people into going 360 instead. Great – the closest thing we have to a platform holder would prefer we were playing on a different system.
Not being able to save your game (this is in Red Faction 3) unless you’re logged into GFWL (which requires an update and registration) is actually a pretty hilarious limitation. Why… why would that ever make sense? Sure I “understand” not having achievements (which I’m pretty sure 99.9% of PC gamers are just bemused by anyway) unless you’re authorised with the giant Microsoft server. That makes sense. They want to stop people cheating with achievements. THATS VERY IMPORTANT.
The thing is, I really don’t mind that getting a PC game working usually takes about half an hour of pissing about the first time you set it up. I’m totally fine with that as a price to pay for (a) having a mouse and (b) being able to use IRC, email, and Bridge Baron at the same time. My problem is that I really strongly suspect that Microsoft are doing it on purpose, and that some people do care about it. Whenever I hear people going on about how terrible a facet of PC gaming this is, I want to wave modding in their face. Because when it comes down to it, the PC lets me fix Red Faction – it lets me massively increase the amount of damage bullets do, both to the enemy and to me. That’s what I want, to make the gunplay more important and skilled. And the PC lets me do it.
Oh, the Synapse updates appear to be working well.
For you today we have a lovely shiny new beta! Here are the main features:
- New game mode – Disputed. I’m a big fan of this mode. It’s a bit more relaxed than Secure. Log on and give it a go.
- New “Game Pages” and “Player Pages” – get games played, stats etc all in one handy place
- Game comments and ratings – watch, comment on, and rate other people’s games.
- Facebook-style “Feed”, showing recent games, comments, and rankings.
- Lots of graphical updates since the last major beta release (although if you’ve updated in the last month you’ve already seen them)
And here are the more minor features/features that have been in for the last month or so:
- Various bug fixes
- Mouse “hooking” – move the camera around by holding down the right mouse button
- New orders menu – activated by double-left-clicking. No more annoying middle mouse button!
- Switch between your units with the Tab key
- Access the tutorial-video from within the game
- Quite a few other things I’ve forgotten
If you’ve forgotten your account details or anything like that, just stop by the IRC chatroom (link on the right) and hit me up about it.
I’m not ready to announce anything concrete yet, but the next update from us will be something very big and unexpected. I have a feeling I know what Synapse needs to really keep people playing… more later.
I am a truly massive NFL fan. I am often having to explain myself to other brits who imagine the NFL as a boring pussy game. This post is an absolutely perfect example of what I love about the NFL.
To paraphrase: I love the NFL because there are meaningful, high-level strategic and tactical decisions being made twice a minute, every minute of every game. And they aren’t made by athletes – they’re being made by people with doctorates.
I’m a little late to the party on this one, but this topic evokes strong feelings.
Do you play any Facebook games? How about these:
What if the company that made those games was deliberately trying to fuck you over?
Take a look at Techcrunch’s recent post, which features Zynga CEO Mark Pincus bragging about tricking users into installing things that could easily be malware (seems like he doesn’t know and doesn’t care).
Here’s a fairly eye-opening video which shows how much he values your custom. Watch this and ask yourself: “Do I want to give money to this man?”
I was called by HSBC today for a 6-monthly business review. In this call, they will try and persuade me to move money into longer term investment accounts, and other such things. Once they have asked me three security questions I am “secured” and can instruct them to do some fairly serious things with my accounts. Here’s the questions, and my answers:
Question 1: “the first part of your business’ post code is xxx, what is the second part?”
I answer this correctly – the post code of the business is freely available information from Companies House.
Question 2: “Do you have an overdraft facility on the business bank account?”
I answer: “I don’t know”
Question 3: “Do you have a business card with the account?”
I answer correctly (ie, a 50-50 chance). Actually, this might be better than 50-50 – I don’t know what percentage of business accounts have a business card, but it might be much more than half.
This got me secured. I do not have much confidence in this procedure.
Hey guys. Paul is on holiday, and I’m knee-deep in tv work, which contributes to the lack of updates. But here are a few quick notes:
- If you are a Nottingham winner you will be hearing from us in the next two weeks.
- If you are a Synapse beta tester and haven’t been playing recently, it would really help me out if you could take a few minutes to try and think of why you haven’t been, and email me those thoughts. This is a crucial time, and this kind of feedback is what I need most right now. My email address is ian BAT mode7games BLOT com.
- We are desperately trying to find a way to record some kind of Village while Paul is away. I’ll keep you updated on that.