The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth – PC or Playstation 4?

It’s official – The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth will launch on November 4th. I couldn’t be more excited, especially since I’ve put in a solid 60+ hours into the original. The remake is an instant buy, but where will I buy it?

In case you are unaware, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a complete remake of the original in an entirely new engine with redone art and a lot more content added. If you are even more ignorant than that (and some of you will be because the game’s content is pretty questionable for most people to past/enjoy), then let me refresh you on what makes this game so good. It’s a roguelike in the same style as the dungeons from the original Zelda on the NES (square rooms, top down perspective) though minus the puzzles. There are powerful items that can change your gameplay drastically, such as altering your shooting into a constant laser beam. Plus, it’s all randomized so stringing together a successful run takes some twitch skill and decent management of your bombs/keys/money to win.

The game controls are pretty simple; essentially, it is a dual stick shooter. That’s why the allure of purchasing it on my Playstation 4 is so strong. Also the remake has local co-op, so that ups the ante in my PS4’s favor even more since it is easier to lug around than my desktop.

Though, considering the way I have played The Binding of Isaac in the past, it makes more sense to get it on PC. Since the game can be pretty difficult and has that ‘love it or hate it’ quality of most roguelikes where you are guaranteed to lose the majority of the time, I typically play in short bursts. In between television shows or while waiting to go somewhere, I start it up, see for far I make it, then turn it off. That becomes more difficult (in the privileged, first world kind of way) when I have to actively decide to turn on my console.

Plus, anyone who already owns the game gets a 33% discount on Steam during the preorder process, which puts a preorder at roughly $10, which, frankly, is a fucking steal.

Good news everyone, the decision doesn’t have to be made and this is a non-post post that’s really just a chance for me to squee a bit about Binding for no real reason. Push Square reported that a person at the company behind The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has already leaked that it will be in the Playstation Plus lineup, so assuming you are a member (which you should be), then it’s included in your benefits!

In other words, I preordered on PC, will download it on PS4, and I ultimately get to have my cake and eat it too. I love modern gaming so much more than the days where I paid full price for a game I had almost no idea about that often had a dubious amount of replayability!

 #TheBindingofIsaacRebirth #PlaystationPlus #Roguelike

Mark & Recall: Of Game Servers (Tales of the Aggronaut)

Only on Tales of the Aggronaut, “Of Game Servers

I happen to agree with most everything Belghast had to say here. I too like Megaservers, but often find them lacking. Specifically, I had this to say:

I agree. Megaservers are a good approach, but they become problematic when it comes to building community. I think they’d work better if most MMORPGs weren’t designed with so many anti-community (or at least not pro-community) features.

For example, matchmaking as your primary way to play with others doesn’t necessarily generate any friends. I’d like to see more games promote keeping the same group through matchmade content, perhaps with a bonus. Also, more systems designed around reputation and making matchmade friends.

For example, take the hybrid approach you mention, but let the system do some of the work. People you like? Rate them positively and they’ll be more likely to show up in your world. “Favorite” them and they will definitely show up in your world, as well as show up in a special tab of ‘not quite’ friends, but still people you could start a group with at any time. It could even take into account their friends, favorites, and people they’ve rated highly to keep a large web going.

From there, maybe guilds could mark one another as allies and rivals? I dunno. There’s room to play with it, at least, and it is at least some attempt to bridge those gaps and create those communities!

Beyond that, however, I think MMORPGs in general need to evolve away from the ‘everyone in a faction’, leveling treadmill that they’ve become so fond of. Yes, EverQuest had a lengthy level grind, but doing things relevant to those individual levels was largely the point. It was less a game of progressing for progression’s sake, and more of exploration, setting up camp, and grinding things out with or without strangers. I don’t want camp checks again, so a giant server capable of housing everyone at once seems like a fair idea, but then how am I supposed to meet people?

Matchmade dungeons? Nope.

Raids? Not anymore.

PvP? “LOL!”

Not to run off on another Destiny post, but it really is the ultimate realization of most of the features of modern MMORPGs that have made them worse. Despite the prejudices of the word, I am going to call this whole thing ‘casual creep’. It’s the slow, often isolated incidents of trying to make your game more accessible and approachable, but in the aggregate they ruin the social elements almost entirely.

It’s particularly troublesome because these incidents often seem like great additions in the short term or by themselves. MMORPG features function much like new technologies IRL, and those often come with unforeseen consequences when it comes to how they rapidly replace or change culture/environment. Auction Houses were a great addition until you realized that they largely gutted the need to ever talk to other players about trades, or implement NPC vendor systems ala Ultima Online to give players the option to create shops. Speedier forms of travel, including systems like recalling to bind points and automated travel routes, made worlds smaller. More formulaic and better designed leveling-based grinds made leveling a much more solo affair, but also helped give players objectives and purpose in mostly open worlds.

I have no problem with making a MMORPG function in bite-sized pieces for people who can’t setup shop and grind for 4+ hours. More and more, that’s all MMORPGs are anymore. Making things difficult just for the sake of difficulty doesn’t help either. There’s a huge difference between making a game where everything can be done by everyone and a game where everything can be done by everyone in one hour or less. Difficulty may add padding and street cred, but I don’t think it builds community – at least not on its own.

The question has to always be, “how social do MMORPGs need to be?” I happen to think a lot, so Megaservers that speed up my log in, but turn any hope of community into a social desert are a no go. With every feature, designers should consider whether or not that particular feature will help or hinder player socialization. They should consider more features whose sole purpose are to quantify and codify the loose reputation systems once in place in a time and place where servers were many, players were few, levels were harder to get, and no one could transfer off or change their name without starting over.

It’s an issue – a big one – but it can be solved. It has to be solved, I think, if the genre ever hopes to recover from its many, many years of trying to one up World of Warcraft without building a community first.

#MMORPG #GameDesign #CasualCreep 

The 15 Influential Album List, Murf-Style

I am following the leads of Welshtroll and Me Vs. Myself and I. Feel free to do the same. I love sharing music, reading about their tastes, and talking about mine. I also wanted an easy Saturday post. Win-win!

Here goes (with no specific order and my favorite song off the album):

Toadies – Rubberneck

I often cite “Tyler” by the Toadies as the song that made me love music. That’s a tall order for any song, so it only makes sense here contextually. A cooler, older kid at my kid said, “Hey, you have the same name [my middle name] as this song. Have you heard it?” I hadn’t, he played it for me, and now the Toadies are my favorite band of all time (even if that is only an honorable position).

If it hadn’t been for this song, my list here may have been populated by the rap and country music I had been accustomed to up until that point in my then very short life.

Nirvana – In Utero

It’s Nirvana: everyone loves Nirvana. In Utero is my favorite though because it’s a fun listen from start to finish.

Hoobastank – Hoobastank

I don’t ever go back to this CD anymore, but it is the first one I remember buying for myself. It was the perfect beginning to several years of bad early 2000’s rock music, but I am not ashamed.

The Juliana Theory – Love

Okay, this one I am ashamed of (but not really). There’s nothing quite like being a teenager in love, especially when you’re the quiet sort. You’ll listen to anything!

Daft Punk – Discovery

I question the human-ness of anyone who can listen to this entire album without enjoying at least one track.

Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

If I had to credit any one thing for my hipster tendencies, it would be this entire fucking album. It was perfect then, it is perfect now, and I owe it a lot for breaking me out of the cycle of bad rock music.

The Mountain Goats – Tallahassee

A Pandora success story if there ever was one, The Mountain Goats overwhelmed me for a number of years before I started to move on. Still, there are a number of their tracks that I love to listen to even now or share with others. Most of them are on this album.

Ben Folds – Rockin’ the Suburbs

I wrote about this particular album once before.

Interpol – Antics

For the most part, I never was bit by the Joy Division bug. The closer I came to that particular sound was with Interpol, many years later. It isn’t the same, but I still value Interpol’s intensity. It had the dark brooding quality of other bands I have enjoyed, but in this self-aware, disconnected way.

Murdocks – Surrenderender

I don’t know how to describe the Murdocks, but I knew I loved it enough to preorder their second album (I still have a tshirt).

Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Folk rock isn’t for everyone, but the Fleet Foxes proved it was definitely for me. The older I get, the softer and more focused I want my music. Every line in this album spoke to me personally, and the cause and effect of that hasn’t played out entirely yet.

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound – Howl

This band was my entire last year.

Yes – Fragile

Can an entire album be here for one song? YES! I heard this song only within the last year, but it has quickly become a reason to not only explore Yes more, but other Progressive Rock and Rock bands that I may have missed from the 1970’s.

Dark Rooms – Dark Rooms

This album is my most listened to since subscribing to Google Music All-Access last year. It entrances me and I find myself unable to turn it off.

The Wombats – A Guide to Love, Loss, & Desperation

Pure fun.