A Very General Overview
Congratulations! You’ve survived another unbelievable week in the world of gaming.
With Horizon Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild, and Nier Automata, March has felt like an overwhelmingly positive time for the games industry, but the last few days have seen that good sentiment tanked by outcry over the upcoming launch of Mass Effect Andromeda.
If you’ve somehow missed it here’s the brief: Mass Effect Andromeda, a new stand alone addition to the Mass Effect series, launches later this week in the US and European markets. Review copies are already out there, along with roughly ten hours of game that’s been made available for subscribers to EA Access. However, the discussion around the game has become almost exclusively centred on the quality of the character animation, both facial and full-body. It’s now easy to go online and find footage of goofy walks, derpy faces, and unnervingly twitchy eyeballs. The backlash against the studio Bioware has been quick and severe, with many gamers outraged that a AAA game can have such poor quality work, a situation exacerbated when some of the developers came out and said there were no plans to improve the animation with a launch day patch, and being vague about them ever being corrected saying: “that ship has sailed”.
Unfortunately for some it wasn’t enough to direct their anger at Bioware as a company and they needed to find an individual. Of course the person they picked was a woman, an animator and former cosplayer, and of course vitriol and death threats followed shortly after. This has prompted Bioware to issue a general statement decrying threats against their employees and promising to support the staff affected.
Watching a lot of this unfold was particularly interesting for me. I’m fairly vocal about being a gamer but increasingly quiet about my once-life as an animation student. Seeing a lot of assumption and misinformation bouncing around I wanted to step in and try and clear up a few things – very generally as I was not involved in this particular project – but hopefully try and give a better understanding of how some of these things work and where they can go wrong.
Day 1 (with Puppy)
I’ve always had an interest in MMOs. If you follow this blog you’ve probably already noticed that I like subjects I can dig into, where there’s plenty to discuss and pick apart and there are plenty of psychological and sociological issues to digest – but for all of that I’ve never gotten into one. For one thing most of the big MMOs have terrible community reputations, for another it’s only in recent years that I’ve had technology (and internet) just about capable of running one.
I tried Final Fantasy XI for a couple of months back in the day, and while I was initially enthusiastic it wasn’t very good at introducing you to itself. I would find myself for days on end running back and forth through the same mines trying to level up, while having no quests to work towards and no idea if there was anywhere else nearby I should be trying to get to. Back then there were fewer resources for help online – it might even have been before the creation of Reddit and Youtube – so without a means to get help I gave up and put it aside.
But every now and then I found myself looking up MMOs, trying to find out if one had been made in the years since that might be a better fit. Last September I was asking this question again and every time people gave me the answer of Final Fantasy XIV. I’ve gone off the Final Fantasy franchise in the last few years (everything post XII has been a bit pants IMHO) but I figured I could still find some affection for moogles and chocobos so maybe I could make it work.
Sunday marked my first year of adventuring in Eorzea. There’ve been some gaps due to real life, and that depression thing that hangs around, but I love it. I’m in love with it. I love the world, the story, the Jobs, the crafting, the NPCs, and so much of the community around this game.
So here’s a shameless screenshot-heavy post to celebrate my first year in FFXIV – and thank you to all who have made it such a wonderful experience.
Aksys has again descended from the heavens to bestow upon us more English-language otome games. I’m a few days late but I can’t let the recent localisation announcements pass without comment so here goes:
NB: For now when I say “Europe” I am still including the UK in that group, largely because it’s shorter and easier but also because writing this note took more thought than has currently been put into the plan for leaving, so I can’t begin to guess what’s going to happen. Aussies you’re also included because Europe means PAL and PAL is what currently runs on Australian region-locked consoles. Sorry.
Earlier today an announcement was made that Atlus – bought by Sega of America earlier this year – has now also formed a partnership with publisher Deep Silver, who will be handling all European Atlus game releases henceforth.
For the last few years, Atlus’s European offerings have been released through NIS America, through their sub-section NISA Europe. In case the name Atlus doesn’t immediately bring anything to mind, they’re the developers behind the increasingly popular Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series, the Etrian Odyssey games, and newer properties such as Stella Glow. If you have a taste for Japanese RPGs then there’s probably at least one Atlus game in your collection. They are currently building up towards one of the most highly anticipated releases in their history – Persona 5 – which made it all the more concerning when word broke that Atlus and NIS America were ending their contract together to publish games in Europe.
I told myself I wouldn’t. I wasn’t supposed to be spending much money this month (ha!) as I’m going to the London Comic Con at the end of it. I wouldn’t. I wasn’t.
About two hours before launch.
It’s been a rough month and I really like space.
So, initial impressions: the game is definitely grand strategy. If you don’t like watching numbers go up and down it’s possibly not for you. It’s a bit difficult to get to grips with, and that was with the tutorial helper on (which I recommend if you need it, it’s not too egregious). But it does actually do a decent job of easing you in to the concepts. Once you’ve done all the fun society/species designing stuff it starts out teaching you basics a step at a time and the majority of it ends up in your situation log (sort of a journal) so you can look at it repeatedly if you get lost. There is also an in-game link to the wiki for more help, though I would have appreciated a list of basic controls somewhere too.
And then Stellaris just sort of happens. Continue reading