Game guides: Why do they still exist? And why are Skyrim guides now £40!?

1 Dec

Going back to my earlier post about Skyrim and my failures as a decent person, it seems I just have general GAMING flaws that crop up in every game I play. It’s gotten so bad, that I was playing Broken Sword on my DS the other day and the urge to press “HINT” so that I could get out of a room I’d been in for less than 15 minutes was so strong I had to shut the console down.

Is it just me, or are people generally too proud to get hints to get them out of a sticky situation? I mean, hardly anyone buys game guides anymore, and the few of us that do would never admit it!

Saying that, I have noticed a massive trend in my store at the moment:  SKYRIM GUIDES.

At first I thought, “Finally! I’m not alone… Other people use these things too!”, until a colleague of mine told me they were selling for in excess of £40 on eBay.

Seriously?

I understand that gaming can have niche areas of the market, but would someone please let me know why these guides are selling for so much? I bought mine for £9.99 when I bought it with the game, with an RRP of £19.99 I’d love to know why people are so mad for this book. The game has been out now for over 3 weeks, so anything you desperately need to find, can surely be found on the Wikipage. Or is this a case of Eldermania, and people are hoarding these books like dragons, rolling on top of the guides that form a small mountain in their living room a la Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

I guess I’ll never know.

I think perhaps the main reason for this guide-book black hole, is that many people stick to user-created FAQ’s and Wiki’s on the rare occasions they absolutely need to. As a result publishers are publishing less game guides because it’s not something they see an awful lot of revenue from. As such, a crisis is formed when a sprawling game like Skyrim comes out because people are getting stuck a LOT more, and there appears to be a mass shortage of guides.

The first and foremost advantage of a paper guide over having to source electronic material on the web, is that you can have it plopped right in front of you. It can be kept open and to hand even whilst you are playing and without the need (for those of you who are computer gamers) to Alt-Tab furiously to and fro. On the flipside however, is the incomplete or inaccurate information that can be found in some guides, especially in the era of DLC we are living in, where games are released with future quest lines to be expected.

I’m going to push forward a new radical idea: e-guides. Why haven’t publishers picked up on this!? With the surge of the Kindle, Kobo and other electronic devices that serve as portable libraries, it’s mad to me that this idea hasn’t already been in use for years. A dedicated website that sold e-guides in a PDF format online could update popular guides as and when DLC was released.  For a cheaper price than a full on guide, and with none of the bulk I’m sure it’s something that would be a welcome addition to the gaming community at large.

I shouldn’t have told you my idea. I could be sitting on a goldmine…

 

 

-BG

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Things I have learnt about myself since playing Skyrim

20 Nov

Things that show my flaws: SKYRIM EDITION

1. I never listen

In my old age, I have this horrible bout of impatience that I’m told will one day alleviate itself. Well then why not now!?

Playing through Skyrim, I’ve picked up a variety of tatt (see below), some of it useful, some of it not. On at least 3 occassions I’ve killed someone and looted everything, only to have inadvertently picked up “THE LIGHTSTAFF SUPERIOR” that was needed for such and such a quest, in such and such a town. I’ll go talk to Random Villager and this happens:

 

Villager: Oh woe is me… I was once a powerful mage, with the love of many a buxom woman. Now that has all changed. If only SOMEONE could help.

Me: HAH. Well you’re in luck buddy. I’m SOMEONE and I’m short of a few septims. Need me a new horse, last one got eaten by a dragon in Riverwood. Bastard.

Villager: You could help me!? I lost my LIGHTSTAFF SUPERIOR in that horrible scary dungeon over yonder hill…

Me: One with the vampires?
Villager: Errrr, yes? Anyway, with that LIGHSTAFF I could…

Me: This Lightstaff? What’s it worth?

Villager: 200 septims?

Me: Yep, sounds about right. Wanna hook up?
Villager: WHAT!?
Me: Never mind. //BOOM FIREDEATH, LOOT THE CARCASS. LET IT ALL START AGAIN//

 

2.       I may be a hoarder

In Oblivion, I had a problem with raiding the major castles. This problem was mostly that there was nothing of worth to steal, so as a “two fingers up” I stole all their cutlery. Now let’s see how the rich bastards eat their tapioca!

In Skyrim, I have a problem with selling anything. I want it all. I collect costumes (in case my character wants to roleplay), swords (that are of no use to me) and… Bits of decaying animal. I have no idea why I am doing this, suffice it to say that it all started with a wolf pelt and now I have I have a cupboard in my virtual kitchen dedicated to the oddities I covet. I might start a Curiousity Bazaar. Or I might just keep the precious ones all to myself… 

 

3.       …and also possibly a wannabe polygamist

It all started with a simple amulet and another mage. I mostly did it out of curiousity (and the chance to better my Gamerscore) but unfortunately it appears that curiousity has not been sated. In one of my playthroughs, I simply murdered my current husband to see who else I could marry.

I’m not really sure why, but there’s this buzz I get when I crouch behind the armoire and pounce on my unsuspecting spouse. Maybe they pretend cheated one me. Maybe they kicked my favourite goat. Maybe they didn’t want to use my collection of roleplay outfits? I’ll never tell, but the next one had just better watch out. Just saying.

 

 

A Blast from the Past: GOG

18 Nov

GOG (GoodOldGames for those not in the know) represents a new era of purchasing PC games online. The brainchild of Polish developers CDProjekt RED, all games published on the site are:

  • DRM Free
  • Come packed full of goodies; and
  • The games (many of which are over a decade old) will have no issue working on your PC!

CD Projekt are strong opposers to the DRM movement that is inherent in digital media today.  They’re a customer service based company, catering to the PC gamer, which in turn means the PC gamer has done them a favour.  GOG realised that corporate politics used by media baddies such as EA to swindle their customers rarely works. The answer back from the consumer is to swindle the company back, resorting to piracy to get the game they want. GOG’s answer is instead to offer goodies such as artwork, soundtracks and wallpapers with each of their games and they rely heavily on the game developers to realise the potential they could reap by using GOG as a retail outlet.

Of course, this is never going to be an easy thing to try to combat. In the digital age, publishers are obviously concerned about their product being pirated, hence the enforcement of DRM’s on their products. Unfortunately, in the age of the “elite hacker”, there doesn’t exist a DRM that hasn’t already been hacked. That’s why GOG fight piracy in their own way, giving an incentive to those who would seek to “steal”. In fact, glimpsing over many of the GOG game reviews, the general gist from the consumer appears to be: “I would have stolen it, but I’m willing to drop $5.99 for a company that actually treats with respect, and not punishment from the get go!”.  It’s the respect that keeps them coming back, and boy do they keep coming back for more!

You don’t need to look far to see what GOG can do for old games. Take for instance Revolution’s adventure series: Broken Sword. GOG offers all 4 games on its website, ranging  in price from $5.99-$9.99 (GOG always charge in $USD, so you’ll never be subject to shifty abroad inflation, we’re looking at you Adobe…), and since the resurgence, has garnered a respectable new fanbase- which in turn has led to the rumours that a Broken Sword 5 is in development!!!

Plans are already underway to extend their catalogue, following the huge success of Witcher 2 (which the company developed), and it won’t be long until they’re yapping on the heels of Steam or Origin. It’s a whole new perspective to the piracy argument, and it’s obviously working well for the company, who have been making a profit from their first day in business.

Treating their customers fairly is the most important thing for GOG. The Witcher 2, by sister company CD Projekt RED offered it’s latest “Volume 2” DLC for free, and when signing into GOG for the first time, you are treated to a small supply of free games (6 of them to be exact!)- with “Beneath a Steel Sky” being included in that list!

I would strongly recommend GOG to those who haven’t heard of it before, I would wager a very high bet that after trying the service for free that you’d definitely go back again!

To see how GOG works visit it here.

-BG

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My Top Five Voice Actors

17 Nov

I’ve been playing Skyrim pretty heavily since it came out on Friday, and one of the first things I noticed (beyond the fact that dragons are apparently heavily attracted to whatever perfume my Breton is wearing) is the incredible use of voice acting. Just walking through  the city of Makarth to buy some potions I stumbled across four different conversations, which being a good little girl, I obviously had to eavesdrop on.

They were fantastic.

Not just the dialogue I mean, the voices. They were superb and I really did think at that minute, “Wow, I’m one badass mage”.

Voice acting plays a major role in keeping the plot integral to the player. Games are about more than graphics, it’s about giving the game world a living personality. So with that, for my first actual post I pondered at how I could write about anything else?

Well how about a list of my favourite voice actors? Eh? A treat for you all, I’m sure!

 

5. Stephen Merchant
His portrayal of Wheatley, the endearingly malfunctional robot in Portal 2, is perhaps one of the greatest voice overs in the history of gaming. His fast talking Bristolian accent plucked you right from your living room and straight into the bleak laboratories of Aperture Science.

Equally comforting yet menacing, it was definitely worth the stress he was allegedly put under to perform the role! Talks are already in motion for a Portal 3- so can we expect even more Wheatley? Well given the success of the second game (in part perhaps to his celebrity status over here in the UK!) I would definitely say so!

 

4.Mark Hamill
Yes, he is famous for being Luke Skywalker. A lesser  known fact (probably not amongst Batman aficionados) is that he also voiced The Joker for the animated series that a lot of us enjoyed as kids (and also, big kids!) and furthermore voiced this menacing role in Batman: Arkham Asylum and its successor Arkham City.

To many Batman fans, he is the pinnacle of Jokerdom. So it is sad news to many that with the ending of Arkham City, came the end of his Joker career:

“Hello/Goodbye Joker! I’ve enjoyed every minute behind the wheel of the [Clown] Prince’s crazy car – I’m going to miss him more than I can say!!”

He will always be one of my top voiceover actors, as well as my top Jedi swordsman (or should that be lightsaberman?). RIP Joker, you will be very much missed!

 

3. Gideon Emery
With a soft rich voice that just makes me melt, his portrayal of Fenris, the pouty moody elf from Dragon Age 2, puts Mr. Emery in my third favourite spot of voice acting. My Lady Hawke romanced a bit of pouty elf, in part because he had a rich and oddly affluent sounding voice. Although with the only other alternative being the newly maddened Anders, it was sadly not solely on that basis.

But it isn’t just Fenris that he has voice acted, far from it! His CV includes heavyweight titles such as Uncharted 3, Skyrim and Guild Wars 2- so perhaps this is why I was so taken aback by Skyrim’s superb voice acting? [insert obligatory cheeky wink face here]

 

2. Jennifer Hale

It was her work as Commander Shephard that first bought my attention to this fantastic woman.  A firm, authoritative (yet undoubtedly humorous) tone let people know that this was on soldier who wasn’t going to be messed around. And too damn right, I had after all saved the universe from extinction on 2 separate occasions!

Like others on this list, Ms. Hale is not new in these ‘ere parts, in fact she’s a veteran! Just by glancing on her Wikipedia page there are at least 7 different games to choose within the first 5 sentences to describe her, that let us the gamer, know she’s sticking around for good.

 

1. Grey DeLisle
She is a woman that many have not heard of, but a woman that many have heard. Ms. DeLisle has voiced over an overabundance of characters in games including (but not limited to); Mass Effect 2, Arkham City, Tomb Raider Underworld and Baldur’s Gate.

My favourite “piece” of hers, if you will, was that of Jacqueline Natla from Tomb Raider: Underworld. This Atlantean creature has a superb dark side, and Ms. DeLisle lends to this perfectly. She brings a certain mystique to Natla that was missing in her first incarnation in Tomb Raider 1, lending a sort of femme fatale mysteriousness that suckers Lara and the player into almost believing what her actions may be then- WHAM. Brilliant!

The main reason however that she must top off my list, is the fact that she has been featured in over 80 games. That is an incredible achievement, certainly not to be sniffed at!

So that’s my top five voice actors. Do you agree/disagree? Let me know!

-BG

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…and let the gaming commence!

17 Nov

I’ve always been a pretty big gamer, I blame my dad. In fact, when I’m not studying for my degree I’m doing one of two things; gaming or working in a game shop.  It really has got me THAT bad.

…alright I jest. I manage to fit in a plethora of activities in my life/work schedule, but a little dramatic flair never killed anyone, right?

My main aim of this blog is to share my love of gaming in a way that’s accessible to those like me- a little sarcastic and a lot of love (for games!). I’m so excited to have made this move into the blogosphere and I really hope that you’ll join in and comment, but more importantly will enjoy what I have to say!

Let the games commence!

-BG

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