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Michael Duetzmann

Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: PvE/PvP

PvE/PvP: Shorthand for Player Versus Environment and Player Versus Player. The phrases describe the type of interaction players will experience in the game and where they receive feedback and interaction from. Many games have both PvE and PvP components to their experience, each gaining benefits to the other.

PvE

Player Versus Environment (PvE) interactions are situations in which one or more players collaborate to interact/overcome a computer-controlled threat or problem.

Wii U Splatoon screenshot
Tower Control – one of the game modes in the ranked battles!

PvP

Player versus Player (PvP) puts players in competition with each other, often providing a direct threat or problem to each other. PvP often provides a short play experience for players, but since they involve other people they cannot be paused or stopped early without disrupting the experience for other players.

Entire PvE narratives have been designed as tutorials to bring players into the PvP experiences (eg. th story mode for many first-person shooters ).

Examples:

  • Splatoon is PvP: Players are shooting other players with paint and trying to send them back to start point for your team.
  • Super Mario Odyssey is PvE: Your challenges in the game come from the environment not other players.
  • World of Warcraft contains both PvE and PvP: most of the content in the game is PvE, but players can opt into a PvP experience or enter specific PvP battlegrounds.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: Skill Tree

Skill Tree: A set of abilities listed in a linear path (often with some or many branches) where access becomes available in sequence. As a player purchases skills in the beginning of a tree, it unlocks the next skill, or choice of skills, in the linear path. Skill trees are often themed, and are designed to encourage a particular style of play (or several closely tied styles of play). Skill Trees are often visible to the player, showing potential abilities (and potential styles of play) that are available through spending resources on this particular path. Skill Trees are often built in collections of multiple Trees, and often share the same resource, requiring the player to make careful choices to best suit their style of play. The availability and combination of Skill Trees are often used to help better describe a character (or a class) and its interactions with others.


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You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: Port

Port: A reference to import/export. Port refers to a game originally designed or published for one console or device, that has been redesigned or republished for a new one. Porting a game intends to provide players with a similar experience, but as the differences between the original and new device/console increase, the greater the difference in quality or play experience.

Ports vary depending on the limitations of the machines being imported to or exported from, and features will be removed or altered (such as removal/additions of touch screens, simplified controls, and graphical resolution and frame rate).

Examples of Ports:

  • Minecraft Pocket Edition: Originally on PS3 and Xbox 360 and ported over to mobile
  • Fortnite: Originally on PS4, Xbox One and PC and ported to mobile
  • Mario Kart 8: Originally on Wii U and ported to the Switch

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is Buff/Debuff/Nerf

Buff /Nerf

Buff, when paired with Nerf, are mechanical changes made to a game by designers after launch to balance play. These changes either balance play between other players, balance the player’s interaction with the difficulty of a single-player experience, or both. Players find Buffs and Nerfs paired together and distributed in collections known as Patches. Patches release with the buffs and nerfs specifically identified and typically designer commentary on why the changes were made.

Buff/Debuff

Buff, when paired with Debuff, refer to game abilities . The ability applies to player and computer controlled characters, often only lasting a set amount of time or connected to specific pieces of equipment. These abilities change the availability and preference to choices made in play without completely changing the flow. A buff that increases damage to a particular action encourages its repeated use while the ability is active. A debuff that prevents you from using certain abilities (such as silence/mute in the Final Fantasy Series) encourages finding alternate action, either physical attacks or the use of items or abilities to recover from the limitation


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many mobile games and some video games: Microtransactions

Microtransaction: A piece of content, either cosmetic or gameplay related, set at a very low price point. Players typically purchased these pieces of content individually. Frequently there is the option to purchased similar content repeatedly or bundled together as a part of larger collections. You will find Microtransactions typically in games that are free-to-play. These Microtransactions offer an improved quality of game experience or entirely different types of play.

Microtransactions, primarily in PC and console games may also include Loot Boxes, Loot Crates, or in card based games Booster Packs. Gachas are another term used in mobile games for Loot Boxes.

Pokemon Go Logo
Pokemon Go Logo

Examples of Microtransaction in Mobile Games:

  • Candy Crush Saga: Players can purchase more live, so they do not have to wait for them to refresh. Boosters, which make levels easier can also be purchased.
  • Pokémon Go: Players buy Pokecoins to buy in game items such as more Pokeballs or Lucky Eggs.

Examples in Console/On-line Games

Day 1 Ready: Fortnite Arrives Next Week on Xbox Series X|S and PS5
  • Fortnight: Players purchase V-Bucks to buy Skins, Skin packs, and other cosmetic items.
  • Overwatch: Loot boxes may be purchased or earned in game. They include four items which may include alternate skins, emotes, and lines of dialogue, or other items.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: Achievement/Trophy

Achievements and Trophies were introduced in the era of Xbox and PS3 game consoles. They are a set of points, badges, or icons that show successful completion of a particular type of play. Some games allow Achievements or Trophies to be publicly facing online. Achievements can represent the completion of a section of story or narrative, the use of a particular game mechanic, exceptional skill in gameplay, or discovery of a hidden quirk or feature within the game. Achievements and Trophies are often hidden to avoid spoiling the narrative of the game. Visible ones encourage exploration of the game and mastery of play.

Examples of Achievements and Trophies:

Minecraft:

  • Taking Inventory Achievement: The first time a player opens their inventory
  • Adventuring Time: For finding every biome

Star Wars Squadrons:

  • Galaxy’s Finest (story mode): For completing the campaign on story mode difficulty

Stardew Valley:

  • Bronze trophy for catching 100 fish

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

Your Family Game On!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: DLC

DLC is shorthand for Down Loadable Content. This refers to features available to a game after its initial launch. These features can be as simple as changes in a player’s appearance, or as complex as entire sections of new gameplay. These features are accessible either via the console’s online store or directly through the game itself. They can be purchased individually, in collections (bundles) or available for free (or free with purchase of the game).

DLC Examples

  • Animal Crossing regularly has updates, one update included masks you can get for your character to win. There are also seasonal updates too.
  • Super Smash Bros. version 9.0 updated to add Steve and Alex from the Minecraft Series as well as well as added Minecraft World as a stage.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn had DLC released that players could purchase which added a new section of map, new story, new equipment, and additional monsters.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get

Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

Follow us on Facebook!

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This past weekend was not only PAX East, but it also featured the first Mythic Championship AND a panel featuring the full unveiling of the next expansion for Magic: The Gathering.

War of the Spark is the next set. It will be released on May 3rd, 2019 and will feature the dramatic conclusion to a story that has been building up for years. (Yes. You read that right. Magic has had a continuous story that has been building up to this moment.) Nicol Bolas (a crazy elder dragon who is seeking ultimate power) has been visiting various planes to gather armies (Ahmonket) and artifacts of great power (Ixalan) to help him attack the city of Ravnica. His goal has been to dominate the city and draw planeswalkers from across the multiverse to attack him and stop him. Why, you might ask? Because he is laying a trap for them. It’s all very intense and will play out through the themes represented in the cards and their art.

War of The Spark preview season is going to include card previews for every card in the set, instead of single card reveals. These previews happen ing in the next couple of weeks will now feature sets of five cards, and are going to be from every level of rarity, and for all types of players. These cards will be used to tell a complete scene in the ongoing story in War of The Spark

Planeswalkers Matter

War of The Spark will feature thirty six planeswalkers, with one planeswalker as the buy-a-box promo. With the previous promise of a planeswalker in ever pack, we now know they are going to fulfill that promise with planeswalkers at various rarities (The infinite cohost called it). There are going to be twenty uncommon, twelve Rare, and three mythic planeswalkers in the set. These characters are drawn from throughout the multiverse of Magic and throughout its history.

In addition to uncommon and rare planeswalkers, War of The Spark features new abilities and mana costs never seen before on cards before. Hybrid mana symbols are being printed on planeswalkers for the first time ever, allowing for flexible casting costs and fitting them in as many decks as possible. Wizards also confirmed in their War of The Spark Panel at Pax that all thirty seven planeswalkers will feature a static or triggered ability as part of their rules text.

Having abilities on planeswalkers where their vary presence influence the battlefield leads to many more opportunities for cool cards and cool play

Positive Proliferation

Proliferate shows up as a returning mechanic for War of The Spark. Last featured in the Scars of Mirrodin block, this mechanic lets you add any kind of counter to any number of permanents that you own. Which not only supports planeswalkers but creatures with +1 counters.

Amass an Army

Amass is a key word focusing around the Dreadhorde, Nicol Bolas’s personal army of zombie warriors. Each card with Amass lets you create a zombie army token with +1/+1 counters or add more counters to your existing creature. The intent behind the ability is to create a single giant creature to destroy your opponent in only a few crushing attacks. Where it lacks in its ability to create multiple army tokens, the ability to go big leads to a massive creature dominating the battle field. Hope you don’t find a way to give it trample!

That Trailer Though

The War of the Spark trailer is the most viewed trailer in the history of Magic for a reason. Give it a look!

I didn’t know I wanted a CGI Magic Movie until right now.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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EA announced that they were releasing Elder Scrolls: Legends on PS4 and Switch at their EA Play Media Briefing during E3 week this year. They also confirmed that the game would have cross-play between all of the platforms it is available on.  This is a serious advantage over Hearthstone, which has not expanded much since its initial offerings to mobile devices and PC gaming.

Elder Scrolls Legends is a digital collectible card game that pulls its influences from one of Bethesda’s longest running and popular settings. What separates it from other free to play online card games is just how well integrated the Elder Scrolls lore and feel is integrated into both its single and multiplayer content. Legends offers both competitive and casual multiplayer modes, but also offers single player story modes along with a single player arena mode (Their version of a limited card deckbuilding format).

Elder Scrolls features cards and deck construction that encourages multiple styles of play. Most card games limit you deck construction to cards of a single playable class and a set of neutral cards. Legends treats your deck and your personal avatar as two separate things to be customized. 

First and most pleasantly, the cards allow for multicolor deck construction as well as full support for multicolor cards. Each color of cards in Elder Scrolls Legends represents one the themes with the world of Elder Scrolls: White is the color of order and armies, Red is the color of rage and fury, Blue is the color of sorcery and knowledge, Purple is the color of control and ancient (undead) power, and green is color of nature and hidden threats. The races of the Elder Scrolls series often appear in multiple colors: Imperial forces are white and purple, Argothian lizardfolk are green and purple, and Khajiit Catfolk appearing in both green and white. These races, of which I only named a few, are often featured in Legends multicolored cards. While Legends limits deck construction to a maximum of two colors, it allows for more diverse design with each color as themes not only work within their own color, but with other colors as well. It also allows for more cards to be relevant as the same color can be played in different ways, even more so when paired with another color.

Your personal avatar will also serve you well in the free to play progression system within the game. The game rewards both single player and multiplayer content with gold (to buy packs, arena passes, and stories), Soul Gems (the common resource among card gam11es to craft individual cards, as well as a random cards. The cards you will receive after multiple played games will be based on your in-game avatar, and since races are connected to multiple colors, this gives you control to the type of rewards you receive as you play.

I would recommend Elder Scrolls Legend as a digital card game to family gamers who are invested in the lore of Elder Scrolls, and are looking for solid single and multiplayer content. With its Teen rating to the ESRB, Elder Scrolls Legends is also a playable alternative to younger gamers who want to experience the Elder Scrolls series without the more mature content that is a mainstay of the Bethesda Series.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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It is always great to return to a familiar and comfortable place.

Level 5 Studios released Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch several years ago. They made it in cooperation with Studio Ghibli. It felt like they took Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Ponyo and turned them into a video game. It was wonderful.

Level 5 then began work on Ni No Kuni 2 exclusively for the PS4 with the goal of matching the art, the style, and the story. They succeeded. 

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is one of the most family friendly role playing video games of this year.  My claim is that it is also one of the most educational games as well. It doesn’t teach STEM skills or artistic skills. But, it helps teach a lesson in leadership. The games story focuses around the journey of Evan, an overthrown young king who wants to rebuild his lost kingdom unite the lands around it in peace. Every feature and detail in the game works in concert to reinforce this theme with a heavy dash of fantasy and whimsy to keep things light.

Ni No Kuni 2 takes a large departure from the original game and starts the action of the game almost immediately. I am trying hard to avoid spoiling the story, but a mysterious man named Roland is magically transported into the castle of Ding Dong Dell just as the kingdom is about to be overthrown. Fans of the first game will see constant call backs to the original game without muddling the main story or being required to appreciate the story unfolding before you.



This game was never a grind. Evan’s quest is interwoven with a variety of small stories that, however brief, breath more life into the world. Evan can meet and recruit people for the kingdom of his own while on his way to confront leaders of troubled kingdoms.  Evan’s kingdom also serves as a hub to create and upgrade his friend’s weapons and armor, learn new abilities, and unlock new places to explore. It’s even a city building mini-game in its own right. 

This game wants you to play at your own pace so you can soak in every beautiful detail. Even overland travel is a joy to take in, and frequent travel hubs allow you to instantly teleport back to locations you have already traveled to (Hint: Trip Doors are your friends. Use them often.)

My only complaint is that Level 5 relies too heavily on whimsical humor to get its themes across. The apprentice blacksmith you recruit? Nu Bi. The Dogkin person you recruit for the armorers? Fai Do. The grizzled veteran? Bai Gon. The merchant is named Price. Your lumberjack is named Chi Pi. Players should be advised of heavy levels of puns during game play and the heavy groans almost pull you out of the fun… almost. If you meet someone in town with a name, chances are there will be a quest to recruit them eventually.

This game take advantage of recent video game practices to keep failure or sudden spikes in difficulty from derailing play. The side quests between major questing areas provide just enough experience to your characters to keep them in line with the next area. If you suddenly arrive in an area where everything seems way to high level, or encounter an optional monster that seems way too difficult, come back to it later (Often by convenient Trip Door). Large scale battles through Kingdom Building will only return you to the beginning of the encounter.

The game provides you every opportunity to re-arm, upgrade, and retool your team. This makes the experience approachable to adults and younger gamers alike. Very young gamers can watch the proceedings, but they might struggle. 

Conclusion

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a refreshing experience. It is a game that is cartoon-ish and fun, but touches on very important topics that  “serious” games struggle with. This is highly recommended for any family gamers that are fans of the role playing game genre.

It is always great to return to a familiar and comfortable place. Revenant Kingdom let me go there. 



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