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TIAM: General Gaming edition

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2 hours ago, Medic said:

I was invited to play Pixelmon, a Pokemon mod for Minecraft, with my sister. I've come to realise that I know very little about Pokemon. Namely, what the fuck all these berries and potions do, and what each ability does.

 

My party's also pretty shitty. Consists of a lvl20 Aron, a lvl10 Phanphy, a lvl18 Flaafy, a lvl21 Deino, a lvl19 Ralts and a level 1 Pidgeotto which has Fly, courtesy of the server I'm playing on.

 

There's no fucking way child Medic would have been able to beat Pokemon Red/Blue.

Don't worry, child TheOnlyGuyEver didn't either.

 

Mainly because my save kept deleting.

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Frankly I don't think adult me would be able too finish Pokemon Red/Blue. I'd probably accidentally break my game or something.

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The only ones I bothered to finish were Yellow, Ruby and White 2. I gave up on Platinum and was too lazy to play more of Soul Silver and Fire Red.

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First game of Stellaris played as a glorious feudal space empire, and took over half the galaxy.

 

For my second game I decided to play as a federation type materialist/pacifist.

 

Of the enemy empires, all but 2 are either militaristic or spiritualist.  Most of them fanatically.  At this point I'm just bribing people into trading with me.

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Stellaris is probably the biggest disappointment that Paradox has ever made me pay for. I knew on release that it wouldn't be as fleshed out as it should, but I thought it would be great after a few expansions. Several years later, and all they've really done is the Sonic Team method of throwing the baby out with the bath water with every update.

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9 hours ago, Veez said:

Stellaris is probably the biggest disappointment that Paradox has ever made me pay for. I knew on release that it wouldn't be as fleshed out as it should, but I thought it would be great after a few expansions. Several years later, and all they've really done is the Sonic Team method of throwing the baby out with the bath water with every update.

This is why I waited until it was cheap on GoG to pick it up.  Before every "major update" (i.e. "the game is no longer the game that you bought") I do a backup of the old version just in case the new version is crap.

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Honestly Paradox are just a bunch of money hungry assholes that aside locking most of the content behind paid DLC, they are willing to increase the price of their games on all regions to match the dollar price even if that makes the game insanely overpriced for that country.

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Since I probably won't get a chance to talk about Paradox/EU IV again for a while I may as well type out my thoughts here.

 

On 1/19/2019 at 11:01 AM, Moby said:

Honestly Paradox are just a bunch of money hungry assholes that aside locking most of the content behind paid DLC, they are willing to increase the price of their games on all regions to match the dollar price even if that makes the game insanely overpriced for that country.


I feel like their DLC strategy started off fine (EU III had five expansions; Victoria 2, two; HOI 3, three) but as they grew bigger they got more resources and were pumping out more and more until the point where EU IV for example has 12 expansions and 3 immersion packs (plus a SHITLOAD of cosmetic DLC as well as some flavor packs), which is pretty excessive. That's the charitable, perhaps naive, interpretation at least. Their current expansion model is really breaking down at the moment. When they first released their "new generation" of games (EU IV on) they decided to put out a major patch along with every expansion. In theory the free patch would handle all the major balance changes and some new mechanics, while the paid DLC expansion would further flesh out those mechanics, for people who were interested in it. They did this mostly so they could have everybody running the more or less same version of the game, and not have some people on 1.0, some on 1.3, and some on 1.5; which would simplify further development as well as let everyone play multiplayer together. For example, the first expansion, Conquest of Paradise, included free changes like the introduction of colonial nations which would form a new vassal out of the provinces you colonized in the New World. The expansion would give you the option to play as said colonial nation, which is a nice feature to have but one most people will rarely, if ever, use.

 

Of course, there are a few problems with that strategy. Firstly, what if the feature in the paid expansion turns out to be really useful? What if it's more than just a bit of a bonus and changes the way the game works entirely? That's what happened with improving development. It more or less rewrote the book on how and when to expand. Well, not exactly, but it pushed "not actively expanding" from being a pointless waste of time to being a possible, if not exactly good strategy. Either way it was a huge change that you simply couldn't access without owning the DLC. This wasn't "play as a colonial nation"-tier where you might fiddle with it sometimes but if you didn't have it it wouldn't matter. It was something you needed to have or else you would miss out. Which really, kinda shits on the whole "well you don't have to buy it" shtick. You very well do have to buy it if you want to play that version or later versions and have a good time.

 

As a bit of an aside, here's a funny story. To compensate those who didn't have the DLC, they changed the bonuses that with the expansion would give "development cost reduction" to instead give a positive "goods produced" modifier on the national level, and a positive tax bonus on the provincial level. So a national development cost reduction of, say, 10% would be changed into a 10% goods produced modifier. It's a nice thought, isn't it? Instead of getting a bonus you were unable to use you'd get something that would still work for you. How sweet of Paradox. Well... I did say there was a provincial level bonus too, didn't I? I neglected to mention that all terrain that isn't grasslands or farmlands has a development cost INCREASE. And that means any province that isn't those two types would get a tax PENALTY. And that these are steep penalties. Normally they wouldn't matter if you had the DLC, since you just wouldn't develop in these shitty provinces. No harm to you, really. But without the DLC? Red provinces have 0 (zero) tax income. While provincial tax becomes less and less a source of income over time it's very important early game. Imagine starting out there. Imagine something that should be giving you around half your income, instead giving you nothing. If you started out in a red zone (and there are more than just that image, there were spots in Arabia and Siberia and in of the Americas and really all over the place) and hadn't bought the DLC you were basically fucked.

 

Moving on, the second problem is that by tying new mechanics to specific expansions it makes it harder to expand upon those mechanics in subsequent expansions. You can't really expand upon an expansion if a lot of your customers don't have the ability to use the base expansion mechanic in the first place. So a lot of sort-of interesting mechanics just sit there as they can't be expanded upon without making the base mechanic free, which has the potential to piss off some of people who paid for the DLC in the first place, even though most paypigs loyal customers like me who buy all the DLC will agree that it's a lot better for the game for this stuff to be free. BUT, you know what, this is actually what they did last month, in the case of development and other very important once-paid features. There's still a lot of paid-only mediocre mechanics lurking around, though.

 

The third problem is that while new mechanics intended to balance the game by nerfing older mechanics (like espionage needing spy networks) actually using them to your advantage requires the DLC (like spy networks giving you tech boosts and siege ability) which to a lot of people looks as shady as the guy with a baseball bat outside your shop offering to protect your shop from criminals. Sure you can turn him down but... it's a dangerous place out there you know?

 

All that though, really all of it, is just DLC policy. If you have all the DLC it's still a great game, right? Asked me that half a year ago, I would've said hell yeah. Sure the monetization is scummy but dammit the game's just so good you should buy it all, on sale of course, because it's that damn good. But then apparently the lead designer smoked Waste and decided to just fucking destroy it all. In the Dharma expansion (released alongside patch 1.26, called Mughals because they name patches after the region they're focusing on... and this is relevant I'll say why later) they introduced two strong contenders for worse game design decisions ever created.

 

The first and probably worst of the two (and what an honor!) would be the change making it so you cannot convert a province's religion unless it is both in a state (a collection of 3 or 4 provinces are in a region, regions can be states or territories, with states being harder to get and more valuable) and a full core. You can only have a certain number of states, and this amount is out of your control since there's really nothing you can do to get more states other than advance in tech which you really can't do ahead of time. So you basically cannot convert provinces outside of the first 50 years of gameplay. Before this there had been two ways to deal with religion in the game. One, tolerate everything and pick Humanist ideas. Two, convert everything and pick Religious ideas. You literally cannot do the second because of this change so you're forced to do the first, which fucks over countries that had bonuses to conversion (Spain, Najd, etc.) and turns an already binary choice into... not a choice at all. And toleration had always been the easier, less involved way, too. You pick Humanist ideas and bang you're done you can basically ignore religion entirely. They did at least leave Religion's best idea in its idea group, I mean you can't do anything with the land you take that ways and it will revolt until the end of the game but hey you can take it. They seemed to have realized this change was fucking awful shit, at least, so they reverted it not long after Dharma came out. There were actually whispers on the forums that they only put in this awful, horrible change so that the other change would look better by comparison. It's hard to argue against that...

 

Since the second change is also complete horrible shit and why I'm not keen on playing EU IV while it's still in the game. For every territory you have over your state limit you suffer .02 corruption/year up to .8 a year (used to be 1.0 which was even worse). Corruption has always been a hated mechanic since it was introduced as its effects are nasty, you can't really stop it from growing sometimes and the only real way to reduce it is to pay money, it's just a money sink. Territory corruption is quite obviously intended to slow down expansion (like many other mechanics already in the game) but there's no counterplay other than "don't take more land", which basically means "sit on your ass until you get to tech up so scary red numbers go away". You can pay down up to 1 corruption a year with money but with .8/yr from territories and .5/yr from 100% overextension (which you will be at nearly constantly if you're playing well late game) you will never pay down enough corruption to be free of its shitty effects unless you take some idea groups which then makes those idea groups mandatory if you want to play the game the right way. Speaking of the right way to play the game I'd like to introduce trade companies. If your capital province is not in a trade company region (i.e. it is in Europe Oceania or America) you can make trade companies in said trade company regions. Basically these nifty little guys will have no autonomy (autonomy is bad), give you an extra merchant (merchants are good), reduce religious unrest, and most importantly do not count towards the territory corruption penalty. Where are the trade company regions you may ask? All over the fucking place. Really chew it around a bit. If your capital is, say, Malta, you can rule all that land and your bureaucracy will be as corruption free as a Norwegian puppy. You will suffer more by taking Sicily than you will Beijing. Not only do you not suffer for taking it, hell you rule it better than anyone whose capital is actually in a trade company region. Remember the Mughals, the country this patch was named after? You rule it better than them. The Mughals take their historical conquests in India and they drown in corruption. The only sensible option, really, for any country is to beeline to India, move capital to Europe if needed and make all the land they can trade companies because you are so heavily penalized for not doing it. Before Dharma beelining India was still worth it since it's very rich and trade companies were good even then. Now you basically have to do it if you plan on doing any serious expansion.

 

At the end of the day that's what EU IV is all about. There simply isn't enough to do that doesn't involve war and conquest. You play a tall game once for shits and giggles and then never again because it's just boring. Before Dharma the developers seemed to realize that, and introduced mechanics that aided expansion. Recently though they seem to have gotten it into their minds that they need to clamp down on expansion hard. It seems to me like they're jealous of how "sophisticated" other Paradox games are and how they're embarrassed they're stuck working on the "simplest" one. So they want to do away with mindless blobbing and instead make the game a lot slower and taller. Except like a clown who suddenly started talking about serious topics like climate change and genocide in Africa it's a real mood swing and just leaves the audience confused: they're not here for this. If they wanted serious shit they wouldn't book Farty the Clown for their son's 5th birthday party. They just want dumb fun. And at the end of the day that's what EU IV is... compared to other Paradox games at least. Again there's not much to do that doesn't involve blobbing. There's colonization but that's really dependent on where you start and is a heavy investment for not much reward unless you're a dedicated colonizer. There's developing your provinces into massive cities but that's a lot of waiting for monarch power just to dump it into a province for diminishing returns. That's really about it. You could, I guess, wage limited wars but there's really not much point because the AI treats every little war as an existential life and death Eastern-front style struggle. At the peace table they'll generally either be at your feet or at your throat and it's just a waste to occupy 90% of their country only to take 10% warscore worth of provinces and some ducats. That's really about it. If they want a less blobby game they should save it for EU V and actually give the player a reason to slow down instead of "because life will suck bad if you do". A lot of EU IV players have stopped playing for good because of this shit, including a lot of really good players that know how to play well with even with all the roadblocks but it is just a fucking slog and I can't really blame them since every strategy is the same now. Before it was "if you're powergaming go to india first" now it's "if you want to play competently at all go to india first".

 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

 

Ace Combat 7's out soon. Looks nice, I hope it ain't shit cause I'm ready for a new one.

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Jesus. I tried to process all the game mechanics you just wrote, but most I got was "CONQUER INDIA", that you are (mostly) fucked without DLC and that most new additions are just time/money sinks.

 

And yeah, hope Ace Combat is good. I only played 3 on the PS1.

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