Rundown (10/7-10/13) Dreams of A Better Gacha

Lately the subject of Gacha games has been present on my mind, and how they are ultimately designed to manipulate people into spending large amounts of money on shiny husbandos, sexy doohickeys, and handsome waifus by tricking them into thinking that they can beat out the mathematical juggernaut known as probability.  So, I got to thinking what if a gacha game were either 100% free or a premium title rid of any microtransactions? It’s a fantasy that I find to be fairly easy to imagine, as from what I know of the bigger Gacha RPGs, there is a core gameplay loop to make the games entertaining, and all that would really need to be changed is to prevent events from being limited on a daily basis, remove the stamina system, rework the probability of drawing rare characters, and make currency easier to obtain.

I am sure that there is some game that has attempted this concept before, but it is an idea that I have been thinking about for a week now, and continue to find quite novel.  Sure, while most Gacha games lack in depth, they are good at distributing a dopamine rush to players and making them feel as if they accomplished something as they are routinely awarded for their actions.  Plus, well, sometimes I just want to play a grindy RPG… and also I am still not over Fire Emblem Heroes, despite having given it up 7 months ago.  

So, last week Google unveiled Project Stream, an experimental streaming service that is currently allowing participants to experiment by playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through Google Chrome.  A story that I honestly missed, as I forgot to save the link, and thus forgot about it after seeing it.  Whoops. Anyways, I bring this up because, seemingly in response to seeing this, Microsoft have formally announced the streaming service they teased at the end of their 2018 E3 conference.  

Project xCloud is a service that, using Microsoft’s Azure servers located around the world, will allow people to stream Xbox titles to a variety of devices, namely smartphones, tablets, PCs, and their consoles themselves.  A new alternative that they reassure will not replace their current console strategy but rather will allow people more options in how they play their games. All of which loosely lines up with the details provided about Project Scarlett from a few months back, and is set to begin trials in 2019.  And if the seemingly satisfactory performance of Google’s Project Steam is any indicator, technology is at a point where it can work within the technical limitations of North American infrastructure, data caps notwithstanding.  So now my only worry is about the prospect of cloud gaming becoming the only way to play modern games…

Speaking of Microsoft trying to reclaim some degree of relevance after many years of nonstop bumbles, sources have spoken to Kotaku saying that beloved western RPG developer Obsidian Entertainment, best known for games like Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity will be acquired by Microsoft.  With things simply being finalized at this point, and it only being a matter of when the deal goes through.  This is something that I cannot say I find to be very surprising, considering how Microsoft has picked up a handful of the few remaining independent mid-sized western game studios, as they revealed in their 2018 E3 conference, and how Obsidian fits that bill, while also being a much beloved studio responsible for many modern cult classics.  

However, part of me does find this situation more than a little amusing, due to how Obsidian was originally slated to develop an exclusive title for the launch of the Xbox One entitled Stormlands, only for Microsoft to cancel the project, as Microsoft liked to do back then, nearly leading to Obsidian’s closure back in 2012.  I can easily imagine the hesitation that must have been in place when the idea was first proposed, even when considering how they are almost assuredly not working with the same people.

That’s unfortunately all I have this week, which has been very busy for me personally, with an extra day at work and an extra day at school that was driven by a comedy of errors, mostly due to how outdated research software is a pain to use and easy to screw up.  

I guess I could talk about how Telltale is even more of a skeleton, and now Skybound Games is now going to complete The Walking Dead: The Final Season, but the entire fallout of Telltale games has been upsetting, and I really do not have anything to add.

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