All posts by Alyssa G.

Afterthought Gaming Is On Hiatus

Hey, it’s Alyssa, creator of the Afterthought Gaming blog.

As the title suggests, I’ve put a pause on the blog but I have every intent on coming back.

What’s the hiatus for?

Now, as you probably know, gaming is huge. There are so many new games, consoles, and every game dev rumor in between. It’s difficult to keep up! I am the lone writer for Afterthought Gaming. Blogging every week, keeping up with video game news while going to school became too much. I needed a break.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing for Afterthought Gaming anymore – you could not be further from the truth. Video games are a strong inspiration in many of my other creative projects today. I’ll always be tapping away at a keyboard or button mashing. I just needed a nap.

What’s the future of Afterthought Gaming?

The blog is definitely coming back but with a twist.

The video game blog community is very well saturated. My blog is a tiny drop in an ocean of gaming content. I want Afterthought Gaming to stand out.

Maybe I’ll only focus on J-RPGs/ RPGs from on? We’ll see. The current blog format meant that I had to cover every gaming-related news under the sun. That is just not possible with the limited human power this blog has.

I can’t clone myself (give it a maybe twenty more years or so).

So, there you have it. Afterthought Gaming is sticking around for the long haul. I’ll drop another blog post in a few weeks or so. For now, check back on my previous posts. They’re still a great read!

What are you doing now?

I’m quite literally sitting cross-legged on my couch typing this blog post on my laptop. I’m also reaping the rewards of my labour (I graduated, yay!).

I’m also adulting. I am harcore adulting.

I hope you and your family are staying safe during everything that’s going on in the world.

I’ll see you all again soon.

Alyssa Gallano,

Creator of Afterthought Gaming blog

How COVID-19 Cancelled E3 And Other Gaming-Related Expos

Empty conference room
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 is officially cancelled along with two other huge gaming-related expos, Game Developers Conference, and SXSW.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. cities shut down the expos, effective immediately. Now, was this unexpected? No, not at all. I just didn’t expect it to happen this fast.

Here’s a short breakdown of the expo’s cancellations.

Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3

E3, the largest video game expo in the world, cancelled their June event on March 13. They’re currently planning an “online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020.

E3 2020 was supposed to be June 9-11 in Los Angeles, California.

Game Developers Conference

GDC lost their regular major participants, like Microsoft and Electronic Arts in the wake of COVID-19 virus. Once news on the virus grew, GDC knew they had to cancel the event.

They’re aiming to host the event in the summer. Here’s to hoping it’ll still happen!

SXSW

SXSW isn’t exactly a video game expo but they’ve featured games in the past. This is the first time the expo’s ever been canceled in its 34-year history.

Austin Public Health in Texas shut down the event due to COVID-19.

Blind Playthrough: Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo

White Playstation 4 controller on top of journal
Photo by Faris Mazlan from Pexels

Final Fantasy VII is one of the most popular and beloved games in the Final Fantasy series. My friends, including my brother, spoke about Cloud Strife’s cool backstory and hairstyle. Cloud just seemed like a sad, broody pretty boy. That’s nothing new to me. Honestly, I didn’t get it.

I didn’t grow up playing the Final Fantasy VII. Final Fantasy X was my first Final Fantasy game. I wasn’t invested in Final Fantasy VII’s story or characters, even with the countless storyline videos I watched on YouTube. Of course, I need to play the game to truly understand what makes it exceptional. Now that Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo is out, I’m determined to understand what it is about Final Fantasy VII that made fanboys cry and fangirls swoon (or vice versa).

Please note, my playthrough of Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo is a blind playthrough. I haven’t played the original Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation or played the Steam version on the PC. I’ve watched Final Fantasy VII storyline videos on YouTube, but that’s barely enough to understand the game’s complex world.

First Impression

The graphics and CGI in Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo are outstanding. Every character and enemy I encountered were beautifully, even lovingly created. For most of the video games I played, including next-gen games, enemies and secondary characters looked like crap. In Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo, the secondary characters are made to look just as important as the main characters.

Everything, from the floor to the ceiling to Cloud’s sword, the Buster Sword, had a worn-out texture overlay on it. All frequently used times actually looked like they were used. The world felt alive and lived in. I was convinced that Midgar, the city where Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo’s opening takes place, is a real and thriving city.

Gameplay

Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo’s real-time gameplay is fast and exciting. The gameplay is comparable to Square Enix’s previously released game in the series, Final Fantasy XV. According to an article in TheGamer, FFVII Remake Demo fixes two significant problems in FFXV’s gameplay: spam healing and hindered fighting in closed spaces. I absolutely agree. Final Fantasy XV’s real-time gameplay can cause a lot of confusion during a battle, especially in terms of mobs.

FFVII’s gameplay fixes both of these problems with an ATB gauge system and a shorter movement range. The gameplay also reminds me of SoulCalibur’s fighting style.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo, so far, makes me excited for what’s to come. Final Fantasy VII Remake comes out for PlayStation 4 on April 10, 2020.

Make sure to book an entire day off or seven.

Save Your Money And Stop Pre-Ordering Your Games

Pink and blue aesthetic computer keyboard and Playstation 4 controller
Photo by Lucie Liz from Pexels

I loved pre-ordering my video games. There’s nothing better than waking up on release day and dropping by a GameStop to pick it up. I’m not standing in a long line outside the store. I’m not waiting for the Steam version to show the ‘buy’ button.

I already have the game.

I didn’t necessarily pre-order because I wanted the steel book cover or the figurine. I wanted to play the game sooner than most people.

Last year, I stopped pre-ordering my video games, both physical and online copies. Here are three reasons why pre-ordering your video games is going to cost you time and money in the long run.

Release-day Patches

Ah, yes, the infamous release-day patches. Remember when we used to get complete games upon release? Yeah, me too, but that’s no longer the case.

Is a tiny patch going to ruin my gameplay? Probably not, although it makes me lose confidence in the game company.

Pre-order Extras Aren’t Worth It

I’ll admit, there are some pretty cool pre-order extras out there. The Persona 5 The Royal Phantom Thieves Edition is beautiful, for lack of a better term. Do I need it? Absolutely not.

Pre-order extras usually cost more money too. Last time I checked, I play the game, not the extras.

Steam Sales

Did your wallet start sweating profusely? So did mine. Now, I found that if a game is well received, the price stays at $69.99 for a few months. If a game isn’t received well, it starts to drop in price much faster.

This trick works for physical video game copies too. Thanks to Steam, you don’t have to leave the house to get the sale.

Of course, just because the game you’re interested in isn’t widely loved, it doesn’t mean it’s not good. There are many, many reasons why video game journalists and gamers don’t like a game.

What you like is up for you to decide.

Gamechangers: Final Fantasy X – The Last Great Final Fantasy PT I

Final Fantasy X Extended Trailer

Listen to my story. This…may be our last chance.

Tidus, Final Fantasy X

In 2001, SquareSoft released Final Fantasy X. It was a game of firsts for the franchise and for Playstation 2 console. Final Fantasy X was the first game in the series to have fully voiced characters and three-dimensional backdrops as supposed to pre-rendered scenes. Final Fantasy X was also the first Final Fantasy game featured on the Playstation 2.

Final Fantasy X was my first Final Fantasy game. For so many gamers, it remains not only a classic but rivals the story and characters of Final Fantasy VII. Now that’s saying something.

I first discovered Final Fantasy X in the CD compartment of our Playstation 2. I was eight years old then. My fingers pushed the eject button on the console and out came the game. The CD’s cover art featured Tidus, Final Fantasy X’s main character. Tidus stood in an ocean, knee deep in water. A mix of sun and cloud covered the sky as he stared forward.

The cover art didn’t make any sense to me. I thought it was weird, but my eight-year-old self gave the game a shot anyways.

It is true what they say, beauty truly is skin deep. Final Fantasy X is more than what the cover art could express. From beginning to end, Final Fantasy X is a masterpiece.

You follow and control Tidus in the Final Fantasy X’s world, Spira. The first scene starts the gamer off easy. Tidus runs across his hometown Zanarkand to a blitzball tournament, the game’s underwater sport. I gazed at the new and fantastical world. The colours were drab in brown and yellow tones. The mood felt solemn. A radio host spoke in the background about a man named Jecht, Tidus’s father and a beloved blitzball player. I reached the end of the map and a CGI cutscene begins. This beginning cutscene that sets the rest of the story into motion.

Watch the Final Fantasy X Story timeline to get a gist of the story.

My mouth remained opened the entire cutscene. Dark clouds surrounded Tidus as he slowly becomes sucked into it. The screen suddenly turns white.

“What’s going to happen now?” I thought. This is how it felt like to play Final Fantasy X.

The story surprised me and continued to surprise me.

Every character storyline and every plotline twist was unprecedented. SquareSoft gave the gamer a chance to get to know Tidus. By the end of the game, it felt like I traveled with a friend.

I’m trying my best not to spoil you. If you ever play Final Fantasy X, you are in for the ride of your life.

Finally Mourning The Loss Of Final Fantasy XV

Woman with glasses in an arcade
Photo by Ryan Jacobson on Unsplash

“Prompto, Gladio, Ignis. I leave it to you. Walk tall, my friends”.

– Noctis, Final Fantasy XV

Ten years – that’s how long fans waited for the next numbered Final Fantasy game. Boy, what a ride. What. A. Ride.

After multiple delayed launches, a name change and a complete story rework, what we got was Final Fantasy XV.

I remember driving down to my nearest GameStop to buy Final Fantasy XV Day One Edition for the PS4. The store’s midnight launch party only 12 hours before was cancelled. The winter storm died down overnight. My brother and I were surprised by the lack of attention the game got in-store.

Fresh copies of the game covered an entire shelf, waiting for its next gamer. I quickly grabbed the game and ran to the cashier. The game I waited ten years for was finally in my hands.

Final Fantasy XV – Stand Together Trailer

From beginning to end, I was enthralled by Final Fantasy XV’s characters and beautiful open world map. I was overwhelmed. I had so much to see and do. My eyes were going through a sensory overload. This is exactly how I want to feel everytime I play an open world game.

Noctis, Prompto, Ignis and Gladiolus are my favourite characters in any video game genre ever. These characters’ bromance are not only believable but enjoyable to watch. Their in-game banter is meticulously timed with every game play action and scene. These tiny, tiny details is why I still play Final Fantasy XV today.

My first few hours in FFXV took my breath away.

The next 20 hours or so, well, it wasn’t the best.

Final Fantasy XV’s main story felt rushed. To this day I still don’t understand the story. Some how daemons taking control of Eos (the game’s world) didn’t seem like such a bad thing. I loved the world but I wasn’t attached to the other characters that inhabited it. I only cared about four characters. So what if all the other characters disappeared? If my boys are alright, then so am I.

The sidequests were boring and unfulfilling. NPCs were also boring. After I finished the main game and extra dungeons, the game replay value drastically plummeted.

I was sold on the world but not the story.

First 12 minutes of Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV movie

I still love the game in spite of all the criticism. Even when Square Enix cancelled their second set of DLCs, Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future, I was still supportive. I even bought the other four DLCs and Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition for the PC. I watched the Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV movie and all five episodes of Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV anime. I also plan to buy the Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future novel. I was a mega fan from release date to the DLCs cancellation. I was loyal to the bitter end and I didn’t mourn the loss of the game until now.

Square Enix, FFVX’s game developer, are masterminds in creating video game worlds. They revolutionized the RPG video game genre. FFXV is still a good game but honestly, it isn’t their best game. I know this, other gamers also know this and video game journalists also know this.

Final Fantasy XV is a perfectly unfinished masterpiece. I’m sad the game fans were promised is gone. The original story ideas are probably sitting in a game dev’s computer right now. We’re never going to know the true potential of Final Fantasy XV’s gameplay, characters and world.

As for me, I still need more time to mourn the loss of Final Fantasy XV. After ten years of patiently waiting, I’m not sure I’m going to get over this disappointment anytime soon.

Why Are Video Game Award Shows So Cringy?

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Ah, yes, award show season. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of gaming’s best from game development studios to game devs.

Now, I realize gamers aren’t exactly known for their extroverted demeanor but do we deserve – nay – need video game award shows? I can barely watch one all the way through. I dislike any and all video game award shows. I know they exist but not enough for me to pay attention to them .

My first and last video game award show was VGX 2013, previously known as the Spike Video Game Awards. If there were some redeeming quality it would be the video games and the video games only.

I’ll let the AngryJoeShow explain just how bad VGX 2013 was.

Here are a few reasons why video game awards shows are so cringy (in my opinion):

  1. Clueless celebrities as hosts or guest stars (as in they aren’t gamers, at all)
  2. Impersonable hosts
  3. Jokes seemed forced and don’t always match the subject matter
  4. Not-so-subtle advertising (does anyone remember Robot Razer?)
  5. Blatant video gamer stereotypes
  6. More emphasis on popular video games than good video games (no, they are not one in the same)

I also heard The Game Awards 2019 was pretty cringy. No, I am not going to watch it to find out just how cringy.

What do you think about video game award shows? Do you look forward to them every year? Let me know in the comment section below.

In-Game Glossary: What Is The ESRB Anyway?

It’s a truism in the game industry that a well-designed game should be playable immediately, with no instruction whatsoever.

― Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

When I was in high school, my friends and I visited video game specialty shops like GameStop and EB Games during the weekend. The video games were categorized by video game consoles, like Playstation and Xbox. Shelves packed with the latest and greatest in gaming. Balloons of anime and video game characters decorated the bland ceiling. Dim lighting hid dirt spots on the once light-gray carpet. I picked up a game I completed playing and surveyed its front cover, a rated M for mature ESRB label affixed squarely on the bottom right corner.

I was eighteen at the time and the oldest in my friend group. The rest of my friends were shy a few months to legal adulthood. My guy friend placed the game on the cashier counter. The cashier looked up and glared at my guy friend. My friend was 5’6, roughly 150 pounds and looked like he could’ve been in college, but the cashier didn’t buy it.

“Do you have an ID?” the cashier asked.

Of course not.

My friend nervously laughed. He pretended to dig through his jean pockets to grab his “ID.” We walked away and vowed to try to rebuy the game if the cashier was “cool enough” to sell it to us.

I’ve been playing rated M for mature games since I was a kid. In my experience, some rated T for teen games needed an M rating instead. What does the ESRB ratings stand for anyway? What is ESRB for and for who? 

Entertainment Software Rating Board is a non-profit, self-regulatory board, rating video games and apps to help consumers differentiate age-appropriate content to, well, not age-appropriate content. The rating guide was specially made for parents, to help them discern age-appropriate video game and app content for their kids.

You’ve probably seen the ESRB rating before, a black box with an off-kilter capital letter in the middle. The ESRB categories and descriptions are as follows:

EC – Early Childhood 
Content for children ages three and up. Not a single drop of inappropriate content here.

E – Everyone
As the ESRB ratings say, the video game or app content is for everyone. There may be minimal cartoon and fantasy violence. In this case, think every Super Mario game you’ve ever played.

E10+ – Everyone 10 and older
Content for ages ten and up. There may be mild cartoon and fantasy elements. There may also be mild use of violence.

T – Teen 
Content for ages 13 and up. This rating is for video games with the following “violence, suggestive themes, crude humour, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language,” according to IGN. So, think the Final Fantasy series.

M – Mature 
Content for ages 17 and up. This rating includes all of the above but more intense plus sexual content. For this rating, think Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

AO – Adult Only 
Content for ages 17 and up. This rating includes all of the above, but the content tends to lean more towards suggestive adult themes. I have never seen a game with this rating before. Apparently, it’s similar to receiving a scarlet letter.

RP – Rating Pending 
No official ESRB rating assigned to the video game or app yet.

ESRB ratings come in three phases: categories (as I’ve detailed above), content descriptors (also mentioned above) and the type of interactive elements.

Did you know about the different ESRB ratings and categories? Let me know in the comment section below.

The Witcher Season 1 Soundtrack And Other Witcher Content To Tide You Over

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Photo by Caio Resende from Pexels

Jaskier:
Toss a coin to your witcher
O Valley of Plenty
O Valley of Plenty, oh-oh-oh
Toss a coin to your witcher
A friend of humanity

From The Witcher – Season 1 Episode 2: ‘Four Marks’ (1×02) | Produced by Netflix

It’s been over a month since Netflix’s The Witcher Season 1 and the hype just keeps getting more hype.

Netflix’s The Witcher Season 1 Spotify Playlist

For anyone that is still singing Toss a Coin to Your Witcher, you can finally sing it on-the-go through your Spotify account. The Witcher season 1 soundtrack is finally here! It is a truly great Friday, indeed.

On another note, the third installment of The Witcher video game series, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, has more than 100k gamers on Steam playing the game simultaneously, four years after its release date. It’s not unnatural for an online video game to have a high number of gamers playing at once, but it is unprecedented for a single-player RPG game.

CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher video game series

If you still can’t get enough of the White Wolf, there are five video games under The Witcher IP including The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt DLCs, Blood and Wine and Hearts of Stone. Here’s a link to the entire The Witcher video game franchise available on Steam. It will take you several months to get through one video game, trust me.

Now, after you’ve played The Witcher video games, you’ll learn about the in-game card game, Gwent. If you have an abundance of patience, then give Gwent a try. Here’s a link to Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. By the way, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game isn’t on Steam, so you’ll have to download it separately.

Official The Witcher swag

Gamers are also avid video game nicknack collectors. CD Projekt Red, the video game developer for The Witcher video game series, has some pretty amazing swag on their website. If I had the money for a Geralt Ronin Figure, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Here’s a link to CD Projekt Red Store for The Witcher.

The Witcher also has FunKo POP! vinyl dolls. The dolls are definitely much more affordable than the Geralt Ronin Figure.

The Witcher book series and comics

And, of course, we can’t forget about Andrzej Sapkowski, the man who wrote The Witcher book series the Netflix series and video games are inspired by.

Sapkowski’s first book for The Witcher series, The Last Wish, is a collection of six short stories, mostly flashbacks of Geralt of Rivia’s travels. Does this sound familiar?

If you’re interested in reading the book series, you can check out Barnes&Noble’s how-to guide to get started. There are also The Witcher book series how-to guides on PCGamer.com and Reddit. I bet YouTube has a few great book series guides as well.

Eisner Award winner, Paul Tobin, wrote The Witcher comic books based on the video game series. The comic book series have five issues, starting with The Witcher: House of Glass. Upon reading the summary for each issue, it seems like the comic books are a collection of the monster hunter’s travels. Getting himself in trouble again it seems. Check out Dark Horse Comics’ website to get your copy.

Witcher Wiki Fandom

Can you even call yourself a fan you if haven’t gone out of your way to read The Witcher Wiki Fandom? Yes, you can, but learning more about Geralt’s ugly, horrifying, and yet, beautiful world is worth getting lost in an entry about strigas.

The Witcher Wiki Fandom has entries about the books and the video games but remember, the books are the only canon The Witcher source material. Everything that exists outside of the literary IP are inspired by the books and are not canon to the entire storyline.

How are you keeping yourself distracted before Netflix’s The Witcher season 2? Let me know on the comment section below.

In-Game Glossary: What Is A Triple-A Game?

Player using black Xbox controller in front of a TV
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

“Nobody in this industry knows what they’re doing, we just have a gut assumption.”

Cliff Bleszinski

Gamer or not, you may have heard of the term AAA (also written as Triple-A) floating around the internet. Any game called AAA assumes outstanding quality, graphics and storytelling. Well, unfortunately, that’s not true.

AAA is used to categorize video games with high development budgets. Like most Triple-A titles, the masses expect these video games to be graphically beautiful, complete and entertaining. For example, Grand Theft Auto V (2013) had a development and marketing budget of $265 million. At the time, Grand Thief Auto V was the most expensive video game to develop. Triple-A video game budgets are neck-to-neck with Hollywood movie budgets. Also, Grand Thief Auto V is a great game, in my opinion. 

A significant video game development and marketing budget can’t foretell if a video game is bad or not. You’ll have to play the game yourself and see if you like it or not.

Video game enthusiasts use this term to differentiate good games from bad games. What is a good or bad game depends on the person. Triple-A is more of an inside joke or slang term as opposed to more formal rating boards like Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB Ratings).

III (also written as Triple-I) is a lesser-known term for high budget indie video games. These games have less manpower than larger video game developers. On the plus side, indie game devs have more freedom to create games their way.

Did you already know what what AAA or III games were? Are there other video game terms? Let me know in the comment section below.