Steam

How to Block games by Title and Tag on Steam

The simple goal is to block certain types of games from being displayed on the Steam store front page and from the Discovery Queue. To be honest, I’m tired of the Anime genre that pops up some very suspect titles.

There are 2 ways to block games – by title and by tag.

Most people are familiar how to block a title. Once the title is selected, click Not Interested underneath the window and it will no longer come up.

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Additionally, you can block by Tag in the Discovery Queue. Once in the queue, click the Customize link and exclude the Tag, in this case Anime, from the list.

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To block games from the main store front, hover the mouse over the game title graphic and in the right hand corner of the image you should see two downward pointing arrows or chevrons. Click this and select Preferences. You can then block a Tag, again Anime, and Save the preferences.

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You will of course need to be logged in to save the changes and when visiting the store for them to have an effect.

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Ember – An RPG that pays tribute to games like Ultima and Diablo

They say time is relative to the developer. And it was about a year ago when I first read news of new RPG being created that would be heavily influence by Ultima and Diablo. Oddly, it was intended to be a mobile game and available at the end of 2015.

Well, that kinda, sorta, never really happened. Instead, the game was built for the desktop and it now available on Steam. However, it does an impressive job of keeping a price of a mobile game and is $9.99. And this is not some Flash based game, this rascal is a hefty 4GB download.

I hadn’t been tracking the release, so it coming to Steam was a complete surprise. Nevertheless, I immediately bought a copy. And after playing for a few hours, it’s an impressive game that does play like an Ultima from the days of old.

In typical style, I looted crypts and rifled through the pockets on my slain enemies. I amassed a hefty stock of junk weapons and sold them off to the first merchant I came across. With my new coins I bought plenty of rations to use in healing and bought cloth armor to replace my rags.

And in the same familiar sense, the goal is to gain XP and use those points to level up Strength, Dexterity, Intellect and Vitality. Those skill points are then use for the warrior with blades, the archer with ranged weapons, or the mage with wands. I chose blades and worked my way out of the first area called the Barrows and up to the main world. From there I gathered multiple quests, found all sorts of new weapons and explored several of the areas.

For anyone who played the older Ultimas, you will be familiar with the idea of getting out bedroll to camp and restore your strength and vitality. You will so be familiar with the simple combat mechanics. There is ridiculously complicated skill tree or the idea of min/max skills. You apply points to the stat that benefits you the most, Strength for melee, then go find or buy the most badass weapon you can. There are weapons "of Tormet", "of Smiting", "of Quake", "of the Bull", that give different special bonuses, combat moves or healing.

There is also some crafting such as cooking meat, fish and chicken to sustain you on the long journey. These have to be cooked over a campfire before they can be consumed, so have to think ahead just a bit.

There are the usual encounters with bears, wolves and stags so you can gather hides and make clothes, or sell them for money.

Like the old Ultima series, you will have companions to help you out. You start off with one, but as you progress, others will join in the quest.

You interact with plenty of people and decide how you want to handle those encounters. You can take the combative approach or the compassion approach.

Ember is a single player adventure game that I’m quite taken with so far. The mechanics are simple and understandable. The main focus of the game is exploration and interaction. The combat is click to attack, but mixes in special abilities you activate to keep things interesting. You activate them for the other party members as well.

I’m amused by the crafting and the ability to craft your own items. You get basic cooking, but there are recipes for making healing and energy potions. You can also make weapons and other items. As you move around the map you will see harvestable items like Sage and Copper Ore. And in dungeons you will find different reagents.

I’m also thrilled that a game of this scope and quality is a mere $10. In this age where games hit the store with a price tag of $60, whether it deserves it or not, it’s nice to see a game that you can take a chance on without emptying your pockets and becoming a pauper.

Finally, Ember is a game you can play for a few minutes or few hours. For those that remember, Ember uses save files, so it’s always best to save the game often, especially before a big encounter so you can go back and do it again if things go sideways. You only get three slots, but I save like a fiend every time I come through a scrape or find something good.

For those that liked game like Ultima 4-7, the original Diablo, and other more casual RPGs, Ember is an impressive game with lots of fun. It has a nice momentum to it, without having to grind relentlessly to build your skills. And there are plenty of quests out there to keep you busy.

It’s a highly recommended title and for $10, you absolutely can’t go wrong with it.

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A copper vein out in the world. Copper can be used for weapons.

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A fishing resource. Good thing I found a fishing pole while rifling through the pockets of my fallen enemies

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A bandit road with some slain bodies. Those were like that when I got here.

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Hmm, dirty rotten bandits trying to block my path

Ember on Steam

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Time for Steam to clean up Early Access

Since there are so many titles up for sale during the Steam Summer Sale, it’s hard not to be exposed to a slew of new titles. However, it also exposes some serious flaws with Early Access. There are a lot of titles still in Early Access that haven’t been updated in a couple of years with hundreds (or more) negative reviews saying the game has been abandoned and not to waste your money. And it’s not just one or two titles, I’ve seen dozens.

I think Kickstarter and Steam Early Access are a fantastic platform to let Indie developers get their games into player hands without having to go through the corporate BS that kills off so many titles. Think of how many studios Microsoft and Electronic Arts have scuttled and you’ll get my point.

However, it’s becoming clear that Early Access is a dumping ground for get rich quick schemes and half-baked games where developers are hoping they’ll get enough money to finish their game. That’s not what Early Access is for.

Early Access should be for people to see a game in it’s early stages of development so they can offer input into the balancing of the game; things such as how hard a racing game should be, combat mechanics and AI difficulty. You can see this in games like Dirt Rally, Hand of Fate and Shroud of the Avatar.

But that’s not how it’s working out in a lot of cases. There are way too many developers showing off a prototype of their game and asking for money to actually make it happen. The line between Kickstarter and Early Access is blurring to an alarming extent. We shouldn’t be putting up with that. Steam needs to scrape these games off and start auditing Early Access. For example, if you don’t provide a significant code update every 3 months, you’re done in Early Access and your game is yanked from the store. Additionally, money should be held in escrow and paid out every 3 months once you provide a code update. That way everyone can easily get a refund if need be. It should also be that once you get a significant number of negative reviews, there is an audit to justify whether you continue in Early Access. You shouldn’t be allowed to continue racking up the hate without consequence.

To be blunt, look at games like Towns, Delver, Next Car Game, Victory Age of Racing, Timber and Stone, Fortune’s Tavern and Blockscape just to name a few. Right now, you can go on Steam and buy a copy. Some have been outright abandoned, like Towns, while others have been in Early Access for 2 years. This kind of crap needs to stop. This is a ripoff for players and a disservice to other Indie developers.

To be even more blunt, Victory Age of Racing was abandoned and the company behind it was able to start another Early Access game, RaceCraft, which has been under development for about a year. You have a track record of 100% failure, but you’re back on Early Access? No good. At the very least, since there is a way to Green Light games on Steam, there should be a way to Black Flag them. Give us the option to request a game be reviewed for it’s standards so we aren’t left with all this crap lingering in the store.

To be honest, I’ve had enough of Early Access and apart from Shroud of the Avatar and Besiege, I no longer support Early Access games. I encourage Steam to start auditing Early Access and cut off these leeches. I also encourage people to be very careful when buying an Early Access game. Make sure to read the reviews and check how often the updates are coming. Sure, there’s a refund policy these days, but that’s no excuse for due diligence.

Early Access is not a fundraising campaign. Go to Kickstarter for that.

By the way, if you take money for a product, yet never deliver it, and don’t give the money back, some might be harsh and call that stealing.

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Steam Summer Sale in Full Swing

The Steam Summer Sale is in full swing, so much so that the servers were actually choking from time to time as people descended on new deals. And there are thousands of deals to be had. Almost everything in my Wishlist is on sale, although I don’t think 10-15% is really enough of a discount for this sort of sale. Come on now, if you want me to be interested you need to at least give me 40%.

That being said, I snagged some great deals! Lots of new games to mess around with and several indie titles that show promise.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some games I highly recommend with steep discounts.

Banished

Besiege

Age of Empires

Rise of Nations

Tropico 5

Lego Worlds

Windward

Project Cars

The Crew

Hand of Fate

Desktop Dungeons

Forsaken Isle

And by the way, what in the hell is going on with all these enormously breasted Japanese anime titles that keep jumping out at me? I have no problem with these games, but egad, can I get a bit of warning before those come tumbling out?

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All signs point to the Steam Summer Sale starting today

After casting lots, consulting the Ouija and reading sites that actually know what they’re talking about, it looks like the Steam Summer Sale will start today, and in roughly 3 hours. That’s when the current sales expires.

This is usually a pretty big event and I’ve got dozens of games on my Wishlist, waiting to see if the price drops. At the moment, I can’t say there is a particular title I’m waiting for as I’ve scooped up so many games in previous sales, that my library is overflowing with titles. I think it’s too soon to get a massive discount on Dirt Rally, but a drop on Factorio might not be unreasonable.

I’m sure this sale will cost me a pretty penny, it always does. And of course, I need something to go along with the new Steam Controller that just showed up.

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