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E. Randy Dupre

Member Since 16 May 2005
Offline Last Active Nov 29 2017 03:21 PM

#287810 Lawbreakers

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 29 November 2017 - 03:21 PM

Update on this: I've given up. The day after my previous post, the servers went offline for an update. When they came back, there was a new mode included, which is basically ranked multiplayer.

Yep, they didn't include a ranked mode at release.

Anyway, decided I'd try it out. Couldn't find a game. In fact, I've still not been able to find a single ranked match since the mode was introduced. Not only that, but after the update I couldn't find *any* games.

Next thing Boss Key do is issue another update. This time, we've got the shitty team deathmatch mode rolled into the quick match option. So now you have no choice over objective play or deathmatch, they're all stuck together and you'll get what you're given. IF you can find a match. At this point, I still can't. Something else that I discover the latest update has done is remove the option to search for games on servers other than those in Europe. Now, if your ping is low enough, failure to find a game on home servers will mean that the game tries to get you into a match on NA servers. Only, I still couldn't find a game.

Next update! This time, they've changed things so that EU players are now automatically rolled into both EU *and* NA servers! Now I can find matches again. Still not ranked matches, though.

So, yeah, I've given up. Boss Key show a complete misunderstanding as to what's made their game fail so badly and even if they suddenly woke up and gave it the visual overhaul and character that it so desperately requires, it's way too late now. The narrative since release has been that this game was DOA and that reputation has only become worse since. It's even more notorious than Battleborn at this stage.

#287796 Death of board?

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 20 November 2017 - 01:11 PM

Wrt time limits, I'm afraid I don't know. Reading between the lines, I think Singho's final payment covered six months, in which case it'll be six months from the point at which the board reappeared earlier in the year.

uiruki> I think it's fair to say that your impressions threads have always been very much appreciated. Your gaming likes tie in with those of a lot of the people who have been here over the years and have formed a kind of heads-up for stuff that's either on its way to the UK at some point in the future or that we should investigate importing. I'll miss that advance warning.

Does anybody here have contact with shadowman off the board? I think he's the only relatively regular GHZ member who hasn't posted to this thread and I wouldn't like for the board to disappear without everybody being made aware of it in advance.

#287781 Death of board?

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 06 November 2017 - 09:07 PM

Hi guys.


This is a heads-up. A few months back, when the board went down, I had a chat with Singho and agreed to take over the cost of hosting. Singho paid for, I think, a further six months of life and then it'd be up to me.

I made two or three attempts to contact the hosting company around that time to find out what the process for paying was and received no response to any of my emails. Since then, I've come to the conclusion that I just don't use the board enough any longer - and, to be honest, haven't for nearly four years - to be able to justify paying for it.


As it stands, then, once Singho's final payment has worn off, the place will vanish again.


If anybody else wants to take over the payments, let me know and I'll bung you the email address of the hosting guy and you can see if you can get anywhere with it. Otherwise, I'd suggest that those of you who want to take an archive of the stuff here that you want to keep before it goes for good.


I'm sorry to do this. I don't believe that there's anything fundamentally wrong with keeping the board going for the three or four people who still use it, but as I say, I can't justify the payment for something that I don't really use any longer.

#287775 Lawbreakers

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 18 October 2017 - 08:11 PM

I really can't stress enough just how much the game's failure to launch is the fault of Boss Key themselves. Overwatch initially sold on the strength of its characters and the fact that Blizzard could focus its advertising push on them. Lawbreakers has no characters, just some bland skins and vaguely irritating catchphrases. I have absolutely no idea why anybody at the company thought that there was any sort of appeal in this game's visuals. When you're going up against what's probably the biggest multiplayer FPS since Counter Strike, you've got to have more to sell your product on than just "no, we're definitely not the same kind of thing, we're hardcore".

#287773 Lawbreakers

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 17 October 2017 - 08:54 PM

Y'know, this is honestly the most enjoyable objective-based multiplayer FPS I've played in absolutely ages. Unfortunately, it looks like it was pretty much dead on arrival and Boss Key have fundamentally misunderstood how to make a game appealing to a modern audience. Plus, matchmaking seems to have become broken over the last few days.


It's basically a bunch of different Capture the Flag and King of the Hill modes, with minor adaptations to spruce them up a bit and make them feel more competitive. They all work and they're all fun - barring Blitzball, potentially, which can often see one team dominating the other and winning the match in about three minutes. Boss Key have pushed the idea that this is an FPS that brings a skill requirement back into the genre and there is some truth to that. While it's got the Hero Shooter thing of having different characters with wildly differing abilities and weapons, the main thing that you have to learn in this game is how each character moves and how best to make use of thir individual styles of movement.


Each character has a unique jump, for example, plus a unique dash move. One can run more or less constantly, one has a stamina bar that empties pretty quickly, another has a slide move that pushes enemies backwards on contact, a fourth warps forwards. Where the jumps are concerned, some can double jump, some can triple jump, some are that plodding that they barely leave the ground. And you can combine jumps and dashes to find new moves - the robot dude, for example, can convert a jump into a sudden crash to the ground if you change your mind midway.

I guess the obvious USP here is that maps contain areas of extremely low gravity, which adds to the complexity of battle. It's not Descent, but it has that same thing where the other team members could be above or below you, as well as in front, to the left, etc. One character has a move that can create a low-gravity zone wherever they want.

I've really enjoyed getting to grips with some of the characters and finding how best to use them in different situations. There are others in here that feel way out of my comfort zone and that I'm really struggling to do *anything* with. The Assassin is the one that feels most difficult to use properly, but when you consider that most games end with an Assassin player as MVP, it backs up the claim that this is a game that you have to play skillfully in order to be any good at.

But it's a game that's also got some fucking massive problems. The first - the one that most reviews have mentioned - is that it does nothing whatsoever to make it look like it stands out from the crowd. I'm sure there's a lot of technical skill on show here, but there's very little understanding of how to make a game read clearly. Everything has lots of detail, but characters can be stupidly difficult to see. Put it this way: the designers felt the need to put a red outline around the enemy team so that you stand a chance of seeing where the hell they are. That's indicative of a whopping great failure at the heart of your visual design.

Another issue comes with making a team-based game that demands a level of skill above and beyond what the mainstream FPSes ask for. I've had some absolutely wonderful matches in this, really epic-feeling tug-of-war games where teams are evenly matched and everybody clearly understands what it is that they're doing. But I've had others - an increasing number, actually - where I feel like I'm the only person on the team who understands that this isn't just a fucking deathmatch. When you die you have a cooldown period before you spawn again, and you can use this to look through the eyes of your team-mates. The number of times when I've done this and realised that none of them are making any effort to play the objective is depressing.

And now the fatal problem: barely anybody's playing. I've seen people saying that they've seen the number of concurrent players on Steam drop to as few as 13. I'm playing on PS4 and I've had evenings where it's been impossible to find a game. Most evenings, the games I do ghet into don't have a full cohort of players. Fuck, I keep coming across the same people and that absolutely should not be happening for what is still a new game on a platform with a massive installed userbase. It's not the price that's keeping people away - the game's just over £20 on PSN - so I guess the utter lack of publicity, combined with the lack of clear visual identity, combined again with the fact that lots of people presumably think this is just another attempt to cash in on Overwatch's popularity... I guess those are the things that are killing it.


Boss Key are supposedly making efforts to increase the player base. The main one of these misses the point spectacularly. They're adding in team deathmatch. After saying that they wanted this to be different than other FPSes out there, their solution to the problem of a lack of players is to introduce a mode that's in every other FPS. And deathmatch just doesn't fucking work in this game - the character skillsets are tuned entirely around the objective games. They're also talking about introducing proper ranked matchmaking, but I don't see that doing anything other than making it even more difficult to find a game. At the moment, some of the existing matchmaking stuff seems to have broken, too - lobbies aren't loading up a new game after one ends, for me, I'm just left sitting on the results screen with no movement and have to drop out. This means that if I do find a game with a bunch of decent players, I get that one game and then lose them as I have to exit out to the title screen.

I was loving this game the previous couple of weeks. This week, it's just depressing me.

#287766 Life Status

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 10 October 2017 - 12:10 PM

Sounds very similar to how I feel about my prospects, dude. Enough knowledge of lots of different things to be able to come up with solutions to most problems in ways that most others wouldn't think of, but completely lacking any one area of focus that you can point to as being your area of expertise, or identify as your USP when trying to sell yourself to other companies.

#287764 Completed 2017

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 10 October 2017 - 11:55 AM

Which ending though? 

I already can't remember!

Oh, wait. I found Yorda washed up on the beach with me. Which ending's that supposed to be?

#287739 Life Status

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 21 September 2017 - 11:37 PM

Things changed. The colleague who was in the pool with me for the remaining job decided that she wanted out and that left me unsure as to the best course of action: taking the opportunity to get the redundancy payment and find something else, but potentially leaving myself unemployed long-term again, or taking the job and potentially hating it. In the end, I took the job. The restructure/redundancy meetings at least gave me the opportunity to finally make my feelings clear on where the organisation has been going wrong for years, without fear of a bollocking, because the transfer of the business meant that the senior managers in the meetings with me were all from the company we'd merged with, so they didn't have the baggage and preconceptions regarding me that others from within my own organisation might have had. The contract is worse, in important ways, than the one I was on previously, but I managed to argue them into giving me a pay rise, which counteracts the stuff I've lost.

I still don't know whether taking the job was a mistake or not, tbh. I've effectively ended up with a weird (minor) promotion, thanks to the pay rise and the change to my job description, plus the fact that I'm the only person left within our bit of the company that has a proper understanding of the funding rules that we operate under, the rules relating to our data submissions, etc., I feel like I've got a small element of... I don't know, authority, maybe... due to having that knowledge and being kind of unshackled from direct line management. So that's good and, hopefully, might stand me in good stead for future job applications.


On the other hand, there hasn't been a single day since taking the job when I've not ended up feeling irritated, frustrated or angry due to the shit that's getting sent through to me. I guess that's a result of being in an even smaller team now - when there were six of us, if one person found themselves becoming pissed off by the stupidity on show elsewhere, somebody else within the team would inevitably make a daft joke a couple of minutes later and pull that one person out of their anger. Now that there's just three of us, that's proving more difficult, especially given that the other two guys who are left are both much quieter personalities that the three who've gone.

Put it this way: the plan is to use the next ten months, before the negative changes to my contract come into play, to gain a bit more knowledge and experience, while also looking for something else. The pay rise doesn't make up for how wound up I'm getting a lot of the time, due to the general crapitude of the stuff being thrown in my direction. But I'm getting paid every month, I still like immediate team that I'm in and I'm kind of enjoying the fact the senior managers' clear need for me to stay means that I can speak my mind a bit more and try to effect some of the changes that I think the place needs myself.

#287738 Trials Fusion

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 21 September 2017 - 05:43 PM

I'm late to the party with this, I know. I didn't bother getting the last gen version - there is a last gen version, yeah? - because I didn't have the hard drive space on my older consoles and I didn't get the PC version because I couldn't be arsed fucking around with uPlay. And the PC version of Trials Evolution was a shitport, so I didn't trust Ubi/RedLynx to do any better with this.


Late to the party and now I'm here I find that it's a fairly shitty party, full of irritating frat boys who are all laughing at each other's antics while everybody else looks on, bemused.


I really like Trials HD and Evolution. The handling is brilliant - the really simple control scheme and the absolute precision it provides reminds me of Virtua Fighter, in that everybody gets a level playing field thanks to having so little to have to remember, while still allowing for endless improvement on the part of each player. HD nailed it right out of the gates and Evolution built on that with a smoother user experience and greater polish.

I guess the problem Fusion faced was, where do you take that concept next? When you've already perfected your game, how do you design a sequel. More pointedly, how do you design a sequel that fits with your publisher's expectations of bigger and better? It's the Arkham City problem - I remember reading an interview with one of the senior guys at Rocksteady before City hit release, the interviewer asking if City's expanded size over Asylum meant that they were going to have to keep building bigger and bigger with each new sequel and he said nah, we can go back to a smaller, Asylum-sized game at any point, the audience will be with us if the game's good. And I thought, man, that's so much bullshit and you know it. WB will absolutely demand that you make the next game cover even more real estate and have even more baddies in it and most of the audience will see any attempt to scale back as being you ripping them off. You've led yourself down a path of no return here.

I presume that the RedLynx guys faced the same problem and saw the solution as being, well, we've done realism, then we mixed things up with some more fantastical, but still real-world levels, so now we'll do a big fantasy SF thing. And that's where the problems start.


The levels here are fucking irritating. Lots of them feature platforms that appear from out of the blue, right in front of you with no warning. This means that you're almost guaranteed to screw them up first time around, unless you're dead lucky. They're troll levels - not quite I Wanna Be the Guy, but not a million miles away from that kind of design sensibility, either. There are also levels where you go through portals and end up in totally different envorinments, which make the problem even worse and also suffer from the kind of awful Unreal Engine texture pop-in that I've not seen since the first Gears of War.

This stuff is here because they've tried to make the game have this comedy SF edge to it. It also leads to other issues. In some levels, foreground objects obscure the platforms and manage to lead you into believing that they actually *are* the platforms. Others have the same fault as Sonic Generations, foregrounds and backgrounds being difficult to distinguish from each other. Visual noise. In a game like this, where absolute precision and concentration are required, that's particularly problematic.

I also find these levels seriously uneven. The difficulty curve is all over the place and none of them have the feel of flow that HD and Evolution's were full of.

This all comes to a head in the DLC, specifically the Hyper Max Bullshit DLC, or whatever it's called - the one where you control a cat riding a unicorn. Yeah, that's the level of humour we're going with here - whereas the humour in the previous games came from the physics engine and the difficulty of some of the challenges that were thrown at you, here we've got an attempt to mash a few ancient internet memes together instead. The precise controls of the rest of the game are thrown out of the window and now we've got some awful floaty terribleness with an avatar that's stupidly difficult to work out the positioning of due to its messy, indistinct design. You spend most of the time feeling like you're floating above the ground rather than connected to it. It looks like RedLynx knew this, because to make up for it the levels are some of the easiest in the game. They're also the absolute worst victims of the aforementioned texture pop-in - one in particular spends most of its time changing the background scenery and failing to keep up with itself. If I'd paid for this shit separately I'd be massively pissed off.

To me, this DLC acts as the perfect example of what's wrong with this game in general - it takes the bad things from the main game and focuses on them, highlighting the basic flaws even more than they would be otherwise.

Then you watch videos of that Blood Dragon tie-in release and it becomes apparent that RedLynx are set on this course and that this series probably won't claw itself back to the near-perfection of the previous games any time soon.

A crying shame, because the handling on the game proper remains excellent. It's just that everything surrounding it ranges from poor to fuck-awful.

#287687 TV recommendations

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 04 September 2017 - 11:47 PM

We kind of need a new TV. The one we've got is the one that I bought a month or so after I first bought a 360, so it's something like eleven years old now and it shows. There's burn-in down one side of the screen from me watching lots of old 4:3 telly and playing 4:3 games through it - well, not burn-in exactly, but some kind of LCD equivalent - the speakers are kind of crappy and there's always been a significant overscan problem when playing the PS3 through it as well as, I've now discovered, the PS4. And it won't play PS2 titles or some Wii games at quite the right screen ratio (everything's a bit squished horizontally), but that's been a problem from day one.

I took the easy route when I bought it and, instead of doing any actual research into what makes and models were decent, I just found out what MS were using in the 360 demo pods and bought one of those.


But now we could do with a replacement. I've learned to live with the faults, but having finally got a PS4 last weekend I'm finding myself getting really pissed off with the overscan issue again. I could do with some recommendations, though.


Ideally, we're looking for something with an LED screen no bigger than 32" (anything larger would look ridiculous in this room), decent speakers and, if possible, a good selection of different input ports, although I know that's probably a bit of an ask in this day and age. I would like to have component input as well as SCART and, obviously, HDMI, but I guess it's not a deal-breaker. Freeview would be nice, but if it's not there I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. Options to get rid of overscan are absolutely essential.


What I really don't want, though, is an internet or smart TV.

Any recommendations? What are you guys playing stuff through now?

#287681 Sonic Mania

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 02 September 2017 - 11:13 PM

I found myself looking forwards to this as soon as the animated intro hit the internet, but... I dunno now. The first couple of stages, I loved. The Puyo Puyo boss was inspired, too. But there's Sonic bullshit in here - enemies placed at the end of what are effectively auto-scrolling sections that are impossible to avoid unless you already know they're there, the occasionally buggy death (I've died a couple of times from spin dashing to the edge of the screen, even though on my next life I've found that there wasn't actually anything there to kill me), that fucking Metal Sonic boss (I swear there are moments when it's impossible not to get hit on the race sections). There's also the entirety of the flying stage, which controls horrendously, imo.


But then I get to something like the Sonic the Fighters boss and it's difficult not to find myself smiling again.

I've not shouted "BULLSHIT" at the television as much in a long time, though. I keep hearing people saying that some of the things that are annoying me have always been present in Sonic, but that's not the case - Sonic 1 was pretty much bullshit-free.

It does look and sound glorious, mind.

#287561 Steam Profiles

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 13 June 2017 - 10:14 PM

Yeah, I got that yesterday. I wonder if it takes account of upper and lower case letters - you're showing up in my friends list as mrjakeway, without any caps. I'll change the opening post.

#287416 Life Status

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 08 February 2017 - 09:12 PM

Thanks Toad :) The idea of working for a charity is definitely appealing. I originally got into working for a local authority because I thought it'd allow me to feel that I was doing something more rewarding with my time than what I'd done up until that point in the private sector, but that turned pretty sour pretty quickly.


We've had our initial couple of meetings now. Last week, we requested a group meeting rather than the weird mixture of one-to-ones and joint things that they were going to push us into, because we wanted to make sure that the two people within the team whose jobs aren't going would get the chance to voice their concerns over how this will affect their workloads as well as how it'll effectively fuck the business over. It sounds more honest and less like sour grapes if it comes from those who are staying.


Made not a shred of difference. We had the response email this morning and they're ploughing ahead regardless. I think what really pisses me off about that is that it was proper hearts-on-the-table time in the meeting last week, with even those who are normally timid and nervous standing up to be counted. I like a good fight - well, I don't like them, really, it's just that I'm quite good at them when they happen - and it was less of a big thing for me to voice my opinions, but it'll have been a real leap of courage for certain people in the team to make their voices heard. I'm pissed off that they've been given the very clear message that management don't give a rat's arse about it.


They don't even seem to care about the fact that getting rid of the member of the team who's in a remote base will open up the door to all kinds of potential safeguarding issues. They're that goddamned focused on getting rid of staff above all else.


Got my first one-to-one tomorrow. I really can't be arsed with it myself - I just want to go - but I'm going to force them to adhere to the process for the full amount of time that they have to. In some important ways, I don't want to leave - I'm legit terrified by the thought of jobsearch and applying for stuff again after being knocked back so many times in the past (I've never actually got a job as a direct result of applying for it) and I don't want to land in the shit the couple of people in the team who are staying, but there's absolutely nothing appealing about the proposed merged job (which is, in reality, *three* into one, not two). Not only would it be completely unworkable, there's also the concern that if I stay there and the place does end up crashing and burning, that's both me and my partner facing redundancy at exactly the same time as each other. Which we absolutely can't afford.

#287410 Life Status

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 27 January 2017 - 12:09 AM

West Midlands, Shend, right on the border with Wales. I can't drive, so I'm a bit limited geographically. Arguably another way in which I've kind of done myself over.


I don't think they're winding up on purpose, but I think it's almost inevitable now that it will be shut down and absorbed into the larger organisation, rather than being left as its own business unit as was orginally claimed to be the plan. To be fair, I believe that the original intention *was* that it would stay its own business unit, but there's been a fairly rapid erosion of the staff base since the transfer of ownership that's led to that being impossible to maintain. Various reasons, all of which I think would be worth going into and interesting to read - it's almost a case study in how to *not* manage the transfer of a business - but the paranoia about discussing it online is still there. 


If the proposed redundancies happen - and I don't doubt they will, although I know from the last round that they *do* amend their plans based on feedback, albeit not effectively enough to prevent affected staff from deciding that it's better to take the redundancy payment than apply for the new roles - I give the place another six months before more serious discussions are had about its overall future, with a likely shutdown in a year, maybe eighteen months.

Which is also worrying, because, as I might already have said, my partner works in the same place. We've already gone through this nonsense with her job twice in the last thirteen months. It's exhausting.

#287408 Life Status

Posted by E. Randy Dupre on 26 January 2017 - 07:23 PM

Thanks for those links, plop! I really appreciate the support from you guys.


Looks like they're also making my line manager redundant, which is the stupidest move they've pulled. Without him, the organisation is guaranteed to fail, and soon, because he's the only person there who has a proper understanding of the funding, the contracts, etc. He's also a genuinely lovely bloke. Tbh, even if my own job hadn't been going, I'd have been looking for a new one on hearing that he's on his way out anyway. Remaining staff in the department - the two whose jobs are currently safe - are arguably more upset than those of us who are probably going to be heading into the sunset, as a result. Income aside, there's literally no point in staying there now.