Filtering by Category: Editorial
How do you like to blow stuff up in an RTS? With efficiency or with spectacle? Do you have fast digits and prefer the micro or want to relish in the awe of pure destruction playing the macro?Read More
Last May, Jed and I had the privilege of attending an event called Casual Connect. It’s an event where game developers for all platforms come together and share their experiences developing games in this highly competitive market.Read More
Have you cowered in the safety of a pause menu lately?Read More
My wife tries to calm me down after I bellow undesirable words directed at our Samsung LED TV. I look to her and try to explain my disbelief, “did you see that? This is freaking impossible!”.Read More
Since my daughter turned a year old, it truly has been a struggle to keep up with video games. When talking with other gamer parents, surprisingly, we usually have a bunch of common issues that we like to vent and here is a list that I have compiled so far:
No time as a gamer parent
Ah, the credence of all gamer parents out there. Having no time (or not enough time) to play games is the war cry of parents who once used to spend hours and hours gaming, but now could hardly pick up the controller because of their kids.
Learning to play during odd hours
Because of the lack of a proper game schedule, gamer parents are forced to play either during early mornings or late at nights. We ignore the call of sleep and try our darndest to stay up so we can game.
Watch the language
In the rarest of rare chance that your spouse is nice enough to keep your kid company so you could game a bit, watching our language has been a conscious effort. Gamer parents are so accustomed to spouting profanity to our screens when we are caught in frustrating situations. Keeping our language “PG friendly” has been a real struggle, but a necessity. We wouldn’t want our kids first words be: “This is so fucking OP!”
Creative with distractions
It’s hard for the kids to stay put and get them engaged with an activity. It’s hard for gamer parents to sit peacefully and play games without their kids reaching for random things and attempting to put things in their mouths. So finding everyday items and shoving into your kid’s hands can sometimes prove a challenge. Cordless phones, remotes and even unused game controllers are my weapons of choice. For some reason, game controllers are also the best distractions and kids seemingly intuitively hold them the proper way and right side up (at least for my daughter).
Hopeful for the future
As gamer parents, we’re just actually impatient for our kids to grow up so they can finally (and hopefully) embrace the hobby as we ourselves do. Personally, I can’t wait for the day that I will be playing coop games with my daughter and wife and label that as quality family bonding time.
As a gamer parent, it has been a tough road so far, but a very interesting one! Fellow gamer parents, I’d like to hear from you also what have you learned through the years struggling to keep the hobby alive while nurturing your kids.
The struggle of finding a good internet service provider in the Philippines proves to be a real challenge. It has been reported that the Philippines has the slowest and most expensive internet in the region. Not only that, but for Filipino gamers need to bear with poor peering to our ASEAN neighbors and ironically, to other local ISPs as well.
Over the years, I’ve subscribed with the big two ISPs in the country, PLDT DSL and more recently, Globe Telecom’s DSL. I was pretty irked most especially with Globe’s “Fair Use Policy” (FUP). It’s where they purposely slow down your connection once you hit a data cap of 10GB in a day. So from a speed of 5mbps, it goes down to 1.5mbps after I hit the data cap. What’s their rationale for the FUP? Well let me quote from their site
“The Tattoo Home Broadband product was designed to provide you a steady browsing experience in the convenience of your home! With it, you can enjoy consistently fast and reliable broadband service. It even lets you stream data and download large files. But if you use this service other than its intent as mentioned, you might experience slow browsing.” (Source: http://tattoo.globe.com.ph/fup)
Riiighhhht… It’s a skill for someone to make bullshit smell like roses.
So that means: downloading games off from Steam (which now averages at around 15GB per game), streaming videos from Youtube and Netflix in HD (there is a way, more on that next time!) adds to your FUP quota, thus limiting what you can really do with your broadband connection. Unfair as it is, as a consumer, I really didn’t have any choice since there weren’t any viable alternatives out in the market... Until I happened to stumble upon another ISP called Converge ICT.
Converge ICT is a new player in the whole ISP-verse in the Philippines, and what compelled me to check them out was that they provide Fiber to the home plans (FTTH), which means they run a fiber optic cable from their outdoor box into your home. Technically receive a better quality of connection as compared to DSL which runs on old copper lines.
To be honest, when I was trying to research on Converge ICT, there was not much reviews or customer testimonials to be found. Their Facebook page definitely did not help since a lot of complaints were being posted on their walls. Luckily, I was able to find a couple friends of friends who also live in the same area as I do and reported good things about Converge ICT. Plus their pricing was really good as well as compared to the major telcos for their Fiber plans. so I decided to pull the trigger to the 10mbps plan which was at P3,500 a month.
“Protip: if you find the the installation fee to be really expensive, you can bargain with them and say you want to prepay the monthly fees for a year, in exchange that they waive the fee. They will usually agree and everybody wins! You can find out about more their offered plans here”
After sending them an email through their website inquiring on the availability in my area, I was pleased that their reply was quick. Converge ICT confirmed that they can hook up my house with Fiber and boy was I excited! I decided to go through with the application process, which was pretty painless. After emailing them back the application and some IDs (2 valid government IDs), they were able to schedule with me on when they can come over to hook up my house with Fiber. The process of physically laying out fiber optic cables from their outdoor hub to my home took about a day. They came back the next day to activate the line and made sure everything was working which approximately took an hour or so.
“Protip: Unfortunately, their section in their website that lists area of availability is outdated. Just give them a call or email and inquire if your house is covered. They usually are able to check if your area is covered within a few days.”
Speed & Latency of Converge ICT vs other ISPs
After seeing the technicians out, I hurriedly went back upstairs to check on my connection. I was both anxious and excited to check out the speed as well as the latency to Singapore, since most of the servers we play with the OMGeeks are located there. As expected, the download speeds were holding up pretty well, hitting at about 9.4mbps on average. What got me by surprise were the upload speeds which were pretty much the same as my download speeds.
Oh what a relief this will be when I have to upload videos on Youtube! Pings to the OMGeek Teamspeak server, which is located in SG, was holding at around 60-65ms! Just to compare, I previously got 180-200ms with Globe.
Lastly, I wanted to also check pings to the big two ISPs, Globe and PLDT and lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised again that both ISPs pinged >10ms! As I wrote before, peering between the big two have been really really bad because PLDT won’t play ball for domestic peering. For some reason, Converge ICT was able to find a middle ground for both ISPs. Have I really found the perfect ISP here in the Philippines?
Reliability & After sales
After a month passed, Converge ICT was proved to be really rock solid. Even during a period where there was heavy rains, the connection was still stable. Pings to Singapore, PLDT and Globe, still remained the same. I happened to experience a total of two separate occasions where my connection went down. The first time was a maintenance issue since they were doing some upgrades on their back end. I was surprised to receive a text message days in advance that this will happen. The maintenance lasted the morning until late afternoon, so when I got back home from the office, I was pleased that the connection was up and running and there were no problems.
The second time that my connection was down, there was no planned maintenance and I panicked a little inside. So I called the support number (which was stickered on the modem) and after a few rings, a human being picked up the call. It wasn’t a machine to tell you to press so and so numbers to report your problem. Or an annoying theme song singing back to you on an endless loop. Nope. It was a human being!
I told her my problem and the operator asked for my contact details and she assured me someone will call back. 20 minutes after, someone actually did and we went through some basic troubleshooting actions (restarting the modem, plugging directly to the modem). After all that failed, he said he will check on their back end and will call me within the day. When I heard this, I assumed the worst and planned to call them back tonight when I get back from the office if my connection was still down. A few hours later, that same person (sorry I wasn’t able to catch his name), called back and updated the status of my connection and said that there was something wrong with the outdoor box that was affecting my connection and they are sending some people to fix it now. A few more hours after that call, the tech called back to ask if my connection was up since the repairs were completed already. Unfortunately I wasn’t home yet to confirm if it was really up. So the tech said he will leave a number for me to text in case the connection was still down when I went home and somebody will call if ever it still was.
That same night, when I finally came home, I anxiously checked my connection if it was up and with a bit of dread, it was still down. So I texted the number that was given to me earlier and I reported that my connection was still down. A few minutes after, somebody called back and asked me if I had restarted my modem. With a face-palm action, I followed his suggestion and everything was back up and running again. I thanked him and said everything was finally okay.
My whole customer support experience was surprisingly refreshing and painless. There was no waiting on the phone for an operator to answer and there was constant communication with me on what's happening with my connection. I’m not left in the dark, nor left frustrated that I can’t get my issues resolved. I genuinely want to applaud their customer service team as they really make me, as a subscriber, feel appreciated and very taken cared of.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with the service I am receiving from Converge ICT. We’re all tired with poor reliability, speed and peering from the big two ISPs, at least now we have finally have the best option that’s available to us now in the Philippines.
*Disclaimer: Just to clear the air of any doubt and suspicion, this is not a paid advertisement for Converge ICT, nor am I connected to the company whatsoever. I simply wanted to give where credit is due and wanted to talk about my very positive experience with the ISP.
Update as of May 12, 2015
As requested by some people on the comments asking for an update on my subscription. I'm happy to report that Converge ICT has proven to be reliable after being a subscriber for about 7 months now. Just to clarify: my subscription started around October 2014.
Coincidentally, a few days ago as of this posting, I've encountered another run in with their customer support. My connection suddenly went down and I did the standard troubleshooting methods of restarting both my modem and router, but unfortunately that did not help. I was forced to call again their customer support and as usual, there was a quick answer and I reported my problem. The operator assured me that they'll look into it and she asked for my contact details to know where she can call back. After a few minutes, I got a call back and their technical team has isolated the issue and will be sending someone to fix it. After approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, my internet is up again. I was pleasantly surprised that they reacted this quick, because compared to PLDT or Globe, it will usually take them days before anything can get done. It turns out the fiber optic cable was bent due to the some construction work that our local power company, Meralco, was doing. Technically it wasn't entirely their fault, but still, hats off to them for their quick response!
I'm still sticking to my guns and would still back my claim that they are really the best ISP in the Philippines.
So your spouse / partner / significant other finally let you go buy your dream machine! You gloriously come home and lug your machine back into your gaming room and carefully unpack everything. Everything is up and running and ready to go and now its time to finally play some games! But where can you buy all the sweet games, you ask? Don’t worry! I got your back and will share my experience and tips I’ve gathered through the years when purchasing games. I’m hoping this will help you too!
Physical copies VS Digital Copies: Which one is for you?
Games of the 90s and early 2000s never had this option when purchasing games before. By default, if you wanted to buy a game, you needed to physically go and buy in a brick and mortar store and pray to your favorite gaming god that the game you wanted was available or in stock. Today, it’s as simple as going to a website, clicking on buy, and wait for your download to be finished so you can play the game.
So what is the real difference of both mediums? Basically, physical copies are just tangible copies of a the game you purchased. Nowadays, game boxes are now very minimalistic as compared to those of yesteryears. When I say minimalistic, they just come now in your standard DVD case. Manuals and booklets inserted inside game cases are now usually a small piece of paper telling you where to download the manual.
I personally prefer digital copies over physical. You don’t need to deal with the problem of physical storage for your games since all of them are all stored in your hard disk or on the cloud. I’m telling you now, your spouse will thank you for that! Digital copies are also always ready for you to install and you don’t need to worry if the disks will still be readable in the future. Buying digital copies is also very convenient, as you can do it literally anywhere as long as you are connected to the internet. As an added bonus, digital stores are famously known for amazing season sales which are unbelievably cheap! I will go into this more later.
In my opinion, the only clear advantage of owning a physical copy of the game is the guarantee that you will still be able to play the games you bought without worrying about the digital store existing in the future. Since digital stores usually have its own Digital Rights Management (DRM) which prevents you from playing or copying these digital copies unless, you have an authorized account. DRM may sounds scary, but in its essence, it protects the digital store and game publishers from piracy and if DRM is handled properly (ex. Steam), it shouldn’t be disruptive to your playing experience.
Protip: If you’re from the Philippines, Datablitz is a highly recommended video game store where you can buy games and even video game accessories. Games that are also published by Electronic Arts (EA), like the Battlefield series, NBA Live series and etc., usually are cheaper upon release as compared to the digital counterpart. So if you’re itching to play an EA game, make sure to check Datablitz first
Steam Season Sales and how do you “Play” them
Now season sales are something unique to digital stores. This is when the crazy discounts happen which range from 20% - 75%. This is also the time where you usually want to do most of your buying for obvious reasons. Like the title says, season sales happen during the change of the seasons: summer, autumn and winter. There are some special holidays like Halloween or Thanksgiving sometimes have their own sales, but more than not they’re also inserted during autumn.
So how does one get the best deals during these sales? Let’s use Steam as the context of the digital store, since they have, in my opinion, the best platform for buying and downloading games and they usually are pretty “generous” when it comes to season sales. Steam only sells games for the PC, Mac and Linux systems. Although consoles have their own season sales in their respective digital stores, they are not as extensive as Steam’s. Which in my opinion, definitely needs a guide to give you the best value.
Once the season sale starts in Steam, it usually presents a daily feature sale of a dozen or so games each day. You’re usually given a whole day to decide to buy these games, and after, the list of the featured games will be refreshed with another set of different games. Featured daily sales will always be priced the lowest, so if you have a game that you want which is on the daily sale, it is recommended to buy it then. If the game you want is not on the list, it is advised that you wait until it appears as a daily sale to get the maximum discount. Don’t worry also if you missed out during the day, you still have a chance to buy the game the next day, as the daily feature sales of the previous day will still be discounted for another 24 hours.
So that you don’t miss out, don’t forget to download Steam’s mobile app, both available on iOS and Android. You can literally buy games anywhere with your smart phone. This is most useful for flash sales. Flash sales are similar to daily featured sales, but they refresh faster and have fewer games. They last for about 8 hours and have 3 games per rotation. It is highly recommended to buy games that are featured on the flash sales, because they are usually the lowest priced during their spotlight on the flash sale.
this video actually summarizes everything what I just said
So to recap, here’s a short guide for your decision process:
- Wait for the daily sale selection, if nothing interest you, wait for the next day.
- If last day of sale and it is not featured on the daily selection, then feel free to buy said game
- If you missed the daily sale, don’t worry it will be still there for another 24 hours the next day
- Keep an eye on flash sales for games you are interested in and buy them on the spot!
It’s also best to make a wishlist before a sale starts. Steam will email you a notification that the particular game or games, are on sale (and you should go buy it!). Wishlists are also a good way to tell your friends to buy particular games for you (if they’re feeling generous!). It will also serve as a handy guide and a reminder that the games you would have liked to buy before the sale.
Protip: I like to use a Chrome extension called Enhanced Steam. It adds a lot of features to the Steam page like giving you a link on the historical price of a particular game and highlighting game titles if you own it. You can download the extension here
So there you have it! You’re well equipped now on getting the best deals when buying games! Now go build the dream collection that you always wanted as a kid.
Please do let me know on the comments on what topic do you need help on to get back into gaming!
Let’s make Halloween 2014 a special time, guys. I don’t know how badly your past few Halloweenses went, but this year it’s going to be different. This year it’s going to be great and spooky and thrilling and very exciting. Thank goodness Father Gabe is here to help us out with Steam’s Halloween sale!
This year, I’ve compiled five games -- all very cheap -- to crank up the Halloween spirit to the dimension that lies beyond maximum. These are games that are not just about walking and shooting -- we’re gonna soak in the weird and vaguely spice-hued atmosphere of every year’s most offbeat holiday.
Here we go!
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
VtM:B is Deus Ex with vampires. For most of you old school pc gamers, that’s all you need to know. For the rest of you, it’s a first-person role-playing game where you play as a vampire and you suck blood and have all the superhuman abilities they had in Twilight with none of the-- well, you know. You’ll get to be a member of one of seven different vampire clans, all very different, and some of which will greatly change the way you play the game. Expect great atmosphere, excellent voice acting, a wicked sense of humor, and some genuinely terrifying moments. Just think: what could possibly terrify a vampire? Think about it.
I haven’t actually had the chance to play this yet, but I know it belongs in this list. Eldritch is a first-person action adventure game with roguelike elements, meaning a lot of the game is procedurally generated, and it’s meant to be played over and over again. The best part: the game is set in H.P. Lovecraft’s ever-popular Cthulhu Mythos universe, and that means going up against things that Man Was Not Meant to Know. It’s weird and alien, just like Halloween!
Penumbra Collector Pack
I’m gonna be all hipster here and recommend the games that Frictional did before they released Amnesia, which of course went on to achieve critical acclaim and the adoration of Youtube scream queens the world over. If you liked Amnesia, you’ll most likely enjoy Penumbra just as much. It still features the same first-person adventure-stealth hybrid, where you’ll mostly be solving sensible puzzles (no cat-hair moustaches here) while trying to hide from zombie dogs and other terrifying creatures. The second game in particular has some hair-raising bits that in my opinion top even Amnesia’s most intense moments. If you’ve played it and feel the need to nod knowingly, I’ll just say: Clarence. Wow.
System Shock 2
Okay, we all know space and sci-fi can be freaky and scary too. Alien: Isolation just came out, and you’ve seen those Dead Space games, right? And what’s more frightening than a murderous AI with zero ethical constraints and a god complex? Not much, I would say -- at least not until you actually hear SHODAN’s sexy, spine-tingling voice. I love System Shock 2 so much that I use SHODAN herself as my Steam avatar. SS2 is survival horror combined with RPG elements and first-person gameplay, and all of it is excellent. Play it now.
Halloween! Trick or treating! Candy! Spoooooky costumes! We never really did any trick or treating in the Philippines the way it’s glamorized in American media, but I have a soft spot for the idea itself. Few games fill me with the warm, fuzzy feeling of playing let’s pretend as a child like Costume Quest can. It’s a confident, adventurous romp through such classic Halloween locations like your local neighborhood at night, a carnival, and The Mall. Oh, yes. The gameplay itself is JRPG-style combat combined with environmental puzzles that need to be solved with the special abilities of the various costumes you’ll be finding and building. Imaginative, cleverly written, and breathlessly nostalgic. Check out the sequel, too!
Not-so-cheap runner-up: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Okay, so I lied: I have another game I want to recommend. The only reason this didn’t make the main list is because it’s cheap, but it’s technically not on sale on Steam. This is another first-person game, and it’s something you have to play when you’re all alone at home with the lights off. Dark Corners of the Earth plays like a shooter, but with all the conventions of a good Lovecraft story: lots of investigation, a fragile main character, and the fact that you can actually see and experience enough freaky stuff to make you go insane and blow your own brains out. Seriously. You can go insane and shoot yourself in the head while you're still playing. This game is that hardcore. Features what I believe is the greatest chase sequence ever designed in any game ever.
SRSLY? runner-up: Call of Duty Complete Zombies Experience
This package is the reverse of the previous one: it’s technically on sale on Steam, but it’s not cheap at all. Just go. Look. It’s insane. It makes me laugh and shiver, just like Halloween does. Also, I’ve always talked to James and Mike about how Activision should just publish a standalone Zombies game alongside the Call of Duty titles. They did this instead. It’s-- I’m-- Fuck. I want it anyway. Not now. Soon.
And that’s all seven games for my five-game list. Coz that’s just the way tonight rolls. Feel free to share any spooky favorites you yourself might have, whether or not they’re currently on sale!
Happy Halloween, everyone!