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Now, what I am about to say may shock all the duelists out there and I am also going all touch and go on my grammar right now to explain this but, here we go anyways!
With Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V coming to a end and Pendulums no longer being the main focus of the card game, Konami is switching things up with the new game mechanic called LINK and I am not referring to the Legend of Zelda on this one.
LINK monsters are blue colored monsters that are almost the same color as Ritual monsters but are not to be confused with them for two major reasons. The first reason being they have absolutely NO level and NO rank, so we can assume that they are immune to gravity bind and other such cards right from the get go.
The second reason being they have no way to go to defense mode, which means they are immune to cards like Book of Moon, This ultimately is a double edged sword since they can never be in defense mode that means you will always take damage if destroyed in battle with a stronger monster, but it also means immunity to cards that forces monsters into defense mode.
Their summoning method also is a bit more different. It act a bit like Synchro summoning where the player has to send monsters to the graveyard and the monsters in total sent to the graveyard is equal to the LINK monster you can bring out. So where Sychro Summoning is basic math of 2+4=6 for a level 6 Sychro Monster. LINK cards operate by a more simple means, I send two monsters so I can grab a LINK 2 monster as indicated by the bottom right hand corner of the LINK card.
I should mention that the LINK “level” and I use level loosely in this regard is where the defense power of a monster generally would be.
Now for the big news BIGGER than the LINK monster, but still equally important. That being the new Game Mechanic and overhaul of the complete dueling we have known up to this point.
The Extra Monster Zones, no longer can a player freely Sychro Summon, Xyz Summon, or Fusion Summon! But instead they must now compete for two spots above the monster zones called Extra Monster Zones. In these SHARED zones the players must fight for control because these two zones are the ONLY PLACE a player can Synchro, Xyz, Fusion, or LINK a monster.
The reason we can guess is Konami decided to finally fix the flood gate, but there is another reason. The LINK monsters as I mentioned earlier are the new Monster on the block, and these cards contain a bit of Tetra Master, you know from Final Fantasy? In their design, that being the Red Arrows indicated on their picture.
You see these red arrows are key to summoning, because where ever they point too. Those monster zones now act as Extra Monster zones and can Synchro, Xyz, or Fusion into those zones as well! So if you can get a LINK monster into the Extra Monster Zone you can being to mass summon again! Assuming you don’t get locked out by your opponent.
Also should mention that LINK monsters wherever their Red-Arrow points too, means those monsters in those zones are LINKED to it. Get it? Because LINK monster? But anyways, enjoy your new game mechanics, engage the rage quitting, and enjoy the new mat I designed myself, took me like eight hours!
Oh yea, Pendulum monsters cards now share the zone with Magic & Traps, if you play them as a Pendulum card you are then limited to using three Magic & Traps total.
A few weeks before the convention opened, the Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC) (the larger, more powerful convention here in Salt Lake City) purchased 50% of the ownership of the Salt Lake Gaming Con (SLGC). At first I was curious as to what that meant, exactly. The SLCC is a ruthless corporate machine willing to turn the hearts and souls of Nerddom into a quick profit. Arriving at SLGC, I instantly smelled the essence of the Comic Con. They’re well known for their lack of preparedness and Kafkaesque queue lines and entry system. Last year at Gaming Con, the press was invited to arrive a day early. We received information packets detailing the coming events of the weekend. We were shown around the places and told where useful things were. The press room was in a back corner. It was nice and quiet; a decent space to work. The room was filled with water and occasionally snacks.
Comic Con has a clear fuck-the-press attitude, which was made more than clear at their main event last year. Here at Gaming Con 2016 things are not quite as organized as they were last year, and I blame it on the new interference of Comic Con.
Starting off, we were shown around the exhibit hall by a coordinator and eventually led to the press area; a small corner right next to a giant TV. At this point, the journalists and I started questioning where our press passes were. The response we got was: “There might not be any.” No fucking Press Passes! This is the one thing that lets me talk to developers and booth operators with a bit more authority than the standard con-goer. Later I learned that before the takeover, press passes were, in fact printed. When Comic Con came in, the passes were all scrapped and a new design was created. We eventually did get press passes a few hours into the con, but the lack of knowledge about it was what really threw me off.
Everything has been so spotty. “Right now I’m working without Internet in the press room. Christ Alive! Why is there no usable Internet here? We have to share with the PC open play area. I can’t load a fucking website to save my life.” Yup, this is the stink of the fuck-the-press mentality mentioned earlier. The Press Coordinator was doing his best to try and help us, but he knew about as much of what was going on as we did. The Internet we were promised never came. Other press members resorted to using their phone as a hot spot to connect to something. I sat there in vain, refreshing my webpage again and again. Walking around the con I could definitely tell there were some major changes. Things felt more like Comic Con than a typical gaming con. The vendors were the main attraction this year (in the past the developers and gamer’s were the main focus). The booths set up for them took up a large space and were definitely the centerpieces. Now it was a bit different this time. There was still a space for developers…it was just smaller. Some developers were allocated weird corners and tiny booths, shoved away to make room for the moneymakers. It was like developers were here just to meet some sort of quota.
“Ok, we now have enough video games here to call it a ‘video game convention.’ Now let’s get more people selling pop! figures”.
To the con’s credit there were huge areas where people could play video games. Rows of PCs were set up for anyone to jump on and play. A lot of people just spent the entire con in this area, having a good time playing Overwatch or League of Legends. There was a large section for board games, and an even bigger one for tabletop RPGs. This was definitely refreshing to see, and one of the few decisions made by the original Gaming Con management.
Once again the people who truly shined here were the ones who showed off their art, rather than trying to make a quick profit off of the con-goers. The Utah Games Guild (UGG) was back to show off some new projects, as well as some improved from last year. Titles such as Crashnauts and Legacy of the Elder Star have returned, donning shiny new designs.
One such new game was We Must Go Deeper, an illustrated 2D co-operative submarine experience. Each players mans a different part of the sub, such as helm or weapons. They work together to reach the bottom of the sea and fight a deadly giant squid. The game is still in development right now, but I’m very excited to take a look at it once it’s ready. During the demo, I played in the weapons section. I had to manually load each torpedo I fired. I had to run around the sub, wrench in hand, fixing holes that sprang up due to the attacking sea creatures.
Another title was Ethos, a dark AMMORPG rumored to have an entirely player-driven economy, and boasting Dark Souls-like combat mechanics. The demo featured a boss fight against a massive troll. Right now they only have a “proof of concept” ready. But if they take their time and refine what I played, they could have something truly special. I’ll definitely be following the development of this game as it progresses.
The people over at UGG are working hard on their games. It was amazing to talk to them about their progress and aspirations. This group is certainly dedicated to their art. I love the UGG’s ideals. Like-minded people are brought together to collaborate and bounce ideas off one another. It’s great to have other creative people around you while you work. It really shows in their games.
One thing that was pretty exciting was the abundance of VR at the con. There are a lot of places who were just using VR as a gimmick to sell their products. One product was a VR Cardboard. Purchasing one of these got you 15 minutes in the HTC Vive. Another booth just had a Vive and an Oculus Rift set up. For the price of $10 you could spend 10 minutes on their systems (except Microsoft for some reason). This is the only free VR experience I’ve found here; although it was only for 5 minutes and the line was huge. This seemed bizarre, since you’d assume Microsoft would be the first to try and lure people into buying something, or even more heinous pre-order a game. However, Microsoft was just sponsoring another group.
Wil Brown, head of the Utah Virtual Reality (UVR) meetup group, has done a great job of setting up and showing off the wonders of VR. To hear him talk about working in VR space was simply incredible. He has such a passion for it and I couldn’t help but see just how amazing the technology actually was. He should have had his own panel, instead of stupid shit like the dumb PS4 vs. Xbox One debate they gave him. I’ve set up some special deals with Wil and will be covering UVR here in the near future. In my random chats with Wil, we discussed some incredible stuff. We talked about the Vive and the Oculus. But then he showed me something that isn’t on the market yet, and something to which few developers have access: the Microsoft HoloLens. This mixes both reality and virtual reality into the perfect sci-fi experience…or it will once it’s ready for consumers. As of right now it’s just a “developer’s kit”; Microsoft trying to create some programs for it. At most you can create 3D images that sit in the middle of real space. From what I experienced with it though, this is the dawn of the future. Soon enough this thing and things like it will be widely available.
On the non-video side of gaming, there was plenty to see…surprisingly so. Piazo, a tabletop RPG company was there to host some Pathfinder Society games. An employee for Piazo held a panel about upcoming releases and general RPG talk. The panel was pretty small but the people attending were all interested in RPGs, so it led to some good discussion. Additionally, I decided that it’d be fun to do a bit of role-playing. I sat down for an hour-long session of D&D and played Lockwood, the arrow-slinging animal whisperer. Although I tend to enjoy other systems more, it was really enjoyable to revisit good ol’ Dungeons and Dragons. This is what the con was truly about. This was the best part; a few strangers sitting down and sharing a hobby. Despite all the corporate chicanery, stuff like this was still able to shine through. It’s easy to get caught up in the money-hungry nonsense that conventions draw, but at the heart of it all these are still these brief moments of happiness and excitement.
Cards Against Humanity (CAH) has quickly gone from a little-known indie game to a worldwide phenomenon in a few short years. It’s a vulgar card game, meant to combine horrible things with horrible ideas. The company behind the game has done little to hide their image as the rudest game developers around. They’ve even gone as far and to stage several public stunts to enhance this image. For Black Friday, 2014 CAH sold on their site the $6.00 Bullshit Expansion. Inside the box however was not more cards to add to your game, but something far stinkier: literal bullshit, like from a bull’s butt. In the mail 30,000 people got a small box containing a good portion of poop. There wasn’t anything else. No secret cards, no message, no nothing…except poop. In 2015 CAH came back with another Black Friday “sale.” This time the asking price was $5.00 (a discount!), but instead of getting anything nearly as exciting as poo, people got jack all. The site clearly stated that your $5.00 wouldn’t get you anything. You were just giving it to the company. They made over $71,000 doing this. What assholes. However, they are lovable assholes. Cards Against Humanity has been known to sponsor some great charity work. They’ve donated to organizations like Worldbuilders, Donorschoose.org, and the Chicago Design Museum.
The people at Cards Against Humanity are ironically pretty active humanitarians. And the money they got from selling shit? It all went to Heifer International, an organization that brings cows and other livestock to villages around the world that are in need. The money they got for absolutely nothing? Well, they kept all that. No one is perfect, but doing something like setting up a $500,000 scholarship for women looking to get into science deserves a little windfall…especially after what they’ve continued to do.
Most recently, the CAH folks wanted to do something nice for the factory workers in China who print and assemble their product. The workers have had to deal with the substantial growth just as much as the rest of the company. Cards Against Humanity wanted to give them something that they all desperately needed: a paid vacation. In China, paid vacations are pretty rare, and there really wasn’t a formal way of doing it. So CAH did the next best thing; they paid for the factory to run at 100% capacity for a week, while producing nothing. During this time, everyone in the factory received full pay but were able to see their families and spend a little time for themselves over the holidays. Cards Against Humanity loves to look edgy and rude, just like their game. But deep down they’re all wonderful people.