Tim Clark: Rest in Peace
Yesterday we learned that John "TotalBiscuit" Bain had died from cancer at the tragically young age of 33. It'd be exactly the kind of hypocrisy he hated if I were to pretend we saw eye to eye on his thoughts regarding the games press, but it'd be equally remiss not to remark on the passing of one of the most influential figures in modern games criticism, without whom videogame coverage on YouTube and beyond would look very different.
TotalBiscuit's Curator page is the most popular on Steam for good reason, and seeing the outpouring of respect in our comments reflects the impact he had on many PC gamers. I was also particularly struck by the reactions of Trump and Day9, two friends who shared his love of Hearthstone. I like to imagine some fans will be playing his disastrous all-legendary deck on ladder today in tribute.
Tom Senior: Anger management
“Why?” was the question on my mind when I heard a reboot of Rage might be on the cards. The original 2011 shooter vanished into ignominy after a botched launch troubled by tech issues. The new game does look fun, actually, but I decided to revisit the original anyway and see whether it had been fixed, and if so whether there was any fun to be had with it still so long after release.
Well on my PC it still suffers from all the tech issues that affected it back in the day, but I did enjoy the energetic enemy animations and the goofy weapons. Sadly a lot of this is hidden inside a proto-open world and lame crafting systems. I don’t hate crafting systems per se, but I hate when they get in the way of the action. In this sense Rage feels particularly dated, and I hope the sequel gets away from all that completely.
Joe Donnelly: Old (firm) habits die hard
So I used to do this thing. Which I know is a wee bit weird. And while not particularly superstitious, I used to swear by it. I'm into football/soccer in a big way, and I'm a Glasgow Celtic fan. They play city rivals Rangers, known collectively as the Old Firm, at least four times per season over the course of the July-May league campaign, with possible surplus cup matches wedged in between. What I used to do, when I still bought FIFA every year, was simulate a Celtic versus Rangers game that'd act as a figurative precursor for the real thing. If Rangers won in FIFA, I was in a state, I'd get doubly nervous—but if Celtic triumphed I was delighted. Of course, it rarely worked out the way I'd planned in real life, and more often than not left me disappointed and broken.
This was years ago, and I've since switched to Pro Evolution who, up until now, had neither Celtic or Rangers in-game. To be honest, I'd forgotten about the whole thing. Until Konami announced this week that PES 2019 has obtained the official license for Scotland's Ladbrokes Premier League. I now look forward to seeing my green and white-hooped icons darting around the footie sim powered by the Fox Engine. But I'll once again be a gibbering mess in reality, after some more ill-informed match day predictions.
Andy Kelly: Ego trip
My high was Overwatch, and so is my low. Playing it's a generally positive experience, with way fewer dickheads than a lot of online shooters. But there's always one little dictator in the chat questioning or criticising your choice of hero. I get this in competitive where team comp's an important factor, but in quickplay? These people need to get a grip.
Sometimes people will ask nicely if someone will go a tank or healer, and that's fine. But it's the people who demand that you change that do my swede in. It's my game, pal: I'll play it how I like. This probably shouldn't annoy me as much as it should, but it's become a pet hate of mine.
Chris Livingston: Kick harder
I know lootboxes have captured the attention over the past year when it comes to gambling in games, but there are two bigger culprits: Early Access and Kickstarter. And while I don't think gambling is inherently bad, that's how people should look at the act of spending money on a product that isn't complete. This week we learned that after raising over $3 million on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and about that much from other investors, Ossic X ran out of money to produce their 3D headphones. They shipped a total of 80, leaving thousands of orders unfulfilled.
Kickstarter isn't a store. The products you see aren't done. There's no guarantee what you'll get or if you'll get it at all. It's a gamble, and you could walk away with nothing. I'm not telling anyone how to spend their money—I've used both Kickstarter and Early Access numerous times—I just think if anything in gaming should be given the label of gambling, it's this.
Wes Fenlon: Goodbye, Gas Powered Games
Earlier this week, news circulated that Wargaming Seattle, aka the development studio once known as Gas Powered Games, was shutting down. Even if you don't know either name, you've probably heard of some of their games: Dungeon Siege, Supreme Commander, Demigod. The news was sudden, but my understanding is that the studio isn't closing immediately. I hope everyone finds new work and lands on their feet.