Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis Retires From Evil Geniuses

Evil Geniuses today issued the announcement that EG and esports veteran Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis is retiring from the player’s hot seat. He is, however, remaining with EG as an active coach for future EG Dota2 lineups.

His retirement is effective immediately, with Fear citing his personal health as a priority. In a brief statement on EG’s website, he recognizes his accomplishments and gushes about EG and Dota. “I still have a passion for Dota and for competing,” Fear begins, “but the long term health of my arm has to come first.”

clinton-fear-loomis-eg-dota2

The sudden removal of heavy-hitters like Fear is sure to make a splash. Teammates and many redditors who Bleed Blue are bummed yet supportive. Teammate PPD said this of Fear: “Fear helped me reach my potential, and I believe he will continue to do that for players in the years to come.” Of his prospective coaching abilities redditor /u/prolepatriot thinks, “considering how much ppd and others on EG have praised fear for being a calming presence as well as helping with the drafts…i expect fear to be one of the best coaches in the scene.”

With an empty chair now in the lineup EG plans to announce its new Dota2 roster tomorrow.

Weekend Gaming – Offworld Trading Company, DOOM

Mars is the Roman god of war. He is a representation of aggression and conflict. The Romans celebrated Mars for what he represents because war was a way of securing peace, even though peace was usually achieved by submission from the bloodied pulp of the empire’s foes. Meh. No matter, a means to an end. Roma Victrix, n00bs!

Mars is also a planet – Our neighbor, in fact. Howdy-ho neighborino! The planet earned its namesake because of its reddish hue as seen from Earth’s surface. Blood, being red, is also seen splattered all over Earth’s surface during the throes of war. Therefore, the Romans figured, let us name that red dot in the sky after our god of blood splatters and glory.

mars-orbital-photo-edit

Mars, it just so happens, is also the setting for two of the games I plan on playing this weekend – both of which share pretty much the same types of cutthroat, purposeful aggression as our Roman friends enacted while under the gaze of their reddish god.

Offworld Trading Company (Mohawk Games)

I was all over this game last week, hell-bent to git gud, or, at least, to understand. And I do understand. I really do. It’s a bloody good game, deserving of every shred of critical praise it receives. I haven’t even touched the campaign, focusing instead on skirmishes and working up the cajones to dabble in free-for-all multiplayer mode — perhaps this weekend.

In order to improve my gameplay I started off at a measured pace, pausing prodigiously during skirmishes and learning from my mistakes. I made a habit after every game to learn from one single error that I made. But my desire to improve quickly exceeded my ability and I hit a wall. I started repeating the same fatal mistakes such as overlooking my fuel consumption, not reacting to the market, trying too hard to influence the market, not building enough power generators, building too many power generators, etc. etc. etc. Matches would stretch on and on only to see my company ultimately bought up. And so, I tilted.

At the onset of this week I decided to side-step from OTC – to regroup, as it were. Still, watch some Zultar commentaries, and think about my own mistakes. But overall, to turn my attention to another completely different game that takes place, at least initially, upon the same martian surface as this cut-throat economic strategy game.

DOOM (id Software)

I cannot recall the last time I gamed from the couch. I didn’t even know that I missed it. I also didn’t even know how badly I needed DOOM in my life right now. The planets are aligned.

DOOM is just straight up fun. It is agreeable in so many ways. Everything the game does seems to flush you into another rumble with a swarm of demons. And the more you move, the better time you’ll have. It is so propuslive. The fighting is fluid. In fact, I would say the fighting almost has a tactical quality to it with how easy it is to toggle weapons and cater upgrades. And the glory kills! What a wonderful design decision to force close encounters as a primary source of replenishment. And the fact that you can target a specific glory kill animation is so completely pointless yet so necessary…

Indeed. The fighting is fun, yes. But I am also so impressed with how the entire experience is composed. I am reminded of Metalocalypse with its propensity towards ironic/hyperbolic use of violence and gore and heavy mothereffin metal… but it is still so completely, genuinely badass. DOOM walks that fine line. So much so that glory killing a demon by ripping out his heart and shoving it down his throat is equal parts hilarious and practical. Bravo.

So, yeah… I’ll be hanging out on Mars this weekend. I’ll be sure to send a postcard splattered with blood and minerals.

What are you playing this weekend?

I hope your weekend goes better than his. <3

I hope your weekend goes better than his.

Weekend Gaming – Offworld Trading Company

Offworld Trading Company is weird.

No. I take that back. Offworld Trading Company is in fact quite elegant. A description worthy of even more celebration when you consider what the game does: It completely redraws what a RTS can be. An approach this new, working so well the way that it does, takes a little bit of time to get onboarded – for me, at least.

No. OTC is not the weird one. I’m the weird one.

I’m still learning the ropes. I’m taking the task of learning this game in measured paces, and this process has generated an unusual matrix of emotions. Indeed. Never before has a game made me feel so self-powered and competent yet so dadgum blockheaded. Although, I trust that practice will help chisel my blockhead into something less grotesque and stupid looking…

Offworld Trading Company Screen Shot

Yes. The skill ceiling in the game seems to be so very high. N00b mistakes are common but so very valuable. Every game I learn something new, one golden nugget of truth that I can carry with me into the next skirmish. These nuggets can be little things like figuring out how to toggle auto-sell – all the way up to big things like overbuilding with complete and utter oversight to energy costs.

Little things. Big things. And everything inbetween. Learning how to play Offworld Trading Company has never been frustrating; it’s always been fun, enlightening, and with a healthy dose of DERP! mixed in. It is rarely about how to do something, but when…When, when, when! Freaking, WHEN!? This is a testament to how well-designed OTC is. I dig it.

What are you playing this weekend?

Endless Legend: Tempest DLC Details are Trickling In

Amplitude Studios is in a great place right now. Endless Legend continues to have a devout following. Dungeons of the Endless pounced upon the masses out of nowhere and was warmly received. Sega recently added Amplitude to their publishing roster. Details about Endless Space 2 continue to tantalize even the most innocent of bystanders. And, above all, their new Games2Gether platform encourages gamer involvement in the development of the studio’s future titles.

Dadgum.

Amplitude’s attention to Endless Legend specifically illustrates the work ethic this developer practices. Each of the game’s three major DLCs introduces a new faction or addition that alters the player’s way of 4X-ing his way to victory.

Endless Legend Tempest Logo

Endless Legend: Tempest is the latest DLC and is currently in the process of initiating a closed beta. Details continue to trickle out from the devs, including this most recent post on the site’s forums. And what we see here looks so incredibly promising and so incredibly fun. Some of the highlights include:

  • The oceans, where once they were just obstacles to overcome, will become alive with activity.
  • The “Morgawr” faction will not only make the thrive on water but will need to manipulate minor factions on land if they want to make any headway there. (This reminds me of how The Cultists operate.)
  • Sea Fortresses are buildings that land-based factions can sack in order to gain an advantage over the seas as well as the Morgawr.
  • Naval Battles will be a completely different beast compared to land battles. This means new naval units! This means embarked units are hella vulnerable. This means any naval endeavor is shaping up to be a ‘high risk, high reward’ venture.
  • Sea Weather! Details are a little fuzzy here, but Amplitude intends to make weather enough of a factor that it will include its very own mapmode! This is more than just the Winter/not-Winter cycle that is already in place. We’re talking wind strength and direction. Maybe lighting storms. Maybe fog banks. We’ll have to keep a keen eye on this.

There is no set release date for Tempest yet. But, as mentioned above, there may still be an opportunity to participate in the closed beta. Whatever your prerogative, Endless Legend and its existing content is available on Steam and GMG.

From the Ground Up: Four Recent, Upcoming PC Strategy DLCs

As unfavorable as the rest of the world has viewed Anno Domini 2016, fans of PC strategy games certainly have reason to rejoice. The bounty of quality new releases and DLC/expansions continues to be harvested – even now, well into the second half of the year and showing no signs of abatement.

For every quality base game release, additional content is sure to follow. Such is the business model nowadays, of which I do not bemoan. Even for a few select games released prior to this year, developers are continuing to support and add content. And, when I say ‘content’ I do not refer to cosmetic packs or exclusive bonus maps.

Listed below are some of the current and more hefty DLCs, and details about their place within the greater fabric of its franchise.

Crusader Kings II: The Reaper’s Due (Paradox Development Studio)

Love them or hate them for it Paradox are unrepentant releasers of DLCs. Their DLCs even have DLCs.

Crusader Kings II, now well into its fourth year, has a staggering list of content to consider. Naysayers will spat at this, citing abuse of their gamer base. The gamer base who knows better sees each expansion as just that – one that expands the medieval playing field and adds relevant mechanics to that particular location. As a brief overview of which DLC does what check out this fantastic Crusader Kings II DLC infographic by @AsaTJ

A Plague Rages in Crusader Kings II

A Plague Rages in Crusader Kings II

The Reaper’s Due puts Eurasia at risk, infesting from the inside out. Plagues are already possible in provinces but this addon handles the sickness like a medieval epidemic rather than an isolated case of illness. To combat this outbreak a new courtier position is available; Physicians are hired in to aid in containment and eradication – should you, as ruler, choose such an approach for your population. And you too, as ruler, are not exempt from the reaper’s due. Indeed, you must decide what to do with yourself while the plague rages, of which alters your ability and methods of ruling.

Crusader Kings II: The Reaper’s Due is available now for $9.99 on Steam

Order of Battle: Winter War (The Aristocrats)

Order of Battle takes an almost episodic approach to playing WWII. The base game, free of cost and released in April of last year, and the bundle of paid expansions released throughout this year, each visit a specific simulation of a campaign of the great war. All are turn-based hexes and utilize specific units, weapons and stats particular to its respective DLC.

Winter is a whole different battlefield

Winter is a whole different battlefield

The most recent DLC is Order of Battle: Winter War. This one is thusfar unique in the lineup. A majority of the four other addons are focused on the pacific theater. Winter War moves its attention far inland and northward towards the Russian/Finnish borders. The primary draw here is to play as the Finns as they try to protect their lands from waves after waves of Russian military who seek nothing more than conquest and protection for their great western cities. International politics, landscape and ball-shriveling winter weather all play a role in how you design and implement your strategies.

Order of Battle: Winter War is available now for $14.99 on Steam.

Offworld Trading Company – The Ceres Initiative DLC (Mohawk Games)

Offworld Trading Company incubated in early access for a few years and was officially launched in late April of this year. It is unique amongst the lot of strategy games in that the focus is economic superiority instead of military – You buy your enemies out for chump change instead of stomping them into gore soup. What makes this premise even more interesting is that all this takes place during early Mars colonization efforts. You must set your sights to the heavens if you are to build yourself a true offworld trading company.

The Ceres Asteroid is your new home.

The Ceres Asteroid is your new home.

… And it just so happens that The Ceres Initiative DLC takes a step in that direction. Indeed. It moves your base of operations off of the martian surface over onto Ceres, the largest asteroid in the belt just beyond Mars. Here, the core concept remains except now the resources are more scant and will even deplete as you mine them. Luckily, as in the base game, there are questionably ethical work-arounds in overcoming the challenges at hand. It’ll be interesting to see how the co-op can work if one player is on Ceres while the other remains on Mars. Cool stuff.

Offworld Trading Company – The Ceres Initiative DLC is available for a very humble asking price of $4.99 on Steam.

Endless Legend: Tempest (AMPLITUDE Studios)

AMPLITUDE Studios is on a roll. They received a surge of media facetime recently when Sega added them to their publishing roster, joining the likes of other strategy game developers like Creative Assembly and Relic.

What this means for Endless Legend could mean divers things. Perhaps we shall see what Sega’s publishing power can accomplish for the newest DLC of the divisive strategy franchise. Endless Legend: Tempest will be entering closed beta on September 1. AMPLITUDE is holding a closed beta contest.

The seas will be yours to control.

The seas will be yours to control.

Tempest will develop EL’s homeworld of Auriga even more, promising to make the planet’s seas a more viable homebase instead of just an obstacle that must be overcome in order to reach more land. The Morgawr is a major faction that will be introduced in this DLC. This aquatic race will be able to alter the tides and weather of Auriga, thus making them another strong factional contender for the control of the planet.

I love how, with each expansion, Auriga, the mother planet, is becoming more a tool and less of a passive theater upon which EL’s factions faceoff. This fits in with the lores very nicely.

And that is what I love about quality DLC for strategy games: They offer a new vantage and new avenues to accomplish objectives within the same grand space. Obviously, the above four titles are not the summation of all expansions for 2016, but it is just enough to keep us busily digging deeper and deeper.

Weekend Gaming – The International 6, Grand Finals

The International 2016 has certainly captured our attention this past week. Dota2’s annual championship continues to be so captivating, so exciting, so distracting that the prospect of any other types of personal gaming or Twitch streaming on our part is simply a non-factor.

And with the finals coming up today, well… let’s just say that I am still sitting on this newly acquired mound of AGEOD games courtesy of BundleStars. I’ve got bigger business to attend to…

TI6 logo

As do Wings Gaming! Now nested comfortably in the final position, their progression through the upper bracket looks like it was an easy coast, easily crushing several old dogs of the professional Dota scene.

All that remains is for Digital Chaos and Evil Geniuses to face off. The winner of this series moves on to oppose Wings in the final. DC’s performance has been especially impressive when you consider the work they’ve done to get to where they are now. EG has likewise had quite the slog. The group stage was less than favorable, but their time in the upper bracket showed some redeeming qualities. This series does promise to be bombastic as both teams are still very strong and have scary midlaners.

Whichever of these two teams moves on, the Grand Final of TI6 will still be awesome, heightened by the fact that it is also a bitter rematch as both teams at one point were booted down to the lower bracket by Wings. Good stuff!

Personally, I don’t really give a rat’s patoot who wins between DC and EG. They both are directly responsible for eliminating EHOME. And since I root for EHOME, I therefore can only hope that Wings will shut down either one of these ‘Murican teams in the Grand Final.

But let us set aside petty squabbles and incessant pouting about my favorite team totally hitting a wall and playing like a bunch of scrubs after what was easily one of the greatest matches in the history Dota. Let us instead focus on some of the highlights of a competition that clearly year-after-year only improves in performances and production.

EHOME vs. EG

Collectively amongst the ButtonMashing group, we are all STILL coming down from game 1 of EHOME vs. EG. That was three days ago. This is an example of ‘real’ Dota. See, when casuals que up for a pub match, the tendency is to play selfishly, to break down the whole team aspect of the game. But, as illustrated by EG, when a team can keep their heads on straight, get creative with itemization, react accordingly, and coordinate, then some awesome Dota tends to blossom from that.

Fnatic’s climb through the brackets

Taking us all by surprise, Fnatic fought and scrapped their way through the muck. They went down swinging. Plus, midone’s persistent Juggernaut pick and eventual dominance takes Sir Tony ButtonMasher to his happy place.

Elder Titan and Shadow Demon and Sand King

I am absolutely tickled — TICKLED — by how often Elder Titan was drafted. The same goes for Shadow Demon. Sand King’s caustic finale was the bane of so many melee cores through the tournament. These heroes, when played competently, will do so much for the team. And often are the unsung heroes. Such is the life of an offlaner and support.

New Dota2 Heroes, Monkey King and Underlord

After the DC victory last night, all fans were treated with a striking live performance including Taiko drumming and cavorting sword-wielders. Indeed. Monkey King, wielding his very own MKB, made his presence known to an unsuspecting crowd. An excitement still riding high on the revealing of yet another hero, Underlord, only the day before. Dota is unstoppable.

The Production of TI6

Lastly, for what it is worth, I just want to give a quick commend to all the cast and crew responsible for broadcasting this year’s The International. I am not an esports advocate in any sense of the word, but the professionalism shown in the casting and production this year has been phenomenal – aside from the muppets segment on day one (wtf was that?), and, perhaps, @SirActionSlacks even allowed to be on the premises let alone hold a microphone and squawk into a camera. Purge’s play post-game analysis was always informative. ReDeYe, the true veteran he is, maintained a great pace at the panel. And commentators like Draskyl and OD, gave an extra dimension of excitement and immersion. This is far from a comprehensive list, all the more illustrating that The International is becoming quite the force of nature.

Good stuff, all around. And what’s better, the winner of the Grand Final walks away with a handsome $9 million. Well done, Dota community. Well done.

TI6, EHOME vs. EG: How EHOME Faltered, EG Staged a Comeback

In what can confidently be declared as one of the greatest matches of DOTA2 in the history of everything ever, game 1 of the EHOME vs. Evil Geniuses went to EG, having bided their time, staged a clutched throne rush and producing a thrilling last minute comeback. The fallout of the nerve-wrecking 75 minutes match witnessed EG moving on and EHOME dropping to the lower bracket.

Dagon

EHOME had all of the radiant T1 and T2 towers down by the 20-minute mark. They were ahead in farm, in kills, in XP. IceIceIce as Timbersaw kept the lanes pushed out and Old eLeVen as Beastmaster provided vision all over the radiant side of the river. EG were hesitant to do anything; PPD was picked off nearly any time he happened to leave base. All the while old chicken continued his free reign in the enemy jungle for farm and items for his Juggernaut. EHOME must have taken Roshan at least four times. Fenrir had a stash of that sweet, stinky cheese in his inventory.

There came a point where an EHOME victory was all but certain. So, what the devil happened? Why was Key Arena filled with thousands of EG fans ejaculating “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” Prompting PC Gamer’s Chris Thursten to Tweet:

Two factors led to EG’s victory: 1) Their ability to read the situation, and 2) EHOME’s mishandling of an early advantage.

Put simply — and as nicely and professionally as possible — EHOME’s early advantage went to their heads. Contrary to the more controlled and paced play style they generally favor, it seemed that this early aggro gave them a little too much confidence. To be fair, this dominance was rightfully earned; EG did not give this to them. EHOME just played smart…

… that is, until they started sieging radiant high ground. Old chicken specifically was overextending himself too often. Iceiceice seemed to forget that the DOTA2 user interface has a map in the lower corner, often getting ganked because of zero (0) awareness. The supports did the best they could to maintain dominance of the radiant side, but EHOME’s cores started getting too cocky and thus team composition started breaking apart.

Dagon

EG saw this. Even though they had less vision, they read how EHOME was behaving when besieging and capitalized on this. Using PPD as Ancient Apparition as bait, EG would stage counter ganks, relying on the head-strong EHOME cores to come in for the kill. With those threats removed Universe would then drop some damn effective chronospheres while SumaiL dropped the stars on remaining the remaining EHOME roster.

And so it went for nearly another 60 minutes. EG paced themselves, resetting fights and reacting to EHOME tactics. Iceiceice kept the lanes pushed. Juggernaut kept farming. Roshan was highly contested. Buybacks were commonplace. But it seemed with each passing minute EG somehow kept gaining ground back, and EHOME was consistently underestimating their opponents’ draft.

There came a point after the 60-minute mark when EG had to get creative and act fast. Iceiceice was become too tanky for rightclicks and old chicken’s six slots made it hard for Universe to trade punches with him. What to do… What to do…

THIS!

THIS!

SumaiL was the first to purchase a dagon. Then Zai. By the time they both had a level 5 dagon, PPD starting getting in on it. Evil Geniuses were having themselves a laser party. And that party came a’knockin on the dire’s front door.

Yes! EG chrono’d, brawled, and zapped their way back across the map, dodging golems and saw blades. They rushed mid, took out the barracks. In the last few minutes, both teams fought dirty right there in front of the dire ancient. Kills were had. Buybacks were bought. Both teams sent their carries on a Hail Mary mission to the opposing side, and the game quickly turned into a base race. EHOME had siege creeps flooding the radiant base.

The clutch moment was when we got the notification that Universe was now equipped with a Divine Rapier, giving him the edge in the race. He activated his Boots of Travel, plopped right in front of the dire ancient and demolished that sucker before EHOME had time to preemptively declare ‘gg’.

Commentators were speechless. The crowd was bezerk. I still can’t even. I think all the the Dota community still can’t even.

The fallout of that spectacular 75-minute match carried over into game 2 where EHOME was clearly deflated and tilted. In a rather unspectacular match, EG was the victor mere minutes before the 40-minute mark.

And this is only the semi-finals.

Props to both teams for giving us so damn good Dota.

The International 6, Day Three: Evil Geniuses Vs. EHOME

The schedule for The International tonight is quite the humdinger. This stage of the tournament is when the games get scrappy, dirty, increased in variance and tremendously fun to watch. Four teams will move on, two teams will be shown the door – and still quite a handsome consolation prize.

The tournament will open with the lower bracket matchups which consists of Alliance vs. Fnatic, and Newbee vs. Liquid. Alliance will most certainly wallop Fnatic. And, regardless of who emerges this victor between Newbee vs. Liquid, that team will most certainly wallop Alliance tomorrow.

After the deciding lower bracket match of who exactly is going to wallop Alliance tomorrow, we’ll move on to the upper bracket where the first matchup is between MVP Phoenix vs. Wings. Both teams have had a rather even-keel climb, winning some, losing some. MVP specifically have stuck to generally tried-and-true drafts, with QO performing competently in position 1 as predominantly either Juggernaut or Phantom Assassin.

The real battle tonight — the one I am already surging for and hate that I have to wait until the very end — is EHOME vs. Evil Geniuses. This one… hooo baby. This is going to be some serious Dota.

DOTA 2 ESPORTS TEAM EHOME

From the very beginning of TI6, EHOME has been solid. Starting as a wild card, they scrapped and fought their way into the upper bracket where they currently sit, pitted against EG. As a team, as a business entity, they aren’t nearly as conspicuous as EG. This unassuming presence also translates into their playstyle. They draft and play in an unorthodox way that, while may not be the most bombastic spectating experience, still yields results. They are all about the slow burn, flexibility, making versatile heroes do tremendous things.

This is why I love them. They skirt around the meta and thusly totally befuddles their opponents. Their position 4 is just as effective as their position 1. Take, for example, yesterday’s second match against Alliance. Team leader iceiceice as Sven seemed almost like a position 1 decoy alongside Fenrir as Shadow Deon, while old chicken as Mirana, old eLeVeN as Sand King, and old LaNm as Elder Titan constantly rotated lanes, chained stunned for miles, and took objectives with the ease and grace of a flock of swans. old LaNm on ET was especially fantastic, totally the unsung player for that match.

Evil Geniuses EG SumaiL DOTA2

Evil Geniuses on the other hand has had a successful, albeit rocky, series of engagements whose outcomes have placed them where they are now. The champions of TI5 seemed a little rattled from the group stage but still readily pounced Newbee last night.

What makes me most nervous for EHOME in this matchup is SumaiL. A versatile player, SumaiL alone could bleed EHOME dry. Where EHOME dodge the meta with unusual tactics, SumaiL can potentially be EG’s tip of the spear; all he needs is one crack in EHOMEs armor and the damage will be deep and irreversible.

If SumaiL goes with a Storm Spirit or Huskar pick I will be sweating bullets for EHOME. If he goes for position 3 or lower, then I’m going to pop some popcorn and watch these yankees go down.

EHOME vs. EG — East vs. West — Champions vs. Underdogs

GonBGud

Retro Video Games: What Was Lost

Nick wanders back to the glory days of Retro Gaming and contemplates what exactly has been lost between then and now.

Axiom Verge (2015) is perceived across the board as a throwback to gaming’s retro days. The 16-bit graphics and 2D platforming are the first evidences of this claim. Digging deeper, the game’s listing on Steam has been given the user-defined tag of ‘Metroidvania’.

This tag is a popular one now, denoting a game that shares characteristics with the Metroid and Castlevania serieses, both of which have titles that originate back to the mid 80’s – those sweet, blessed ‘ol timey Halcyon Days of yore. Those days when we should have been outside basking in golden rays of sunshine and playing with the other children but instead diligently hunkered down indoors and soaked up a different kind of radiation altogether.

Yes! The core mechanic in Metroidvania games is that of exploration, part of which requires the dedicated player to backtrack to areas previously visited, most likely equipped with an item that unlocks a new doorway or blasts a wall made up a of strong material or grapples specific points in the ceiling wherewith to swing gracefully over a lake of acid that was hitherto unpassable. Bossfights also served as prodigious gatekeepers, requiring the player to exercise grit and reflexes to defeat the monstrosity in order to further continue exploring. Often the spoil(s) of victory included that very item needed in three sectors past to open the way.

Super Metroid Start Screen

Axiom Verge possesses these things along with holding merits of its own. And seeing as how I think Super Metroid (1994) is one of the greatest games ever created, reason therefore dictates that Axiom Verge is right up my alley. I hearkened back to my retro gaming days recalling the righteous triumphs and blood-boiling defeats. But whichever way the scale tipped, I always had the dedication to press forward.

And thus I played Axiom Verge, dutifully so, trying not to compare every little detail to Super Metroid but also trying to slip into the mind of my 13-year-old self, to channel that youthful dedication and grit needed to progress through these levels and defeat these bosses. Because, contrary to many current AAA open world video games where there are more side-quests than stars in the sky, if you don’t beat this boss, you shall not pass…

“I’m Too Old For This Crap!”

But my existential channeling failed. I could not, and still can’t, beat the final stage in Axiom Verge. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but a lack of focus, dedication.

My attention waned and has thus drifted elsewhere, to other newer games or my steam backlog or to whatever is happening on my second computer monitor or the updates which my phone chirps are ready for my attention.

Oh, Axiom Verge is a fine game, worthy of every shred of praise it has received. Other players are significantly better at it than I am. Indeed. This is a classic case of ‘It’s not you. It’s me’. And maybe this can apply to you.

Clearly, my approach to playing games has changed compared to when I was a youths. I do not bemoan this because, despite all its other complexities and toils, being an adult is awesome. If anything I use this change as a crutch, as an excuse, for the moments when I perform poorly: I’m not sharp enough for this crap anymore! I don’t have time for this!

Axiom Verge Start Screen

Still, it’s interesting to look back and consider what exactly has changed, where has my unwavering gaming grit and dedication gone?

A few weeks ago, Sir Tony ButtonMasher brought Man Crates to my attention – Specifically the Retro Gamer Crate.

This product jarred something loose in my stubborn, inundated adult mind. Here, quite possibly, is the answer to the question posited above.

Upon first visit, my attention shifted from the image on the webpage – of the gaming console, cartridges and bounty of ‘sugar intoxication’ – to my desktop PC. Now just over three years old (and aging pretty stinkin’ well, I must say) this gaming computer is tapped into the entire digital world. Its computer brain can complete computer process faster than my meat brain can even comprehend. I can steal audio CDs, Skype, download, and virus scan on one monitor while I play Endless Legend (bought at a convenient 67% discount) on another.

“Just Play the Damn Game, Son”

Retro gaming consoles, conversely, were dedicated platforms. As the Man Crate page says: “Before there were streaming services, before there were all-in-one media boxes, a video game console had one purpose.”

Indeed. Just play the game. And when I was younger the video game console was my purpose!

Whereas now, I keep an eye out for heavily discounted games that I will never physically touch, nor will I ever fully ‘own’. The transaction consists of three clicks of the mouse. The game is then downloaded and ready to play in anywhere from 45 seconds to 15 minutes.

The Retro Gaming Man Crate

The Retro Gaming Crate available at ManCrates.com

But, in the retro gaming days, these grey cartridges were the end result of weeks of chores and youthful entrepreneurial endeavors. We had to have someone drive us to the store to even attain them. The drive back from the store felt like an eternity, all the while the closest you could get to playing was gazing longingly at the box art and the cartridge nested inside.

These cartridges were all we had! Every single line of code had to be explored, conquered and exploited. And that sure enough took dedication, grit and plenty of sugar intoxication.

What the Retro Gaming crate captures is the essence of what gaming used to be. When our focus was laser-tight and our time and dedication had purpose.

One personal example comes to mind.

Rampage. The 1988 Nintendo port of the arcade classic will forever be stitched into my essence. The game, in summary, takes place over 128 days. Each day takes place in a different city of the USA. The player assumes the role of a monstrous lizard or guerrilla or werewolf mutated from human form and must destroy all the buildings in that city/day in order to move on to the next day.

Rampage Start Screen

It’s a simple premise but an absolute blast to play – especially as a kid who would be stuck at Grandma’s house for the weekend. Indeed. I don’t remember why I had to be at Granny’s that weekend but I knew that I’d be on my own with lots of time on my hands. It was a perfect opportunity to push the limits of my Rampaging abilities.

Plus, I had a goal, a benchmark to reach. Ryan Gold said that he got to day #97. That little bastard had been bragging about it during recess all week. Tired of his boasting I was dedicated to not only reaching day #97 but surpassing it, thus guaranteeing my dominance of morning recess discussions/bragging sessions.

And so, I packed up the NES, assured the rampage cartridge was stowed and traveled over the river and through the woods. Granny had an extra black and white TV in one of the small bedrooms upstairs. I had plenty of licorice on hand, which doubled as straws to slurp my orange soda. And there I planted myself, sitting on a pillow on the floor, my gaze glued to this little radioactive box sitting atop one of the dining room chairs. Thus, the weekend rolled forth with very little variation.

Innocence Gained

Whether or not I beat Ryan Gold at his own game is besides the point (plus, I honestly don’t remember), but as I sketch out this recollection I hope to illustrate the gamer’s dedication that has since been lost, something that even playing Axiom Verge could not bring back.

The dedication is more than just promising oneself to finish the game. It is about creating the setting and having the motivation to throw yourself into a game. More often than not, as adults, we try to squeeze in the time when we can, and as a result often end up skipping along the surface of an ocean of video games to explore, fathoms of which are well and beyond what we can see from the waterline.

May those afflicted with adulthood strive to channel — and make the time for — the innocence of youth, to reclaim the fervor, focus and dedication felt while playing all those retro video games.

Huge Discount on AGEOD Games For a Limited Time

Drop whatever insignificant, meddling activity you are doing right now and head over to Bundle Stars. Right now the Grand Master Bundle is offering a discount so stupefyingly deep that your head may just cave in from the pressure.

The bundle contains nearly all AGEOD games that are currently available. It is broken up into a 3-tier system.

Tier 1 is a mere $2.49 and hosts the Roman map sprawler Alea Jacta Est and its bevy of DLC. We skip ahead a few centuries and arrive to Pride of Nations as well as its four DLCs. Pride of Nations has received lukewarm Steam user reviews but still promises to utilize some interesting mechanics.

Tier 2 will set you back $4.99. This includes the fan favorite Civil War II and its expansion Civil War II: The Bloody Road South DLC. The internal strife continues in the one-off Revolution Under Siege Gold, which side of the Soviets you choose is up to you. Tier 2 finishes off with Rise of Prussia Gold, which is an all-in-one edition with the game’s expansions already included.

Tier 3 is a modest bump in price up to $6.99. This tier includes the games in the tiers below it as well as the WWI romp To End All Wars and its expansion To End All Wars – Breaking the Deadlock DLC. Topping off all this goodness is the recent release of Thirty Years’ War.

Added up, the total price for all these games is just a pinch over $300. Some simple computation reveals that, should you pony up and go for Tier 3 – which you might as well, and farking should, do – the savings here are somewhere in the, oh, 97%-ish area.

Man, even if historical strategy games aren’t your jam, this bundle is still worthy of serious consideration. I, for one, am all over this. I am ready for consistent historical strategy games that are made by a someplace other than Paradox Development. And the epochal coverage available in the Grand Master Bundle is more than I even know what to do with, but I’ll certainly lose sleep trying.

The Grand Master Bundle ends in eight days. But that hardly matters because you nabbed it before even finishing this post.

Ggwp.