Some Early Access Successes

This last few days there have been a couple of games which I have been watching for some time come out of Early Access: Warhammer 40K Eternal Crusade and Fractured Space. It’s great to see these two games making their way onto the main part of Steam and I wish them all the best!

The Early Access program is a great idea, and can provide development companies with a much -needed avenue to be able to raise money and create games that otherwise would not have a chance to be made. Even more so than places like KickStarter, it creates a way that games which otherwise would not be made can be made, provided of course the community wants them to be made, and the company behind the game can deliver what’s promised.

Unfortunately though Early Access is not a panacea, and it’s my belief many games are not going to make it out of the program, instead descending into a never-ending spiral of smaller and smaller updates. Steam need a way of being able to help these games, because without this large parts of Early Access are going to consist of games that will never be finished.

Still, today is a good day as two games have made it out of Early Access. So to end this blog post on a positive note, here’s their two release videos. Enjoy! 🙂


Why “vets” should give Battlefield 1 a chance

Lets start with an uncomfortable truth. Pre-BF3 Battlefield games, and by that I mean BF 1942, BF 2, BF 2142, BF:V and the expansion packs, belong to a bygone era. They were awesome games – so awesome in fact I spent around 6 years playing BF 2142 almost exclusively. That’s never going to happen again. Games today are designed in a different way, with different teams under different circumstances. Am I happy about that? No. Do I accept that though? Begrudgingly.

And then we have those infamous rose-tinted-spectacles. There is no way any modern BF game is going to compete with all the incredible memories I have for those older games (especially BF 2142). My memories of the earlier Battlefield games are wrapped up in other experiences that were happening at that time. A game would have to be better than BF 2142 to be able to compete with both the game, and the memory of the game. Nah, ain’t going to happen.

So we’re left with two choices for people like myself who miss the original Battlefields. We can forever complain about how we’ve been betrayed and let down by DICE, or we can look at the next Battlefield game as-is, without the baggage of constantly holding it up to games and memories that are never going to be beaten.

And it’s when you look at Battlefield 1 as just another game, without that historical drag, that it starts to look really rather good.

Gone are the masses of lock-on weapons and the flashy UI. In their place is something which feels quite basic, but all the better for it. It feels like skill, as in the ability to aim, has been brought back into the game. You feel more in control of your character, especially as several of the default weapons are semi-automatic, so you have to ensure your aim is good. Doritos (the markers on top of an enemy to denote where they are) do not seem to last as long as earlier games, and it’s much harder to spam Q to find enemies.

When you join a game, you’re automatically given the option to join a squad. And your squad mates stand out in an obvious green colour. There are other small touches which have been designed to enhance teamplay, such as alerting medics to your position when you’re dead. Of course, if you’ve a good medic nearby then this should not be needed, but how often does that happen?

The point here is that a lot of mechanics have been refined, and a lot of new ones added. For example, watch this video to see what’s been added to tanks:

Of course, there still are negatives in there. Camera flares, suppression, losing control of your character when you vault over something, network lag, and what feels like a tiny amount of input lag when using a mouse, are still in the game. But they’re more minor irritations rather than the major annoyances they once were. Vaulting, for example, was very annoying when it was first introduced to the series. Battlefield 1’s vaulting feels much more intuitive, and can now be used in a surprising amount of places (more on that in a future video).

The closed alpha only had one map, with two game modes (Conquest and Domination). And although much has been made of the WW1 setting, the map just did not feel gritty enough to be a WW1 map. Unless the rain was slashing down, it seemed almost too pretty and colourful. WW1 was anything but.

There are also the obvious future pitfalls: there was a large difference between the BF3 closed alpha and the release version of that game, DICE could find some way of introducing lock-on weapons, the network lag could be even worse than earlier titles, or Battlefield 1 could suffer from a similarly excruciating lack of content at launch like Battlefront did. There are an insane number of ways DICE can screw this game up, but the signs at the moment are encouraging.

So we’re left with a game which, in a closed alpha state, is fun to play, refreshing, and has inspired me to create more Battlefield videos in 1 week then I have in the past several years. Heck, I’m even hoping Global Conflict fires up again so I can play in organised 32v32 matches. Battlefield 1 is a game which deserves a chance, not a simple dismissal.

If you’re a Battlefield “vet” then please approach the beta with no preconceptions and no closed opinions. Give Battlefield 1 a chance – you might just enjoy it.

First thoughts on Battlefield 1’s closed alpha

I’ve played the closed alpha of Battlefield 1 for a few hours now, and have been asked several times what I think.

I’m going to post up a much more in-depth article in a few days, but for now here are my initial reactions.

It’s fun. It’s actually a lot of fun. It feels like DICE have tried to roll up a game of BF so that it’s one, continual “only in Battlefield” moment. The single map in the alpha is quite small, with a lot of vehicles to get around. There are many static emplacements as well to help with dealing with vehicles, and they’ve introduced a lot of small things to encourage squad play.

It is still an alpha though. And although it runs on both my desktop, and laptop, it has had frame-rate slowdowns and other issues. That’s fine – it’s an alpha, and DICE should be looking for these things to happen so they can fix them. They only become an issue if they appear in the open beta and beyond. I’ve not seen any sky-rocketing vehicles like in the BF3 closed alpha when the APC would sometimes launch itself into the air if it went over a rock at the wrong angle.

The WW1 style is quite refreshing, the UI is rather delightfully simple and utilitarian, and “we have lost objective duff” is going to take a very long time before it grows old. The game needs some work, for example it’s quite hard to figure out when you’re in a CP zone, and the Q-button feels a little clunky, but that will come.

Overall it feels like DICE stripped out a lot of the useless stuff from BF3/4, worked on the areas where the game was weak, and aimed to make the player far more responsible for his/her success rather than just aim – target lock – shoot.

So yeah, if you liked BC2/BF3 or BF4 then you’ll likely like this. If you didn’t like those games, and want something created in the BF1942/BF2 mould, then sorry – you’re SOL. This game, at least in this closed alpha state, is an improvement on the BF3/4 formula rather than a re-imagining of those earlier games.

If you’re prepared to look at Battlefield 1 as its own game, rather than a descendant of BF 1942/2, then you’ll probably enjoy it.

And no, I don’t see it being a serious eSport, although Global Conflict and similar organised tournaments should be able to use it.

Here is some uncut gameplay. For comparison to the BF1 alpha, I’ve added a video from the BF3 alpha afterwards so you can see the differences.

And here is the BF3 alpha footage for comparison:

Goodbye, Planetside 1

One of my all-time favourite gaming memories was standing guard on the walls of a base in Planetside 1, watching the dark turn to daylight, after having wrested the base from another faction during the early evening.

For its time Planetside 1 was an amazing game, and it’s successor – unsurprisingly named Planetside 2 – is an equally impressive game.  I play it often as the sheer scale of battles, coupled with the graphics, sound and sci-fi setting, are right up my alley. Although I’m not at all sure about being killed by people in pink spandex. Now if they’d just add BattleMechs….

The PS1 servers were turned off a short time ago. Steven Messner and pals recorded this video of the in-game apocalypse the devs crafted to mark the end of the game. Goodbye, Planetside 1:


Unity Adam Demo

The Adam Demo was previewed a little while ago, and is a short film – rendered in real time – in the Unity 5 engine. Although it’s important to note there is a caveat that it uses a lot of beta and upcoming pieces of Unity tech (click this link to read more).

Despite this there is no doubt it is very interesting tech demo, and an intriguing piece of cinema in its own right. Have a watch:

Many thanks to Chris Murphy for the heads up on Adam’s release.

Been playing a lot of Mechwarrior Online recently…

…and managed to capture this little fight between one of the smallest mechs, and one of the largest mechs, in the game. The King Crab (the large mech) only took LRMs, which are useless at short range. It’s the first time I’ve seen this; quite often King Crabs will take ballistic weapons which will tear something small like a Jenner apart in seconds. So when I realised he was LRM only – time to go for the kill 🙂

Battleborn Open Beta – April 13th for PC

Battleborn is a new game from the creators of the Borderlands series. Although similar in some ways to games such as Paragon and Overwatch, it has significant differences.

The open beta starts for PC on April 13th (no purchase required), and you can preload the beta from Steam by going to the Steam store page and clicking the preload button:


For a bit more info on why Battleborn might become a sleeper hit, have a watch of this video from TotalBiscuit:

Read this post for full info on the beta:

Twitch channel bot commands

Here is the current list of commands. This will be updated from time to time.

  • !commands – this will provide a link to this page.
  • !socialmedia – lists the twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.
  • !heist (number) – this will start off a heist. For example, if you type !heist 5 you’ll be betting 5 PhyreBalls on a successful heist.
  • !points – this will list your rank and number of PhyreBalls you have. You receive 20 PhyreBalls for following. You also receive 2 PhyreBalls every 15 mins when the channel is live, and 1 every 30 mins when the channel is not live.
  • !songrequest (youtube link) – this will add the requested song to the song request list. For example: !songrequest . Any genre is fine, but please do not request obscene songs. If in doubt, ask yourself, “would Mum listen to this?” 😛
  • !uptime – the amount of time the current stream has been live.

Below are the sound effects you can fire off. Each one costs 5 PhyreBalls, and there is a 2 minute cool down:

  • !xfiles
  • !oneofus
  • !malfunction
  • !gameover
  • !asskick
  • !sparta
  • !needinfo
  • !resistance

There are 5 ranks on the channel:

  • Phyre Born – these are people who have just started watching.
  • Phyre Novitiate – watchers with more than 5 hours of watching.
  • Phyre Master – this is for people who have watched for more than 25 hours. At this point you also become a regular.
  • Phyre Elite – if you’ve watched the channel for more than 100 hours, you are earn this rank.
  • Phyre GOD! – this ultimate rank is earned after watching the channel for more than 500 hours.



Drowning in Subnautica

Last week I took the plunge and finally bought the early access game Subnautica. I’ve long liked Unknown Worlds Entertainment, the studio behind the game, largely due to their work on Natural Selection 2, a fun and underrated asymmetrical FPS.

In fact I’ve hardly stopped playing Subnautica, and have been enjoying it so much I decided to re-start streaming after a very long absence (click here to view my stream). It’s a great game, so I put together this relatively short video to give an idea of some of the amazing sights you can see in the game, and some of the things you can develop after a few hours playing. Enjoy 🙂