4X

eXplorminate’s 3rd Year

Greetings and salutations eXplorminators! Another year has come and gone. It was an exciting one at that with a lot of surprises, both good and bad. I’m sure you are wondering what I mean by that.

3_year_anniversary

Well, let me tell you.

This year saw the official departure of our founder, Rob “Devildog” Honaker. We all know how hectic life can get at times, and how it can force us to make tough choices. Rob was going back and forth for a while, but ultimately felt eXplorminate changed so much during his leave of absence that it no longer fit into what he had originally envisioned. We will always thank him for his vision and direction.

This year has also seen some of our regular writers take time off for personal reasons. We wish them all the best and trust that everything will resolve itself satisfactorily. In the meantime, we were fortunate to have a few new writers try out. Two of them showed exceptional talent and made the cut. I’d like to officially welcome Ben aka “TiltedAxis” and Matt “Nonsense” to the team. We look forward to many interesting pieces from them both in the future. We’ve also had Ben “Warmacblu” join Dallin “Kearon” for regular Tuesday night multiplayer sessions on Twitch. So far, I feel their shows have been a terrific success.

Speaking of video content, Mark “Army Pea” and Dallin “Kearon” have been holding down the fort with some killer YouTube content like: Mark’s Let’s Play of Stellaris: Utopia, blind Let’s Try for Rimworld and the excellent Let’s Play X-Com: UFO Defense as well as Dallin’s Co-op series of Total War: Warhammer. Some really solid stuff if you ask me. We are glad to have them!

Our viewership and listenership continues to grow as our eXplorminate brand begins to branch out. We have added several more Patrons to our Patreon page, and hope to keep doing that. We greatly appreciate all of the support by the way. Your contributions help us keep the site going.

Now, with that all of that is out of the way, I’d like to briefly discuss the state of pc gaming.

Buuuuuugs, gotta kill’em all!

This year has seen some really poor releases. Games riddled with deal breaking bugs, updates that break the game, and patches that undo all kinds of hard work have been hallmarks of 2016-2017.

 

starship_troopers

Buuuuuuuuugs!!!!

Specifically, I’m looking at you Galactic Civilizations 3: Crusade, Stellaris, Endless Space 2 to just name a few. These are all AAA titles from veteran teams that should have known better. Why release a game with so many bugs when you have such a vocal community? Why not do better testing on the software and put out a more stable product? I am not even talking about the quality of the gameplay experience itself. No. I am talking about games that work. Games that don’t have corrupt saves. Games that don’t roll back progress with quick and untested releases. Let’s not drop the ball on this one any further. As a community, we are tired of this.

Polish!

No, not the language or the people that speak it, but game polish. What happened to it? Has it gone out of style among developers? Several games that have been out for a while are still getting new content but not the necessary polish to make then comfortable and fun to play. Why not?

witcher3

Wrong Polish!

Stellaris and Galactic Civilizations 3: Crusade certainly have had their fair share of issues but Martin and Brad are in charge and showing some real progress. That’s great, but these games have been out for more than a year in some version or another, and yet, there are serious issues with polish at play here. I just don’t understand why. The reasoning that it is a growing game and always changes doesn’t work for me anymore. Do we have to stop buying new games shortly after release and wait until all development is done to get the quality and level of polish that we want? From my experiences that is a definite Maybe.

Paid DLC…

Yeah, it is getting bad. It’s not horrible yet, but DLC is coming at us fast and hard. Oftentimes player feedback says it’s not worth half of what is being charged. So I’m left asking: Where are the expansions?

Civilization VI, Stellaris (again), and Total War: Warhammer. You all have to do better. Some of the DLC released in the recent past have been nothing but cash grabs. Sure, you give out free content and use the DLC to support further development. Okay, fine. I don’t begrudge them at all the need to make money on their products, but how about giving us some more “meat-y” DLC and charging fairly for it? Don’t just tack on a new model or some re-skins. Expand the game through DLC.

Endless-Legend-Shifters-Allayi-Faction

Now this is DLC I can get behind.

Just look at how Amplitude Studios did it with Endless Legend. Each of the major DLC’s not only had a major faction, but added gameplay as well. In the modern age of DLC-mania, this is how you should be doing it. Currently, Paradox is doing okay with their much appreciated FreeLC content to offset the paid content, and Creative Assembly is showing some improvements as well, But Firaxis? No, nothing worth talking about.

Anyways, let’s slightly change the subject. I’m tired of being negative. There have been plenty of good things happen since our last birthday, and I want to touch on some of them. So I’m going to discuss a few games that I am not playing, but I wish I was – ‘cause they’re really cool!

twwarhammer

Total War: Warhammer

This game has so much to offer, but for some reason I have not jumped in just yet. I love the table top version too. I grew up on it! Is TW:W too complicated? I don’t think so. Is it too hard? No. Is it broken? Not even close. I just don’t know why. I think it has more to do with the style of play. Like the title says, TOTAL WAR, it is a wargame through and through. Even though it is set in one of my favorite fantasy realms, I am just not into full-on wargames right now. I want more. But with the recent rebalance and polish, I think I need to give it a chance.

Stellarisutopia

Stellaris

My nemesis. A bunch of issues that I have spoken about at length have yet to be addressed. I just can’t seem to get into it. For me, the micromanagement is still a bother. Not its presence so much as a lack of refinement. I’m also not loving the current state of the tech situation. The random techs are random-ish, but not in any meaningful way. I think Paradox needs to looks at Sword of the Stars 1 closely. A tech progression like that would be, simply put, AMAZING.

The combat aspect of Stellaris is highly lacking. The racial distinction is improving for sure, but I am still waiting for something “cool” to grab me. I will keep waiting. One of these days.

BloodBowl2

Blood Bowl II 

I love Games Workshop. I love Warhammer fantasy. I love American football. I played the tabletop game for many years as a youth, but the pc version is somehow intimidating to me. Maybe it is all of the RNG. I’m not a fan. I hope further balancing and tweaking of the gameplay formula will bring the RNG within a more reasonable spectrum of results.  With the upcoming release of the Blood Bowl II expansion, I think I will be diving in.

Of course there are probably more games, but those three are the ones I want to play most but haven’t. By eXplorminate’s fourth birthday, I hope to be able to say I’ve gotten to them all!

XCOM2WotC

Now, when it comes to game I have played a lot and plan to play even more, there’s XCOM 2. Now that we have XCOM 2: War of the Chosen coming out, my interest in the game is even higher. That one I will play… A LOT! So, if I disappear all of a sudden for a few weeks, don’t send out a rescue squad, I’m doing just fine.

Anyways, that’s it for now. As usual, I’d like to thank our Patrons for supporting us and all of you of the eXplormination. Let’s grow and grow!

11 replies »

  1. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Awesome work on three… just take a moment an count them: ONE, TWO, THREE!!! years of strategy gaming news.

    Thanks for all the fun and information. Love the work on the website, podcast and the YouTube channel.

    Congratulations again and I’m looking forward to what the future is going to bring!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely right ! ” we are tired of this.”.
    Personnaly I think this is quite like a fashion. every devlopment studios seems to do the same now. Maybe inspired by the terrifying pressure for the “security update” on every software (to make sure that the big data is as updated as possible)

    Or maybe it’s a new model of working organization : running for an out date scheduled on some stock exchange columns by accountants (Ubi/EA are king for long). Running to create the game cause the money came lately and launching the game before it’s correctly verified cause it’s time and money consuming and one prefers to put the money from the Quality control to the commercial advertising.

    The movies industry is working like this for years : The more noise a movie makes on the medias (radio/TV/Web), the less interresting it is.

    The commercial mind is chocking creativity and “l’amour du travail bien fait” as we say in French.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Birthday Explorminators and thank you for all the great content over the years

    I am not a typical gamer, in that I dont pre-order or buy new releases. I dont trust developers to release finished games; especially now in the era of digital delivery and release day DLC.
    I know how complex and expensive high quality game development is and that the technology is constantly changing. I believe developers do their best; even when they fail. No one fails on purpose.
    There are also the contradictions built into capitalism and the profit motive. On the one hand it works to encourage excellence in production and service to attract customers; and on the other it works to cut corners and over-charge and cheat customers. Getting the balance right is tricky.
    I also know how demanding and immature and difficult some gamers can be. Developers become discouraged by the level of viciousness and hatred they can be subjected to by some gamers.
    Another obstacle is nostalgia. Some gamers eyes are closed to developments in the industry because they have a memory of an experience in the remote past with a particular game and they cannot get past it. They measure everything against that memory. And it is not the game itself, but rather the memory of the experience they had when they first played it. They want to recapture that experience.
    Through it all we do occasionally get really good games that provide us with a lot of fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And a lot of times, the memories of those older games are clouded by the years that have come between. In the distant past, we put up with some pretty awful mechanics and buggy titles because there just weren’t very many choices available. Now we have all kinds of choices and it puts game quality into proper perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. my wallet suffered hardly this year and 2017 didnt end , DLCs, Steam Winter Sale and new games coming …………………….ohhhhh God of games have mercy on us………!!!

    Like

  5. Happy post-birthday folks! I remember I started listening to Explorminate when you guys literally started (or very very shortly thereafter), but later stopped, as I had many other projects ongoing and on my mind, outside PC gaming (for which I do not have much time since 2011 anyway, given my twin ladies having been born in that year). But here and there I can snatch a short period of time for a game or two and recently been re-exploring the Space 4x genre. Mainly due to the previous Distant Worlds 2 announcement from Erik Rutins (for which I hope he does not need another 3 years to bring it to an Alpha stage). So therefore I came back to Explorminate and downloaded all your MP3s since WEx 100 (in essence around 65+ episodes), which I consumed in around a week :) I have a commute and also sometimes can listen to podcasts during work, so there you go. Finished literally today. So here’s hopin’ for many more years of Explorminate and also let’s hope that (Space) 4X publishers heed the fans’ call and will be more cautious with what they release (and rush) out of the door! Skold!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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