Monday, April 28, 2014

Dreamhack Open Bucharest 2014 Day Two!

   The second day of Dreamhack was as full as day one, lots of people came to see the DotA 2 finals or to take part in some of the competitions that were taking place at the sponsors’ stands and some of them stayed to see the Starcraft 2 tournament that started at 18:00, an hour later than the schedule, and ended around 2:00 AM.
   The DotA 2 grand finals was full of irony, Alliance beat Fluffy Bears (NaVi team made on spot with some players from Romania as they lacked three of their own players) 2-0 in the losers bracket and went to the grand final to face Cloud9 to whom they lost the previous day. In the final things went different comared with their previous encounter and Alliance’s experience in the final stages of other competitions combined with the greedy hero picks from Cloud9 made the difference as Alliance won 2-0 and claimed the big prize of 13,000$.
   The Starcraft 2 tournament continued with the remaining of RO36 on the offstage area. Some unexpected results occurred in this round: ToD beats Jaedong and moves forward sending YoDa and Gloden home; Zanster and Bunny take the first two places in a group with First and Patience and show the power of the foreign players; HerO loses the winners match and is facing Impact again and after winning the first series against him through a controversial 3rd game, Impact is now taking his revenge winning 2-1.
In RO16 things got even more exciting with Welmu putting quite a fight against Innovation, Bunny faces ToD and beats him 2-0 showing why Team Liquid picked him as one of their new players (still no t-shirt with his name on it) and in one of the last matches of this round we had a heartbreaking team kill between Jjakji and Stardust with the latter winning 2-1 after an amazing last stand in the 3rd game.
In RO8 the last two foreigners, Snute and Bunny, were eliminated together with the last two protosses in the competition leaving the semifinals with three zergs and one terran.
The grand final was Impact vs Life and Life shown his class in this match-up winning with an uncontested 3-0. Even if he lost like that in the grand final I would call Impact the biggest surprise of this tournament, nobody expected the 18 years old player from team Axiom to come this far and he had no easy road as he eliminated players like TY, MC, Jaedong and many others.
   It’s sad to see that some of the issues that were seen before at this event remained unsolved this year as well. The issue of trash cans was one of the most annoying and kind of disgusting problems, the event had several thousand people coming from Romania and other countries as well but the organizers of the event made a limited number of trash cans available for the visitors and by the end of the event there was garbage everywhere.
Another problem that might not seem that big but has an impact on the people who stayed to see the end of this event was the fact that the sponsors started to pack up the booths around the scene and go home while people were there still watching the games, this gave such a feeling of cheapness.

   Overall Dreamhack Bucharest 2014 was a great event, it was bigger and better than the previous ones with more things to see and lots of interactive contests. I hope the Swedish people from Dreamhack won’t change their mind and will continue to hold this event in Romania.

Casters desk.

It's not all just about games!

The Dong.

Stardust friendly as always!

Cya next year!!!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dreamhack Open Bucharest 2014 Day One!

   The most important e-sports event that takes place in Romania, Dreamhack Open Bucharest, began today!
   The first day of the event was crowded and packed with action, lots of games and small events from sponsors took place today.
    The most notable gaming events of today were the Dota 2 semi-finals and Starcraft 2 group stages.
   The Dota 2 games semi-finals took place today with Cloud9 being qualified for the final and Fnatic going home while Alliance and Fluffy Bears will play in loser’s final for a spot in the grand finals of tomorrow and a chance at the first prize of 13,000 $.
   The Starcraft 2 games played out up to Ro32 without many upsets. MaNa, Targa and TLO (one of the Romanian’s favorite players) sadly didn’t make it to the RO32, while Niroxs, roof, Lilbow and uThermal are some of the underdogs that surprised everyone with their performance and are now fighting on for a spotlight on the Starcraft 2 e-sports scene.
The Ro32 groups are quite balanced, each of the groups having at least two well-known players, sadly some of the top players who took part at this event will get eliminated from the tournament in tonight’s games. 
   Gaming and technology is not everything that could be seen today at Dreamhack, lots of cosplay characters and sexy girls were walking around in the hallways of Polivalenta Theater.
   I didn’t get to see the Steam controller that was supposed to be shown at this event, I’ve looked at every stand hoping that I will get to test it, but sadly it was nowhere to be found.
   I can say that the organization looks much better than the previous year, a larger area was made available for the event and there was a lot more room to move around. Also, more stands with game-related materials and food were present. Although the big scene position was changed providing more seats for the spectators, there is still room for improvement, but as it looks now the quality of Dreamhack Bucharest improves every year. 

Tomorrow is the second and the last day of this event and besides the finals of the tournaments a cosplay competition will take place. 

Dreamhack Open Bucharest!!!


Some of the top Starcraft 2 players present at this event.

The big scene.

Opponents having a friendly chat.

Team Liquid doesn't have money to make a t-shirt for Bunny :(


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Gamer after a certain age...

   Does gaming have an age limit? Some would say that gaming is only for younger people because when you are young life is simpler.  Young people don't have to worry about stuff like tomorrow or if you make enough money to pay your debts or search for a better job and this list can go on and on.
   A kid or an adolescent is not subjected to real stress as grownups are, they come home after school, finish their homework and what's left to do? Some prefer to go out, others to read a book or study some more but for many this is the perfect time for gaming. You turn on your computer and play the latest games, without any restrains. You could say that buying games or having a good computer at this age is difficult, because you can only get money from your allowance or from your parents. There is no law to stop kids from pirating games and so they have access to almost any game on the market (don't!), maybe kids don't have the best computers on the market to play the latest games but is there anything parents would not do for their child?
   Being young not only gives you a whole lot of free time but it also makes you more competitive than at any other time in your life, because you want to win, you want to be the best and in multiplayer games the most important thing is: Victory! And with a sharper mind and faster reflexes than adults, online gaming replaces the backyard playground. This is the reason why online games target a younger audience, that's why sometimes the discussions can get so tense in game chats and most of the time they get so vulgar and immature. I'm not saying adults can't act like but kids are known for internet cockiness. Everybody acts weirder when they are young it's the testosterone in you that makes you do crazy things and it's so much easier to be verbaly agressive on the internet where you are hidden behind a screen and a keyboard.
   But being a young gamer is not about raging or swearing at other players or winning all the time, is about the patience you have to play your games, to find every secret, explore every corner of the map or listen carefully to every dialogue. The patience you have when the real life didn't get to you yet, to ruin everything.
   But as you grow up things become complicated in such a short period of time and you can't prepare for this, the priority of your hobbies is moved to second or third place and it remain there forever. Even if you can make time for gaming, you don't have the patience for all the good games on the market so you start to filter them as much as possible and you end up playing less of them.
   I remember myself in high school, not missing a single title, now I’m 27 years old and I bought over 100 games that I will never get to play. I don’t have the time nor the patience anymore so I play only the games that I think are worth of my time.
   Scientists say that after the age of 20, the human mind starts to slowly loose some of its keen edge and this affects everyone, even gamers. As time passes by, the fingers become slower, the eyes get tired faster, your reflexes get slower and over time so does the ability to learn new things and at some point you find yourself using predictable tactics all the time, missing enemies that are easy targets and making all kinds of mistakes. You ask yourself why? Blame the age... The atom is merciless with everything.
   There is a reason why many of the professional gamers end their career between the ages of 28 and 30, this seems like the barrier for high-level gaming, nobody needs a pro-gamer with a slow APM especially when the young ones are on the top of their games.
   But this means we gamers should find a new hobby? NO! It happens to everybody, whether you are a gamer, an athlete, a writer or any other hobby, there is always a barrier of age and when you reach it things change and you have to treat your passion in a different way. You don't have to give up, maybe you don't shoot your enemies as good as before or your strategy is predictable but this doesn't mean you can no longer enjoy games.
   Hobbies are something we do because we like it and it relaxes us. We don't have to be the first all the time to enjoy the time we spend gaming. Playing games is an activity that some refuse to understand, maybe because it's a newer concept that older generations can't grasp, but despite that, our ranks get bigger every year and gaming is not limited only to consoles, PCs and internet but it's slowly taking over TV as well with dedicated channels broadcasting live e-sport matches.
   I can’t see myself not playing a game at least once in a while, I often think about the future and the time when I’ll be old and I imagine myself still watching e-sports tournaments and reading the latest news about games (I'm crazy like that!!). Gaming is one of the things I enjoy the most and unless senility stops me, nothing will!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Upcoming RPGs for PC in 2014 Part IV

Divinity: Original Sin

   Divinity: Original Sin a singleplayer and CO-OP isometric RPG developed by Larian Studios. The Kickstarter campaign for this title raised over 1,000,000 $ reaching some awesome stretch goals for the game: day/night cycle and weather have an impact on NPCs, monsters and spells; companions that have a full background story, personality and hidden goals.
   The game is set in the Divinity universe and presents the story of a warrior released from captivity and a mysterious woman brought back from the dead. Together the two characters form a team and their relation will take shape during the events of the game. An amazing feature to support the interaction between these two characters is a interactive dialogues system allowing the main characters to have arguments between each other and the way these arguments conclude will modify in a way the personality of your characters and the relationship between them. In the CO-OP mode of the game a player will control only one of the two main heroes and this could lead to some really interesting discussions between the player characters. (Talk about role playing!)
   Divinity: Original Sin has a turn based combat system with very in depth mechanics. In battle, players can move objects or destroy them in order to gain an advantage over enemies, tars can be ignited or wet characters can be electrocuted and so many other realistic things can be done that make the combat not only tactical but immersive as well.
   I have played the Alpha stages of this game and I can say it is looking absolutely beautiful, ignoring all the bugs that come with an Alpha version the game is so complex and has so many interesting mechanics I would need pages(wait for my review!) to say all the things that make me excited about it.

Pillars of Eternity

   Created by many ex-Black Isle developers, Obsidian Entertainment is my favorite studio, every time I see them announcing a new title my heart starts to beat at a faster rate. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw the announcement for Project Eternity, the name at that time, and its Kickstarter campaign.
   Pillars of Eternity is a RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment and which had a successful Kickstarter campaign that rose to over 4,000,000 $, being the first video game that raised this amount. Even if the game is not set in the D&D universe it is considered a spiritual successor of Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale series because it's inspired by the style and graphics of these old school titles.
   The game is using an isometric perspective and a real time combat with a party and a pause-at-will feature which resembles some of the old-school D&D RPGs. The players can control up to five characters, the main character being highly customizable.
   The story will explore mature themes and put the players in difficult situations when they have to make delicate choices which will have an impact on how the story plays out. The players’ choices will not only affect the main character but those around him as well, the life of your party and many others will depend on your actions.
   Pillars of Eternity is a new IP with a new setting, story, game mechanics, classes and many other features. Even if it does take inspiration from some older RPGs that were developed by Black Isle, Pillars of Eternity will have a fresh world which offers endless story possibilities.
   The visuals of the game are completely 2D and they are absolutely gorgeous and resemble the graphic style of Infinity engine games.
   Pillars of Eternity has the potential to be one of the best RPGs ever made and with guys like Chris Avellone, Fergus Urquhart, Josh Sawyer and Tim Cain involved in the production this game should turn out great.
I’m almost exhausted from waiting for this game and I hope we will have a release date announced for it in the near future.

Wasteland 2

   Wasteland was released in 1988 and it was the first post-apocalyptic RPG. Brian Fargo, the director of the game, founded Interplay Entertainment and continued the Wasteland legacy with the Fallout series, one of the most prized series in the history of this genre.
   In 2012 a Kickstarter campaign was announced for Wasteland 2, now developed by inXile Entertainment, which is Brian Fargo’s new studio. The campaign was extremely successful raising over 3 million dollars and being one of the most successful crow funding campaigns for a video game.
   Wasteland 2 promises to deliver what Fallout 3 could not, an old school RPG using a complex dialogue system with choices that have an impact over the story and the action of the game.
   The game will have loads of weapons to choose from each with strengths and weaknesses and an extensive skills system, this will allow the players not only to build a character based on their preferences and play style but also a very mixed party.
   The combat system is turn based using action points for movement and shooting and features destructible cover, the nature of the combat is very tactical and a fight could end using many different tactics, all of this from the good old isometric perspective.
   Some gamers might disagree with this, but Fallout 3 was a big let down for those who played and liked the original games of the Fallout series. Wasteland 2 offers exactly what most of the gamers expected from Fallout 3 an immersive world and a dialogue story driven gameplay with memorable characters, set in a different universe, and I hope it will succeed. This is the title I want to play the most from all the games that are going to be released in 2014.

   2014 is not just what looks like a  golden year for RPG genre but a year that can prove the full power of crowd funding, as many of the RPGs released this year are made possible with the support of the fans of the genre .

Titles like Torments: Tides of Numenara, Witcher 3, M&M X, Blackguards, Shadowrun: Dragonfall and some others are not on this list because they either have been postponed, their release date is uncertain or they have been released already by the time of these articles.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Upcoming RPGs for PC in 2014 Part III


   For the fans of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic that have been waiting for a sequel or at least for a game with a similar style, Hellraid is the game to look out for.
   Developed by Techland, Hellraid is an action RPG with first person perspective, in which you fight your way through waves of hellish enemies in order to ensure the survival of mankind.
   The game will feature both single player and 1-4 players CO-OP mode with competitive elements and randomly generated maps.
   There will be four playable classes in the game: barbarian, rogue, mage and paladin each with their own play style and these classes will be supported by a wide variety of weapons and an advanced weapons crafting system.
Hellraid looks like the perfect game for fantasy and action combat enthusiasts.


Lords of the Fallen

   Lords of the Fallen is an action RPG developed by CI Games together with Deck 13 using the Witcher 2 engine. The game is somewhat inspired by Dark Souls series, using penalizing and timing based action combat which will tests the players reflexes and nerves to their limits.
   The game doesn’t advertise like a true hardcore experience, the producers saying that it has some arcade elements, but it is still going to be a very difficult game where players will have to understand combat and even memorize enemies’ abilities and timings in order to have a chance in defeating them.
   Even if Lords of the Fallen has a complete story with quests and NPCs like every other RPG, the main focus of the game will be the growth of the player from an inexperienced fighter at the beginning of the game to an experienced and well prepared warrior in the later stages.
   The game features three classes with a large variety of weapon types and a good AI which is able to use all kind of tricks in order to defeat the players. The game won’t skip on the technical part as the graphics and animations look absolutely stunning, some of the best I’ve seen in any game to date. It remains to be seen if these graphics will actually be in the released version of the game.
   Lords of the Fallen promises a strong and rewarding combat experience with amazing visuals and as the producers say, it strives to be as memorable as possible because most likely this won’t be a franchise.

Child of Light

   Child of Light is a game developed by Ubisoft Montreal that combines platforming and RPG from a side-scrolling perspective.
   The game tells the story of Aurora, a girl from Austria that wakes up in the mythical universe of Lemuria. Aurora must retrieve the sun, moon and the stars of Lemuria from the evil queen that stole them in order to be able to return home.
   The gameplay looks like a nice use of platforming which allows for exploration of the world presented from a side scrolling 2D perspective while being able to avoid enemies with RPG elements for a better character progression and a turn based combat.
The graphics look beautiful and artistic giving the game a painting-like style.
Child of Light looks like a bedtime story for all ages and I can’t wait for the release of this game as it looks very unique in many aspects.

To be continued...


Friday, April 4, 2014

Upcoming RPGs for PC in 2014 Part II

Grim Dawn

   Grim Dawn is a Hack&Slash RPG developed by Crate Entertainment which had a successful Kickstarter campaign raising over 540,000 $.
The game is considered the spiritual successor of Titan Quest as is developed using an improved version of the engine that was used by Iron Lore to create Titan Quest.
   Grim Dawn has to offer more than any ordinary Hack & Slash does, with features that bring it closer to a more standard RPG. The game will offer a dual classes system; quests with choices and consequences; a factions system with reputation that leads to new quests, perks and merchant discounts and there are many other interesting features which add up to the complexity of this game.
   The Alpha is currently available on Steam through the Early Access program and players say that it is looking very promising, it remains to be seen if the final product will deliver everything that it set up to do. But for fans of the Hack & Slash games this title is something to keep an eye on.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

   The 3rd installment of the Dragon Age saga, Inquisition, will take place in Orlais, the French inspired area, and the areas around these lands.
   After the disappointment of Dragon Age 2, the developers promised that Inquisition is coming back to its roots, providing a much more complex and deeper story and a huge world to explore.
The choices will be the key of this game and will not be limited to dialogues and story only, now players can command units and send them into missions which will have an impact on the evolution of the story. The players can also command a Keep and control its resources in order to prepare it for battle. As for the combat, players will have the option to choose the style they enjoy the most from either 3rd person action perspective or isometric tactical perspective, and if this system is done right it's going to please a wider range of gamers.
   Some of the characters from the previous games will make a return in Inquisition, most worthy to mention are Morrigan and Varic. I’m not sure how much the game will connect the story with the previous protagonists of the series, but seeing Morrigan back in the spotlight I can only hope that my favorite Grey Warden will make a comeback in this game, if not as playable character maybe at least as an NPC.
   The game is developed using FrostByte 3 engine, the Battlefield engine, and with this new technical improvements the game looks absolutely stunning.
   Personally, after everything that happened with this saga and Bioware in the last couple of years, I’m still skeptical about this title, but I’m going to keep my eyes on Dragon Age: Inquisition as it has huge potential to become a great RPG.

Dark Souls II

   Dark Souls series is a continuation in style but not in story of Demon Souls, the game gained rapidly a huge amount of fans because in a time when all games started to become really casual and easy, Dark Souls hit the jackpot by being really hardcore. But the timing and its hardcore nature are not the only things that made Dark Souls popular, the game combat is very well executed with nice animations, good game mechanics and an interesting multiplayer which allows the players to invade other players’ world or help other players by leaving messages into the world and warning them about the upcoming dangers.
   Dark Souls II is a very hyped sequel by the fans and has a lot to live up to. The game has the same mechanics, combat control and frustrating fights as the original one, but with a much larger world to explore and a new story that takes place 1000 years after action of the previous game to give the new players a fresh start in the franchise.
   From Software has promised that the PC version will not be just a random port any more, it will support 60 fps and have more graphical fidelity for this platform.
   Dark Souls II sounds great so far, but there are things that worry me a lot. The original game was a terrible port and the producers have no excuse for it, because it took some modders a few hours to fix some of its bigger issues. Also now, a few weeks before release, it has been proven that the game's textures quality and lightning that were shown in the gameplay videos have been removed from the game from both the console and PC versions. This can be labeled as false marketing, something that should not be treated lightly and if this is the case, like Aliens Colonial Marines and other games before, Dark Souls II and From Software should not be excused for practicing such an ugly business and this is even worse now that the game has a AAA price tag.

I’m waiting for Dark Souls II not only to play the game and experience its awesome gameplay and feeling, but also I'm very curious to see how much the PC version had to suffer and if the players can get over the hype and judge the game and the publisher in an objective way for using unconventional and illegal means.

To be continued...


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Upcoming RPGs for PC in 2014 Part I

    In recent years there was a drought when it came to RPGs. The last year barely had a few RPGs that were worth playing and as a big fan of the genre this worried me. With the help of Kickstarter and fans' support some promising titles have been crowd funded in the last two years and the year 2014 is the release year for many of those games.
The launch year of the Kickstarter titles coincides with the release of some other quality RPGs which make the year 2014 probably the best one for this genre in a long time. At least for now, when we have hope that these games are going to be good and not a let down...
In this article I’m going to mention the RPGs that are most important for me and are yet to be released this year and I'm also going to say the reasons I’m so excited about them.

Lords of Xulima

   Lords of Xulima is a 2D isometric turn-based RPG developed by Numantian Games. The game was funded using Kickstarter and even if it only gathered 40,000 $, the funding was a success way over the initial goal.
   The game uses an isometric camera for exploration and a first person view for the turn-based combat phases, it will also feature 10 classes with over 100 skills to choose from.
The story will be an important element of the game with a story driven character and a world that has a full history from creation time to its very end.
Lords of Xulima wants to be an old school RPG in every aspect and advertises so, something that we don’t see much these days. This game is probably not going to appeal to everybody but if you are into old school RPGs this might be the game for you.


   Supergiant Games are the developers of Bastion, which was a great action RPG released in 2011 with a unique way to tell the story by using a narrator (with an amazing voice!) to present every action in the game.
   Transistor follows the same artistic style and story presentation as Bastion but is set in a new cyberpunk-like universe. The players will take control of Red, a singer who comes in the possession of Transistor, an intelligent and powerful sword.
The sword is the only weapon the player uses in the entire game, but as the story revolves around this sword and the action progresses more powers and secrets of the sword will be revealed.
   Just as in Bastion, the combat system will be action oriented but with an addition of a planning mode which allows the players to select a series of movements, by stopping time, which will then be executed at fast speed. This new power is bound to the sword and requires energy in order to be used, energy that can be recharged in time.
Bastion was one of the best RPGs of 2011 and I’m looking forward to play Transistor.

The Legend of Grimrock 2

   Legend of Grimrock resurrected dungeon crawlers and with its success it had showed other producers that this type of RPGs is still something the community wants to play. With grid combat and movement, the game is fast paced and tactical at the same time, while the puzzles, traps and secret areas keep the adventure spirit alive.
   The sequel will feature outdoor areas to explore, 22 new types of enemies, improved graphics, better spellcasting system with more spells to use, a new playable race and an additional class and a much more complex skill system for a better character progression.

   Dungeon crawlers are a type of RPGs that I want to see more of and with the success of the first Legend of Grimrock and potentially of its sequel this type of games might flourish again.

To be continued...