Games to play, 2015 edition

This is more like a personal reminder to play through the following games this year. The order doesn’t matter, I’ve put them down as they come to mind. Let’s see how many I can get done …

  • GTA V (I am currently playing this and enjoying it tremendously) √ completed 2015-06-14
  • Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag √ completed 2015-07-29
  • Assassin’s Creed Rogue √ completed 2015-08-31
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity
  • Skylanders Superchargers (I preordered this today! More plastic junk to fill my shelves)
  • LEGO Dimensions (already preordered this a few weeks back)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order
  • The Wolf Among Us √ completed 2015-06-21
  • The Walking Dead, Season 1 √ completed 2015-07-16 and 2 √ completed 2015-08-21 (believe it or not, I have still not played even one episode of these games. Shame on me!)
  • Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (mostly because Kevin Spacey. It’s a bit too expensive for my liking right now so it can wait.)
  • Ryse: Son of Rome (skipped this at launch because it’s supposedly crap, but all next-gen games I played so far looked like crap, and this is supposedly flashy, so why not?)
  • Shadows of Mordor
  • Far Cry 4 (if I can stand yet another $Ubigame after all these Assassin’s Creed titles)
  • Saint’s Row IV
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Rock Band 4
  • Guitar Hero Live! (not too sure about this one … but I enjoyed Guitar Hero games so why not)
  • Mass Effect 3

That’s … probably far too much for one year, but now that I don’t spend time on WoW anymore, I might be able to knock out at least some of these titles. Looks like I’ll also spend some more time with Marvel Heroes 2015 – I’ve actually spent money on it now and the second anniversary seems to offer some nice freebies as well.

Freemium isn’t free

While I finally got to playing through GTA V, I also found another game worth my time: Marvel Heroes 2015. It’s a free to play game made by some previous Diablo II developers and is, of course, an ARPG with Marvel characters. Not that I care about Marvel comics or super heroes in general, but it’s a nice distraction between longer AAA sessions. I can say that I enjoyed it quite a bit over the last few days – an hour here, another there, that’s all I need.

One thing annoys me, though: thanks to the tons of loot you get, inventory space is extremely limited, and so is bank space. While you can’t upgrade the inventory at all, you can unlock bank slots, but they cost real money. And that’s something that bothers me.

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Don’t look too close, there’s a lot of rubbish in that collection.

I spend a lot of money on games. I have a huge collection of Xbox 360 titles – way more than I should ever have bought, but that’s the collector in me. As you can see on the photo, I also spent a ton of money on Skylanders figures – probably the most blatant pay-to-win series of games I’ve ever seen. Just two days ago I dropped €50 on three console games without thinking twice – and while I am playing one of them (GTA V) right now, I am not so sure when I’ll find time to play the other two (The Wolf Among Us and Wolfenstein: The New Order, if you must know).

steamprofile

Much games. So wow.

My Steam library is home to almost 500 games – most of which I have never played and have no desire to. I don’t even know when or how I got most of them.

A few years ago I had an active monthly subscription to World of Warcraft for months, but I barely logged on. I didn’t mind paying, because I was sure I’d come back anyway.

 

So when I spend so much money on games I barely play or don’t even care for, why do I have such an issue paying for bank space in Marvel Heroes 2015? I didn’t pay a cent for the game, there is no subscription required and I won’t buy tons of heroes or costumes because I am perfectly fine with the grind aspect and unlocking random ones by playing, so why is it that I just can’t seem to drop $20 on a few bank slots so I can enjoy the game more?

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The problem: so much loot, so little space. Every dungeon run means I have to do 5 minutes of inventory tetris, and that sucks.

I can only assume it’s because my mindset is still “basic features should be free” – and let’s face it, “basic features” in ARPGs are inventory and bank space. Isn’t it enough to have to pay for playable characters? I am also wary of paying ~$2.50 $5.00 for one bank slot because I know myself. I like to keep stuff, and in order to keep more stuff I need more bank space. Things like that tend to spiral out of control quickly, which is why I tend to stay away from them. On the other hand, I would never have looked at Marvel Heroes if it wasn’t free to play. And I guess paying a little – like the mentioned $20 – would be fair if I enjoy playing, right?

Still, I am not convinced. The entire business model just feels like extortion to me – if I want to keep playing, I can either pay up or face the numerous consequences that arise from being unable to even store the most basic things in a game with lots of things to store. I feel like if I do as they want me to, I am supporting that kind of business model, and that’s just not right. Five bucks just for a bit of convenience (or actually quite a lot of convenience given how the game is set up) seems to be a rather steep fee as well. On the other hand, the game’s so much fun … it’s the first freemium game I actually enjoy, with the exception of Team Fortress 2 but I don’t really count that as “free to play” because paying doesn’t do anything.

This kind of sucks and it’s also a new kind of dilemma for me. In my opinion, games should be about having fun, not about having to think how much I have to pay to have more fun.

Assassin’s Creed 3 sucks

Let me just go on record saying Assassin’s Creed III‘s finale sucks balls. Failing a mission for the umpteenth time for arbitrary reasons isn’t fun, especially not minutes away from the end of the game. When the game then crashes on me as soon as I manage to succeed is just cruel. And having to reboot my console four times just to get past the “logging into the Ubisoft server” part … ah well, I managed to completed the game now, but of all the Assassin’s Creed games I played so far*, this was clearly the worst in terms of bugs and stupid game mechanics. Everything just felt like a giant’s step backwards from Revelations – everything except the story, that is, which is fortunate, because that’s what I was playing it for.

Just please, no more stupid chase sequences or my TV gets hit by a controller sooner rather than later. It’s a nice TV. I don’t want it to get hurt.

* I am currently on a quest to play through all the AAA games I missed over the last few days, notably the entire Assassin’s Creed series since Brotherhood. I’m only on my second game now and already feel kinda worn out, but I hear they get better after Assassin’s Creed III …

NYC Sales Tax Calculator for Windows Phone 8.1

wp_ss_20150131_0001Good news, everyone! I’ve just released the Windows Phone 8.1 version of my New York City Sales Tax Calculator app. It’s free with non-intrusive advertisements and can be downloaded to your Windows Phone using this link and of course via the store. The entire submission process only took about four hours – meanwhile in Apple land, the iOS version is still waiting to even enter the review process. The only downside is that while Microsoft was quick to approve the app, the ad provider wasn’t, so the advertisements are still dummy banners. Can’t have it all, can you?

NYC Sales Tax Calculator for iOS

nycstciconJust as a heads up: I have just submitted the first version of NYC Sales Tax Calculator for iOS to Apple. Unlike the Android version which exists in free and paid flavors, the iPhone release is always free, but displays banner ads. The app is compatible with all iPhones (but not iPads) running iOS 8 or better. It should be available within the next 8 days, give or take.

A version for Windows Phone 8 is also planned, but unfortunately my newly purchased Lumia 630 died instantly after using it the first time, so it went straight back to Amazon for “repairs” (they’ll very likely just trash it and send me a new one).

New wowcards.info visitor record

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When I saw the visitor count today, I thought “wow, is the TCG being rebooted or what’s going on here?”. Over 11.000 visitors with about 99% coming from reddit.com – that’s a new visitor record by far!

Overview   Google Analytics

Unfortunately enough, it was only someone posting something about the Naxxramas expansion for Hearthstone, but still, 200+ visitors online at the same time with 4-5 new visitors every second was an awesome sight to behold.

In barely related news, there are only 76 cards that need their image added to the site now, so I’m almost there and yet so far, since many of them are extremely rare and/or expensive. But I’ll get there, I am certain, it’s just a question of “when”.

The state of wowcards.info, early 2014 edition

Visitors graph

It’s been months since I’ve last reported on the state of wowcards.info, and for good reason: there’s not that much to report. As you can see from the visitor graph above, there’s been some fluctuation in visitors since the year began, but all in all, interest seems to be slowly dwindling. I cannot explain the sudden spike in January as there wasn’t anything special on these two days, but overall, daily unique visitors are well below 100 for weeks now. That’s actually something I’d have expected to happen sooner, so it’s all good.

Thanks to a rekindled interest in World of Warcraft (the game, not the TCG), I didn’t have too much time to work on the database, but as I said before, there’s not much to do anyway. I’ve purchased and scanned a good amount of cards and finally got around to writing a small script to get an overview of cards with missing images. In that process, I also rechecked my collection and found out that I forgot to add a good amount of card images, so I scanned them as well. I’m pretty amazed that my collection is now sitting at 214 missing cards (only 2.74%) with about 60 cards currently ordered from sellers around Europe.

When I wanted to add some more decks to the tournament deck database recently, I found out that Cryptozoic removed their entire WoWTCG site. Not an unexpected move, given that they are no longer producing the game, but I couldn’t find the missing pages on Google cache or Archive.org either, which is very unfortunate. However, the database does contain the most recent tournament decks, so I’m not certain how many users would even be interested in older decks (pre 2012).