Elaboration ’bout Overwatch cohesiveness

So what is it about this whole “cohesive world” thing that I get so excited about with Overwatch? To answer that I need to explain why I consider Overwatch to be a cohesive world whilst I scoff at the mere notion of calling LOL or DOTA2 cohesive worlds.

What makes my glue cohesive?

DOTA2 is a world filled with heroes from many walks of life, it is a magical world reminiscent of a high fantasy landscape. There are wizards and warriors and spiders and maniacs with dendrophobia. DOTA2, or just DOTA, is a mod of Warcraft 3, which is why DOTAs’ heroes looks like they could have been Blizzard made. Someone thought of a cool mod/custom map to make and poof, we had DOTA. It did get some cohesiveness just from the fact that the assets used to build it had a innate cohesiveness with each other. But it is mostly a “superficial” cohesiveness. It is true that some heroes have connections with each other outside the one you create in-game during a match, but often it is very loose. Also, regarding the fact that the heroes comes from many walks of life, it is a mess. We have a Greek god, manifestations of high concepts/cosmic energies, a spider that want everyone to leave her kids alone, wizards, warriors etc. etc. It is a big mish-mash of colors and ideas. Here is where I say that we see that the glue isn’t strong enough, everyone is so different and their narrative power levels are super unbalanced. Also, no one seems to have a reason for fighting in during the match, why would they fight for either the Radiant or the Dire? (To be fair, this last complaint is overly nitpicky, since the game would suffer if you could only use some heroes with either team or if some heroes couldn’t be used in the same team. Gameplay should in these kinds of games always come first)

So I picked out 3 reasons why I think DOTA2’s glue isn’t as sticky as it should be.

  1. The games world wasn’t thought out from the beginning and is just a throw together.
  2. The “lore”, the info about the heroes, isn’t connected, some of it is but most isn’t.
  3. How can the more humble heroes stand up against literal gods? The power differences aren’t explained.

LOL also suffer from these points, although in a lesser extent. LOL’s world isn’t in the same way a party mix, since the world the fighting takes place in is thought out. The story of LOL, if I don’t remember wrong, is that lords in a kingdom is struggling for control off the throne, which is done by summoning champions from different worlds to fight and represent them in a alternate dimension. This little bit of story gives a “logical” explanation to why the heroes are so different, and why they are fighting. Thought to be honest, I think this is a lazy way to explain everything and it feels more like an excuse than a actual reason, but it works, which they should get some credit for.

The power differences still aren’t explained though.

Sticky, gluey Overwatch.

Overwatch doesn’t have these problems, since their lore is cohesive from the get go (and it is better and more interesting than LOL’s lore). The world of Overwatch is our own but a alternate version of it. In the Overwatch world, technology has come a long way, so long a way that it almost destroyed mankind. Mankind created self supplying factories that started spewing out death robots. This is called the Omnic crisis, and it is very important for the Overwatch universe, since it explains everything! (Not everything but many of the things)

To fight of the machine onslaught humanity created counter measures, and people from all walks of life had to take up the fight against the machines, or else they would perish. This explains why we have a former professional athlete running around with a lazor spewing gun, this explains why we have two psychotic killers equipped weapons made of scraps. Because they were just like everyone else in this world effected by the Omnic crisis.

Why do the heroes have such awesome, superhuman abilities, because it is only technology, just the very advanced sort.

How can they fight on an even playing field, because no one is a god, they are all just humans (except Zenyatta and Bastion) and they have been fighting the same kind of things. And they are all connected due to the fact that they are all earthlings, and they have all experienced the Omnic crisis.

What does this world consistency mean?

The good thing about a consistent/cohesive (maybe I should have used consistent instead of cohesive) is that if done right, nothing in it will feel out of place. Overwatch have a talking gorilla that have lived on the moon, but it doesn’t feel out of place nor random, it feels like something that truly belongs to this world (will get to that in another post). What it also means is that the game and the world can evolve alongside each other. When a new hero is introduced in Overwatch, we will learn more about this world and this characters relation to the other heroes. When a new hero is introduced in LOL, we learn about that hero.

I am not saying that LOL or DOTA2 are bad games because their worlds aren’t as consistent as Overwatch’s , because both of are wonderful games and they can do things story wise/narratively that Overwatch can’t, but as I wrote in the last post, I want to see what Blizzard will do with this.

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Sumtjin ’bout Overwatch

This game is super nice and in some aspects all I wished for. Not only because it is very fun to play and looks amazing (even with my crappy graphics card). No, it is because it is cohesive, so incredibly cohesive. One glance and you can see that there is a unified vision behind its presentation.

As some of you who reads this might know, I have complained about DOTA 2 and LOL not having a cohesive style. Not that their art style is a scrambled mess, cause it isn’t, both their art styles and visual presentation are very cohesive. But the worlds they present aren’t. DOTA 2 just began as a mod of Warcraft 3 and later on they decided to create a story to it so it isn’t weird that they have everything from Greek gods, to internet trolls. LOL opts to use the little more cohesive world idea of having the heroes/champions being pulled from different dimensions to fight. Which to me is a bit cheap, but I can buy in to, it also allows the creators to make whatever they want, so kudos to them for that.

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However, with Overwatch I am seeing for almost the first time a Hero/Champion based game with a cohesive world vision that bleeds in to all the facets of the game. (Yes I am sure some other games have done this before (Tannhäuser for example) but I use this as an example because it’s big, popular and won’t be discontinued any time soon).

Why this excites me is because I am really looking forward to see what Blizzard will do with it. Will it they further the metaplot of the world later on? Maybe rework some of the old Heroes or give them new skins that reflect the story?

The story progression will probably mostly be delivered through comics and CG-trailers as they have up to this point, but even in game we get snippets of information about the cast. Will they down the road ad more “fluff/lore”-voice lines to heroes? I have no idea what Blizzard will do with this new amazing IP so I’m just giddy to be along for the ride.

Pic found here.

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Hello?

It’s been a long time… way too long.

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Captain ‘MURICA and other Marvel movies

NO CIVIL WAR SPOILERS

If you liked the last Captain America I’m pretty sure you will like this one to. It has the same tone and style as the last film, winter soldier, but it isn’t the same film (unlike a certain Age of Ultron).

The last few Marvel movies have been mostly refreshing viewings. Maybe not overly refreshing, they are superhero movies still, but phase I’m glad that the movies haven’t grown stale as of yet. The movies I’m referring to are Guardians of the Galaxy (henceforth referred to by simply ‘Guardians’), Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and Captain America Winter Soldier.

What made the Winter Soldier into such a hit, partially, I would propose is that it dared to be different; it dared to do something new. It wasn’t much of a typical superhero movie, the likes of Iron Man, Hulk or Thor have been. This was more akin to a spy thriller, and it established more of the Marvel universe. We got to see S.H.I.E.L.D. in action, HYDRA came back, the villain wasn’t as much a “boss fight” as it was plotter that had to be stopped and the actions in this film had consequences in the upcoming movies. Those are what made this movie so different and exciting. All other movies after this couldn’t of course turn the Marvel universe upside down like this one did but the Winter Soldier dared to not only be self-contained. (Iron Man 3 do have some references to the Avengers, but they aren’t super influential to the movie (that or my memory might be falling me)).

Next up we have Guardians, the smash hit. It is basically Avengers in space but none the less it works so brilliantly. But why does it work, it works cause this time “everyone” is so over the top and the heroes aren’t all that serious. Not all heroes are serious, just look at Iron Man, he jokes all the time, but the rest of the old crew? Pretty serious dudes all of them. In Guardians, everybody jokes (maybe not intentionally…) plus it managed to do a “Avengers” without first having 4-5 movies as setup.

Age of Ultron. Why is this movie here? Because that one did everything wrong. Okay, that is too harsh, it didn’t do everything wrong and I’m pretty sure it was a nightmare to produce since it had to include so many big heroes and let them all shine and at the same time set the stage for Captain America Civil War and a few other films. However, we shall not let it pass just because of that. It was sadly a kind of lame movie, not a bad one by far, at minimum a 7/10 but it lacked originality. It was just a rehash of the first Avengers in all too many aspects.

Finally we arrive at the Ant-Man, a film some people say is just Iron Man 1 in a new skin. A statement I see some truth in, but what to me made this movie was the heist aspect of it. Yes, in many was it was the typically “origin movie” for Ant-Man but I think it worked since it was a pretty different origin and that our hero was a small time crook. But since Ant-Man and Iron Man both relied on suites and science and such I can see how that might make them feel similar, but the movies are so very different. One of them are the fights. The Iron Man films do have fight scenes… some pretty good, but most I feel aren’t that inventive. In Ant-Man, they’re as inventive as they can get (maybe not, but almost). Perspective is played with and since they change size, now anywhere can be a battle field. The fights stink of creativity and it’s a good stink.

So why this rant? Because after thinking about these movies and having seen the latest Captain America I feel hope full that we will get many more inventive and different superhero movies in the coming years.

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Impressions of: Gardens of the Moon

Friends are people you trust, people that try to be nice to you. Friends are not people that make you read a book that gives you a headache.

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Doesn’t it need a few more plants to be a garden?

A friend of mine told me to read this book, he said it was awesome, better than food, that I would either love or hate it (take note here dear readers, this last piece of information is a good indication that something might be iffy with what you are being “sold”).

But he was wrong, oh, so very wrong. I didn’t hate or love it; I just liked it, a 6/10. Now I don’t think it was a bad book, it had moments of brilliance, especially a character introduced later on, called Kruppe, he was fantastic. In fact, many of the characters in this book are interesting and fun to read about, even if we don’t get to know them enough to call them acquaintances. Then where is the problems/lack of excellence that makes it into a 6/10 instead of a 10/10?

There are four main problems in this book, according to me, the first is: What the heck is even happening?!

I am able to find the thread which is this book’s main plot (even though it took a while) fairly easily, but at the same time we get to know about 3-4 other bigger plots, that are on a world level, while the main plot of Gardens of the Moon is on a group/country level. Mostly group. Furthermore, there is the problem of characters acting all “YOLO” and doing whatever they please for seemingly no reason, but to be fair it isn’t very common.

The second problem: Where did that come from and stop pulling things from Uranus!?

When I read this book one of my most common thoughts was “where the hell did that/this come from?”. If I had a dollar for every time I thought that I would have at least 50$, which wouldn’t get me a ticket to the Bahamas, but the next town over and a change of scenery is always nice. However unserious that was this is a real problem I believe. The reader shouldn’t constantly feel like almost anything could jump out behind the next corner, at least not in this kind of book. Had it taken place in a surreal dream world, than by all means, throw crazy at me all the time, but this is a serious, albeit fictional, world with what I guess are strict rules.

Problem number three: Who was that again?

Okay, this one is also one of the strengths of the book and the world but when you are first introduced to this universe it is annoying beyond belief. What am I talking about, I’m talking about names. Everybody and their grandma have about 20+ names which the author decides to switch between now and then. Sometimes it’s used to great effect when you think it is a completely new character we’ve been following but is actually someone we know just going by a different alias. Alas, it can be cool and the world is kind of sort of built around this practice but it is irritating when you have to learn over 9000 names just to follow the basic happenings from one page to the next.

Fourth of the problems: I know nothing about this place!

Right from the outset I understood that this is a grand and complex world that the story will take place in. A bit too grand and complex one might say. This is the mother of all the problems, at least all the ones I have called out. As you read the book, the grandeur of the world slowly dawns on you and you see that there are bigger things at stake and far from every card has touched the table. Big and complex worlds are not bad in and of themselves, but when you as the reader are thrown right into them with little to no explanation it makes your brain fry. It’s overwhelming. Normally you as the reader have a mug that can be filled with new information. This mug can hold about 10-11 ounces of new information, and then you need to drink it and contemplate over it during a sunset in a rocking chair. Sometimes Gardens of the Moon gives you the right amount of information, sometimes it gives you a tsunami.

Even though I have problems with the book I still feel like I should give the next one a chance. However, if that one doesn’t get a good grip on me then I’m out here.

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Y U NO WONDER!? (Forbidden Stars session)

During the Easter Holidays I had the chance to play this beautiful game once again. In it, you and up two three other people are trying to be the first to take control over four of your objectives through clever tactics, brutal cunning, cunning brutality, sheer force or some other way.

The game is a bit like a mix between Starcraft: the board game and Runewars but with a lot more Orks and 40k grim dark esthetic.

 

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In this game I took the mantel of the noble Eldar with the goal of finding lost artifacts and crush all opposing forces by massive amounts of fire power. Whilst I was lurking in the corner of the map and slowly building me a army of improbable size, the three other factions was duking it out on the battlefields. The Space Marines player was tearing through the Orks, by employing superior combat tactics (AKA combat cards), even though the green waves were greatly more numerous. However, the Orks wasn’t only receiving large losses in manpower, they were also dishing out some on the Chaos player, and all while me, the Eldar, built more ships.

As the fighting continued amongst the others I only participated in some small skirmishes and instead built myself beautiful cities and improved my combat gear and tactics (AKA combat cards). But to my despair, it seemed all my massing of armies was about to be for naught when the Space Marines got a golden opportunity to win the game by claiming a unprotected objective. As their ships was about to send down troops for a sure victory, the Chaos player probably made a deal with Tzeentch and Warp-blocked the Space Marines. I do believe also heard the Chaos player whisper “just as planned” when this happened. This turn of events gave me more time, time I desperately needed if I was to have any chance of winning this game.

Which I instead spent on building more stuff.

So of course the Space Marine player won the game, but I won the resource and production race, and in my book that is worth more than any objectives. I ushered in the Eldar race in to a new golden age of peace and prosperity whilst the others were pettily sacrificing their people to the machinations of war.

Also, I think there should be a way to win by having more resources than the others, like being able to build a wonder a lá Age of Empires style (AKA me being sad over losing the game).

 

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Sad Eldar is sad

Pics found: Here and here.

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Semi Random Blurt #04

It isn’t the size that matters, it’s the quality.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system let’s get serious. I’ve been thinking about the critique some games have gotten from the fact that their avarege play/completion time is short. Games that come to mind are “The Order 1886”, which was ridiculed for its 5 houres of play time. But I don’t really see the problem here. Why would should a game get a lower score just from being short? Well they don’t is the answere (I think at least (might be wrong)).

As I remember it, back in the middel of the 00s, many of the big action and FPS games that came out were often under 10 houres long. Most could be completed the same day you bought them. But as I also remember it, no one really seemed to point out this fact or care. So why did “everyone” go bananas when “The Order 1886” was only 5 hours? One of the reasons could be the price, that a game being sold for full price should at least be X hours long. But I don’t really think time has ever been the issue, it is rather the lack of enjoyment that is the problem. Had “The Order 1886″‘s 5 hours been mindblowingly good, no one would have cared, instead it would have been raised to the sky like Simba and been hailed as a beacon of light, that quality is always more important then quantity. However, we got neither and therfore everyone got pissed.

Rafiki_presenta_Simba

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