Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gots to pay the bills

About twenty seven days ago I came to a resolution that I needed to spend more time doing what I enjoyed and less doing things that I don't. Since then what I do not necessarily enjoy but what pays the bills has taken unfair precedence, leaving little time or energy for anything creative. This is undeniable proof that adult life sucks unless you are blissfully ignorant, obscenely wealthy or some of the chosen few who have found a way to have what they love generate enough money to feed, clothe, house and supply entertainment for all parties involved. Hats off to you boys, you are living the dream.

First an anecdote and then I will vent about Assassins Creed: Unity.

Last week Thursday and Friday I was in Minneapolis with nothing to do in the evening. This conflicted with my climbing so a quick Google search brought me to Vertical Endeavors, a large and oddly difficult to find indoor climbing gym. In terms of scale it blew my usual place way: more routes, more auto-belays, taller walls. By taller I mean at least four stories. Tall enough that I was nervous while making my first ascent. The quick descending auto-belay did not help.

There is a disadvantage to walls of that size: the routes themselves, at least the ones that I could do, were not very interesting. Climbing high is fun but it was just one big move after another, nothing subtle, nothing that required me to stop and think, just jump and grab. Granted, I was limited to the auto-belay routes and the good stuff may have been hidden inside the lead climb only area. My home gym has limited space and that apparently forces them to be more creative.

It was still a good time and I am glad I went. Certainly it was better than being bored in my hotel room.


Assassins Creed Unity is intentionally fucking with me and I am not enjoying it.

Collecting bits of nonsense is a significant part of Assassins Creed games. In the more recent ones, I speak specifically of Black Flag and Rogue, the collection itself is enjoyable. The items are placed in interesting spots but finding them is not very difficult because they all show up on the map. Unity is not nearly as nice, hiding both collectibles and entire missions until you happen to walk near them or spend real world money on map additions.

This is bad and it gets worse. I am sure you have already heard about the blue treasure chests that are locked until the player logs into and wastes time with an online app. That is just not happening so I have already written them off. Red chests are locked and require the locking picking skill to open. There are three levels of the lock picking skill and three levels of chests but you cannot tell which level a chest is until you walk up to it. Trying to open a chest above your skill level is impossible and a waste of time.

Of course all of these show up on the map so I am compelled to try and open them. Between one and two thirds of the attempts are wasted. And then there are unlocked chests that show up on the map and are hidden behind locked doors, doors that require the same lock picking skill as chests whose only purpose is to fuck with players who like to collect everything in one area before moving on to the next.

While I'm on a roll, removing the crafting system was a mistake. I cannot believe that I just put those words down. The crafting system created a natural progression for equipment. Better items could not be crafted until you had killed the appropriate animals, animals who do not exist until the appropriate time. In Unity the player can pluck better items from the ether, either with in game funds or real world dollars. What you are wielding and wearing has nothing to do with anything else that is going on. It is literally pay to win.

Unity is several steps back from Black Flag and Rogue. I do not think it will recover in a year which means the next Assassins Creed will still not be as good as the last of the previous generation. Maybe AAA development really is broken.

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