Intermission Continued

Yes I decided to extend my break from FFVII another day. Tomorrow I’ll post the Fantasy Baseball Update, right now – to my surprise – I’m leading my opponent by about 20 points. I still don’t expect to win, but at least if I do lose it won’t be a lopsided defeat like the last time I faced him.

On Tuesday I’ll resume the RFM series with Disc Two.

Intermission: FFVII

It took me just a few minutes shy of 45 hours to get to the end of Disc One of FFVII. If I had an operable PlayStation still, I could actually check my original timestamp from 1997 (assuming the memory cart still worked). My gut feeling is it took me about 25 hours to get there the first time around. Now that we’re on Disc Two, I have some leveling to take care of. I already went to Fort Condor for the next battle. I may make another stop or two before I head back to Corral Valley, and the Snow Fields beyond.

So while I take care of those errands, I’ll be taking a break from Read From Memory. I may post part 27 before the Fantasy Baseball Update. But more likely I’ll be back in the swing of things the day after. Thanks for reading the series so far!

Break Day

I’ve played FFVII every day for the last week, and while I said I was going to post the summary of the story every day, it’s not going to happen today. I need to gather my strength before I get into the epic confrontation at the lost capitol of the ancients. I also need to play a different game or two before I become too much of a Square fanboi. And take care of some other work too.

Tomorrow we’ll cover the Fantasy Baseball Update, but in a brief preview the Makers are down about 30 points, and with no pitchers scheduled to go today and the waiver wire looking like trash, I think I’m going to eat a loss to the 12th place team. Hey, they need to win too every once in a while. That assures me a losing record this season, but what are you gonna do? But the full post will be tomorrow.

We will return to Read From Memory starting Tuesday and have a good run. We’ll definitely make a dent in Disc Two. It’s my intention to finish the game by the 20th anniversary of the North American release. That gives me a month to strike down the One Winged Angel. I believe I can do it.

Paintbrushes for Minis

I’m in the midst of creating my work area for my hobby crafting, but it was time to consider learning about paintbrushes.

Here’s a video from Wargamers Shut Up & Jam Gaiden about this topic. It’s about 12 minutes long and gives an overview of the philosophy behind selecting brands.

My gaming group is fortunate enough to have a professional artist in its ranks, so many of us knew some of this from him. But since it’s been many years since I gave any thought to paintbrushes, it was time for a refresher.

 

Blog Update Notes

Normally I post about my Fantasy Baseball team today (Monday), but since it’s the Break, this matchup won’t be over until the weekend. So instead I’ll talk about the state of the blog. I’ve been reviewing a few templates to finally update this basic one. At some point you’ll see this one come up. I’ve also been reorganizing the categories and tags, which will make for easier searching.

The most popular categories, interesting enough, remain my strategy posts. I wrote about the Norway campaign in Panzer General and OODA loops. I wrote about OODA loops during my attempt to implement them against AI in Metal Gear Solid 2. Some people also liked the coverage about Kickstarters, and the various indie games I’ve discovered.

So I’m guessing the message here is: more useful content! This is my personal blog so I won’t be putting too much time into tailoring content for traffic. But I’m always looking to add useful content for people. I consider my readers to be my friends!

We’ve just about reached the 300 post mark and despite what WordPress metrics tell me, I’ve done a post every day since January 1. That’s 190 posts as of this one. I’ll continue with another 175 posts by the end of this year, and reassess the daily posting then. If you’re thinking about making your own blog, let me tell you that the rumors you’ve heard are true: daily posting is hard. Ranking content is even harder. This isn’t a niche site per se, but the video game niche is crowded. I suspect the vast majority of eyes have been captured by streamers and YouTubers. A few friends and I predicted this nearly a decade ago, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyhow if you’re one of the 1,000 or so that have made your way to my personal space over the last two years, I thank you. Changes are coming soon and I hope you enjoy them.

Mini Painting tutorial

For those considering getting into the wargaming hobby, here’s an introductory video series to painting by Miniwargamer Jay:

I recently acquired a battle box of Cygnar with the newer plastic models, and Captain Haley, my preferred warcaster back during my brief career in minis. I’m considering going through many of these tutorials and seeing how well they work for me. Though I dabbled almost 10 years ago, whatever skills I picked up them have long since rusted over, and I was a neophyte to begin with. So if there’s interest in that I may make it a regular series on here.

Metal Gear Solid 2 Gameplay and Anniversary

Two years ago I started blogging on this site, and my first post was about Metal Gear Solid 2, since it was April 29. Get it? In honor of both, here’s a walkthrough of the entire game via Tactical Dinner Roll. (Includes all cutscenes and codec conversations)

Tactical Dinner Roll was kind enough to split the gameplay up into 23 parts in a playlist. Most of the clips are less than 20 minutes long, so it’s all digestible. Better than the hours long let’s plays, filled with commentary and editorializing. Nice touch too to have all the boss battles labeled.

A good thing about these walkthroughs is that you can see how others play old and familiar games. You would think that especially in such a small game (compared to today’s games) there’s only so many ways to play it,. And you know them all. A reasonable assumption. But I’m always surprised by somebody’s innovation or little trick I didn’t catch before.

Metal Gear Solid 2 Posts

This wasn’t intended to be a Metal Gear fan blog, but since it is one of my favorite series I ended up posting a lot about it. For those interested here’s a list of the posts I wrote that are specific about MGS2:

For the record, I have yet to get the Virtually Impossible achievement on the PS3 port. I also have not reviewed Kangaroo Notebook. But there are a few more anniversaries for the game coming up, so I can manage them. Certainly by the 20th anniversary.

Thanks for everyone who has read my blog and given me feedback in the last two years. Here’s to many more.

I have something special planned for tomorrow (you do know what day it is tomorrow, right?)

Video game canon

Felipe Pepe wonders about the state of gamer knowledge about games over at Gamasutra:

If 2016 alone saw the release of over 4207 games on Steam, how can a youngling in 2017 learn our history and get up to speed with over 40 years of releases? How can one get acquaintance with the “Game Canon”?

One useful resource he lists is HowLongToBeat.com, which if I’m not mistaken, is a community driven source for game lengths. As you all know I have a rather extensive back catalog that goes back a mere 16 years, so this was useful for ballparks as to how long it would take me to actually beat each game once.

But that’s not enough according to Pepe. He goes on to discuss the Masters of Mario 64 and other games. I have to admit I was reminded of the old skit from PwnPwnage:

Happy New Year – 2017

Happy New Year! I trust everyone is recovered from their revelries. As I write this there’s about 8,739 hours left in the year for me. I’ve been making the most of them so far. I hope you are too.

In 2016 I took time off from blogging regularly, here and on some other platforms while I worked on different projects. Some of them came to fruition, some did not, and a few are still in progress. In any case I’ve decided to reup my commitment to my gaming blog here, and make it more useful for a wider audience.

A few changes I can note right off the bat. Obviously going forward the Metal Gear emphasis will be downplayed. The franchise may or may not be officially dead without Hideo Kojima, but the current directions aren’t encouraging. Besides, I’m far more interested in what Kojima does with Death Stranding, which looks like it’s going to be far more bizarre than even the weirdest aspects of his old series. Secondly, I’ll be highlighting different Kickstarter games I find interesting, along with Greenlight Games, some indies, etc. This will dovetail into one of my in-progress projects that I’ll be revealing here in the near future. I won’t be doing reviews, but extended previews aren’t out of the question. Lastly I’ll be updating more frequently. Once or more per day.

As anybody who has tried blogging before, or still doing it, it’s a rewarding but grueling experience. So I want to make this worthwhile for readers and surfers alike. Shoot me an email if you have any suggestions, I already know the tactics posts and business posts were well received, and I’ll be visiting those topics more often in the future.

 

 

PS1 games: Looking at the aftermarket

Over at TechRaptor today there’s a retrospective for the Resident Evil series; the sire of which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year (March 30th to be precise; belated Happy Birthday Resident Evil). Hard to believe it’s been 20 years plus since the “fifth generation” of video games dawned. It was an exciting time to be a gamer, with healthy competition producing plenty of different types of games for everybody. I’m probably just looking at it through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia but back then it seemed like there were more studios active. They also seemed to be much more willing to take risks with their products than they are today. In a way I can’t blame them but I miss the sheer variety of the console libraries from that era, to say nothing of the PC ecosystem. Now for the most part you can play virtually any of these games on a whim; all the modern consoles have backwards compatibility and extensive back catalogs available. If you have a few bucks to spare or a computer capable of (good) emulation you can indulge those nostalgic feelings whenever you want. Of course, the original systems and games are still around for the more industrious. That got me wondering what the secondary market for these old games is looking like these days.

A brief aside: part of my renewed interest in this topic comes from Rudy of Alpha Investments. Although he’s been mostly focusing on Magic on his YouTube channel, he’s talked about vintage video games and is a collector of them too. I find his videos to be very informative and entertaining; worth your time if you want a different perspective on the aftermarket for Magic cards and investing psychology as well.

It’s hard to get a feel for the true value of old games. Consider that in many cases millions of copies were produced, meaning games weren’t exactly rare items. Then there were various reissues (Greatest Hits, Player’s Choice, etc). As I already mentioned nowadays you can emulate almost any game. To say nothing of today’s “retro” reissues. The point is artificial scarcity doesn’t seem to be an issue for most old games. I have no scientific evidence to back this claim up, or method to test the hypothesis, but my guess is that this availability depressed pricing. Conventional wisdom seemed to confirm that idea.  Chain retailers (GameStop) and second hand shops were happy to pay you pennies on the dollar for your old games before raising the price for resale. Even those used copies were often 50-80% off the retail face value. Online, I observed similar pricing on eBay, Half, Amazon, etc. In other words I expected old games to be cheap and that’s what I saw. Until I didn’t anymore. I remember getting burned a decade or so ago before the Wii came out, when the prices for SNES games started shooting up.  Imagine my surprise at seeing a complete in box copy of Super Metroid going for $5,000; or cart-only copies of SNES Ogre Battle selling for $350! Some journalists wrote sardonically about people “jacking up prices” of their treasured RPGs on eBay. For my part I refrained from buying any 16-Bit carts and even most discs during that period. Then just like that the market seemed to go back down. I don’t know if the Wii Virtual Console played a role in that, or perhaps it was caused by the greater economic turmoil of 2008. Maybe in the aftermath of the ’08 meltdown gamers on the whole just didn’t have $700 to drop on unopened copies of Final Fantasy VII.

A few years ago I was reading the remarks one of the editors of RETRO magazine made about the games market. He said that the prices for PS1/N64/Saturn games were creeping up as people discovered they had been undervalued, and predicted they would be repeating that process for GameCube/PS2/Xbox games “in a few years.” Of course, perception matters a lot more than our attempts at divination when it comes to the market. If you thought (as I did) that “old games” is basically synonymous with “used games” and beyond sentimental value, they’re practically worthless – it may be worth checking assumptions here.  So the questions I’m interested in now are how much have these games gone up in price, and are they still undervalued?

As with most trips down the rabbit hole this topic ended up being a lot deeper than I had anticipated, so I’ll be breaking it up into a series over the next few weeks. But to share a preview of the investigation and in the spirit of the TechRaptor article: way back in Summer of 2005 I bought a complete long box copy of Resident Evil from Half.com. I still have the receipt, and according to that it cost me $15.59 in “very good” condition. Looking at the same website today in 2016, that game costs $47.95: which is over 200% increase in value. In the same 2005 order I happened to buy the GameCube remake “like new” for $9.99. It doesn’t appear to be available on Half.com anymore, but on eBay it still goes for $9.99. Yet on Amazon, a Prime seller has the GCN remake listed at $64. See what I meant earlier about how hard it is to price these things?

Clearly the first step is to do some market research. More on that in a later post.