Kitacon is well on it’s way to coming round once again, so I sit here and think to myself ‘Damn, I really need to get on with my costumes’. Fortunately, I have been working on my cosplays (slowly), as I make my pieces in preparation for this year’s convention. But cosplay isn’t the only thing we’re all looking forward to. Here’s a look at what activities are on at the party convention of the summer.
We were asked by the lovely team over at the Later Levels if I would like to take part in doing a monthly Q&A, to open discussion about video games amongst bloggers. If you’re interested in joining in the discussion, leave us a comment below, or reach out to Later Levels. Every month here on GeekOut South-West, we’ll be sharing what the question of the month is, as well as what our answers to this question is and our justification for the answers.
Which video game has the best idle animation?
Creativerse is a title that’s not unlike Minecraft, so you may see people compare the two games quite often. In fact, as a spoiler, Minecraft will be name dropped a lot in this article. However, whilst Minecraft-like games usually don’t appeal to me, Creativerse certainly does. It’s a cute, clean game which is thoroughly well made. Furthermore, servers are really well looked after – So come and take a peek at this beautifully imagined game with us!
As Joel (terraphi) mentions in his article we were at UK Games Expo 2017. Over the three days I spoke to a lot of people and walked several miles wandering around the show but we both walked away feeling like the show was generally very good. Joel and I sat down and had a little chat at the end of day 2 about what we liked and didn’t like about the show.
Let’s start with awesome Polish publisher Board And Dice, I managed to get a bit more of an in-depth look into two of their games. Pocket Mars is a worker placement game where you aim to take all of your astronauts from Earth and place them on Mars and bills itself as a big game in a small box. From the explanation I got I can definitely see why and it’s gone onto my wishlist for the future. The second game of theirs was SuperHot a card game based on the computer game of the same name. SuperHot is a deck building game with a difference, where you can play in a solo mode, co-op or against a second player who plays as an AI and there is even a 2 on 1 mode where two players can try to take down the AI. It’s very true in the way the game looks and feels which is a huge credit. The game and the designer have even implemented a mechanic that attempts to simulate time moving when you do.
Next, we will move onto Brain Crack Games, who are based in Southampton. I played their corporate greed based card game called Down Size where you have to build up funds in a company as fast as possible and then think about firing all of your employees. I also played a fantastic little exploration game called Mined Out where you mine for gems in a very unstable mine, both of these games again appeal to me because the boxes are quite small and portable and there is enough gameplay in there.
I also had a go at a nearly complete version of Grublin Games heist game called Perfect Crime. This one is a bit more long form but is a very novel new concept and as far as I know, the only board game that uses blueprints as part of the design. As suggested by the title you play the part of bank robbers who set out to plan and execute a perfect heist. One player plays as the bank and then all other players (maximum 5 including the Bank) act as the robbers to try and find their way to the vault. The team at Grublin are looking to get this complete for September and even though I don’t do long form games that much this one has me rather intrigued.
The thing with RPGs at a show like UKGE is that you have very limited time to absorb them. That is unless you have done some research beforehand, so I tend to go on instinct with these things. I did come across two RPG’s that caught my eye and with any luck, we might be able to get hold of copies of them to give them a full review.
First off we have an RPG called Sins. Sins is a really interesting sounding game with a simplified dice system that I feel really works with its premise. It’s being billed as “a high-octane, dark and driven game of cinematic proportions“. I love the fact that the creators have already embraced that music can be very influencial in setting a tone and they have released a few Spotify Playlists to help players and the GM alike. I spoke to the designer Sam who is a really nice guy and very enthusiastic about his own product. Rightfully so, the demo book he had was beautiful and when he explained the dice system my interest really accelerated.
The second RPG that I found is from the Italian game designers Tin Hat Games who we hope to get hold of their new board game Dungeon Digger that was kickstarted in an amazing 3 days. They have a really nice super being based RPG called Urban Heroes. Having seen the actual print book again I must say it’s beautifully put together. Urban Heroes has been around for a while and if we can’t get hold of a copy for review then I am more than willing to dig into my own pocket for a PDF version at only $19.99 (USD).
That’s not all folks?
There is so much more and Joel and I will be working on getting more posts up related to UKGE over the next few weeks/months. Trust us when I say we have plenty of content to write up. I certainly would say that UKGE was a great expo and well worth checking out. Speaking to some of the people who attended it I got confirmation from them that it was well worth the money even if you only went for a day trip. Did you go to UKGE and if so what was your experience of the show? Did you manage to pick up any bargains from the show? Tell us all about it in the comments section below or over on Facebook.
Y’know how I keep saying that geeks are the best people?
Geeks are the best people! We’re a loving and sharing band of over-enthusiasts, and as a demographic we have money to spend on random stuff that we occasionally look at and say “Y’know what? I don’t have space for any more Pop Vinyls, and I am definitely not getting rid of the D&D minis to make space for them. I’ll stick some money in savings and give the rest to people who need it!”
Sound like a generous strawman with money to burn? For proof turn to the good people of Gamely Giving, Special Effect, Child’s Play, or the lesser known local heroes like the guys I met in Coventry last week. (more…)
It’s the last round; the bomb is planted and nobody has a kit.
There’s just one tower left; before long the base will fall.
Pushed back to the final point and already down a player; it’s time for the defenders to take their last fight.
Sadly, none of these are the enemy team tonight. They’re yours and man, losing is just the worst, isn’t it?
It’s the dual nature of team-based competitive games. When the only difference in whether you win or lose is whether or not your team of players can play better than theirs, the rush of a well-earned win is irreplaceable. Equally though, the competitive drive is just as much a curse as it is a blessing when the semi-random nature of online matchmaking is allowed to poke and prod at your ever-dwindling patience. You can’t pick your teammates without putting a party together, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds. You sure as heck can’t pick your opponents, and what are you supposed to do about getting matched against amazing players when your own teams seem to consist mostly of orangutans, Tamagotchis and bags of hammers that have somehow been trained to use a mouse and keyboard? It’s so dangerously easy to become apathetic, frustrated, and downright mad at a loss.
Well, you shouldn’t. Harder than it sounds? Absolutely, but I’m here to show you why a hard-fought loss is actually one of the best things that can possibly happen to you in online gaming… as long as you know what to do with it. Winning is great, but only by analysing your mistakes can you improve and those are much easier to spot in a loss than in a victory. You just need to know how to self-analyse, so here are some pointers to help get you started on winning your losses.
The Sliding Scale of Overcome to Overwhelmed
The first step in making the most of a loss is also the most intuitive, because it’s often the first thing that will naturally come to mind anyway. “Wow, that sure was a close game!” and “Wow, we sure got a mudhole stomped in us that would bring a 30% alcohol-by-volume tear to the eye of Stone Cold Steve Austin!” are two very different beasts which have to be approached differently. It’s not always a totally clear immediate distinction, either, because frustrated annoyance can make a close loss feel like getting stomped, while frustrated apathy can make a stomp feel like a close loss. Before asking yourself what went wrong, it’s important to sit back, take a breath and ask yourself: how close, realistically, was that game? This can be done from memory or, if you’re serious about improvement, it’s often worth skimming through the demo/replay, assuming your game of choice has that feature. Identifying how close you came to winning is hugely important in putting everything else about a loss into context.
The Three Points of Focus – Us, Them and Me
To make a productive start on analysing your losses, there are three questions you can ask yourself after a match. The way you look at answering them will change from game to game, since different games have different formats. For some games, like MOBAs, these may apply to entire matches. For others, like CS:GO, individual rounds. However, the concepts can be applied to any player-vs-player competitive game, even 1v1 games with a little tweaking.
The first question: What was our win condition and how did we fail to achieve it?
A win condition is exactly what it sounds like. Within the context of the match you just played, what specifically did you have to do in order to beat their team with your team? This can be tricky to pin down in games with random matchmaking as often everyone on the team has a different idea of what the win condition is, but it’s not impossible. In CS:GO, it may be that their AWPer on B site was getting the vast bulk of their team’s kills, therefore keeping them pressured above all others or, conversely, avoiding and killing their team around them may have left them outmatched in firepower, allowing you to take more fights and win more rounds. In Dota 2 it may be that their heroes were weak in the early-game and strong late-game while yours were the opposite, meaning that your window of opportunity would have been to get aggressive as soon as possible, turn that into tower kills, control the map with wards and presence and never allow them to make a comeback. In Overwatch it may be that the enemy were using far more ultimates than you to secure fights and leaving themselves at what the competitive community often calls an ultimate economy disadvantage and your team could have taken points by capitalizing on that more effectively, or perhaps their supports were frequently out of position and could have been killed early to win fights. To wrap everything together, as well as figuring out the things you didn’t do which could have led to a win, identify any things which you did do which were unnecessary for your win condition. Did you spend that extra 5 minutes farming your next item when you should have been looking for kills? Did you spend 30 seconds looking for solo kills while your team was preparing to push a vulnerable area, and by the time you grouped up with them that area was no longer vulnerable? Identify these and you’re well on your way towards improvement.
The second question: What was their win condition and how could we have stopped them from achieving it?
Just as you and your team have a win condition, so do the opponents. The easiest way to stop them from achieving their win condition is, of course, to reach your own first, but often when push comes to shove that’s not a viable option and you’re left to identify what they have to do to win and stop them from doing it. Let’s take our earlier Dota 2 example. If your team has failed to dominate the early-game, the enemy are now free to work towards their own win condition of avoiding fights and farming until their heroes hit their main power spikes and suddenly they can throw you so far across the map that you land in a Heroes of the Storm match. In this situation it’s often productive to focus on their win condition and anything you can do to mess with it. Stealing their jungle camps, forcing their attention with split pushes which spread them around the map where they can be picked off, doing anything possible to prevent them from comfortably preparing for a late-game win. Being able to look back at a loss and recognize times where the enemy were doing something to work towards their win condition which you could have prevented can prepare you for those improbable, clawed-back-from-the-brink games where you win by leaving the opponents unable to close out the match and slowly neutralising their advantage.
The third question: What could I, individually, have done better?
In team games, by far the most common trap I see people falling into is blaming their team for everything, not taking full responsibility for their personal screw-ups. This is rarely conscious and almost everyone falls victim to it at some point. This can boil over into becoming frustrated in-game and giving your teammates grief which, for the record, never helps. If someone’s being counter-productive, mute them. If you’re considering communicating in a way which is counter-productive, follow the system of Stay Targeted, Focused and Understanding.
In other words, if you’re considering giving people grief, remember to S.T.F.U. and keep playing.
But I digress. The final and arguably most important question to ask yourself following a loss. Disregard your teammates’ mistakes – it’s good to recognize them so that you don’t make the same ones yourself but – and I cannot possibly stress this enough – you can’t control or change what other players do. Ask yourself, simply, what you could have done better. Look at the shots you missed, the kills you could have gotten by acting just two seconds faster, the teammates you could have saved by healing them instead of someone already close to full health. Don’t focus on how your teammate let you die that time, focus on how you died and shouldn’t have been in that position. Don’t focus on how your teammate couldn’t finish that important kill, focus on how you also missed the shot in the first place. It’s especially important not to forget this in games where you felt like you carried your team. Even if you did, you did not play a perfect game, because in pretty much any modern competitive game that’s impossible when you account for human error. No matter how hard you carried, there’s always something you could have done something better. That goes for every player of every skill level and any successful professional gamer will tell you the same.
Applying the theory
All of this, of course, is just a set of pointers and guidelines, something to point you in the right direction. The most important part – and if you only take one thing away from this, it should be this – is that winning isn’t everything. A loss can be just as valuable as a win, if not more, if you take the time to look at how and why they happen and for that reason, why be upset by them? Losses are a necessity, and a beautiful one. Competitive games are all about the rush of competition, about proving your skill, about the satisfaction of being the better player. Without the sting of losing, winning wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet. So, embrace it. You’ll get that win back sooner or later.
In the current era of video games, we seem to have hit a weird snag. We’re seeing the prices of digital downloads rise whilst the cost of a physical copy is falling – it all seems to make no sense! However, what really is best for consumers? What is the best distribution method for developers and why are we seeing this weird shift in prices? When a physical copy sells for £35 and a digital copy sells for £45, is there a reason to back digital?
We’ve done alright recently with our GOVG nights, so if you’re looking for an event to pass the time this coming Saturday, then why not consider joining us for an evening of fun and games? We’ll be playing some free to play games, as well as some other games that people choose throughout the night. It’s always a good laugh, so if you’re up for joining a bunch of the GeekOut UK community for some laughs, then join us on Discord today.