TBoD Extra Points – 1 – Favourite RPG

Hey baggers,

TBoD is back with a vengeance, we’re bringing you more content than ever before and we don’t plan on stopping. Here’s the first glimpse of one of our new ideas TBoD exp. Quim and eremenko will be rapping on single topics in smaller bite-sized chunks.

You can check out the video version of this cast over on our YouTube channel or click below to listen now.

TBoD – Extra Points 1 – Favourite RPG <— right click and hit ‘save link as’ to download.

 

It’s good to be back

eremenko

The TBoD Podcast – 52 – Nintendo Don’t cry

Hello boys and girls,

Welcome to another edition of the TBoD podcast, the topics up for discussion from our likely lads this week are;

Xbox updates,

TBoD Podcast – The MMO special

Hey teabaggers.

We’ve been a little busy this week what with one thing or another and thus we have taken a break from the regularly scheduled podcast but we didn’t want to leave y’all hanging so we popped out a little special for your listening pleasure.

In this special we talk about the beginnings, the ever changing nature and the potential future of the Massively Multiplayer Online gaming scene. We also recorded a very special intro just for the cast, stay tuned at the end for the blooper reel.

Hopefully you will find this as interesting and entertaining as our regularly scheduled programming. Let us know what you thing about the topics discussed in the comments below.

Right click and choose ‘save as’ to download

Thanks,

eremenko

It’s the Sandbox Jim …. but not as we know it..

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Video games have always struggled to strike the right balance between the size of the game world and the detail poured into said world, this dilemma is something that has become easier and easier to dodge as our gaming machines have become more and more powerful. Creating a living breathing world is an incredible achievement and those few who manage it are revered like Gods in the gaming world and much like it’s immortal counterpart this idea seems to never die.

For me this idea of exploring a world at your own will began with early RPG titles. While not necessarily “Open world” games, titles like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Breath of Fire gave gamers an early opportunity to navigate an entire world in the however they wished and while some of these games may have changed tactics in recent iterations other developers have taken the idea and made it their own.

Grand Theft Auto (1997) though simple in it’s execution was huge in scope and allowed players to travel through three large cities however they felt necessary. Many others have challenged Rockstars crown as the Kings of the open world title but the Edinburgh based production house remain firmly planted upon their very own iron throne. This isn’t to say that one of to days most admired titles has had it all it’s own way, nor is true to say they haven’t taken a few hints along the way.

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The Humble beginnings of a world beater

Shenmue (1999) is widely regarded to be the first title to be set in a completely open 3d city which featured a “living” populace offering players un-rivaled  freedom to interact with the world around them. This was a huge step in the video game world and Segas contribution cannot be ignored although it may have been somewhat overshadowed by what was to come.

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Is this the real life …. or is this just fantasy

Rockstar as ever unwilling to relinquish their grip on the open world genre would soon after release GTA III, the first game in the series to feature a fully 3d sandbox city in which the player was free to cause as much mayhem as they wished, it was an insane achievement. Sega did not want to give up the fight though and they struck back with their own crime based open world title Yakuza and all the while PC gamers were gifted with The Elder Scrolls series which is undoubtedly the most important game in the “open world first person” sub-genre.

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All of these titles featured impressively sized game worlds be it a city, county/state, island and in some cases even a country but in 2004 Blizzard came and stole all the accolades by creating a game that encompassed an entire world to be explored by you and millions of others in the most acclaimed MMORPG of them all. What WoW did affected and continues to effect everything that came and will come, despite recent drops in revenue this game will forever be regarded as a gift and a curse by gamers across the world. Then there’s the small matter of a little game you may of heard of called Minecraft the founder of the proceduraly generated unlimited world, MC once again changed our perspective of just how much of a sandbox a game can be and it’s popularity continues to soar, this kind of dynamic world and changing environment could be seen the epitome of the genre.

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This place is your life now!

Most games these days don’t shy away from creating an experience that can be shared with a friend, even games that are traditionally a solo experience are beginning to see the value in multiplayer, after all a game like any other form of entertainment is at it’s best when you are sharing it with a friend or two .. or more. Forthcoming titles such as Destiny, The Division and The Crew have shifted ideals from being about multi-player or open world and instead look to focus on creating a persistent shared world which can be occupied by thousands upon thousands of players. This idea is one still very much in it’s infancy but it’s something that we all as gamers are becoming more and more intrigued by with every passing day. Combining the elements of open world play with the full on living world experience is a salivating concept for everyone. Add in to that the ability to meet strangers along the way, those who may wish to join you or those who definitely wish to kill you (and steal your beans) and you have a frighteningly appealing genre that might just mean the end of the real world for good.

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Is the MMO the ultimate gaming Destiny?

All that said “Sandbox” games can be something of an enigma and it seems difficult to achieve balance between a compelling story and complete freedom, many games have tried and many have failed, sometimes you don’t need a story as proved by the hugely popular Arma II mod DayZ but other times it’s simply the most important part. Some of the most critically acclaimed games of recent years buck the trend for open world and are much stronger titles for being more linear. Bioshock, The Walking Dead, Half Life 2, Dishonored, Portal, Heavy Rain and The Last of Us have all been nominated for and taken home many awards globally. This shows that there is still life in games that are more focused on creating a story than simulating a world these smaller more narrative driven titles offer the player something deeper than a world to play in and will often invoke a stronger emotional attachment than their larger counterparts but it may just be that they are more difficult to develop.

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Get ready to be punched in the feels

Creating a living world is one thing but creating a believable story is something else entirely and something that can often be neglected in games which are more focused on adrenaline fueled action and competitive multi-player. The art of weaving a tale is as old as time and I for one don’t think it’s ready to rest it’s weary head just yet.

It’s true to say that video games are always evolving and always looking for that next big idea, how do you guys feel the gaming world will evolve next? Are open worlds or deep stories more important to you? Do you value a short game over a seemingly un-ending one or would you prefer that your favourite game could last forever? Let me know in the comments below and as always thanks for your time.

-eremenko

Fantastical Finale

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Square enix have struggled of late to replicate the success of their flagship series’ 90’s offerings. The failure of Final Fantasies 10, to 14 (not to mention those accursed sequels) to capture the imaginations of their target audiences in the way that 1 through 9 did in such a magnificent manner has been disappointing to say the least. The story lines, characters and worlds in the newer titles just never seem as engrossing as the adventures of Cloud and co, while visually stunning XII felt somewhat devoid of character and atmosphere and nothing in the newer titles has ever re-created that sense of adventure and intrigue that the series is so famous for.

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Enter Final Fantasy Dimensions now available for both Android and iOS platforms. Going back to basics with the pixel art styling which was the bread and butter of the early 90’s snes titles. Including all the classic elements such as the world map, the job system and the active time battles. Could this game be a long overdue return to form for the ailing Square-enix? In short ….. yes. I love the series and have spent the last few years failing to convince myself that the games are just as good as they ever were if anything Dimensions highlights the failings of the new console offerings by reminding us of just how good a Final Fantasy title can be.

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Following the classic scenario of a powerful crystal summoning it’s chosen warriors and gifting them it’s power before being split asunder sending the world spiraling into a chaos that can only be stopped by the chosen few. It takes a certain kind of patience to play a game of this ilk through to the end, in the days before super HD graphics and flashy animation the only way to keep audiences hooked was with a story and characters that made you want to keep playing to find out what would happen next. Pair this with a battle system that is as rewarding as it is frustrating and Squaresoft (as they were known then) had a tried and tested formula for success with which they destroyed the competition and quickly rose to the top of the RPG tree.

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By returning to this basic ideology with Dimensions Square-enix has to pour so much more love into crafting a world and characters that the player wants to be a part of, while this may not capture the imagination of a new generation of gamers who are used to being spoon fed stories and having a game lead them by the hand from start to finish, it will surely delight the inner child in those of us who were around to see those early forays into recreating a Dungeons and Dragons esque experience in a video game. Doing away with the cheesy voice dub’s that plague the more recent titles is as much about the platform as it is a creative choice but for me it really is a saving grace because the hideous level of voice acting in all titles re-dubbed from Japanese is farcical. It’s remarkable the depth you create for yourself while playing this game, to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper “it harnesses the most powerful processor in the world, your imagination.”.

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£13.99 may seem a little steep for a game which is so similar to the games of yester-year but when you consider that in encompasses 40+ hours of gameplay along with a compelling story-line beautiful music and a unique adventure for each player you can’t really argue that price tag. It may have a few minor translation issues, it may not be super sparkly and it may require a certain level of patience but If you love Final Fantasy old or new, if you love rpg’s, if you want to send Square-enix a message that we want the Final Fantasy we love to return or if you just want something to while away the time on your mobile device then you must own this game.

ermenko