What Was Your Favourite Game of 2015?

imageIt’s that retrospective time of year and i thought I’d throw out a question to our dedicated readership on what your favourite game was this year. It’s not about sales, it’s purely about the game you enjoyed the most during 2015.

For me it’s an easy pick: I enjoyed Destiny: The Taken King the most this year. Fallout 4 is a very close second but I have to give the guernsey to Destiny for chewing up the biggest chunk of my gaming time this year. It’s battle style and graphics totally sucked me in.

What about you – we’d really love to get your pick of the game of the year (and why you chose it) for 2015 and we’ll be discussing your choices in-depth on the next podcast. Fire away!

Top Selling Games of 2015: So Far

The team over at Inside Gaming have rounded up the Top 10 selling games of 2015 so far. They rightly put a disclaimer on the data they base the Top 10 on, but it still gives a decent idea of what’s hot. If you can’t be arsed watching it, Mortal Kombat X comes out on top.

What’s your thoughts – any surprises? Dammit I need to get GTA V if it’s still selling its butt off after all this time.

Research: FPS Gamers Have Less Brain Grey Matter

call-of-duty-ghosts-pc-screenshot-3840x2160-004Damn those scientists, especially those Canadian ones. A study released today has found that players of action video games (defined in the study as first or third person shooters), tended to rely on habit (response learning) when playing.

The problem is, that type of learning has been shown to be related to decreased grey matter in the hippocampus area of the brain. Why is that an issue? Well, decreased grey matter in that area is linked to a higher incidence of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Here’s the research abstract:

When navigating, distinct strategies rely on either the hippocampus or the striatum. We investigated whether action-video game playing is also associated with increased use of response learning strategies during navigation. We found that actionVGPs had a significantly higher likelihood of using a response learning strategy (80.76%) compared to nonVGPs (42.42%). Using response strategies is associated with decreased grey matter in the hippocampus. Previous studies have shown that decreased volume in the hippocampus is associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders. If actionVGPs have lower grey matter in the hippocampus, these individuals could be at increased risk of developing neurological disorders.

So all you FPS’ers out there, maybe it’s time to broaden your gaming horizons?

[Link to the research study]

Flash Point 93: Flagellating In Deviant Ways

flashpoint-podcastWe’re in an opinionated mood this episode as we range across a wide number of topics and provide a teaser about a new podcast project!

Points of discussion:

Invitation to give feedback on a proposed new podcast project (email us, tweet us, throw a comment on Facebook for us)

1. MMO News

SWTOR: Simon’s experience with solo instances, Darth Marr spotlight (link), Game Update 3.1 (link), PvP win trading, upcoming Community Cantinas

My Lore Is Stuck In Your Canon: Galactic Crime!


2. General Gaming News

– Joystiq and Massively get killed off.

– IGN and Machinima lose some key talent

– PTS for TESO

3. Pop Culture

Movies: Interstellar

Other: DC Comics wraps up its New 52 approach, Marvel’s new all-woman team A-Force, Star Wars #1 mini-review

4. Tech Roundup
– Hotline Miami refused classification in Australia.

– Shout outs for our Facebook page, Twitter account, Simon’s Twitter account  and ODS-1’s Twitter Account. – And don’t forget to buy an Oceanic Gamer T-Shirt or thirty!

Please review or rate the podcast on iTunes if you can – it makes a huge difference!

Listen via iTunes, on Stitcher or right here:

Flash Point 92: Shopping Trolleys on Ziost

flashpoint-podcastWe welcome David Carr back as guest co-host this episode and we talk a lot of MMO news plus a little of console gaming, pop culture and tech.

Points of discussion:

1. MMO News

SWTOR: Changes in BioWare’s community team, SWTOR in 2015 (link)

Others: Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns expansion announced (link), Cowtastrophe in Marvel Heroes (link), Elder Scrolls Online drops its subscription model (link), EVE Down Under event (link)

My Lore Is Stuck In Your Canon: back next episode!


2. General Gaming News

– Dragon Age: Inquisition

– David’s thoughts on Destiny: The Dark Below

– Simon’s take on Destiny: My Seething Rage (note: very long but interesting discussion that’s not just for Destiny players. If you’re in a hurry Pop Culture starts at 56 minutes in)

3. Pop Culture

TV: Daredevil TV series launching in April (link)

Other: Bestselling comics and graphic novels of 2014 (link), Marvel’s upcoming Secret Wars event (link)

4. Tech Roundup
– Windows 10 announced (link 1 and link 2)

– Shout outs for our Facebook page, Twitter account, Simon’s Twitter account  and ODS-1’s Twitter Account. – And don’t forget to buy an Oceanic Gamer T-Shirt or thirty!

Please review or rate the podcast on iTunes if you can – it makes a huge difference!

Listen via iTunes, on Stitcher or right here:

Flash Point 90: Wicket on Stilts Versus Porkins

flashpoint-podcastIn our second-last episode for 2014, we dig into a bunch of MMO news and a healthy dose of Star Wars Ep 7 to boot.

Points of discussion:

1. MMO News

SWTOR: Shadows of Revan (limited) impressions, Ten Ton Hammer’s impressions (links), Joystiq’s impressions (link), DDOS attack (link)

Others: Star Citizen exceeds yet another stretch funding goal (link), Warlords of Drainer (link to buy a pet for Ebola charity – link to the ABC article on WoW’s 10th anniversary)

My Lore Is Stuck In Your Canon: back next episode!

2. General Gaming News

– GTA V withdrawal from K-Mart and Target shelves (link) and the backlash (link)

3. Pop Culture

Film: The Force Awakens Trailer discussion (link to Kevin Smith vid mentioned)

Other: Netflix hits Australia in 2015 – will it suck like Canada’s version? (link)

4. Tech Roundup
– Apple Watch SDK released (link)

– will.i.am’s gadgets (link)

– Shout outs for our Facebook page, Twitter account, Simon’s Twitter account  and ODS-1’s Twitter Account. – And don’t forget to buy an Oceanic Gamer T-Shirt or thirty!

Please review or rate the podcast on iTunes if you can – it makes a huge difference!

Listen via iTunes, on Stitcher or right here:

Destiny: EV-30 Tumbler

Did you purchase the Expansion Pass? Bungie sent you a toy in the post…. Yeh they did…

As a reward for purchasing The Dark Below, everyone who purchases it before 2015 will receive the Tumbler Sparrow on December 9th. If you have the expansion pass you will already have it waiting for you at the Postmaster. My opinion on the sparrow: it is fun as hell to do tricks on.

Hold the right trigger when you get airborne and you will spin whichever way you turn the left thumb stick. Hit the d-pad while in the air and your Guardian will do a variety of tricks. Expect to see plenty of videos in the coming months of tricks being done around the galaxy.

Dragon Age Inquisition Trailer

So, who’s excited?

Official availability info:

Dragon Age: Inquisition will be available for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system from Microsoft and PC via Origin on November 20 in Australia and November 21 in New Zealand, 2014. The game has been rated MA15+ by The Australia Classification Board

(No) Surprise: Zero Link Between Games and Violence

kingsmouth12The evidence has been there in dribs and drabs for years, but a recently published study puts the hole issue to bed in a commanding way:

This article presents 2 studies of the association of media violence rates with societal violence rates. In the first study, movie violence and homicide rates are examined across the 20th century and into the 21st (1920–2005). Throughout the mid-20th century small-to-moderate correlational relationships can be observed between movie violence and homicide rates in the United States. This trend reversed in the early and latter 20th century, with movie violence rates inversely related to homicide rates. In the second study, videogame violence consumption is examined against youth violence rates in the previous 2 decades. Videogame consumption is associated with a decline in youth violence rates. Results suggest that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased societal violence rates.

So there you have it. Those who have worked in the field aren’t likely to be surprised, but the general public will have their preconceptions pretty heavily challenged by this. What’s your take?

Archeage: Impressions

Inbox__333_messages__1_unread_I have to admit that I was not interested in spending time in Archeage. There were a few things that rang the alarm bells from the start, the first being it’s an Eastern MMO.  Eastern MMOs have always looked great with their character customisation, armour and environments. The problem has always come from the translation, walls of text, the generic quests, grinding and the requirement that many things were out of reach unless you could get a group. More hardcore than any western MMO.

When Archeage went into Alpha, I  purchased the Founders Pack that gave me instant access. I started playing like a normal MMO, straight into leveling. The leveling was average although fast and the combat tab targeting reminded me of older MMOs.  I didn’t play that much and left it soon after as I was used to questing in full voice MMOs such as The Secret World, The Old Republic and most recently Elder Scrolls Online.

A month later I went into beta and decided to try a different race/faction but I felt the same way, average leveling, questing and not much really grabbed me beside the gliders which were really cool. I also liked the characters and environment, but it was not enough to keep me engaged. So once again I put the game down and left.

There was then lots of hype on the Internet about Archeage over the next few months being a sandbox. It also seemed to be gathering a lot of airtime from different gaming sites on the internet and gathering a good following. I kept listening and it was probably because I spent near $150 on purchasing the game for alpha access (crazy right? Although it does gives me 3 months patron and over $75 of store currency to spend as I please).

Head Start began and I once again patched up and decided to look at the features that everyone had been talking about. I started leveling as a War Priest, which is basically an archer with melee and some healing. There are 120 different combinations of class that you can decide to choose and if you decide to change any single one, you do not lose any advancement in what you have already gained. I decided to look at the farming and trading aspect of the game as many people said that this was what set them apart from other mainstream MMOs.

I began to enjoy farming that involved growing vegetables, trees and raising animals, etc. I started to enjoy trade runs, which involved me growing and producing certain commodities that were only available in certain areas. Trading involves you walking, driving, riding, or sailing the seas to get to your destination, all with a large pack on your back, which inhibits your movement speed. In some instances the trade routes can involve passing though PvP zones. In some ways it reminded me of EVE Online and its trading aspects.

The most interesting and exciting part so far has been running a trade pack from the western continent to the east. It required me to farm several ingredients and make a certain item for sale. I farmed and ensured I had the materials for several trade packs, as I knew this quest was going to be dangerous. This required me to travel to the coast, then travel by water across the ocean to the other continent which was ruled by the other faction. The issue from what I had read was that the oceans were open to pirates, opposing factions and random NPC sea creatures that could kill you and take your trade items.

I had several options: swim (very slow) with a trade pack on my back, use my row boat I had received from an earlier quest (slow), build a fast boat  (lots of mats) or group up for a fast boat run to get it completed. I had several people offer to take me after advertising in faction chat and we set off over the water in a fast skiff. We had to avoid several ocean creatures and a few pirate boats but this experience was one of the best I have ever had in an MMO. In all it was around a 15-20 sail to the destination.

Archeage has parts that are very generic to most MMOs but it has some very cool and interesting mechanics and systems that are very different and this is really what sets it apart. Yes it is still a very Eastern MMO but I think it has enough to keep Western players interested especially if you like crafting, farming and trade running.  There are still dungeons and raiding to be had but I have not even gone there yet as I am having too much fun with the crafting and trading right now.

Revan is Back in SWTOR

If this doesn’t get you interested for a new Old Republic expansion I’m not sure what will:

What do you say – will these draw you back to the game?

Raiding On A Console: Destiny

image001A big welcome to latest contributor Ben McJannett. As you’ll read below, Ben’s into console gaming in a big way. Great to have you on board Ben!

Destiny is coming.

Not long now.

In just a little over a week, players on PS4 and Xbox One will be creating their Guardians and taking their first steps. Or maybe you will be recreating your first steps if you participated in the beta like me. Slowly they will meet their ghost for the first time (I called mine the Dinklebot 5000, or Dinks for short), they will take their first steps and say “Is this just Halo MkII?”,  and slowly realise that skills are from skillpoints. Monitoring the reactions of some players I think would be priceless, but that’s getting off topic. Soon they will realise they can create a fire team and join forces against the darkness. Not much longer after that they will get to their first strike mission and join a queue. They will then realise this is an MMO at its core.

For those unaware, Strikes are Destiny’s dungeons/instances. By the time players reach the first one at level 6 they will have seen a little bit of instancing/phasing in the story missions,  but this will be the first time they actually are forced to group with other players and go through the usual dungeon tropes. For most players reading this, they will have already an understanding of the MMO space, but I sense the way Activison is marketing the game towards the FPS crowd we could be attracting a new type of MMO player. Noobs we would normally call them, but chances are these are the same players that will destroy us in the crucible. So Semi-Noobs? Time will tell.

What I am most curious about is the raids Bungie has promised us. If you have read the latest weekly update from Bungie, you probably enjoyed the little Q&A with Design Lead Luke Smith. Luke talked briefly about the difficulty of the Raids and what to expect in terms of loot. All of which, if you’re like me, would get even the most casual raider excited. What really got me wondering though was a comment made by one of the forum members about only being able to get loot from the raid once a week. To the normal raider this is a normal rule, however this game is attracting a completely different subset of gamers to it and they do not understand our strange ways, so to speak. Basically this player had made the comment that it “sucks” they can only get loot once a week from the raid. Many of the other posters were quick to reply and inform our new MMO friend that it is the normal rule in the MMO space. The exchange has piqued my interest in seeing how everything is going to play out.

There really hasn’t been a big name MMO on the console market yet, and I believe this is the first one really on the latest generation of consoles. Elder Scrolls Online was originally supposed to be released in June and has been pushed back with no confirmation of a release yet. Had it come out, this question would be already answered (even if Elder Scrolls hasn’t met such great praise on the PC).  I’m hoping I’m not the only one looking forward to seeing how things go with Destiny and its raid mechanics. Will it be the game that sets the standards for MMO’s on the console? We will know soon enough.

I’ll be there with Dinks, probably dancing on top of a cliff somewhere.