Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Year of the Horse

As the Shanghai office of CCP winds down for a few days, to celebrate the Chinese New Year, I thought I'd use the animal of this new year, the horse, as a ridiculously tenuous link to my real life occupation.

For I am a purveyor in false hope and dreams....

I manage a betting shop.

I also know something about odds and percentages and now a good long term bet when I see one. Just over two years ago I paid off the flight tickets for my first trip to Fanfest. Back then I was an enthusiastic but still limited in experience pilot in EVE University and Eve Online. It was to be honest the only game that I played a lot on the PC. I'd dabbled a bit in Civilisation V on the format, a couple of bargains on Steam but the format I'm most comfortable with is consoles. 

At the time specifically the Xbox 360. I didn't own the PS3, not because I'm xbox fanboy, though I admit choosing the Xbox One over PS4 for reasons I'll came back to later. No, I chose the Xbox 360 for two reasons. First of all it was cheaper and secondly for Xbox Live.

I'm a proud owner of the number 10 on my Gamertag tenure, shortly to be 11. In fact I was one of the UK beta testers for Live before it was launched. It was easy to be in that beta if I'm honest. Fast and stable broadband a decade ago in the UK was the heady speeds of 120kb a second. Ooooooo. And the cabling of the UK was still going on, so it was fairly rare to have broadband, almost by default I was in the beta. 

Halo had already fired up a love for FPS games which had started in the seedy seaside Arcades o my youth, so when Halo 2 (still the best in the series) arrived with the Live option it's predecessor lacked, I was hooked. I swear that disc didn't leave my Xbox for 9 months. 

So you've noticed that so far I've owned all three Xbox consoles and claim to not be a fanboy. How does that compute. Well, put simply there were no games on the PS2 or PS3 that I wanted to play that  there wasn't an Xbox version of. Don't get me wrong, there's been some great games on the format but nothing that floated my boat so to speak. 

So back to the Fanfest of 2012. I'm a console gamer, in a place full of PC players. Who'd just learned that the FPS that CCP had been working on wasn't coming to PC but was going to be a console exclusive. And not only that, on the most consolely of consoles, the PS3. 

They weren't happy. Not happy at all.

Seriously, the day they opened to door in Harpa main hall, to show the hastily gathered PS3 demo units and allow us to have a go, you could feel the contempt, heavy in the air. It condensed on the walls and you'd think you could hear it drip. As someone who was a console gamer at heart, that happened to love playing Eve, it was a very uncomfortable feeling. I dared not tell anyone. 

It was like getting a cheap ticket for an FA Cup match and finding you're the only Leeds fan in a crowd of Man Utd seating. 

The problem was for me however was that I liked the game. Don't get me wrong, it was a festering pile of kak in terms of the problems that build had. The controls, the UI, map design, the lack of variation in the them. It was using an inferior controller... It was bloody awful. 

But I still liked it for no good reason I could identify. Part of the package for those that attended Fanfest that year was a beta key. Well I'd had some experiance of beta's, the last one prior to that was the Open beta for Halo 3 (I flipped when that email arrived), I couldn't play the game on the 360 and I'd heard rumour of some survival game featuring a middle aged man and a young girl coming onto the PS3 that was promising. The price had dropped since launch, so I took the chance and got a PS3 slim. And waited.

The closed beta started. Some improvement since Fanfest. An active forum for testers. Chromosome came. It was going good. And I'm still playing the game now. Like I said, I know a good long term bet when I see one. It's survived its first year despite the hurdles it's had to jump and a poor launch build.

It's as playable and as enjoyable as it's ever been. The last couple of point builds (other than the over enthusiastic AV nerf of 1.7) have been really good and the promise of 1.8 and its full racial suits has me giddy.

So back to the choice between Xbox One and PS4. I'm a home cinema nut. Pretty much everything is routed via a really nice Sony Reciever and a fabulous Panasonic LED TV. My music is streamed to it all and I needed a console to fit in with all that with little fuss. The Xbox One.

Also, the PS4 is again not offering me something that I can't get on the Xbox One. Nothing floating my boat in Sony's immediate road map.

Unless CCP change that of course. Let's be honest I didn't get a PS4 because I can't play Dust 514 on it. But I think I'll be getting one this year...

I know a good long term bet when I see one.

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