Analysts have recently adjusted their sales predictions downward for Titanfall 2, from 9 million copies to 6 million. This is awful, and I hope that they're wrong. But I fear that they're right, and that's a shame.
Most of the blame is being put on the horrible release date for Titanfall 2, squeezed in between the highly-rated Battlefield 1 (which has surpassed launch sales predictions), and the new Call of Duty (which is somehow still a sales juggernaut). To make matters worse, TF2 was released on the same day as the remastered Skyrim, and a week after Civilization VI. That's just a whole lot of competition.
I feel a huge chunk of the sales damage was done by Respawn itself, however. They released that horrible pre-Alpha Tech Test that all but ensured that many gamers were not going to put down their money on TF2. If they had released that tech test 8 months ago, and released a solid Beta a few weeks ago, it would have propped up sales considerably.
The first Titanfall suffered from low sales at its onset. Being an Xbox/PC exclusive didn't help in that matter. And it did sell close to 3 million units in the long-run. But it was only months after the launch that it became hard to find enough people to play some of the more unpopular modes, especially in non-peak hours. This reputation can only hurt TF2.
My hope is that the Christmas sales will be strong, and that after price cuts the game exceeds sales expectations. Having announced that the DLC will be free, should help. The reviews have been solid, and hopefully, word-of-mouth helps as well.
Titanfall 2 is exceptional. Respawn deserves to have a financial success on their hands. My worry is if it falls several million copies short of expectation, the budget allowed for the third installment will be reduced. That alone could collapse the series in the long-run.
Competition in the first-person-shooter realm is fierce. Respawn deserves credit and good sales numbers because no one is innovating the genre like they are. I love DICE and Blizzard too, but I can't stand what Activision has done to the Call of Duty series. I can only hope that Titanfall 2 grabs some sales away from them. Respawn is all about making a great videogame, not maximizing short-term profit. For that alone, I hope Titanfall 2 somehow becomes a massive hit.
I've had a chance to play several rounds of Titanfall 2, the successor to my favorite FPSer of all time, and my initial take is that the Gamespot and IGN reviews of 9.0 are well deserving. The game is an absolute blast to play, and all the worries caused by that train-wreck pre-Alpha tech test were for naught. Respawn delivered, and thank God that they did.
Two of the primary problems with the tech test: the slow-moving pilots, and the lack of Titans, are completely gone in the final game. In fact, it's easier to move around as a pilot now because you have this kickass grappling hook that makes it a breeze to travel vertically. And every round I've played had plenty of Titans in it. In fact, there are new Titans now, including one that hovers. A few minutes into each round, they're everywhere.
Attrition is back, thankfully. Hardpoint, Capture the Flag, Pilot vs. Pilot, are in the mix. And there's a new mode called Bounty Hunt, where you earn points, and try to hold them, in order to bank them. But the banks aren't open all the time, and you lose points every time you're killed. It's a cool mode that adds another strategic layer to multiplayer.
Now, the lack of Burn Cards is troubling. They're replaced with boosts, which are must simpler, but frankly not as cool. That part sucks. But I think there's enough new stuff to make up for the loss.
Titanfall vets can jump right into Titanfall 2 and have a blast right from the start. Learning the new maps and modes are fun. Starting at level 1 with everyone else is too. One thing that worries me is that on the Saturday right after launch, there were only 38,000 people online on Xbox Live playing. That seems incredibly small to me. I think the awful tech test hurt initial sales. I can only hope the stellar reviews prop them up.
Respawn delivered. What a relief. Titanfall 2 is clearly awesome, and will surely be played by me until its successor comes out. DICE might get the bigger sales, but after playing several rounds of both Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, in terms of fun, it's not even close. Titanfall 2 is the big multiplayer FPSer winner of the season.
I'm probably not even going to buy COD this year. I'm guessing Overwatch and Titanfall 2 will be my go-to FPSer games through 2017 and then some. They're both that good. One wouldn't expect anything less from Blizzard or Respawn, two of the best creators in the business.
There are two upcoming releases I want so badly to be great, that I'm nervous that either one will be.
1. Titanfall 2
The reviews should hit in a few days, with the release coming on Friday. Why am I nervous about it?
The original Titanfall, created by Respawn, was simply the best first-person multiplayer shooter I've ever played. It made me not to want to play Call of Duty anymore (and I've been playing COD since COD 1). Though I've enjoyed Battlefront and Overwatch greatly, and I'm starting to like Battlefield 1 as I learn to play it, none of these games are as supremely polished and fun to play as Titanfall. Not even close.
I just assumed that Zampella & crew would not possibly mess up Titanfall 2. They obviously had a much greater budget. They didn't have to change the game all that much. A few enhancements would have been great. But then that 'pre-Alpha Tech Test' came out, and the collective gaming community starting wondering if this thing was going to be a huge debacle.
I can live playing these other recent FPSer's if Titanfall 2 turns out to be a dud. But I will not be happy about it. I would love nothing better than to be putting a few hundred hours into Titanfall 2 during the next few years. However, if those reviews aren't solid, I won't even buy the game. A few months ago, that was unthinkable, so I'm nervous.
2. Hardwired...to Self-Destruct
I've been a Metallica fan since the '80's. The Master of Puppets album is my favorite piece of art, ever, by a country mile. However, post-And Justice For All, which followed Puppets, my favorite band has shown pieces of brilliance on each album, but none have compared in whole to their first four releases.
I liked the last two albums more than most people. Many had a problem with the tinny drum sound on St. Anger and the drop C tuning. I think the album, like Hetfield has said, is misunderstood. It was so much better than their previous three. And their last album, Death Magnetic, was another step in the right direction. In fact, there're a couple of songs on it that feel like they could fit on Master. So, after so many years of disappointment, I feel the band is trending in the right direction. Hope is a great thing to have.
However, they're taking so long to make albums now. They seem to be on the road for years at a time. Their first four albums—their masterpieces—were made in a six-year stretch. And now it's been eight years since the release of their last album. So you have to be nervous, because it feels like if they had enough time, they could return to the pinnacle of metal that they once were at, but you don't know if time will run out before they get there.
The first releases of off the new album, Lords of Summer, Hardwired, and Moth Into Flame, are all excellent in my book. They're not Master of Puppets excellent, but they sure as hell are better than most of the songs the band has put out since Justice. This new album has the potential to be fantastic from start to finish. But, Metallica has let me down before. I've waited so long for this album, I'm nervous as hell. The November 18th release date can't come soon enough.
My selfish self just hopes I'm not let down. It doesn't get better than Respawn or Metallica. Please, be as great as you're capable of being, and give us product that is worthy of the gods.
I recently returned to Los Angeles from a vacation in rural Upper Michigan, where I grew up. Obviously, these are two largely different worlds with different cultures. Having lived in Southern California for so many years has made me largely forget some of the differences between the places.
For example, Los Angelenos tend to take good weather for granted. You don't need to make alternative plans in case it rains. You don't need to check the weather forecast to decide if you need to reschedule something. You just go out and do what you need to do. You don't have to force yourself to go outside if the weather is good because a clear sky is a rare thing.
In Los Angeles, I rarely get sick. If a bug is going around at work, and I start feeling ill, I'll take a sick day or two, and it almost always puts the sickness at bay before it gains a strong foothold. Back in Michigan, when it gets cold and wet, people tend to stay inside, and you hear coughs the likes of which you almost never hear in Los Angeles. It's almost impossible to avoid sick people in cold climates.
I tend to go to sleep around 2am here in Los Angeles. This is 5am in Michigan, about the time people start getting up. This makes it incredibly hard for me to sleep while I'm there. I tend to get around one or two hours of sleep a night. Mix in with this a house with sick people in it, and it's hard not to catch something. I, fortunately, dodged the bullet this time around, but it really got me thinking about how differently people have to think and act in cold and warm climates. I must have a much greater chance of getting sick in two weeks while visiting in Michigan, than I do spending the other fifty weeks of the year in California.
Naturally, this makes me think about writing. I grew up in rural Michigan, yet because I rarely visit when it's cold, I sort of forgot how much harder it is to dodge sicknesses there than it is to in a climate where people don't have to stay indoors. Having gone to an outdoor wedding while in Michigan, I was reminded that in most places there has to be bad-weather contingency plans for major events. I can't remember the last time I even thought about the weather in Southern California affecting something that I wanted to do.
And that made me wonder if living in a unique area in the world actually works against fiction writers.
Obviously, many great writers have written beautifully about Paris without having been there. I think, however, it would greatly benefit any writer, if they have the opportunity, to travel to a place they're writing extensively about. There are so many different aspects to various regions of the world—some major, some minor—but knowing even the smaller stuff could really add some wonderful color to one's writing.
I never seem to have enough time, nor money, to do much traveling. I have to change that in the future, because traveling and experiencing can only lead to better writing.
I'm on vacation in Upper Michigan, and in my spare time I've been preparing my novel, "The Wicked Trees," for a paperback release via Amazon's CreateSpace. Some of it has gone smoothly (the CreateSpace end), some not at all (the Scrivener formatting).
For all that is great about Scrivener, it's such a nightmare to learn that it's enough to make one go mad. Its functionality is what drives writers to use it, but I find it incredibly hard to learn how to use any of it. The manual is a gargantuan nightmare. There are many how-to videos that people have graciously put up on Youtube, but everyone doesn't use it the same way, and many show older versions of the software.
It also still seems buggy to me. For instance, I could not get the program to consistently capitalize the first couple words of every chapter. It would work for about two-thirds of the chapters, and in no seemingly particular order. I just couldn't figure out how to get it work consistently, so I gave up on that part.
After many, many hours, I was finally able to compile a workable PDF. I'm not going to give up on Scrivener at all. Once you learn it, it is wonderful. But I don't understand why it can't be made more user-friendly. I feel if it doesn't become easier to learn and use over time, people will begin migrating to other options.
CreateSpace, however, was surprisingly easy to figure out. As long as you have a correctly formatted PDF, uploading it, and preparing it for sale is a relative breeze. My only complaint is that the cover-creator is still a bit rudimentary. However, you can easily upload your own cover. I finished my formatting last night, and the digital proof was ready for me to review by morning. When I get back to SoCal, I'll order a physical proof copy. Can't wait to see how it looks.
Amazon has obviously done wonderful things for independent writers. They deserve a lot of credit for doing so. I don't want to bash Scrivener too much. It is a Godsend compared to Word. Once you get through the horrific process of learning it, you'll love what it can do. I'm pretty sure that the post-writing part of novel #2 takes up a fraction of the time of going through it for novel #1.
If Amazon wanted to dominate the market, however, they'd purchase Scrivener, make it more user-friendly, put it all online, and connect it to CreateSpace. That would really seal the deal for most authors, and could make the world of writing a much more wonderful place to be.
Read and absorb this wonderful poem:
Pop queen, amphetamine
The screams crashed into silence
Doused in the gasoline
The high times going timeless
Death of the innocence
The pathway starts to spiral
All for publicity
Destruction going viral
The delusion absolution
Fame is the murderer
Seduce you into ruin
Guarantee your name, you go and kill yourself
The vultures feast around you still
Overdose on shame and insecurity
If one won't do, that fistful will
Black hearse the limousine
A grave filled with seduction
Fame does the murdering
She builds up for destruction
So light it up
Ah, light it up
Another hit erases all the pain
Ah, no excuse
You're falling, but you think you're flying high
Sold your soul
Built the higher wall
Now you're thrown away
Same rise and fall
Who cares at all?
Seduced by fame
A moth into the flame
Addicted to the
Those are the lyrics to the latest Metallica release "Moth in a Flame." It's strong narratives like this that make otherwise good music great, at least for me. Check out the video:
The new Netflix documentary on the murder of Meredith Kercher is a solid, if not too brief look into the murder and subsequent media frenzy involving the accused Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. I never paid close attention to the whole ordeal when it was happening, as the media seemed far too concerned with superficialities and not enough with the facts, and this documentary confirms my suspicions.
The film focuses primarily on interviews with Amanda, Raffaele, Nick Pisa (who was a British journalist covering the event), and the Italian Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, as it brings us through the timeline. We get a good sense of how confusing the events were that happened that night, as the potential participants changed their stories, most likely as a result of harsh harassment by the Italian investigators. We also get a sense of how the whole ordeal was played to the media in a way to make it into an international news feeding frenzy.
The most disturbing revealment, to me, is how fame-hungry Mignini was, and how bizarre his conclusions were. For instance, because the body had been discovered with a blanket on it, he deduced that the killer must have been a woman, because no man would have put a blanket over a corpse. The fact that the Italian government allowed this disturbed man to be a prosecutor is frightening.
Netflix's documentary doesn't give us concrete answers, but it does give enough solid information to make rather informed opinions. Though I would have liked to have seen a three-part series, which would have been able to spend a little more time with the evidence, the trials, and with interviewing more people, this film is a good recap of events, and one that successfully shows us the desperation that Amanda went through, and still goes through to this day.
If you want to relive the trial, the media frenzy, and get a sense of how power is abused in some places on the Earth, I'd suggest checking it out.
My rating: 7/10.