Gaming Photography – Paper Mario Color Splash

Time for another Gaming Photography post. It’s actually been a few weeks but at the beginning of this month I completed Paper Mario Color Splash and wanted to share the experience with you in picture form.

This was an excellent game worthy of the Paper Mario franchise. The new addition of the paint and card mechanics made this a gameplay experience that was different from the past Paper Mario games (I’ve played all the console ones going back to the original on the N64) but ultimately had the same Mario RPG feel. I have to say that this was possible the best written Mario game I’ve ever played. The dialog was hilarious, the plot had a few more dimensions than most Mario games, and the characters (at least the two main ones) had a multidimensional relationship that genuinely affected me emotionally with the way the story ended. If you have a Wii U, I definitely recommend this game.

I took 2,113 pictures over the course of this game without any filters or stylized shots. It was just a very photogenic game that had a lot of visual moments that I wanted to preserve. So now I’d like to present my top 20 photos from Paper Mario Color Splash. I take my photos through my PC with an Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro in the case of console games. I also post them on my Twitter and Instagram often.

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*If you’d like to see the full resolution image please right click and press “view image”.

Please let me know what you think of my shots. Any feedback is appreciated because I would like to improve my gaming photography skills.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.
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Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me Bungie (Destiny 2)

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you know that I have no love for the Destiny franchise, Bungie, or Activision. I preordered Destiny Limited Edition and have regretted that decision pretty much since the third, if not first, expansion was released. It’s a mechanically sound, beautiful, horribly written, terribly scripted PVP fest with literally no end game. Now if you, unlike me, do buy games strictly for PVP and you don’t mind paying $60 for the same 10 – 15 maps over and over again in hopes of some RNG drops for gear that you ultimately don’t need because you’re already winning at PVP then that’s fine. If you think of Halo and COD as the origins of console gaming, I won’t fault you for your age. But please do me the same courtesy and don’t fault me for mine. Because when I think of the origins of modern console gaming I think of Mario and Sonic. Or even earlier for my true old schoolers who like to bust out the ColecoVision and the Atari. When I think of proper gaming I don’t think FIFA, Madden, CSGO, PUBG. I think The Witcher, Knights of the Old Republic, Ratchet & Clank, God of War. I came up in the era where single player story based campaigns were king, pretending for the purposes of rhetoric that they still aren’t. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, games of the year baby. So for me Destiny is/was a bad game.

GOTY Zelda

I was recently asked to take part in one of those tech comparison tests. Basically they had me play the same game on three different systems (PCs in this case) and compare the performance. For whatever reason they chose Destiny II as their test game. I was not happy about this but I agreed to do the test so I had to stomach playing it. Here’s the problem. I only played the first 20 or so minutes of the game. And I enjoyed it. Furthermore, I enjoyed it enough and was interested in the story enough to think to myself “I would actually like to keep playing this game.” And that angered me because then I realized what was happening to me all over again.

I was not actually planning on buying the first Destiny when it was announced. It looked like a generic FPS that just happened to have a shared world component. And that’s exactly what it is. The way they got me was with the beta. I played the closed and open beta and as was their intention, I got conned. See the beta didn’t give you much but it made you feel like there was much to come. And as I’ve already said, the gameplay is solid. As much as I hate Destiny and everything about how Bungie and Activision conduct business, let it never be said that they can’t design core shooting mechanics. From the beta all the way to when I quit playing the real game, I always enjoyed how it felt to play Destiny. The core gameplay is really solid. It’s one of the few shooters that made me feel like I was actually good at them. And for someone like me who avidly hates shooting games, especially those in first person, it’s very special when an FPS makes me feel good about the gameplay. And I don’t care if you say it’s auto-assist, or the gameplay is too easy in general, or whatever other FPS aficionado bullshit you have to say. The point is they constructed an FPS that at the core level I enjoyed playing and that’s an accomplishment. But ultimately the beta was misleading.

destiny 2 beta
I played the beta for I but not II just to clarify.

I bought Destiny because the beta led me to believe that the game would have more content than it really did, presented just enough story to get me interested and believe that there actually was gonna be a fully developed and fleshed out story, and again I enjoyed the core gameplay . . . a lot. So I preordered it. And that’s speaking as someone who basically never preorders games. I’ve preordered like three in the last five years and my girlfriend has preordered two others as gifts for me. Of those five games I regret buying/owning three of them. And the fourth one I don’t regret buying but I do regret preordering. So the fact that Bungie was able to convince me to preorder their game, taking into account the last Bungie game I had purchased prior was Halo 2 from literally 10 years earlier, which I ultimately regretted buying as well, is an astounding feat. That’s why I was so unhappy with how I responded to the Destiny II trial session I had.

Bungie tried to pull the same shit on me again, and if I wasn’t self-aware it might have worked . . . again! I played the trial for about 20 minutes and found myself interested enough to want to keep playing. Knowing full well it was the same bullshit. Knowing about the general lack of content and end game. Hearing about the base game trophies being locked behind new paid DLC.  All that shit which has come to define the franchise and the companies behind it did not stop me from feeling like I wanted to keep playing the game. And that’s a problem. Not for me. Because I am self-aware. I am smart enough to spot what’s going on. To realize that the opening 20 – 30 minutes has been painstakingly constructed to make players think they’re going to get a full and proper game. I’ve been gaming hardcore since the NES. I’ve been reading about games for more than 10 years. I’ve been writing about them seriously for nearly five. They’re not gonna get me again. But they will and did get many people who aren’t as aware as I am. And that pisses me off. Even other players in the test who hadn’t played it before said they’d enjoyed the game and would consider looking into it. That’s not a good thing. Remember that they are currently running a free trial which will let you play exactly enough to get hooked but not enough to see the truth of the situation.

NES
Here’s where I started home gaming.

No this isn’t loot boxes. We’re not talking about EA. But we are still talking about very dishonest and predatory practices, which Bungie has already been accused of before with their slot machine RNG psychology tricks in the first Destiny. They know exactly what they’re doing. They know how to con people. But many people don’t have the knowledge or the defenses to fight against it. Especially casual players.

Now I can’t say Bungie did anything objectively wrong in this case like I would EA. I can’t say that they’ve broken any laws. I can’t even say that we don’t already know better because we absolutely do by looking at Destiny just three years ago. So I’m not gonna do my usual heavy handed call for a boycott or all that dramatic stuff. But I do think this is an important issue that needs to be talked about more and I think we as a community need to do more to try to educate, help, and warn other players, especially unsuspecting casuals, about what’s really going on here and why people need to watch out when playing trials, because if the trial doesn’t give you an accurate sense of what the full game experience is going to be like then it’s not really a trial at all. It’s a dishonest marketing tool and shouldn’t be trusted.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Gaming Photography – Uncharted 4

Time for another Gaming Photography Post. Recently I completed Uncharted 4 on PS4.

This was without a doubt the best conclusion I’ve seen for any franchise ever. If you’ve been playing the Uncharted series since the first one but haven’t played 4, you’re missing out. I can’t believe I waited this long to play it. It was narrative genius. Possibly the best work Naughty Dog has ever done. And yes I realize they made The Last of Us. I stand by my statement. The gameplay was of course great as it’s always been. And they even added a few new mechanics which I really liked. But the story was just top notch. It was everything I wanted in a Nathan Drake conclusion.

I took literally 1,856 photos while playing this game. For the first time I did use the photo mode and I used the shit out of the filters, effects, and frames. I couldn’t stop myself. It’s just such a beautiful game and the photo mode lets you create shots that you just otherwise couldn’t do.

So now I’d like to present my top 20 photos from Uncharted 4. I know I usually do just 10 but I just have too many to choose from to limit it to such a small number. I also post gaming photos on my Twitter and Instagram often.

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*If you’d like to see the full resolution image please right click and press “view image”.

Please let me know what you think of my shots. Any feedback is appreciated because I would like to improve my gaming photography skills.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Black Friday Aftermath – 2017

Well Black Friday (the month since it’s no longer a 1 day event) is over and it’s time to recount the hopefully many great purchases we all made and appraise how well I/we actually did in terms of my goals going into the joyous event.

I have to say that this was a pretty disappointing Black Friday. The deals were limited and not nearly as drastic as I’ve seen in past years. Certain games barely budged and other ones were/are being way overly valued relative to standard gaming pricing degradation. For example: I bought Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End in a Black Friday sale last year (2016) for $20. Having recently just beaten the game, I have to say that it was an excellent game and I have no regrets about the $20 I spent. But let us remember that Uncharted 4 came out in May 2016. So I paid $20 for a six month old highly acclaimed AAA game. That’s fine and fair. No one can objectively complain about that scenario. But why was Uncharted 4 being sold for $20 in Black Friday sales this year? We’re now talking about an 18 month old game that has since then had a “sequel” or spin-off if you prefer. The spinoff, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, was released August 2017 for $40. I was able to buy that, as a standalone physical, during Black Friday this year for $15. That means a newer game from the same series degraded in price by 63% in just three months, while a game that’s been around for literally six times as long has only managed to degrade by only 66%. That’s mathematically ridiculous. Regardless of the quality of Uncharted 4, and again it’s is of the highest level of quality as far as modern games are concerned, it still should have been in the $10 pile for Black Friday 2017. This was the kind of lackluster deals and overvalued games I saw this year. And as such I only made a fraction of the purchases I had wanted to.

Black Friday 2017 with Prices

Here’s what I managed to get and how much I had originally planned to spend based on my shopping list going into Black Friday this year.

  1. Nioh Complete Edition (PS4) – $40 (Originally planned for $50)
    1. I will also note that I actually could have gotten this for a few dollars less on PC but due to the reported issue with the port I settled on the PS4 version.
  2. Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition(PS4) – $40 (Originally hoped for $35 but planned for $40)
    1. Made as separate purchases for all content through PSN
  3. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4) – $15 (Originally planned for $15)
  4. Knack II (PS4) – $15 (Originally planned for $20)
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Explorer’s Edition (Switch) – $60 (Originally planned for $50)
    1. I am extremely unhappy that I had to pay above my intended value for this but I was worried about not being able to get a copy of this edition later because of Nintendo’s tendency to under produce in demand products.

I also managed to get a few games that weren’t on my list.

  1. Unravel (PS4) – $5
  2. The Surge (PS4) – $20.46 (46 cents higher than my intended price for this game when I decided I’d eventually buy it.)
  3. Yooka-Laylee – $14.21

As you can see, I only managed to grab eight games this year, down from the nine I got last year, and my net savings based on my personal spending goals was only $5, which when you take into account the overpriced sales tax I incur as a resident of California, my savings were basically negligible.

Bad Deal

I was also surprised by a lot of the deals I didn’t see this year. If you look at the items on my original list that I didn’t buy it comes down to a lack of deals. As I said in my original Black Friday 2017 post, there were some games that just weren’t going to hit my desired prices because they were just too new. I didn’t legitimately expect to be getting Injustice 2, Assassin’s Creed Origins, South Park: The Fractured But WholeMiddle-earth: Shadow of War for a good price this Black Friday and I didn’t. But I very much did expect to see the other games on my list at, near, or even below my intended prices this year. I was also very surprised by how disappointing both the Steam and GOG sales were this year. I literally didn’t buy a single PC game for Black Friday this year and that’s very abnormal for me.

I do not understand how Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is still $60 both digital and physical. The game was released in 2014. My only conclusion is that it was published by Activision and as we’ve recently seen with Destiny 2 and their plummeting stock prices, they don’t know shit about running a business in the current gaming industry. I will say pretty much the same thing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, also published by Activision, but released in 2016. This year I finally decided to give up and remove both from my shopping lists altogether. They just aren’t going to happen.

Activision Sucks

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 got a little bit of a discount but I expected better in the wake of Dragon Ball FighterZ coming out soon. Once that game drops DBX2 will essentially be dead in the water so I expected them to try to garner as much sales as possible before the inevitable demise.

Cuphead, Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice all got discounts, but none of them as much as I predicted based on where those games currently stand in the market. So while I didn’t purchase any of them I do believe that I’ll be seeing the discounts I expect(ed) soon enough and will then end up picking them up.

Black Friday 2017 Sucked

Overall it wasn’t a great Black Friday and compared to last year and the year before, shows a trend of the quality of deals steadily declining from year to year. I hope to see this trend reverse in 2018, otherwise the frugal gaming community stands to suffer greatly in the coming years.

How did you do for Black Friday this year? Let me know what you got in the comments and how you felt about the holiday overall compared to last year.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.