Hoxton’s Housewarming Party

The latest Payday 2 super-event is over, and I’m glad to say that Overkill learned their lesson from the mess that was Crimefest 2015. (They even poked fun at it with the trailer).

Not only was the content far less controversial than the microtransactions of last year, but the lack of a challenge meant that it was not going to be overhyped like the last time.

I like the new safehouse, even if the “raid” missions are a little too Warframe-y for my tastes. In all, it was a good event.

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Saltybet

Not only is there Video Game Championship Wrestling, there is also Saltybet. Saltybet is a long-running psuedo-betting service where members watch and bet (fake) currency on AI vs. AI matches in the classic MUGEN fighting game engine.

There is no attempt at a plot, just watching as a character that has no business being in a fighting game launches projectile after projectile over their tiny opponent.

So, the clock is ticking down, only a short time to place your virtual bet. The opponents are there-one fairly conventional fighting game character (or at least looking that way), against a tiny pixelated figure.

You take your chance on the small-hitbox. After all, the AI could just punch over their head.

So, then the fight starts. The small competitor jumps right into their opponent’s attacks. Looks like it can go both ways. The winner of that round’s betting was not you.
That is a typical Saltybet experience. I’m a ridiculously cautious bettor, unlike many users. In many cases it’s fun to just watch the silliness without even the tiny stress the betting provides.

Coiler’s Year In Gaming

I got a lot of games in 2015. Only a relatively few I actually played in depth. That being said, here’s a somewhat unconventional list (I’m not listing “best”):

Note: I’m using the time I got them, not the time they were actually released.

Most Played: Payday 2

Payday 2 is an interesting study in how a relative few changes can make a game far more accessible than its predecessor. Consider that while I barely played the original, Payday The Heist, the sequel is second only to Command: Modern Air Naval Operations as my most played game.

I think it’s this: Accessibility. The easiest heist in Payday is still long, and has a low overall completion rate. The easiest heist in Payday 2 is effectively impossible to lose on lower difficulties. Because of this, I can go for an easy “relaxation” mission, or push myself with a hard one.

Now to stop buying all that DLC….

Most Disappointing: Invisible, Inc.

Invisible Inc. isn’t a bad game. The production values are very good, and the mechanics are clearly quite deliberate. Applying an XCOM-style turn-based grid game to stealth gameplay is unconventional, but they clearly figured out how to make it work. So I didn’t and don’t want to rip the game apart.

But it has one problem that just, for me at least, bulldozed the entire experience-the level design. All the levels are procedurally generated. This did several things. The first is ruin the immersion-even with the game’s story being the most generic cyberpunk imaginable and the character design a mishmash of eras, seeing an obvious videogame level that looks like it was a graphically-touched up stage from XCOM-the 1990s XCOM-, breaks it.

The second is to go against its own genre. Stealth is hugely dependent on level design, and this throws it aside. In my short time playing it, I could get near-impossible missions where the objectives were scattered, and easy ones where they were close together. So this choice made me sour on the game.

Game I Want To Play More Often: Black Closet

Black Closet is a Ren’Py-engined mystery game where you control the leader of a student council in a boarding school, and must solve cases of varying-intensity. While the setting isn’t the first I’d pick, the mechanics-of questioning, searching, and interrogating, are excellent. (It’s really easy to imagine an intelligence service game with very similar mechanics).

So, why have I only gotten as far as deliberately going to the bad ending? I think it’s because it’s a game you need to be in a certain mindset to play in, and because I’m busy so often, that mindset is too infrequent. I have to think and record rolls, not just stumble through with my M308.

That the game is designed to be hard doesn’t help either. But I want to play it more, I just have to be in the mood.

Greatest Accomplishment: One Way Heroics

I beat a roguelike. Repeat-I beat a roguelike. For anyone who understands the genre, little more needs to be said about that.

CMANO Accomplishments:
I released fourteen scenarios to the community pack. In spite of my slump, this was still a good number, even if a lot of the scenarios were small and basic. These range from the futuristic “War of the Thirty-Fives” to the right-after-WWII “Phoenix of Indochina”, where I find a use for Japanese WWII aircraft beyond repeats of The Final Countdown.

Crimefest 2015 Reflections

So, the last update released as part of Payday 2’s Crimefest 2015 event has been installed, and now I can write my retrospective. This was an event that had a lot of drama and had a lot of flaws in its structure.

So, Overkill Software, the developers of Payday 2, released a “Road To Crimefest” event, with mystery clues unlocked by players completing long, repetitive challenges like playing a certain number of heists a large amount of times, or using a certain weapon to defeat so many enemies. The event ended on two stressful ones-a coordinated effort to get double the usual amount of players online at any one time, and a down-to-the-wire heist completion one finished on the last day of the event.

Then on the first day of the event itself, the reward was a Counter Strike: Global Offensive-style weapon skin market. To introduce an inevitably controversial new feature as the initial “reward” was not exactly the best move, and the reaction was immediate and angry. Overkill did make a large change in response to the initial criticism, allowing the “drills” that unlocked the “safes” holding the weapons skins to be received in in-game pickups rather than just being purchased.

But microtransaction controversy aside, I do think the whole “mystery reveal” combined with grinding challenges wasn’t the best setup even if it hadn’t started with such an awkward move as that. If one ran Rats a million times and found the reward was just a mask, a reaction of “That’s it?” would not be surprising. I think Overkill set expectations too high with the mystery, with the inevitable disappointment when the small-scale rewards were finally revealed.

With all that criticism, I still enjoyed the content. I basically shrugged at the microtransaction introduction, liked playing the new heists, and had fun with the masks. Payday 2 still remained the fun game I continue to enjoy, even if the event wasn’t the best-conceived.