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Richard Kain

Member Since 02 Aug 2007
Offline Last Active Today, 06:48 AM

#13195843 CAG Amateur Developer's Thread

Posted by Richard Kain on Yesterday, 08:33 PM

A New Challenger!

Lumberyard Game Engine


Quick summary: Amazon has announced that they are throwing their hat into the ring for the growing competition between third-party game engine developers. They have not only announced, but also provided access to, a new game engine that they are calling "Lumberyard." This engine is based on licensed tech that they acquired from Crytek, so much of the back-end rendering will be very similar to the CryEngine. The engine is free-to-use for anyone, and even provides access to the engine's C++ source code. The only cost comes when you want to take advantage of Amazon web-service integration, which is extensively tied into the engine's on-line feature and multiplayer support.


This could be an attractive engine alternative for smaller developers, especially those working on single-player experiences. Any standard single-player game will be able to use the engine for a commercial project completely free of charge. The source-code access will be a very attractive feature for tech-focused developers looking to customize things to their own liking. And the graphical capabilities of the engine will make it a decent alternative to Unreal Engine 4. (currently the go-to engine for high-end visuals)


Amazon has their work cut out for them, the middleware market is flush with capable competitors. And it is fairly clear that they intend this engine to be a gateway for luring developers into utilizing Amazon web-services. All the same, I can't fault the approach they are taking with it. They are being clever about it, and the overall package seems fairly appealing. I'll be sticking to Unity for the time being, but I will also be watching to see how Lumberyard progresses.

#13187915 Anime & Manga Steals and Deals (Rightstuf, Amazon, DD...etc)

Posted by Richard Kain on 04 February 2016 - 05:10 PM

Half the antagonists in Brotherhood were just bad for the sake of being bad. Obviously their personalities stem from their sin, but beyond that, half the homunculi were Saturday morning cartoon villains.


You're mistaking "angst" for characterization. Simply being conflicted in some way doesn't make a character good. Sometimes an unambiguously evil character can be extremely appealing.


This was one of the failings of the original 03 series, and one of the biggest strengths of Brotherhood. While the villains of the 03 series were certainly more human and relatable, they also weren't nearly as consistent or well-formed. They also weren't always particularly likable. I never enjoyed the original iteration of Wrath. He was whiny, ineffective, and I never understood why he was even tolerated. Lust was better handled, but her origin story felt forced, and didn't contribute to the overall narrative. Sloth was one of the biggest disappointments, and served as little more than a transparent attempt to yank on the emotions of the Elric brothers. There was also the fact that her design had nothing to do with her namesake. Nothing about her ever actually seemed "slothful."


And then there was Kimbly. The original series made him little more than an unbalanced thug. Brotherhood made him suave, erudite, and considerably more intimidating than his original incarnation. He was a far more interesting villain in brotherhood, and a lot more fun to watch. In the same vein, Scar's story also made more sense in brotherhood, and he was given considerably more time to grow and change.


And for me, Bradly was one of the biggest differences. He felt like a bit of a waste in the original series. He was a potentially interesting character who got a very small amount of screen time, and died in a rather anti-climactic fashion. In brotherhood he was practically a force of nature, and I loved it every time he was on screen. Easily one of the most fascinating characters in the series, even if he was also one of the least conflicted. This is definitely the version of Wrath that I prefer.


The ultimate villain for each series was a serious sticking point for me. The original series main antagonist, and arguably its "mastermind" was very disappointing. Not only were they shoe-horned into the series much later, but I just felt that their motivation was petty. They were also more human and relatable, but that's not always what I'm looking for out of a villain. The "smallness" of what they were trying to achieve weakened the journey and struggles of the main protagonists. This might have also been a matter of adhering to the themes of the series, as it did make for a darker, grimmer story. But it also depressed me a little. I much preferred the inhuman nature and far more ambitious motivations of brotherhood's antagonist.


And again, I'm not looking to get into a major debate over this. These are just minor matters of personal preference. I don't dislike the original series. When they recently re-released that series on Blu-Ray, I was only too happy to pick up a copy for my collection, despite already owning brotherhood. I am a fan of both series, and believe they both have a lot to recommend them. If nothing else, they serve as a delightful case-study on how a series can be altered when it runs ahead of its source material.

#13187051 Anime & Manga Steals and Deals (Rightstuf, Amazon, DD...etc)

Posted by Richard Kain on 03 February 2016 - 11:55 PM

The distinction between the FMA brotherhood and vanilla FMA endings comes down to personal preference. They are both good, and stand head and shoulders above the average endings for most anime series.


Personally, I come down on the Brotherhood side of the fence. And it's less for me about happy or sad than it is about coherence. While the vanilla FMA's ending was indeed on-point when it came to the theme of the series, it was structurally weaker, with a much less interesting antagonist. The brotherhood series overall had a much more appealing and interesting cast of antagonists. The way in which the ending for brotherhood handles those antagonists is excellent. One could easily argue that the brotherhood ending doesn't handle the protagonists as well. (with too few consequences to hand out) But that is only looking at half of the equation.

#13179674 PAX South 2016

Posted by Richard Kain on 30 January 2016 - 03:03 PM

Well, to be fair, the weather yesterday was really, really nice. Anyplace looks better when the weather is this nice. I took a stroll down the river walk last evening looking for dinner, and it was quite charming. I also got to eat fried catfish. It's a lot harder to get proper fish in AZ.


The panel last night went quite well. Big thank-you to Thorbaun for hosting. A good portion of it was a bit remedial for an experienced shopper like me. But even I heard a few tricks that I had not considered. I didn't get any of the raffle items, but a fellow a few seats down from me ended up taking the Jabba the Hutt set home.

#13172041 Anime & Manga Steals and Deals (Rightstuf, Amazon, DD...etc)

Posted by Richard Kain on 26 January 2016 - 04:42 PM

You kids don't know how good you have it. Us old people remember paying $25 for a single DVD with three-four episodes on it, and that was on sale. And that's just taking DVDs into account. Before that you were stuck with terrible VHS tapes, which you would be very lucky to get subtitled instead of dubbed, or ridiculously large/expensive Laserdiscs. $50+ for a single series isn't expensive. I used to have to pay $120+ for a single series, and that was for a bare-bones DVD set. The 8-disc series runs would often be around $200 to collect the whole things.


A slight upswing in prices in recent years doesn't bother me so much. Especially since some of the recent pricier sets have also been getting higher-quality packaging. I still like to get some of these sets on sale, but I'm not complaining.

#13164607 Anime & Manga Steals and Deals (Rightstuf, Amazon, DD...etc)

Posted by Richard Kain on 21 January 2016 - 09:01 PM

Thanks for the interesting history about it as well. Didn't know about the localization facts about it.


MovieBob did an episode on his web-series about it, it was fascinating.



I picked up a copy at Best Buy while I was on my lunch break today. I'll try to give it a look-see sometime over the weekend. Only had to pay $20 for it.

#13164327 Anime & Manga Steals and Deals (Rightstuf, Amazon, DD...etc)

Posted by Richard Kain on 21 January 2016 - 07:10 PM

The blu-ray release of Samurai Pizza Cats is now available for sale.


This is a bit of a strange release, though. To be fair, it is an extremely strange show, with a bizarre history. I suppose it's fitting that the modern commercial release would also be strange.


The blu-ray release is in standard definition. It's a blu-ray set, but the video on it is not high-definition. So you will basically be getting DVD-quality video from a Blu-ray release.


It's also worth noting that this commercial release is of the western version of the show, and that the Japanese original is not part of the collection. So no original Japanese audio. This is a bit more understandable, given the nature of the show's translation. This was one of those instances of a Japanese show being insanely cut and re-mixed when it came to U.S. shores. The original localizers didn't speak Japanese, so all they really had to go on was the visuals, not the scripts. They literally re-wrote the whole show, and re-mixed the episodes to fit what they felt the story should be.


Not really a release that I would recommend for anime fans. But for fans of strange older cartoons, and especially anyone interested in localization, it is probably a must have. It helps that this standard-definition Blu-ray release is so cheap, and includes the entire run of the series.

#13156178 amiibo Deals and Discussion Thread

Posted by Richard Kain on 15 January 2016 - 07:47 PM

I love amiibos but I also regret having supported them with money on this kind of magnitude to further guide them down the path of plastic profitability and gaming irrelevance.


There's a problem with this assertion. The truth is, you don't know what the proper path to relevance is for Nintendo. Clearly, they don't either. But the vast majority of suggestions that I continue to hear is that they simply should do things differently or better than they're currently doing. And the truth is, this is wrong.


If Nintendo suddenly shifted their focus to doing the things that consumers like you suggest, they would simply fade away. Most of your suggestions are to simply emulate the practices of Nintendo's competitors, like Sony and Microsoft. (or possibly Apple) But attempting to mirror the strategies that other companies are implementing would just lead Nintendo into disaster and an irreversible decline. They can't compete doing the exact same thing that other companies do. This is doubly true with the current competition.


Nintendo was having trouble competing in this fashion back when the N64 was on the market. And the PS1 was comparatively mild competition by todays standards. The PS4 is Sony's best designed system to date, it is Sony bringing their competitive A game. While the XOne stumbled out of the gate, Microsoft has been course-correcting it hard, and it too is a competitive platform at this point. Attempting to emulate the strategies of either of those systems would do Nintendo no favors.


I'll grant that your complaints about Nintendo's digital policies are outdated and ought to change. But most of your other suggestions wouldn't actually help matters. If Nintendo wants to be competitive again, it will have to be through some method that it's primary competition can't quickly respond to. It will have to be a fundamental shift in design, as was the case with the DS and the Wii. (Nintendo's biggest successes in recent years) The truth is, Nintendo would be better served catering to audiences other than their traditional fans. Most long-term Nintendo fans don't like to hear that, but it is the truth.

#13150108 New Nintendo 3DS Pokemon 20th Anniversary Edition $199.99 @ Best Buy / G...

Posted by Richard Kain on 12 January 2016 - 05:08 PM

This is going to be my 6th 3DS what is wrong with me?


Appreciate this comment. I thought I was getting a little nuts with my 3 3DS models. Now they don't seem so bad.

#13148803 amiibo Deals and Discussion Thread

Posted by Richard Kain on 11 January 2016 - 08:58 PM

Not to mention that it's DLC that you can borrow to your friends or sell or use across both Nintendo platforms.


Very true.


I'm not saying that anyone should just roll over and accept some of the DLC policies that companies are putting into effect these days. Quite a few of them are scummy, and clearly an attempt to take advantage of the consumer. I'm just not sure that this particular Shovel Knight amiibo instance is the game to be "taking a stand" on. Raising your fist in protest over a game that we weren't sure would even have a retail release 12 months ago seems a bit misguided.


If you don't want the amiibo, that's fine. No one's twisting your arm on this. And the game is entirely enjoyable without the co-op feature. It was winning critical awards long before co-op was ever mentioned. I just don't think this is really a "line in the sand" issue.

#13148768 amiibo Deals and Discussion Thread

Posted by Richard Kain on 11 January 2016 - 08:39 PM

Being a cheap ass gamer (or an educated person) you, yourself, should also be questioning the delicate balance between additional paid content that enriches games, versus disc-locked content, which is a practice that is generally harmful to consumers.


Giving away content for free isn't a practice that is good for developers. And disc-locked content is barely applicable in this case, as Shovel Knight wasn't even a disc-based game until recently. This is a far cry from the practices usually employed by EA or Activision. It seems like more of a bonus expansion for a narrow number of users. It also strikes me as prestige content, limited not only by amiibo but by platform. (the co-op mode can only be accessed on the WiiU) This is something that wasn't built into the design of the game initially, and was only added after the fact. The only reason anyone is comparing it to on-disc DLC is because of the precedent set by other retail games.


On top of all of that, Yacht Club Games is a small indie developer. While they've gotten a fair amount of success with Shovel Knight, they are not a major corporation, trying to stomp on the faces of consumers. I have no problem giving them some extra money in order to get access to a co-op game mode, especially considering that it comes with an appealing plastic statue.

#13148563 amiibo Deals and Discussion Thread

Posted by Richard Kain on 11 January 2016 - 06:46 PM

At any rate I can forgive the absence of custom knight, but unless they unlock some sort of standard co-op for everyone I don't intend to touch this amiibo, so I'd be interested in some good photos and comments to see what figurine itself is like.


That's a bit odd. By making a major feature connected to the presence of an Amiibo, and by making that feature platform-exclusive, it makes the Amiibo itself far more significant than the little statues generally are. Why would this make you less likely to pick up the Amiibo? I specifically picked up a copy of Shovel Knight for the WiiU because I knew it would have this additional functionality.


By handling this situation the way they have, Yacht Club Games has lent greater purpose to it's Amiibo, and greatly incentivized users to purchase a copy of their game for Nintendo platforms. I don't see any particular problem with that. I don't understand why this would elicit outrage. If you want co-op, it is there to be had. You simply have to go further out of your way, and spend more money, in order to get it. What's the problem?

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#13115006 PS Vita Deals & Discussions Thread

Posted by Richard Kain on 22 December 2015 - 02:32 PM

Corpse Party, Dengeki, and Sorcery Saga all shot back up in price. :*(

I picked up Dengeki Bunko and Dancing all Night CE yesterday. Now I'm feeling pretty darn good about it.

#13088580 amiibo Deals and Discussion Thread

Posted by Richard Kain on 08 December 2015 - 05:53 PM

Why both? People still need to buy multiples of things? It's like buying two of every cd I buy, or 2 of every blu-ray, or game. It's just kinda stupid. Let someone else buy one of the two for christs sake.


I can understand the desire to buy an extra to keep mint-in-box. The amiibo's packaging is actually pretty good, and looks nice on the shelf. It's design also allows you to see the model inside fairly well without removing it from the packaging. So for some of the more intense collectors there is a pretty big draw for acquiring two instead of one. (one for show, one for go)


At the same time, I do understand where you're coming from. With some of the recent re-prints, I've started to move away from picking up extras. They're just piling up at my place and I have no intention of flipping them, so it does seem a little pointless to double up. I'll only look for an extra if its a character that I'm particularly fond of.

#13077546 amiibo Deals and Discussion Thread

Posted by Richard Kain on 03 December 2015 - 06:19 PM

The employee buying an item before a customer had a chance to? There's nothing wrong with that. As some have already pointed out, it's a slight advantage of being employeed at a retail establishment. One of the very, very few advantages that retail employees have in this day and age. They have exposure to these items before any customers, and purchasing one for themselves is not something that warrents criticism or discipline of any kind.


Now, actively buying multiple copies of an item, with the express intention of reselling them, that's a different matter. At that point, the employee in question is engaging in direct competition with his/her own employer, and that's not okay. A scenario like that, where an employee is actively withholding deals from customers in order to personally profit from them later, is something that retailers have to watch out for and stop. Any manager worth their wage is going to be on the look-out for such practices.


In the scenario originally described, the retail employee should probably not have mentioned that they bought the last unit. While there is nothing particularly wrong with what they did, they shared a little too much information with the customer. Simply letting them know that the item was out of stock, and sympathizing with their plight would have been more than enough. That would have been the diplomatic approach. It's not a matter of right or wrong, but simply a matter of tact.