I’m left confused, annoyed, angry and also confused.
In a nutshell: They took what they’d developed in previous games, streamlined it to make room for scope (more side games etc) and shipped a game which did nothing really well.
The game spends more time tipping it’s hat than a fez-wearing Doctor Who bobble head, as a result, none of the side collections were engaging and the overall story line was very shallow and lackluster, the plot is it’s own synopsis.
During my play through, all kinds of things bothered me about the game as an experienced developer; it smacked of too-many-cooks and too-many-new-recipes. So when I finished the story, I let the end-credits run. Oh. My. Goodness. What is that – 8 minutes? 10 minutes? Of steady scroll?
It’s not the run time of the credits but the sheer headcount. Firstly it makes it much, much harder to deliver a cohesive story across all the little details when you have so many people. The bigger problem is the amount of time that must have been spent in meetings.
Why did they need so many people? Localization for one part, but also because they broadened the scope of the game. My personal take is that they were unsuccessful: you don’t get to say “I made an omelette” just because you put 12 eggs into a pan and applied heat.
From a gameplay perspective, the first AC game was tedious and bland, dull, repetitive. It was the story telling that sold it. ACIV’s gameplay is less honed and less nuanced than Revelations and the story telling is abysmal.
Seriously – one portion of the lore you can collect is done in the form of audio tapes. Long, drawn out voice acting sessions, which didn’t really contribute anything for me. They have no video component, which just makes them feel cheap/lazy. One set are letters from Desmond – which had less value to them than eating the box your cheerios come in – but which came with a written transcript so you could skip the tedious reading. The other set are audio-transcripts that you can’t pause without resetting and have no written transcript.
If AC IV is a taste of AC to come, I for one have left the target audience.
*** Contains plot spoilers***
Without playing much, I’ve ranked 38,000th most deadly assassin. Oddly, last weekend, my position had 6 digits.
To my mind, it’s one of the best ACs to date. Excepting the aquatic bits.
The sailing, swimming, diving: well, they’re a turd on an otherwise magnificent serving of filet mignon served after a 2 day fast.
I do the sailing, when I can’t just fast-travel, and sort of look down at my feet, I somehow feel guilty/ashamed. I’ve tried the under-water sections. Then there are the under-water sections. Ok, so every now and again your character drowns because the controls are so clunky you can ‘t turn around and reach an air pocket/diving bell, or you ricochet between columns of urchins like a pinball and die. Those are probably bugs.
*** Plot spoilers are about to happen ***
Then there is the campy-pastiche attempt at a cameo; the non-animus portion of the game occurs in a game studio. You’re working for Abstergo Entertainment in conjunction with Origin researching material for a new Assassins’ Creed game, in their Quebec office.
It was probably funny to the developers, and to the people who knew the developers who they bounced it off. You know who it isn’t terribly funny to? Anyone else. A passing reference or an actual cameo, coulda been funny. Sure, I got a good giggle looking at the desk loot. But there’s also the minor matter of how bad this portion of the game looks. After the beautiful elegance of the animus world, the Abstergo portion looks … like something from an original Xbox game. Animation, textures, it’s all terrible.
There are some fantastic moments in ACIV – tip of the hat to the wake-up scene that looks like it’s going to be a flash back to Desmond originally waking up from the Animus.
But there is vastly more fail: The pitiful handful of achievements, most of which you will complete in the first day or two of play; The utter irrelevance of most of the side-games; The magnificent visuals of bringing the weather in so close you really actually can’t see anything; The immersion and soul destroyer of boarding an enemy ship as a way to prevent the other 5 ships you’re fighting from sinking you; The tedium of cut-scenes that run 90% thru before telling you “Hold B to skip cinematic” (and then holding B causes it to end a second or so earlier than not doing would have, and yes: I’ve tried holding B before that point); the annoying randomly capitalized letters and words.
There is a crafting system, but it’s sort of stupid. There are 3 consumables you can craft, but if you loot corpses, you will never want to. The remainder of your crafting options are one-shot upgrades each of which requires different components. It’s an in-your-face “KILL STUFF AND SKIN IT OR NO UPGRADES FOR YOU”.
Where previous ACs had feathers for you to collect, AC IV has Animus Fragments. It also has shanties (songs for your sailors to sing while sailing) chests (with gold coins) manuscripts (for those who don’t like interesting lore/backstory, and specifically want dull, tedious lore/backstory) and outside the animus there are post-it notes to collect (with tedious, vaguely AC themed, rants on them) and computers to hack (in return for miscellaneous AC-themed tidbits that are at first gratifying but quickly make you want to use your AC box to punch people with).
Yes – there’s a larber number of side activities, but especially compared to previous ACs, they are hideously shallow and tacky. None of them are well done, none of them are engaging, none of them are immersive, none of them draw you into a sense of story/world connecting back to what is going on either in the animus or outside. And once you reach a certain point (about 60%) there’s clearly no effort put into them. Capturing a fort? Chests and animus fragments start to pretty much trip you up as you follow way points.
But the bottom of the barrel, which AC IV scrapes up with it’s tounge and tries to shove down your ear, is the under-water wreck exploration. Games usually don’t do a great job of swimming-related activities, and AC IV does a really bad one. Plus sharks. Did I mention that you are weaponless during this section? Yes. In the franchise known for running, jumping and climbing, they’ve added a combatless underwater swimming segment where you may get eaten by an eel if you don’t succumb to wounds from sharks that you fail to hide from because the swimming controls would make a blown goat want its money back.
I’m going to try and see it thru to the end of the story mode because I’m determined to see if the story makes any kind of sense or in any way fits into the AC storyline so far. My hunch is that the game will disown itself and reveal that it was all just a templar’s bad dream.
I’ve been experimenting with Visual Studio 2013 Preview on my Windows 8.1 laptop and I’m liking it – with a caveat. Windows 8.1 is absolute fail on the laptop itself, it’s not touch screen. But I’m using remote-desktop into it to use VS2013 on my desktop 27in LCD, and that is actually really pleasant.
VS 2013 is still visually kinda horrible and wasteful of visual real-estate, and it has a new on-the-fly syntax formatting feature which I am permanently fighting, probably needs a lot more options before release. E.g., if you tell it to put spaces around math operators, it preemptively puts spaces around “<” as you type a template, but never corrects them when it finally realizes it was a template (“std::vector < string>”).
It’s a nice feature but they need to make it less aggressive, so that if you go back and change an auto-format feature, it doesn’t immediately undo your change.
The ide definitely feels faster and smoother, and there are a lot of nice new bells and whistles which so far I have found fairly beneficial. The perf visualization tools are really nice to work with, if a little confusing to get running (apparently you need to set up some adminstrator privilege stuff and jankiness).
I owned the original SAS C compiler from which MSVC is derived, and a version of each release from then upto 2010. VS 2012 is the first one I didn’t buy, I’ve stuck with 2010 and done less dev work under Windows.
Ultimately, the damage they did to the UI in 2012 still puts the hurt on 2013 for me, so far, so right now I suspect I’ll give 2013 a miss too.
I bumped into old leather-pants himself tonight while playing War Thunder. Yes, I’m going by “kfsone”. There’s a reason I’m not an actor, and that’s one of it.
Unfortunately, their chat UI is kinda lacking, and although I cancelled my queue I got sucked into a game, at which point – despite the chat window being up – I was unable to chat with you (it kept telling me that kfsone wasn’t online).
That game alternately drives me nuts (random damage model ftl) and makes me drool deliriously (but the models are so beautiful, and if the joysticks worked full realism mode would be a thing of beauty) and drives me nuts (did someone go back in time and suck all the evil out of the early WWIIOL UIs and inject the distilled tincture like botox into the World of Tank UI so that just when you think, oh I got this, BAM, it’s in your face doing anything but what you expected, and in russian) and makes me cheer (in-flight reload in arcade mode FTW!).
But then I’ve also been hopping into WarBirds occasionally (as kfs1). Have to say, when I did the offline training flight for WB 2013 and saw “bobn”s name … Man, that tugged at the old heart strings.
2 years ago, on a whim, I decided to go Windows 7 Phone – for the 14 days until the droid I actually wanted became available. But I was impressed with the slickness of the device; that Windows 7 Phone UI – the UI where they got rid of all the reasons to need UI chrome – is really slick and elegant. Unlike the Windows 8 UI, which is a PC UI hacked to look like Metro and coerced into removing necessary UI chrome (but still needing it).
Ultimately, the lack of apps and an assortment of stupid feature changes are what sluiced me out of staying with Windows phone.
Windows Phone 7 Summary:
- + Ultra-streamlined UI makes sense down to your bones after a few days adjustment,
- + Great text-to-speech for reading text messages and giving alerts,
- + Great speech-to-text – best I’ve seen so far for dictating texts etc,
- + Fast little device
- - One Volume Setting to Rule them All,
- - Tendency to reset the volume to full on incoming calls, texts, or pretty much any sound,
- - Speech functionality only available when you’ve have or have just had a bluetooth headset connected,
- - No significant app support
Plus I had a grand-fathered unlimited data plan.
So today, I used my end of contract upgrade to switch to the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
This may be a problem, because I’m a phone-in-pocket type of guy. The Note is HUGE. Half-way between my old phone and the size of my first-gen Kindle Fire.
In terms of the device in-hand, I like the size. In terms of portability – it’s bigger than my pockets. I bought an “Otter” belt-case for it. Yeah, that’s … just gonna take a normal guy’s pants down. The thing is huge.
Off the bat I had problems with the home screen customization. I want the time, date and temp displayed, sure. Do I want it so large I can only choose four other short cuts on that screen? Erh. No?
First App: HD Widgets.
Gives me a 2×1 clock + cal + weather widget. Replace the google search bar with a button and now I have a good 12 extra shortcuts on that page.
My contacts were mostly stored in Google and Windows Live so I got those imported nice and easily.
Getting Amazon Kindle running was a little bit of a pain.
And finally: There was selecting ring tones, alarm tones, notification tones and etc.
It didn’t come with a ringing phone tone. WTF.
And I’ll miss the alarm tones from the Trophy. I supposed I can always record them and make my own ring tones :)
It’s on, finally! The fourth chapter in the Elite franchise!
In 1984, Elite provided gamers with 256 galaxies of 256 stars, each of which had assorted planets and space stations. You loaded up with trading goods, bought fuel and launched out of Llave station to begin the process of trading, pirating and what not your way to the rank of “Elite”.
Those computers had 16Kb of memory. You are probably using a computer with 4-8Gb of RAM. That’s 260,000 times more memory than the computers of 1984. 1Gb is roughly 1 million Kb.
Then, 19 years ago, Dave Braben followed up with “Frontier: Elite II” and bent our minds: the game featured hundreds of thousands of stars, the entire of our galaxy, while at the same time allowing you to also go into the atmospheres and even land on the many planets and moons with cities and spaceports decorating many of the planets. All this is probably only 32x more memory than the previous version.
Today’s PC has 32,000x more memory than the computers “Frontier” was designed for.
Elite: Dangerous will be introducing multi-player to the Elite franchise, as well as bringing new depth and immersiveness to the game. Given how much Mr Braben has done with so little in the past, I’m really looking forward to seeing this chapter.
Right now they are pitching for funding on KickStarter – as of writing they’re at 1.1 million pounds of 1.25, 5 days to go!