Sunday, November 26, 2017

Survivor Series

Hey everyone, sorry about not getting predictions or recaps up for Survivor Series. I was fighting a miserable cold and honestly it completely just slipped my mind. We'll get back on the wagon for Clash of Champions.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

GoodPointJoe's Top 5 Gaming Bundle Sites

Seven years ago, my friend Anthony brought to my attention a promotion called The Humble Indie Bundle. It was a collection of games from small-time developers that I had mostly never heard of, and the proceeds would be split between the developers and a couple of charities. This of course spiked a conversation about the concept of charity and whether anyone could be truly charitable, but dmore importantly, it started my journey into bundle-shopping.

That first bundle included six games: Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru HD, Penumbra: Overture, Samorost 2, and World of Goo. In what would set the tone for my next seven years (plus) on Steam, I have only played two of those games (stay tuned to find out which!...just kidding, World of Goo and Gish), but I was hooked on bundles.

Since then, some bundle sites have come and gone. Indie Royale always had some really interesting games, but their prices tended to be higher than most of the other sites. Blink Bundle had great bundles, but seemed unable to keep their business model afloat.

But plenty of sites are still chugging along, offering multiple games at a minimal price. So, in the interest of continuing my tradition of doing a Top 5 list about anything, here are my Top 5 Gaming Bundle Sites.

------------------------------------

5. Indie Gala


Now don't get me wrong. Indie Gala is far from a perfect bundle site. In fact, if you said that you knew about Indie Gala and hated Indie Gala, I wouldn't fault you. Indie Gala puts out a lot of crummy bundles, sometimes even bundles without a single game that really deserve more attention.

BUT.

They generate a shit ton of bundles. And while a lot of them can be junky, they also occasionally put out a really solid set of games. Or, they'll put a gem in a bundle, and it makes you end up checking out a few games you might not have normally given a second thought. They do a good job of persisting in one of the most useful purposes of bundling games, which is to jointly benefit from the games' individual popularities.

Some Favorites from Indie Gala:
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Jolly Rover
  • Zombie Driver HD
------------------------------------

4. Go Go Bundle


Go Go Bundle is an interesting site. They don't make any claims about the quality of the games they provide, they just promise a cheap set of games. The big difference for Go Go Bundle is that they offer a reduced price if you buy larger quantities of the bundle.

This might not seem useful if you're just a person who plays games, but if you're a person who plays games and streams them on Twitch, this can be very handy. The amount of discount you can receive on bulk bundle purchases is substantial; usually you can pick up 50 bundles for $20. This equates out to anywhere from 300-500 Steam keys, each of which you can use as a giveaway on your stream.

Sometimes the games are shovelware, sometimes they aren't. But most Twitch viewers who are turned on by giveaways don't mind if it's a no-name, unexceptional game. Intentionally or unintentionally, Go Go Bundle is helping Twitch streamers add another layer of fun to their broadcasts.

Some Favorites from Go Go Bundle
  • 12 Labours of Hercules II: The Cretan Bull
  • 12 Labours of Hercules III: Girl Power
------------------------------------

3. Bundle Stars / Fanatical


Bundle Stars recently rebranded itself, and the site is now named Fanatical. I haven't delved too deeply to see what's changed, but at first blush, it seems to have the same types of deals and bundles as it always did.

Bundle Stars had frequent bundles of varying quality, but overall I'd say the games they offer are of a higher quality than Indie Gala or Go Go Bundle. Additionally, they sometimes have excellent deals on individual games. I was able to scoop up the complete Shadow of Mordor pack for a mere $3.00 a couple months ago, and while I still haven't played the game, I know it'll be good when I do.

Overall, I like the games, the interface, and the overall vibe of Bundle Stars/Fanatical. While it's a little trite to say, it really does feel like a site that's been developed by gamers, for gamers.

Some Favorites from BundleStars / Fanatical
  • Hoard: Complete Pack
  • Pixel Puzzles
  • Pixel Puzzles 2
  • Trapped Dead
------------------------------------

2. Groupees


Groupees has this one weakness that keeps them from ranking higher on my list: the games aren't that good. While Groupees doesn't have noticeably worse games than a site like Indie Gala, nor do they have games that seem to be any better. They have their fair share of shovelware, and it's not often that they post a bundle with any sort of surprisingly good game. So why is Groupees one of my favorite bundle sites?

Music!

While many Humble Bundles and some of the other bundles include game soundtracks as part of their content, Groupees regularly includes actual music albums in their bundles. In fact, some bundles have only music, no games. And while lots of the music is conventional rock or hip-hop, a lot of the music feels like video game music. There are chiptunes (think original NES music), orchestral themes, electronic songs, and all other sorts.

Groupees also dives into comics as much as any other gaming bundle site other than maybe Humble Bundle, giving you some more media to consume. Groupees also offers you the option of contributing a portion of your payment to charity, if you're into that sort of thing.

Some Favorites from Groupees
  • 8-Bit Adventures: The Forgotten Journey
  • Party of Sin
  • Payday 2 - Clover Character Pack (to troll Chip)
  • Assorted chiptune albums
------------------------------------

1. Humble Bundle


Ahh, the Humble Bundle. The founder of the feast. The one who started it all. There's no question that Humble Bundle remains the biggest name in bundled games, and deservedly so. They frequently have high-quality games available, uncommonly bundled games, and interesting partnerships. And because a portion of their proceeds go to charity, they'll always be looked upon favorably.

Are they perfect? No, of course not. The Humble Monthly Bundle has been sort of hit-or-miss; I subscribed for a month and wasn't really impressed with my results. And unfortunately, most (or all?) of their mobile bundles have been for Android only; my iPhone sits unattended by Humble Bundle.

Still, when it comes to quality and variety, you can't beat the Humble Bundle. I'm tuned in every Tuesday to see what they've got brewing, and when they partner up with organizations like Awesome Games Done Quick, they've got my full attention.

My list below is by no means exhaustive. HB has provided me with a load of great games.

Some Favorites from Humble Bundle
  • And Yet It Moves
  • The Binding of Isaac
  • BIT.TRIP.RUNNER
  • Braid
  • Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten
  • Dungeon Defenders
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • FTL: Faster Than Light
  • Organ Trail
  • Super Meat Boy
------------

Summary

The Humble Bundle has provided me with far more gaming entertainment than any other bundle site. In fact, I'd say that Humble Bundle rates behind only Steam and Blizzard in terms of the number of delivering enjoyable content to me. And Steam is cheating, since they're basically the hub through which half of my gaming goes.

But they're by no means the only game in town. I'm interested to see if Fanatical pushes out new and interesting ways to drop content, and if I ever get my Twitch stream going again, I'm sure I'll dabble into Go Go Bundle. And of course, every time Groupees releases a bundle full of chiptunes, they've got a customer in me.


Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...