Tag Archives: steam sale

Late To The Party: Survival Games (The Long Dark)

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I’ve never played survival games before: the ones that sort of took over Steam Early Access and got popular with streamers like Rust, DayZ7 Days To DieArk: Survival Evolved, or The Forest. I’ve never even played Minecraft for any significant amount of time. Right before the recent Steam Summer sale ran out I saw The Long Dark for $7 and decided to give that a shot since it seems to be the most highly praised one.

After a few hours and a couple lengthy attempts to survive in its sandbox, what I see here is a pretty well-formulated simulation game, even if it isn’t entirely my kind of thing. Though I am now wondering if other survival games might have a flow that is more my kind of thing. Continue reading

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Indie Game Radar: Super Galaxy Squadron, Murder

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I guess I’ve decided to tear through a bunch of the smaller games I bought on Steam over the last year or so while I’m not busy with anything really big. Coming off of Super Star Path I actually managed to thoroughly play a couple more games I bought during the last steam sale at basically non-existent prices. Continue reading

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A Little Bit On Secondhand PC Game Keys

A story that’s going around a little bit right now centers on some stores that focus on reselling activation keys for some PC games without any of the money going back to developers. It’s basically like the used game conundrum but for PC games. There also questions of how the stores obtained the keys. This is actually a subject (or is at least related to a subject) I wanted to write a paid feature about for a while now, but it just never got off the ground. I think here I can at least talk a little bit real quick on what I discovered about second hand keys for people who still don’t know. Continue reading

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On Recent Changes In Indie Game Pricing

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After a Steam sale and the closing of Tales of Tales a few people are talking about sales and pricing on Steam again. As a consumer I’d like to believe the store isn’t facing a mobile-style race to the bottom, but things have certainly been changing ever since Valve started allowing a much higher volume of games in. Continue reading

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Saints Row IV And Sandbox Deconstruction

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I originally didn’t plan to bother with Saints Row IV after recently finishing Saints Row The Third, but that free weekend and $5 sale on Steam took me by surprise (and is actually the same way I tried out and bought The Third). A ways into the game, it’s got me wondering about what’s happened to sandbox games and where the game format is headed.

Open-world game design is getting pretty stilted. I hope new hardware can inspire some evolution on them, but the last few years of open-world games have brought us some design that’s so formulaic it’s starting to feel like busywork. SR4, mostly in purpose but sometimes unintentionally, has brought me to a point of deconstruction with open-world games where I’m starting to wonder why the game’s city is even there anymore. Continue reading

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The Steam Holiday Sale For Low-End Computers: 2014 Edition

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This is probably going to be a yearly tradition — listing examples that prove the Steam sale is for basically everyone who owns a computer, not just people with $2000 beast rigs. I think this subject might be especially pertinent this year since Valve opened the floodgates to allow far more indie and low-end games on the store than ever.

I’ve already gone over games from previous years in other posts and articles, and those games are certainly on sale again, probably at even lower prices. And again, this isn’t nearly every game I think you should check out. Just the really good games that crossed my mind that will probably run on your integrated graphics laptop or at least your work desktop with its entry-level GPU. Let’s also not forget that many of these games have demos for you to benchmark as well as Mac and Linux versions. Continue reading

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My Detachment Form An Expanding Black Friday

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Retailers are really trying to turn Black Friday into, like, “Black Month” or something this year. Maybe the merging of events into this one big sales season was inevitable. In any case, I really couldn’t tell you how involved in it I’ll be this time around. Maybe if I had more money things would be different, but my involvement in the holiday American capitalism proceedings of 2014 is looking different primarily due to changes in how I buy games and what games I buy. Continue reading

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Are Games Really Being Devalued? Are Gamers Really Being Cheap?

I’ll admit right here I probably buy my indie games on sale most of the time. In fact I buy most games on sale period, months or years after their initial launch. It’s a prominent discussion right now — on whether consumers are too cheap and whether Steam Sales and Humble Bundles devalue games, especially indie games. I’ve started to value games based on how much time I have to play these games relative to how good they are — that is, how much a game causes me to want to make the time to play it. Too many games are also suffering from a discoverability problem. At the point we’re at now, I won’t really think about buying a game at launch or at full price unless it’s nearly a game of the year contender. Continue reading

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Irrational Games: From Simulators To Games

Hey, I bought something on a Steam sale and was able to finish it immediately. In this case it was both episodes of BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea. Looking at the BioShock games alongside their main predecessor has got me thinking again about this whole “game versus simulator,” difference.

Picking up System Shock 2 again, then the first BioShock, then Infinite and its DLC, I’m still trying to figure out exactly why the earliest game feels so different from the BioShock games despite their almost complete congruence in gameplay. I don’t think it’s the action-oriented focus of BioShock, but rather its fantastical level design.

The BioShock games are definitely faster-paced and more shooter-oriented than System Shock. It’s like comparing Resident Evil 4 to the original Resident Evil. In System Shock I usually slowly creep through every corridor, checking every corner for enemies and diligently checking every container for resources. In BioShock I pretty much just run through the environments blasting people while mashing keys to rummage through boxes. System Shock’s inventory definitely slows the game down by making you consider what resources you keep.

The thing is, I’ve played action-oriented shooters that still err on the “simulator” side of the pendulum. The first Crysis and GoldenEye are good examples I constantly reference. 3D Realms’ Build engine games — Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior are great candidates too. All of them are fast-paced games where you spend most of your time shooting the crap out of things, but the difference is you’re shooting the crap out of things in environments that feel logically and believably planned out. They feel as if the designers built regular places first, then built video game goals around them.

Then you’ve got 1999 Mode and 1998 Mode in Infinite and its DLC. Those hardcore difficulty modes significantly slow down the pace of Burial to something very similar to System Shock. Having barely any resources in the first part of Burial forces you to slowly creep through areas, carefully consider every shot you take, and thoughtfully search containers. Part two’s 1998 mode successfully feels like a lite version of Thief where you have to observe your environment and make economical use of your tools. Basically, those modes make BioShock feel less like an action game, but to me they still don’t feel quite like System Shock.

That’s not against BioShock at all. BioShock will always feel like BioShock because it’s designed to be a different kind of game for a wider audience. It’s a first person shooter, while System Shock is much closer to an RPG. In a way it’s apples-to-oranges, but it’s still an interesting comparison when the apple and orange have almost the same gameplay mechanics.

The huge difference I notice is in the level design between System Shock, and BioShock. Somehow, System Shock got me to almost believe I was exploring an actual space ship where people live and work. Rapture and Columbia do not feel like actual cities where people live and work, but rather game levels with set dressing.

Let’s take objectives between the games as an example. Late in part two of Burial you’re sent to grab an object you’re told is in a lab. This involves traveling through a linear chain of areas to find the object in a special location at the end of that veritable tunnel after a lot of scripted story sequences. System Shock 2 has a somewhat similar part where you have to find an object, but it’s among a bunch of similar things, and you have to identify it by its number. All you have to guide you is an audio recording telling you the number of the thing you need to find, what room it’s in, and what shelf it’s on. Basically, you have to think through that environment the same way someone would if they were really there.

Maybe it’s because of the nature of each place. It’s fairly easy to imagine what kinds of places a ship like the one in System Shock would contain: crew quarters, medical, engineering, etc. It’s probably not extremely difficult to plan those kinds of places out to feel real. Rapture and Columbia on the other hand are inherently fantastical concepts — a city at the bottom of the ocean and a city in the sky respectively. They lend themselves immediately to abstract level design.

If you ask me, I think Rapture and Columbia would have lent themselves well to full-blown open world RPG design. Ultima Underworld is actually a pretty good example of an alternative possibility for BioShock. The game that influenced the whole “Shock” series puts you in the buried ruins of a failed utopia as well, but just about every character in it can be interacted with in some way. With clear differentiations between “normal,” “upset,” or “hostile,” people, it feels like a place full of people, and more importantly rival communities you have to navigate through exploration and conversation. I guess Fallout New Vegas is quite similar as a modern example. An approach like this could have made Rapture and Columbia far more “live” as settings, even with fast-paced shooting, but that’s just my opinion.

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A Personal Tip For Steam Sales

The Steam Sale will start either tomorrow or Friday, and along with my list from Monday I might as well share my own personal approach I’ve taken to the events. It’s helped me not only save money but also cut down on the growth of my backlog. It’s a pretty simple position to take too.

The usual thing everybody on Steam tells you to do is wait for the daily deals which is basically a cardinal rule at this point. And if what you’re aiming for doesn’t appear on a daily, grab it on the last day. One small tip I’ll also give is that you should put your main targets on your wishlist so you’ll get alerts, either through e-mail or mobile app, whenever their prices go lower.

The main tip I want to give though is something I stated a while ago when arguing in defense of these sales: Only buy a game if you’re actually ready to play it in the near future. More specifically, only buy a game if you actually plan to play it before the next big sale. All you have to do is ask yourself “When will I actually play this game? Will this game go on sale again before that time?” If it will go on sale again before you plan to play it, it’ll probably be at an even lower price.

Really, it’s the very least bit of long-term thinking you can bring to sales. These sales work because they hit you with prices shocking enough to sell you on before you’ve really thought about it. Just a while ago I seriously contemplated buying the new THIEF when it was on a Steam sale for $15, mostly because just a few months ago it was $60. But then I thought back to when I bought Hitman Absolution for that price mere weeks after its release in 2012. I haven’t even installed Absolution yet and it’s been on sale multiple times since at much lower prices.

For most people, taking advantage of Steam sales is basically just investing in a library of games they may or may not click on one day. I think taking the above approach leads to more immediate enjoyment of games and thus a greater appreciation for the deals. Luckily I just closed the book on ArmA II so I’m pretty much free to start playing whatever I pick up during this sale.

Oh, and one more tip is that when buying an indie game you should check that game’s official website to see if it has a Humble Widget (or check the Humble Store). Humble prices usually match Steam sale prices. I like buying through Humble because not only does more of the money go to the actual developer, but you also get a DRM-free copy of the game in addition to a Steam key.

BULLETS:

  • Nice article on the status of Arcades in North America today. http://t.co/gCVJghqBz8
  • Man if you don’t get Gunpoint now that it has Steam Workshop support, a new engine, and is currently $2.50…
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