Meet The GANG: Gaming Death Podcast & EP 100 Party On June 12th 2014! #E32014 #E3Live #E3

Breaking News!

We have live coverage on the @GeekyAntics Twitter and GeekyAntics.net site.  Tonight, June 10th 2014, at around 9pm Eastern (6pm Pacific) we’ll be doing a special E3 show with the Gaming Death Podcast.

E3 - Electronic Entertainment Expo - E3 2014 #E3Live

Big things going on.  Come join the GANG for #E3Live fun.  So far, I’m most enjoying the small studio and indie releases.  I dig what Microsoft is doing with the ID@XBox program.  Any time us little guys have a chance to level the playing field, that is exciting news to me!

Project Spark is particularly intriguing.  This is a sandbox game that actually allows you to create your own games.  Will this be like RPG Maker Ace VX or will it be more akin to Sony’s Little Big Planet?  Competition is heating up and it’s GREAT!

More E3 Coverage Here

Special thanks to the Gaming Death Podcast and GamingDeath.com for keeping us updated on all the latest video game news.  Even if you’re not into gaming, this technology and the game mechanics of it all are worth checking out.  E3 is, after all, a marketer’s wet dream, no?

So, what have you enjoyed of the #E32014 reveals so far?

Meet The GANG: Gaming Death Podcast & EP 100 Party On June 12th 2014! #E32014.

Curse Of Naxxramas June 3rd Release Date? #YOHTAI

The cards are alive with the sound of roars!

Hearthstone is taking the Internet by storm.  Chances are you are not a “gamer” per se but you have played or at least heard of it.  The iPad app has brought Hearthstone to the masses and remains a featured app with a MetaCritic rating of around 88-95 on any given day..  and it’s “just” a card game!

If you have been keeping tabs on Hearthstone, it may be worth noting that the first expansion, Curse Of Naxxramas, may come as soon as June 3rd 2014 (trust me.. June 3rd is a VERY educated “guess”).  This expansion will introduce new cards, fresh game mechanics, and a deep single-player experience perfect for less competitive players.  Regardless of the definitive release date, Naxxramas is gonna be awesome.  Summer 2014 is gonna be the Summer of Hearthstone!

What excites me about this game beyond the marketing opportunities is the fact that this game is truly accessible.  Blizzard knows how to develop games that are fun and easy to learn.  Their properties become staples of geek and even mainstream culture.  Heck, Hearthstone is still new and already tournaments are popping up with hundreds of thousands in prizes! #BlizzCon

Hearthstone follows the same tradition of accessibility and pervasiveness.  It is simple while offering tons of replay value and depth.  The layers of mastery are very satisfying indeed.  Hearthstone is omnipresent.  Do not resist.  Give it a try.

Join us at #YOHTAI – Ye Olde Hearthstone Tavern And Inn!

Ye Olde #Hearthstone Tavern and Inn #YOHTAI Issue No. 3.

Death Is Kinda Final: A Risk Of Rain Review/Analysis

Risk Of Rain - A Roguelike Game

Risk Of Rain – A Roguelike Game

*** UPDATE:  Giveaway details provided at the end of the post and on my plain-named Google+ profile.  To qualify for the giveaways, follow/subscribe on the Yogizillla Twitch channel and connect on Steam.  I am pretty much Yogizilla everywhere! ***

Maybe I am a bit of a hipster after all but, I have to say, when I see games like this I get excited.  The graphical presentation may not be much to look.  I am sure some see this screenshot and think, “Wow.. That looks like crap.”  They would be mistaken.

What excites me about Risk Of Rain and indie games like it is that some brave developers are taking a simplified approach to game development.  They forego fancy graphics and fluff to provide depth, fresh game mechanics, and high replay value.  Risk Of Rain shines in all regards.

Death Is Kinda Final

Here is a game that takes the permadeath concept and makes it fun.  That’s quite the tall order, too, because dying is kinda final..  People don’t usually come back from death.  That kind of sucks..  And then your corpse starts to rot and smell, which means someone has to deal with that.  That sucks too.

Fortunately, permadeath is a core mechanic here that actually makes this game so [frustratingly] fun.  This game has a very strong element of random to it so every playthrough is unique.  With death being final, gamers feel more urgency in trying to survive and get as far as they can.

Risk Of Rain is not alone in the bold permadeath design decision but it certainly does it well.  Other games worth noting in this space are FTL: Faster Than Light, Hammerwatch, and Rogue Legacy, which all make me a happy gamer.

Borderlands Ain’t Got Nothing On This!

The Borderlands series has often been hailed as being the king of lootfests.  While the drops in Borderlands are all unique, random, and bountiful, Risk Of Rain offers over 100 unique items and each has significant impacts on gameplay.  I found that, even with god-like items, the game was still very challenging and satisfying.  What changed is how I positioned my character and approached challenges.

Sometimes, less is more.  That’s certainly the case here.  The quality and uniqueness of the items satiated my need to build the ultimate hero..

Yes, this playthrough will be it.  I have all the 1337 gear and now I am unstoppable..  Oh, I died again.  @#&$%!

One of the coolest items I found so far was a back-strapped rocket pod that randomly fired off a barrage of homing missiles at nearby enemies.  I also found a magical egg that healed me while I was out of combat (or at least not taking damage).  The latter was not as useful deeper in the game as enemies kept spawning on me..  But it was delicious, nonetheless.

Online Features & A Little Wishful Thinking

Surprisingly, the growing roguelike space does not have very many online entries.  It goes to show that the games are just that fun, I suppose, but it doesn’t matter here because Risk Of Rain supports online multiplayer.

As a budget indie game, I suppose it would be unrealistic to expect online matchmaking.  To join a game, you need a competent host and an IP address to connect to.  Not very user-friendly but, fortunately, I am still a techie at heart.

What I hope to see is more online features like scoreboards and social sharing.  Most of the games doing this just tack it on but, here, I think it would really enhance the experience.  After all, surviving just ten minutes of ROR is epic on it’s own but imagine if you could brag to your friends and tell them you survived an hour or more!

Perfect For Video Game Streaming

Risk Of Rain is by far one of my Top 10 games of choice to stream on Twitch or record Let’s Play type videos on YouTube.  I say this for a number reasons, including…

  • It is not a resource hog so you can stream at HD quality on just about any rig.
  • Since each playthrough is unique, it never gets old.
  • You’ll die lots, do stupid things, and probably cuss lots (people like that).
  • People may pity you and join you for some co-op death parties.

We’re seeing a growing number of procedurally-generated, random-event type games nowadays and I think it’s great.  Not all games should require high replay value to be considered exceptional but, for a frugal spender like myself, that is a HUGE selling point.  I don’t see myself getting tired of Risk Of Rain any time soon.

My hope is that we can help expand the community around this game enough to see significant updates and maybe some online matchmaking.  I’d at least love to see holiday-themed events.  Maybe some lizard men in Santa hats or pumpkinhead scarecrows chasing after you around Halloween.

I have streamed this game a handful of times but it is definitely staying on my playlist for a long time.  I just can’t say enough good things about it.

What Is A Game Really Worth?

Some gaming snobs may say, “Pffft..  What can you really expect from a ten-dollar game?”  Others may feel that it is not worth even that.  Both groups would be dreadfully wrong.  This game is perfect at $10.  I’d venture to say it is a must-buy.

Just look at all the off-the-shelf retail offerings the so-called next-gen consoles are selling now.  Forza 5 is a huge macrotransaction followed by several microtransactions..  And that’s just one of the many games trying to milk consumers in the front and back ends (hmmm, that sounds really bad).

Risk Of Rain breaks this nasty cycle of corporate greed by offering you an experience that is budget-friendly.  More importantly, you can jump right in without worrying about hidden costs, value-removed, or any other crap.  Heck, if and when they do release DLCs, I will be more than happy to support these developers with some of my hard-earned coins.

To me, a game’s price should be a compromise between recuperating your investment as a developer and scaling according to the overall scope.  Games with high replay value and low production value should be priced at entry to mid-range prices.  This game comes in at the low-end but offers a high-end experience, in my humble opinion.  Yes, it’s just that good.

The only thing that limits the game is the lack of gameplay modes and environmental variety.  Hammerwatch has similar issues but compensates with an included level editor and modding kit.  I’d love to see a boss rush mode, more variety in levels, and new monsters added.  Of course, that’s just me knit-picking.  The game is fantastic as it is right now but fresh content never hurts.

If you’re on Steam, get this game..  And add me, Yogizilla.  Do it..  Do it now.

The Simplicity Paradigm Shift..  And Hipsters

I find that developers today, especially the big ones, are too focused on technology and visuals.  That stuff is fine and dandy but, by the time they have invested so much in the game engine and presentation, it feels like the other aspects are just after-thoughts.  The simplicity of games like Risk Of Rain has allowed developers to go deeper with the things that make games really fun.. and replayable.

I am uber excited to see the direction gaming is going in.  We’re seeing more games developed by real gamers.  Developers are making the games they’ve always wanted to play themselves.  They are passionate, engaged, and socially-connected.  It’s awesome and that spirit shows in Risk Of Rain.

The jaded cynist in me used to think that these retro-style games were part laziness, part hipster-pandering..  I was wrong.  This is a turning point in the gaming industry.  We’re going back to the roots.  Good, simple fun.

Reward UNLOCKED!

Sweepstakes/giveaway rules updated 12/30/2013.

Reward UNLOCKED! is my new promotion, where I give away cool stuff for gamers and geeks.  Risk Of Rain will be my first giveaway for this series.  If it goes well, I may give away more copies.  That’s how much I dig this game!

To unlock this reward, follow/subscribe to me on Twitch and connect with me on Steam – I am Yogizilla at both places!  To unlock the reward, share my links with your friends.  Once we hit 100 subscribers, I will pick a random winner from amongst Twitch followers.  I will also be giving away copies of Guns of Icarus Online and Skulls of the Shogun, then we can game and stream together!

Learn more on Yomar Lopez’s (that’s me) Google+ profile or my NEW Yogizilla-branded Tumblr microblog (NSFW/NSFK).  Also, for more gaming-related content and random geeky shenanigans, visit me at DuelPassOnline.com – w00t!

SteamOS, Next-Gen Gaming Consoles, And The Future Of The Gaming Industry

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Yesterday’s massive response to Valve’s SteamOS announcement confirmed many of our predictions and expectations but, more importantly, it showed us that there is still a gaping hole in the gaming industry. With countless gamers looking forward to the XBox One and PS4, there are still many of us wondering if this next generation of gaming is really going to bring us anything new. SteamOS has addressed those concerns but Valve still has two more huge announcements to make.

Before I get into predictions and speculations, I would like to address the next-gen console war as I usually do here. From there, we can jump into what is confirmed and what we hope is next. The implications here go well beyond gaming as we see some major innovations in technology and shifts from pure gaming to multi-purpose computing systems.

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Why XBox One, Wii U, And PS4 Have Already Failed

Now that the silly debates over always-on, always-connected DRM and used game limitations are behind us (thank goodness), we can finally focus on the heart of the next-gen console wars. To me, your gaming console of choice boils down to a few simple core issues:

Continue reading

A Look At The Gaming Industry, Player Motivation, And Social Media Dynamics (Opportunity!)

This blog post is so interesting to me that I posted it on my other blog (yup, breaking some SEO rules)!

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:

(I realize this image is HUGE and doesn’t jive with my theme so click it for the full-sized image, if you like statistics, market research, and/or gaming..  but hate long load times…  You’re welcome.)

ESRB Video Game Industry Statistics

I know you analytics and market research buffs will love this, even if you don't "game"!

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?

What’s Over At Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Pass Online? Brink First Impressions, Rin Anime Review, And MORE!

I’ll be focusing on project work and trying to play Brink and Mass Effect 2 “Arrival” in between for the next several days so here’s a look at what’s over at Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Pass Online. I hope you find DPO extra fun and geeky!

First and foremost, check out my Brink for the XBox 360 review. We talk about some of the smart moves Splash Damage has made to build upon their success with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Bethesda has infused Brink with the RPG elements they are known for. Teaming up with Splash Damage has made Brink into a story-driven co-op experience with dynamic gameplay centered around objectives and smart teamwork. It’s definitely worth a look (I LOVE Brink, BTW)! I also touch upon the game on The Mundane Chatter Podcast if you’d like to give that a listen!

If Anime and Manga is more your bag, check out our Rin discussion. Rin is a great Anime aimed more at mature audiences. This piece is NSFW nor is it safe for kids. Adult supervision is strongly recommended.

DPO’s piece on Rin paves a path for more adult themes, including a look at the sexy (or SEKSY) universe of the Mass Effect series. There’s plenty of eye candy on the way. On the more kid-friendly side of things, I will revisit Yu-Gi-Oh! with our coming box buster and a review of current Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG online games. I skipped out on the motorcycle riding stuff (for now) so we’ll see how the latest Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship for the Nintendo DS stacks up to Yu-Gi-Oh! GX alternative and, my current favorite, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Decade Duels for the XBox 360. There’s definitely a lot of geeky stuff in the pipelines!

Check us out over at Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Pass Online (DPO) and let us know what you think! For now, I’ll be going AFK (sorta)…

The Video Game Industry: Economy Of Gaming And The State Of Video Games

Recently I posted my long-delayed “Economy Of Gaming” article on Duel Pass Online (DPO), citing the driving forces behind video game pricing and subscription fees. The key take-aways were as follows:

  • Video games cost money to make and maintain, so someone has to foot the bill somehow.
  • There are plenty of cheap online gaming options out there.
  • Free online games are not always what they’re cracked up to be.
  • Paid video games are better than free video games usually.
  • You get what you pay for.
  • Gaming companies need to put the gamer at the center of everything.

I’d like to revisit PlayNoEvil’s article on the negative impact of used games and piracy on the video game industry. The author of the articles on PlayNoEvil.com makes some very valid points. He discusses how it’s easier to see how profits shift with the growing popularity of used video games, whereas piracy is mostly a non-issue.

If you do a little digging, you can see that large corporations waste quite a bit of resources with their anti-piracy and copyright efforts, along with virtually pointless interrupt marketing. You’d think it would make more sense to just re-invest that money in research and development. Building innovative video games with incentives for early adopters and long-term supporters seems like a smarter investment of the billions of dollars thrown away with silly business.

Any self-respecting gamer will invest money on their gaming lifestyle and favorite video games, especially if they have strong online components. They want to keep their favorite video game franchises alive so it only makes sense. Surprisingly, even though online gaming has kept many video game companies alive, some fans wish there were video games with only single-player modes. I understand the need for story-driven video games but the money makers and trends point to a better way… Continue reading

Gaming Clan Series: Let’s Make Video Games Fun Again And Why Gaming Clan Unity Matters

Let’s unite and GAME On!

I just wrote on my Bite Size page about plans to bring video games back to the masses by uniting casual gamers, social clans/groups, and like-minded (indie) developers together. On the surface, it may seem like a excessively redundant, auspicious, or ambitious but I know many of you share the vision and the dream: bringing back the true spirit of video games.

The premise and need is simple: professional gaming and competition as a whole takes the fun out of video games, bringing the focus to money and self-glorification. We want to reward good sportsmanship, principle-driven leadership, and a focus on fun and friendship. The ideal is to give small/ tight-knit clans the tools they need to succeed and maximize their gaming experience. I believe gaming clans and social groups (N-o-F falls into both categories) are the backbone of the video game industry: we make video games more enjoyable and promote the stuff that matters, rather than bolstering mere unsubstantiated hype.

In preparation for the web site launch, I want to gauge everyone’s interests and ideas. This especially applies to folks that remember the “good old days” of video games and want to play with like-minded people to limit the amount of asshat factor in online gaming. The proposed site will be a meeting grounds for gamers that are passionate about the aforementioned ideals. Principle-driven clans/guilds will be able to forge alliances and have the tools needed to recruit efficiently, lead effectively, and set up/join fun events so you get more out of your gaming investments.

…And now for some special thanks… Continue reading