Monday, October 29, 2012

Video Spotlight #48 True Facts About Hedgehogs

Sharing videos I managed to find scattered across the internet.

The hedgehog does not mate for life. It mates for death. Which is why it's considered the best lover in the world. Which makes no sense... unless you've been fucked by a hedgehog.

This is Kylak signing out and captivated by the hedgehog's ability to sing in monotone.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Video Spotlight #47 OMG Cracklin' Oat Bran

Sharing videos I managed to find scattered across the internet.

Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal. It's like eating an angel. Cracklin' Oats are loved by fucking everyone and they're part of a balanced as fuck breakfast.

This is Kylak signing out to get me some of them oats.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MTG Tips #13 Promoting Synergy

Tips and Tricks for Magic the Gathering players.

Disclaimer: this article is longer and scarier to handle than three ninjas taped together to make one giant ninja. You've been warned.

We've chatted about card advantage a few times and how important it is when building a deck. Another factor to consider is synergy. It's not just for bosses who are talking to corporate and directing workflow. Today we're going to go over one of the greatest examples imaginable: Caw-Blade. Caw-Blade was a deck that dominated an entire format (Standard) to the point it was the only deck capable of placing in the Top 8 of any tournament. It wasn't the fault of any particular card or designer of the set. It was a completely unexpected beast where every card worked together like an oiled machine. The last time this happened was wayyyyyy back when the original Mirrodin block was released and it was entirely the fault of the designers of the set. They underestimated just how useful the artifact lands were and they managed to break the format in half by making Affinity the only deck to play. This time around it was because of unexpected synergy. After the deck had dominated long enough, they decided to ban two of the key cards in the deck and guess what happened? It still kept doing well. It wasn't the only deck in the format anymore but the synergy was undeniable.

Here's a quick wiki on the basics (but we're going to discuss everything here):

So how did this deck work? Well to explain that we're going to have to take a look at every card (the beauty of the synergy here is that every card was a key card which meant the deck didn't have to rely on a single strategy to win).

Squadron Hawk was originally the only creature in the deck (keep that in mind) and was the reason for the Caw in the title (Originally it was called Caw-Go which is a play on the common archetype Draw-Go). Squadron Hawk's card advantage is insane. It gives you three other creatures in your hand, all with evasion, and it thins the deck by up to three cards. All of this for the low cost of 2CMC.

Stoneforge Mystic is already a broken card (as in... too powerful) on its own. It lets you search for any equipment card, play it for only two mana regardless of its CMC, and you can even drop it during the opponent's turn (giving all of your equipment Flash while making them cheaper at the same time). Why did they suddenly include the Mystic? That would be because of the next card.

Sword of Feast and Famine was considered weak at first glance in comparison to the other swords in its cycle (Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of Light and Shadow, Sword of Body and Mind, Sword of Feast and Famine, and Sword of War and Peace which came out after) but they didn't expect how this deck would use them. The deck carried one copy of each sword (each one in Standard, that is, which means zero copies of Fire and Ice or Light and Shadow) and the Mystic could hunt down the necessary weapon. It gave the Hawks or Mystic protection from whatever colors it needed at any given moment (making them immune to spot removal) and the Sword of Feast and Famine combined with a Hawk meant the Flying creature with protection (making it even more evasive) was almost always going to hit the opponent which would trigger the ability to untap all of your lands (and don't forget that free discard effect). That deserves a pause.

I did mention that originally this deck was called Caw-Go. Draw-Go decks were given their name for a reason. The strategy was that they would play everything at instant speed during the opponents turn. That way they could react to anything the opponent did and always make the best play. Each turn looked like this: Untap, Draw a card, annnnd Go! They would draw their card and pass their turn which is where the name came from. Now imagine a deck that could cast anything it wanted on its turn, get its mana back for free, and then play like a draw-go deck afterward. It would be like facing two decks at the same time. Caw-Blade got the title because it could use the Sword of Feast and Famine's ability to untap its lands and pull off that exact strategy. It could cast whatever it wanted on its own turn, swing with the Sword equipped to a Hawk, untap everything, and play like a draw-go control deck during the opponent's turn.

The scariest part about all of this, is that is only the beginning. Let's go over the basics of the control aspects. Mana Leak and Spell Pierce were the counterspells to handle any situation during an opponent's turn. It was also able to abuse Day of Judgment as board sweep because it could immediately replace the Hawk with one of the extras the original one searched for. Even better, it ran sleepers to ignore the board sweep entirely. One of those sleepers was the land Celestial Colonnade. Not only did the land produce the mana it needed but it could turn into a creature in a pinch and pick up the sword. For those not familiar with the term, it's called a sleeper because it typically "sleeps" by not being a creature until it needs to wake up and start hitting things. Let's not forget the control effects of each sword as they typically had extra effects that could change the outcome of a battle on their own. Then Preordain starts the first turn off right every time to add even more consistency to one of the most reliable decks ever built while Condemn gives the deck spot removal to give it the deadliest combo of powerful spot and mass removal (Day of Judgment). That covers another huge chunk of the deck but it keeps going.

Let's go back to those blades for a moment. Not only did you have 3 different blades for different protection effects and spell effects that could win or alter the game but you had another deadly equipment that came out around the time the Sword of Feast and Famine came out: Batterskull. The weapon choices were already putting the deck over the top but this skyrocketed them to the moon. Just try to imagine how scary this scenario is: Stoneforge Mystic is out, the opponent swings with their creature, you pay two mana for the Mystic's ability and you put Batterskull onto the field out of nowhere. You're paying 2 mana for a 4/4 Flash (thanks to the Mystic), Vigilance, Lifelink creature that destroys any plans your opponent could dare come up with.

But it doesn't stop there. This deck ran two Planeswalkers. One of which was Jace, the Mind Sculptor (the most powerful Planeswalker ever printed). Jace worked perfectly with the deck. At bare minimum he could adjust what cards you were going to draw or give you extra cards every single turn. That's already powerful for any control deck but this deck already had more than enough card advantage with each card working so efficiently together. This helped seal the deal and make the deck even more consistent. Between the card draw and search effects, luck was never going to hinder you. Jace could bounce a creature in an emergency and was even an alternate win condition. One thing that people didn't expect was that Jace would be used to "Fateseal" the opponent with his +2 ability. You'd effectively be controlling what your opponent would draw so you could screw them over each turn. The craziest thing however that proves just how deep the synergy would run is that Jace could use his draw ability (draw 3 and then put 2 back) and put back the Squadron Hawks into the deck since they could be searched for again and it would give you the extra cards you didn't have access to. You were even abusing Jace's basic draw ability here. Mind blown!

The other Planeswalker was Gideon Jura. While Gideon isn't the most broken Planeswalker to be printed, he's exactly what this deck already wanted. Both Planeswalkers make the player that much more untouchable but Gideon takes the cake for protecting the player. The +2 can screw over your opponent's plans, he can tap out their creatures to let your Hawks or whatever get through with the different Swords (to get their bonus effects), and he can setup a kill with his -2 ability. Him having the -2 at all makes the opponent afraid to attack which gives you even more protection. Gideon and Jace working together makes most creature decks just cry in despair. The best part is the last ability that can be used at any time you need it. Gideon can turn into a creature, pick up one of the Swords, and be almost unkillable. The deck was already abusing the swords but the fact that it has a Living Weapon equipment, sleeper land, and sleeper Planeswalker really just push the sword wielding to another level.

Every card was already powerful individually and most were capable of generating card advantage (sometimes excess amounts of it like Jace or the Hawks), it could employ the greatest strategies of an aggro deck and a control deck, the equipment meant its creatures were superior to the opponents, it played the best control cards in the format and had access to the best spells in general, it had every angle covered no matter the situation, it was crazy consistent, and above all else, every card mattered and worked in unison with the other cards in the deck. Remember when I mentioned how powerful the Affinity deck was at the beginning? How it was the only other deck to ever pull off what Caw-Blade did and ruin its Standard environment as the only playable deck? It still had a weakness. It was like most decks. Once you figured out how crucial the artifact lands were, you would destroy those lands (with artifact and/or land destruction) and it would fall apart. Caw-Blade didn't have a weakness because all of the cards worked with one another. There was no key strategy and the deck could adapt on the fly to any situation.

Even if you somehow got past the counterspells, draw-go style of play, the free spells it got to play thanks to untapping, and all of the other factors to take out the Sword of Feast and Famine and the Stoneforge Mystic, the deck didn't care. It was already a winning deck when it was just called Caw-Go. Feast and Famine and the Mystic just made it that much scarier. They were the icing to an already delicious cake. Even if you could take out every Hawk, it had several backup Sword wielders and a couple of alternate win conditions. If you were playing Aggro it would outclass your creatures, if you were playing Control it would outplay your every move, and Combo didn't stand a chance.

The most interesting thing about this entire story, to me personally, is that the pros loved that it dominated the format. You might think that sounds crazy but this was a deck that rewarded skilled players. It's definitely true that it gave non-skilled players a winning deck from the get go but that's not looking at the bigger picture. Most tournament players are already netdecking regardless and the top players of the world were able to abuse this deck better than any amateur that would pick it up. Everyone was wielding the same weapon but only the true pros could master it. It's just the strangest tale of the best and worst thing to happen to Standard simultaneously.

So how was that? You got to learn about synergy, deckbuilding, the history of a notable decklist in tournament Magic, and a few random trivia facts along the way. It's as if I planned the synergy to work together in the article. *gasp*

This is Kylak signing out and thanking you for sitting through all of my ramblings.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reverse Dungeoneering #23 Talking about the Talk

Dread Gazebo... look it up.

Improving your D&D experience. For Dungeons and Dragons Players and DMs.

Today we'll be discussing the single most threatening core aspect of D&D: talking. It's an interesting concept when you give it more than a second thought. D&D is founded on talking. Everything about D&D is verbal communication. You can get rid of the miniatures and grid and still play D&D (1st and 2nd edition players know what I'm talking about since imagination used to be a bigger focus and minis and grids are a newer concept). You can get rid of the dice because it's just a method of creating chance (a coin or any other object technically works even if it's less exciting). You can get rid of the books (several groups don't even play with official D&D rules). You can literally just have a room of a few gamers and still play D&D because the only tool necessary is the ability to communicate.

It's not a very good business model that's for sure. So what do I mean by threatening? Well, humans are social animals by nature. We seek human interaction but we're also incredibly terrible at it. We increasingly have things stacked onto behavior with laws, culture, morals, religion, societal norms, personal preferences, biases, peer pressure, fear, ideologies, social identities, conventional standards, personal problems, feelings, emotions, and the list just keeps on going. We have weaved such a delicate maze of non-univesral rules for ourselves and have such limited ability to express ourselves in a way that others can automatically understand clearly that we're utterly terrible at communicating with one another.

Communication is a two-way street. One person can say something and another can misunderstand them. You can attempt to pay someone a compliment and another person can take it as rude or be confused as to how they should feel about what's been stated. The person attempting to say something might not even be able to express themselves in the way they're attempting and can come off as odd or ignorant when they might otherwise be a bright individual.

To make matters worse, D&D is constantly having to contend with players leaving to play video games for the very reason that talking is the core game mechanic. Let's break these facts down shall we?

-Talking is the gameplay.
-You have to describe what your character is doing.
-The entire game is comprised of actions and reactions via verbal communication between players and the DM as each attempts to describe, in turn, what is occurring in the game. 

Video Games
-Controls are the gameplay.
-Using keyboards/controllers will show what your character is doing.
-The entire game is comprised of actions and reactions via the control scheme between the players and the video game as it visually represents, simultaneously to all players, what is occurring in the game.

You can play an entire video game in silence and still play through a compelling experience. It sounds like a no-brainer but it's kind of amazing when you think about it. Books and Movies can generate this experience as well but Video Games have come the closest to creating a dynamic, interactive experience (which is what D&D is) and Books and Movies aren't capable of this feat. Games are increasingly trying to offer players more choices and options to the point that two different players can play the same game and have an entirely different experience. As crazy as it sounds, once game designers have the right techniques under their belt and the right tools at their disposal, we'll probably see "D&D the Video Game".

So why is talking such a problem for D&D? Well for one, D&D's core experience is its own worst enemy.

D&D can be broken down into three core aspects: gameplay, social, and roleplaying.
-The very core of dice rolling and choosing what your character is doing is the "gameplay". Another way to think of it is anything relating to the actual rulebooks and products of the game that change how you play D&D.
-Some people play to spend time with friends and hang out. That's the "social" aspect. Another way to think of it is simply the way you would naturally act around your friends or in public.
-Anything from an elaborate description of a room, to exploration, to two characters talking to one another in the game, etc. is the "roleplaying" aspect. Another way to think of it is this is the character itself talking or doing something that you can't in the real world that isn't dictated by the rules of the game.

All three of these require talking: 
Gameplay - If you want to explain what your character is doing (such as casting a spell).
Social - If you're talking about something interesting (maybe talking about Borderlands 2).
Roleplaying - If you want to actually roleplay your character ("Good morrow to you stranger.").

It gets even more complicated. Whereas a video game can take everyone's input (button presses) simultaneously and give them an exact output (what you see on the screen) simultaneously as well, D&D can't do that. Players have to listen to each other and the DM and vice versa to know what is going on at any given moment. The players have to take turns giving their input and the output is going to be different for everyone at the table (thanks to their imagination and how they interpret what's going on).

To make this even crazier, most groups prefer to have some mixture of the three things mentioned. Most groups like to play the game, hang out, and roleplay (to varying degrees for each). Due to the fact that all three require talking, you can only choose to do one at a time. You can't do them simultaneously. This is simply a fact we have to come to grips with.

Video games on the other hand allow the player to control their character while talking simultaneously. For example, in World of Warcraft, all of this can occur at the exact same time: you can have a full conversation with your friends or leaguemates via voice chat while moving your character around. Not only that, you can move your character and attack at the same time. Not only that, your friend can be moving and drinking a potion while you're attacking. Not only that but the other NPCs are moving and firing arrows at you at the exact same time you're doing all of the previously mentioned things. To top it off, all of this is being seen by each player on the screen at the same time. Your character actions are independent of your ability to communicate and this allows for a variety of simultaneous actions.

It's astounding how simple it is for a game and yet impossible for D&D to do the same. Try to imagine that World of Warcraft example in D&D terms. You can't even move, slash an enemy, or talk at the same time in or out-of-game. You would do them in steps. It would play out like this with each comma being a separate action (which of course means this next section is going to be grammatically incorrect): You declare to everyone that you're taking a move action and move your miniature on the grid, then you declare your attack against a target, roll your dice, add your modifiers, you state what your total is, you might have your character say something in-game, "Where did these things come from?", another player might respond in-game or out-of-game, the DM lets you know if it hits or misses, if it hits you roll your damage, the DM marks the damage for the enemy's HP, then the next player takes their turn, takes a move action, then another action to use a consumable, then he makes a remark in-game, "That was a close one.", then he makes a comment out-of-game that this was the second time in the campaign he's almost been killed, everyone laughs, then someone points out that he wouldn't die so often if he'd stop being so reckless, he agrees to stop being reckless but only because the healer isn't doing their job, the DM patiently waits for a bit (about five minutes), then she decides to finally break it up and get them back on track, then the DM tells you that arrows were fired at you and from where, she rolls, checks your AC, it hits, she rolls for damage, and so on.

Mind blown!

It's the exact same example but one game has to break down all of those actions down into parts and those actions are done verbally which means you have to complete an action by saying what you're doing before you can talk as your character or to your friends to goof off. I think we take this for granted honestly. Some games have even developed roleplaying techniques as game mechanics so that you can roleplay and chat out-of-game at the same time as well. Even World of Warcraft has the most basic version of this with emotes. That's not even considering other titles out there in regards to roleplaying features. D&D on the other hand will always be stuck with you choosing to use your speech at any given moment to roleplay or to socialize.

So what was the point of this long and borderline insane ramble? What's the tip or lesson to take from all of this? Just be more aware of it. Just be aware that out there, there is someone desperately trying to communicate with you and you have to do everything in your power to understand them even if they aren't making any sense. Help them so you can understand them rather than discarding their opinions or thoughts. If they feel that their message isn't being understood then it probably isn't. Be aware that D&D has a system that can't handle certain actions happening at the same time which makes it a slower system that needs to be treated with more care and focus than you might be used to. Be aware that everyone at the table is equally important and they're all just trying to speak but all of the rules mentioned earlier just make that exact process more complex than a Rubik's cube. Most importantly of all, be aware that sometimes you really aren't recognizing that the DM is telling you that the thing in front of you is a gazebo and it's not actually something you need to attack. Communication is key.

This is Kylak signing out so I can eat the gazebo before it eats me.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

VG Talk #16 How Darksiders 3 Could Learn from Past Mistakes

Video Game Discussion

Darksiders came out (Jan 5, 2010) and it was essentially one-part God of War and one-part Legend of Zelda. It wasn't just "similar" to them. It was an homage. It even included a tribute to Portal. It created its own style of badassery as far as aesthetics and storyline (you play as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse) but it mostly borrowed from the other games to show its love for them.

The problem came with that borrowing because the main complaint about the game was that it wasn't as tight of a performance as either game. For example, God of War has a fluid yet complex combat system that manages to be intuitive while also a challenge. Darksiders on the other hand can be completed by spamming the basic sword attacks. Another example, Legend of Zelda has dungeon-crawling with elaborate puzzles that build upon the mechanics of new items. Darksiders on the other hand makes the puzzles too easy (they practically solve themselves) and strangely repetitive rather than building up the player's knowledge for more complex and interesting puzzles.

That isn't to say it's a bad game by any means. It was just very obvious that they were attempting a tribute to two incredible games but it couldn't quite reach the heights those games have brought to so many gamers. Then Darksiders 2 came out recently (Aug 13, 2012) and it tried to shake things up.

So this time around we're not only giving tribute to God of War and Legend of Zelda but also Diablo and Prince of Persia. There are RPG elements, loot drops, wall running, and climbing/swinging/jumping/whatevering. This is a game that wears its heart on its sleeve but it seems to run into the same issue again. It does a better job of trying to imitate its collection of games this time around but it never fixed the original issues and added a few minor ones as well. Bosses are fantastic but the regular enemies might as well not exist due to how easy it is to shred through them. Puzzles try to shake things up at times but ultimately you still repeat the same basic puzzle scheme over and over. There are a load of ideas taken from Diablo but then the entire game is literally a series of fetch quests. The Prince of Persia environment running is here but with glitches and issues that mean you'll be falling to your death when it was completely avoidable. The environments and world were remarkably massive this time around but completely barren without anything populating them. Basically we're ten steps forward in the right direction and five steps back all at the same time.

Again, not a bad game by any means. It's still a blast to play through but it's obvious that it could have been so much more.

The next game in the series is almost guaranteed to give us even more tributes to gaming in the form of new gameplay elements but the biggest thing that Vigil Games is going to have to overcome is raising the ladder for how high these mechanics can go instead of falling into the same trap. We don't need another jack of all trades, master of none scenario. They have two games under their belt with an even larger studio and staff now. If they're able to polish each section of the gameplay, on top of whatever they're adding, then Darksiders 3 could easily be a must-own title.

What are your thoughts on the Darksiders series?

This is Kylak signing out and wondering if the four horsemen have to deal with saddle rashes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

MTG Tips #12 Card Evaluation

Tips and Tricks for Magic the Gathering players.

Evaluating cards is tough. Writing about evaluating cards is also tough. I've rewritten this article a million times. Originally it was based around examples but then the comparisons became too harsh against a particular card and let's be honest with ourselves here, you don't come to me for that.Then I attempted to write this about the current Standard but decided against it because even though it had some great examples, Standard is a thing defined by time and those examples would be given a lifespan rather than being timeless. Another thing we should be honest about, you don't come to me wondering about my process for writing these articles so let's just stop right there and get on with how you can evaluate cards for MTG like a majestic manatee. Trust me, that example will make perfect sense by the end of this.

Disclaimer: This isn't the only method of evaluating a card and I'm probably even forgetting certain factors because I internalize all of this instantly when looking at a card rather than in steps soooooo please forgive me if I've left anything out.

Step 1
Converted Mana Cost (CMC)
Always check the CMC of a card first. See if the card sings to you. Is what you're getting worth the amount of mana you're paying? Is it above the curve or below the curve? That's fancy talk for comparing a spell to the average effect or power/toughness you should expect from it. Not sure if it's on, below, or above the curve? Go to step 2.

Step 2
Color Pie
Look at what color it is. If it's Green then you should expect the power/toughness to be higher than the average creature for its CMC. You have to understand the general color pie to be able to pull this off but it's not very difficult. Just learn what each color is known for or what it cares about the most. For example, Black is known for discard effects, creature destruction, graveyard manipulation, and draining life among other things (the list is pretty extensive for each color) and it cares about ambition, death, and darkness (and playing in a rock band on the weekends). Keywords and abilities work this way as well. Flying is an ability Blue has mastery over while First Strike would be more commonly seen in White. Each color has primary and tertiary traits. For example, Flying is tertiary in White. If everything I'm saying is gibberish then you need to learn about the Color Pie first before you attempt any of this (head over to the official MTG website and read). Not sure how it stacks up in its color? Go to step 3.

Step 3
Take the spell you're looking at and compare it to a similar spell/effect/creature/sea cow/whatever. Is it a Red direct damage spell (burn spell)? Then compare it to whatever basic burn spells are in the current Core Set. As of the time of this writing, M13 is the current Core Set. Lightning Bolt is no longer the standard for burn spells (they're much weaker right now). That's because the color pie is constantly fluctuating for what should be the standard. Cancel is still the standard for a hard counterspell in Blue. Knight of Glory is the current standard for a White 2CMC creature. Not sure about the card's usefulness? Go to step 4.

Step 4
Contemplating Format
Rarely is a card completely useless. Even if a card looks sub-par, it's usually more effective in a different format. Most cards in a set are designed for Standard Limited, some cards are designed for the multiplayer formats, some Legends are designed strictly for EDH (Commander), some cards are designed to fix a problem in a particular format, and the list just keeps going. Even if you think a card is bad in Standard, it might be amazing in Limited or another format. Not sure how amazing it is for a given format? Go to step 5.

Step 5
Considering it Outside of a Vacuum
The biggest mistake I see made about card evaluation is this right here. Too many players compare a card inside of a vacuum where it's untouched by other cards/decks/strategies. Cards aren't played that way. When you play a card, your opponent will interact with it in some way. For example, many thought that Skaab Ruinator looked like one of the greatest creatures of all time (inside of a vacuum). For this very reason he was initially very expensive to buy as a single. The reality of course is that he isn't as effective as anyone thought. His additional casting cost of exiling three creatures from the graveyard meant he wasn't actually 3CMC. He's closer to virtually being 6CMC with a drawback. What if they just return him to your hand or destroy him as soon as he comes into play? Sure, you can cast him from your graveyard but you're going to need another three creatures to exile. Once people realized this, his price plummeted. Initially he cost over $20 for a single copy and now you can get him for less than a $1 (and he's still in Standard when prices are typically at their highest). The hardest part about this step is there are so many factors to take into account. Just start by thinking about the most common things that could hurt the card or the most common tactics someone might use against it and then decide from there.

I hope this info helped and that the manatee metaphor makes perfect sense now. It's obviously so clear that I don't even need to explain it.

This is Kylak signing out and hoping that you will float like a sea cow.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Reverse Dungeoneering #22 Best Point to Stop a Session

Improving your D&D experience. For Dungeons and Dragons Players and DMs.

This is more of a quick tip for today (would you guys prefer more of these?) rather than a full article but it's something important for all Dungeon Masters to consider. When is the best point to stop a session?

Sure, there is no such thing as a "best" way to do anything (almost everything imaginable is subjective... except for the wonderment of cats throughout the internet... I suppose that's just fact at this point) but I have noticed a trend that could be improved.

I've seen a lot of DMs decide that they prefer closure for their group as a good stopping point.They wait until things are wrapped up story-wise or when the characters take a moment to rest (sleepy time). This is when they'll end their D&D session for the night before meeting up a week later.

I'm going to tell you to avoid this. Avoid it like the plague.

Instead, try ending on a cliffhanger. They've just stumbled upon the final room in a dungeon and something crazy goes down? End the session there. The group finally discovers the source of why the water was poisoned? End it. Found a dead body? End it. They're captured by a demon sorcerer with a hilarious accent and a strange affection for musical numbers? End it.

The group will be incredibly excited out-of-game to figure out what happens next and they'll be thinking and talking about it until the next session begins. Try it out.

This is Kylak signing out and ending the session here for now.

Monday, October 1, 2012

VG Talk #15 PSP Vita Conundrum

Video Game Discussion

This is a pretty strange topic for this week because I don't typically discuss handhelds but this dives into a much deeper rabbit hole that is affecting the entire video game industry. It's better to approach the subject rather than leave it in the dark. So let's take a look shall we?

The PS Vita launched back in February of this year and it has only managed to generate 3million sales worldwide. That's abysmal. For comparison, the 3DS topped over 19million sales a few months ago. The Vita itself is quite literally the most powerful handheld device currently available (even outside of video game handhelds) and by a long shot. It supports cross-platform play with your PS3 so you can play a game at home and then bring it with you on the go, it has front and rear touch screens as well as motion controls for interesting game mechanics (such as in Gravity Rush), and it even remembered to bring dual-analog sticks (which is something Nintendo forgot and is attempting to tack on late as an add-on) which allows for certain genres to be played on a handheld that normally wouldn't exist. It seems to do a lot of things right and yet it does one absolutely major thing wrong: games. There are barely any games at all but you see, it isn't quite as simple as just "go make more games". That seems to be the suggestion around the internet except if it were that simple, it would have already been taken care of right?

The actual problem is that the video game industry has to make these games for a handheld that isn't selling well which in turn makes them think, "I'm not going to make any kind of profit on this investment." At the end of the day, video games are still a business. If a company doesn't think it's worth taking the time and money to make a game for a handheld that's only in front of 3 million users (which means their target demographic is even smaller than that number) then they just simply aren't going to do it. I know this sounds crazy because this becomes an almost unsolvable dilemma on the surface but that's the current conundrum the Vita faces.

From the consumer's perspective: The Vita isn't selling because it doesn't have many games.
From the industry's perspective: The Vita isn't selling so they aren't going to make any games.

There are actually solutions but most of them involve multiple companies taking insane risks in the hopes that something will change. Something that Sony recently announced may actually be a brilliant maneuver to start cutting into this problem. They're beginning what they call their Cross-Buy program. Basically, buying the PS3 version of a game means it will come with the Vita game for no additional cost. The games that will start this trend off: Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (aka Sly 4), and Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault. It's a huge incentive to buy a handheld if multiple games are giving you the Vita copies for free. This won't fix the main issue by itself but it's a good start. What are your thoughts on all of this?

This is Kylak signing out and waiting to see how this plays out.


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