Category Archives: non-wow

All The E3 Spam and Reactions Remind Me Why I Love Games

I’m sure the people on Twitter or blogs who don’t care about E3 are tired of hearing about it by now.  And you know, it can be a draining couple of days for everyone.  But at its core is something really exciting to me.  A certain spark.  A certain passion.  Because sometimes something really special comes along and the people in the audience start crying or cheering because games are important to us.

I’m really glad that I love games.  I’m proud to be part of a community that loves games.  These are my people, and for a few days we can band together and freak out about them as one glorified united whole.

…and also annoy the heck out of everyone else, but.



Every day for the sale, Steam is holding a little minigame for users to play.  It’s a clickfest game where you gather gold to upgrade your clicks.  You know, like those idle browser games that were all the rage for a while last year.  Anyways, you can idle with this or actively click – either way you’re going to get gold and upgrades.

cyborcAnd that’s it.  That’s the entire game.  So why can’t I stop playing it?  Why do I keep going back over to check on it and buy dumb upgrades?

Because Gaben.

That’s why.

Because Gaben.

Also there are some dang good chiptunes.

Anyways, to play it, just open up Steam and you’ll see it on the store page.  Have fun clicking!

I’m still playing Heroes of the Storm and this is why

FELPUNK KAELAfter several days of plinking around on other, lesser characters, I finally earned enough gold to shell out for Kael’thas and then I promptly handed Blizzard my wallet so I could get this Stormpunk skin.

I like it.

I like it a lot.

Also Kael’s voice is adorable.

As I said in my first review of Heroes of the Storm a week ago, this is a solid but otherwise unremarkable game that probably would not be keeping my attention if not for the fact that this is Silly Blizzard Fan References: The Game.  And, weirdly enough, that fact alone has still got me playing… for now.

I’ll let you know if I’m still playing next week!

Pike’s Quick Start Guide to Steam Sales

Steam sales are here, which means it’s time to add to your neverending collection.  Because if you’re anything like me, you are a dragon who hoards video games.

Image by
Image by

If you’re not sure where to start or what to get, never fear!  Here’s a quick start guide on how to sniff out the best deals.

STEP ONE: Praise Lord Gaben.

STEP TWO: Head over to the Steam Sales Tracker, which will become your best friend over the course of the next ten days.  This handy website will tell you what the most discounted games across the entire Steam platform currently are.  Even better, you can sort by many different variables including rating and price.  So yeah.  Steam Sales Tracker.  Bookmark it.

STEP THREE: Plug yourself into and weep.

Oh boy.

And that’s it.  Pike’s easy, three step guide to enjoying the Steam sales.

Just… don’t bankrupt yourself, okay?  And I’m here for you if you need moral support.  I’M HERE FOR YOU.

HotS is fun – but I’d rather be playing Awesomenauts or WC3

So I downloaded Heroes of the Storm yesterday and promptly spent a few hours on it.  And so far, my verdict on it is a resounding ¯\_(?)_/¯ .

…yeah, that about sums it up.  ¯\_(?)_/¯ .

If you want a more detailed review, read on.  First, a brief bit about my history with the genre so you can decide how many grains of salt you want to take my review with.

It was the year 2006 or so, sites like Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia either didn’t exist or were brand new, and there was a Warcraft III custom map that was making a splash in the RTS community called Defense of the Ancients (or DotA for short).  Specifically, the most played version was called DotA All-Stars.  DotA All-Stars took a bunch of heroes and units from WC3, gave them new personalities and names, and sent them off to fight each other and destroy towers down set lanes.


Seeing as this was back when I was still huge into RTS games, I of course wound up giving DotA All-Stars a download and a look.  And you know, it was fun.  I didn’t think it was quite as fun as some of the other custom map games I’d played through the years, nor was it as fun as the base Warcraft III.  But I put a week or two into it before moving on to other games.

Fast forward many, many years later and this custom map had spawned not only several imitators and spiritual successors but an entire genre.  One that, for the most part, I have had little interest in.  Nothing against it; it just doesn’t tend to hold my interest.  As I’ve said before, the best MOBA I’ve ever played is Awesomenauts, which took the genre and gave it a fantastic shot in the arm by way of making it even more fast-paced and giving it considerable platforming elements.  But the more traditional stuff?  Not really my thing.

So I went into Heroes of the Storm wondering if it was going to pull off what most other MOBAs had not – if it was going to hold my interest.

And the answer is yes… but not for gameplay reasons.

urlFrom a technical standpoint there’s really nothing wrong with Heroes of the Storm.  It’s a solid example of the genre.  It’s easy to learn and get into.  It’s streamlined.  It oozes with Blizzard charm.  And the last part, here, is the key.  In Heroes of the Storm I can play Diablo.  I can play a robotic Anub’arak.  I can play Tassadar riding around on a tiny horse.  And they banter with each other and Stitches warns you when you’re getting low on health.  And ultimately that’s the part of the game that I’m enjoying.  As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been in Blizzard’s thrall (no pun intended) since the late 90s.  The dorky fan side of me is eating this all up.

But seeing as this is all basically just Fan Service: The Video Game,  I don’t really know how much longer I’m going to put into it.  I suppose things could change, but I don’t really see myself playing this long-term.  When I play it, I have fun, but I also can’t get “Now I want to play Awesomenauts and/or Warcraft III” out of my head.  And that’s the crux of it.  If I want a MOBA, I’ll play Awesomenauts.  If I want isometric Blizzard universe, I’ll play one of the Diablo, Warcraft or Starcraft games.  If I want Warcraft lore, I’ll play WoW.

…but for now, I REALLY want Stormpunk Kael’thas, so for now, I’ll keep HotS installed.

This is the ONE THING that is going to make me download Heroes of the Storm, isn’t it

I’m not really a huge MOBA person (outside of Awesomenauts, which you should play,) and I haven’t really been planning on downloading Heroes of the Storm.

But then I found out that some sort of Felpunk Kael’thas exists.

holy omg

An elf.  With goggles. And brass machinery.

This may, in fact, be my one weakness.



In all seriousness, how’s the game?

Good Games That Are Good: Europa Universalis

There was a time just a few years ago when the title of this post would have produced quite a few “huh?”s, but thanks to the recent mainstream success of Crusader Kings II, Paradox Interactive and their quirky grand strategy games have never been so in vogue.

Most of your time in a Europa Universalis game is spent staring at a map, which is admittedly not the most exciting sounding thing in the world, but that’s just scratching the surface – the EU games are all about digging into diplomacy, trading, colonization, and, of course, warfare.  Someone who’s never played the games before might benefit from having it compared to, say, Civilization, but the playstyle of Civ and EU really couldn’t be more different from each other.  Europa Universalis aims to be a more nuanced experience, and one that will keep you engaged for several times as long as a game of Civ will.

It also leads to situations like this.
It also leads to situations like this.

Europa Universalis, then, is a step up in complexity, designed for those who want more fine-tuned control than they’re going to get in most other empire-building games.  And if that isn’t enough for you, you can graduate to Victoria II and then eventually even more grognardy war games, but don’t rush – Europa Universalis has enough to offer you for many months to come.  So give the series a look if you haven’t already and if you’re a strategy fan.

Oh, and prepare to hate comets.

pox why

Are You Playing Diablo III Yet Because Holy Frick

I know, I know, I’m behind the times.  Pretty far behind the times.  But I finally caved and snagged both Diablo III and the expansion.

And you know, I love me some ARPGs.  I love them a lot.  I love the Torchlight series, I love Baldur’s Gate II Dark Alliance, and of course I love the older Diablo games.  There’s something pure about the idea of a lootfest isometric RPG; something that reminds me of playing old arcade games back in the day.  You just go around and kill things and collect prizes.  No questions asked.

So I knew going in that I was probably going to love D3, but dang.  I don’t know what Blizzard did but I cannot stop playing it.  I made a wizard and between the whole tornado summoning thing and feeling like Jubilee with Arcane Torrent, it’s an absolute blast.

Also yes, I am spending tons and tons of money on transmog.  Because welcome to my life.

Also I look like a Final Fantasy character. Prove me wrong.

Good Games That Are Good: Civilization IV

From a technical and mechanical standpoint, I think that Civilization IV is probably the greatest thing Firaxis has ever done.  In fact, from a technical and mechanical standpoint, I think that Civilization IV is probably the greatest strategy video game of all time.  As soon as you load up the game and Baba Yetu (by the peerless Christopher Tin) kicks in, you know you’re in for an experience, and that is what Civ IV gives you.

Taking what prior Civilization games did and refining them down to one shined and polished experience, this is the 4X game that other 4X games have yet to beat.  By offering a plethora of options and victory conditions for every playstyle, perhaps what really sets Civ IV apart is the fact that it appeals equally to both oldschool  Civ players and newcomers to the series or genre.    With the expansions, especially, Civ IV is just unparalleled when it comes to options and depth of gameplay.

It’s also basically unparalleled when it comes to One More Turn syndrome.

662 hoursYou may have noted that I haven’t quite said that this is my favorite 4X game.  That’s because that title goes to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, which also holds the title of Pike’s Favorite Game of All Time.  But as much as I love, love SMAC and think it’s a classic, the UI is a little rough and it lacks the polish and finesse of Civ IV.  So don’t be intimidated.  Jump on into Civ IV and experience alternate history the way it’s meant to be experienced – with the Mayans hurling nukes around, of course.

What Made ME A Gamer? …What Makes the Sky Blue?

Today’s Talkback Challenge on the Newbie Blogger Initiative that I’m taking part in is the question “What made you a gamer?”

Wow.  Not even sure where to begin with that one.  You see, I’ve been gaming my entire life.  I don’t remember what my first game was, because games were always there.  Always a part of my life, just like eating and sleeping.

I could tell you about our Commodore 64 and all the dozens upon dozens of games we had for it.

I could tell you about renting the NES from the video store (because back then renting game consoles was a thing.)

I could tell you about arcades and arcade games and my dad holding me up so I could reach the joysticks.

I could tell you about days spent parked in front of the Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64, playing some of the greatest games to ever grace a console.

I could tell you about Pokemon (oh hey, I did that yesterday), about Final Fantasy (w… wait, I did that too!) about Starcraft, about The Elder Scrolls, the Civilization series, the SimCity series, about Zelda, about X-Com, about grand strategy, about… well, you get the picture.  It’s a list that goes on and on.

The point, though, is that games didn’t just make me a gamer.  Games made me.  They are more important to me than basically anything else on the planet.  They have helped me get through some of the roughest patches my life has ever seen.  Does all of that make me silly?  A big ol’ nerd?


But I like who I am, so it’s okay.