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Thursday, December 20, 2012

[PS2] CERTifiable

From the moment you open Planetside 2 until one day you uninstall, your ears will ring with the siren call of "Certs..." the magical currency in PS2 that makes Auraxis go-round. From the get-go you begin amassing certs to purchase everything from upgrades to new capabilities. It costs 10 certs to learn to use an Auraxian toilet. I wouldn't be surprised if eventually it costs 100 just to be able to logout. Certs are gained primarily through earning experience; so killing, maiming, reviving, assisting, hacking, capturing, rearming, sunbathing...basically everything you do in PS2 aside from breathing (costs 20 certs) earns you xp which earns you certs.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Planetside 2: The circle-zerg

So the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of holidays and law school finals, leaving me bereft of time to write anything meaningful or do much in the way of gaming. In that time I did take a shine to the newly released Planetside 2 and it occupied what breaks I allowed myself. SOE has conjured forth my nostalgic side and drawn me into the web of MMOFPS once more and I don't mind much. I loved Planetside, it was the first game I played with "MMO" at the front of its genre. Alas the game is far from perfect; the shift towards a F2P model has had some negative effects on the gameplay that I aim to address in a coming series of posts...the first of which, I call the "circle-zerg".

Monday, November 26, 2012

[GW2] Fraking Fractals

Despite the title I actually don't disdain the new Guild Wars 2 Fractal dungeon(s) all that much. A dungeon that is slightly variable each run and scales in difficulty and requires you to run it to access the higher difficulties? Sounds great!....on paper. In practice this runs into a few issues.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

[GW2] A Karka in my back, or, "Seriously Arenanet?"

I've been the staunch defender of Arenanet...I've defended their choice of making the Halloween event video a one-time only affair on the grounds that it was a minor thing that everyone could then witness on Youtube...a non-interactive event. I defended their choice to have hard content on Halloween so long as it was not tied to a meta-achievement.

So while some people were expressing valid criticism, I didn't let it hinder my enjoyment. I still stand by my assertion that GW2 is a quality game.

Then they go and fuck me push even my limit.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Trouble with Binary choice

A decade and a half ago in the late 90's games such as Fallout and Planescape Torment released; among their accolades were the extensive dialogue trees that provided a sense of choice to the player with regards to how the story might play out. Each had varying degrees of success, but it was clear that your choices in any given conversation might effect that sub-story going forward; with some impacting the finale. Fast-forward to 2012 and we're cheering on games like Infamous, Mass Effect 3, and others simply for giving us the "paragon/renegade" options; the distilled, streamlined, and frankly, shallow, facsimiles of the systems that came before.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

[GW2] Difficulty, tedium, and clocks

So the Guild Wars 2 Halloween event has come and gone; stirring ripples with its "one-time" event (now reproduced on youtube for viewing pleasure) a temporary zone and PvP games, and a clock tower jumping puzzle that would frustrate M. C. Escher. I decided to step back and ponder my thoughts on the last of those before writing. Why was the Clock Tower so frustrating, why was the aggregate response so negative? For the record, I completed it twice, and I actually enjoyed it once I got the hang of it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

[MMOs] Economies of (digital) Scale

Some time ago I mused that the primary fun of playing a goblin in a game like WoW was that each server represented a relatively small market and as a result there were plenty of openings and opportunities for quasi-monopolistic behavior. Between this and going over the perceived issues with Guild Wars 2's trading post, I've been asking myself what I would want to see in an MMO market.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Time of death; 1 month before release

A common complaint I hear these days is that gaming is too formulaic. A new Assassins Creed, Call of Duty, Battlefield, FIFA, Madden and so on are expected every year. Critics note that E3 in recent years has most sequels than original ideas. Concurrently, I've been privy to joining several closed betas in the past year, and I begin to wonder if the gaming community is working against its own interests in how it handles them.

Friday, October 12, 2012

[RP] Injecting your own Lore

One of my pet-peeves when roleplaying in an MMO are the people who have decided to create their own lore and abide by it rather than the setting of the game. While certainly, they have some right to do that, and if their circle accepts that it seems fine. However I find all too often that in MMO-RP this person wants everyone to accept their revisions. I think this irks me most because the way I see it, Roleplaying in an MMO or other game is akin to co-writing some fanfiction....there's give and take.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Learn 2 not die, or, "It's simple, stupid!"

Go to any random MMO forum, find a thread in which the writer is asking that some boss, ability, mechanic or basically anything mean to be surmounted. Maybe you find the issue the poster is bringing up simple, maybe you agree with the difficulty. I however, will bet you that somewhere in that thread, or ones like it, is someone who's response amounts to "It's fine, learn to play."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Guild Wars 2, a month plus some

Guild Wars 2 represents an oddity for me; it's the first time I have been able to keep myself off the hype train preceding a major release. Ironically, the result of me essentially becoming unaware of it until just before release is that I do not seem to be suffering the same feelings of disappointment as some other bloggers. I feel as though people build these games up to be some great thing, to offer them a sense of wonder they felt long ago (that frankly can never be replicated), and then they find any reason to hate the game when it fails to provide that. After the break, a few improvements I think the game could use, and some comments on the common criticisms.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Botting, Gold-Selling, and Hacking

"When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary; when mores are insufficient, laws are unenforceable." - Emile Durkheim
Continuing my obnoxious trend of beginning posts with quotes, I find this one to be particularly relevant to the topic. Botting, Hacking, and Gold-Selling in video games are a billion dollar industry. Over the weekend, a reddit poster in the Guild Wars 2 subreddit offered to provide some insight from a person who had one been on the "inside" of that world. In the post he explains some of the mechanics of the industry, clears up some misconceptions, and aims to legitimize some of their activity. I bet you can guess by my tone, that I do not think this poster succeeded in the last of those.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

[GW2] Getting Female Armor right-ish, or, "Credit where credit is due."

I wanted to take a brief break from debating the finer points of the Trading Post or dungeon/event reward balance to discuss something I think Guild Wars 2 has done fairly well; armor sets for female characters. It's a debate as old as time; whether "bikini-plate" or whatever delightful monicker you want to assign to it belongs in a fantasy setting and how it should apply. I myself am of the opinion that it is fine, provided there are other options (for both genders!).  The former; options for female characters, is something GW2 actually seems to do fairly well. I haven't seen enough compilations of their armor for male characters to make the judgment of whether that second equality standard is met. Continue pat the break for examples and explanations.

Friday, September 14, 2012

[GW2] Blowing Blizz out of the water

I have played WoW since a few days after its release and in that time I got used to hearing "Soon"tm from the CM's with regards to features that to me felt like they could be fixed in a matter of minutes. Blizzard is extremely reluctant to make changes outside of a patch unless the issue is substantially game-breaking. I recall PvPers eagerly awaiting a patch that might balance their class (or nerf another) and sitting through months to wait for something to be fixed. The typical expectation a player learned was that any fix beyond changing a number (and sometimes even that) would be a few months down the line.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

[Game Econ] Competition isn't fun

 "Most Businessmen don't like their competitors, or for that matter competition. They want to make as much money as possible and getting a monopoly is one way of making a lot of money." - R. Posner, Olympia Equipment Leasing Co. v. Western Union Telegraph Co. (797 F.2d 370, 1986)
In a previous post of mine, a commenter asked why I considered WoW's auction houses to be "flourishing" and not Diablo 3's. In retrospect, I should have said "fun" not "flourishing".  I notice that lately a few other bloggers have taken on this similar issue, mainly sparked by the GW2 Trading Post.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A warning to WoW Bloggers (who post screenshots)

Update [3:37 PM]: It is currently believed that this is only sharing an internal account ID number that Blizzard uses. However, Blizzard's database has been hacked in the past. For further information, there is a reddit thread and the link below has comments.

That said, it should had a further layer of caution to those posting screenshots, make sure you aren't violating any NDA's.

It is a clever method...I wonder how much it has been used.

While perusing news on the web today I came across this article:

Regarding Blizzard secretly marking your screenshots with artifacts. As I know many bloggers like using screenshots in their posts I thought it would be timely to warn that apparently some information might be leaked as a result. I hope there is nothing to this and that it is all just a rumor, but when it comes to account security I tend to prefer a proactive approach to a reactive one. One guild member getting hacked was enough for my taste.

So consider this my call to bloggers to be extra careful about the screenshots you post!

I wish I had more time to post on this but I am at work, though it is somewhat alarming that Blizzard is sneaking this functionality in without any notification in the ToS or EULA. I see why they did it; most likely it is meant as a protection of NDA's by allowing them to figure out who posted the picture (especially of unreleased content) so they can take proper action...but this opens up another can of worms.

I'd recommend getting an authenticator...really, it's easy, they're cheap (free for your phone if you have an Iphone) and they come with a cute pet...there really is no reason not to and you do NOT want the experience of being hacked, no matter how cautious you think you are being.

Friday, September 7, 2012

[GW2] Stop counting, start playing

I do not necessarily consider myself a "goblin" in the economic sense, the existence of a market and trade in a game to me is just a nice bonus and not some requirement. I've played and enjoyed games with irreparably broken economies (FFXI, D3), and games with flourishing ones (EVE, WoW arguably). I typically have no problem earning enough gold (or whatever currency we're using) to facilitate my enjoyment of the game. This may come off as a "Here's how you SHOULD be playing..." post but I find that so many people are focusing so intently on the GW2 trading post that they are missing the bigger picture.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

[GW2] I (don't) hate other people

Remember those exclaimations of frustration you used to utter in other games? They probably sounded a lot like:

"How did I get flagged!?"
"Ugh I wish this guy would go away..."
"That was MY node! I was fighting on it!"
"Oh great, someone else here is killing the same quest mobs."

Funny story, in Guild Wars 2, about 30 some hours in now, and I have yet to utter a single one of those phrases.

In every other MMO I have played until now, sighting another player was at best just a random encounter in which you parted ways, at worst it means competition for resources or an impending gank. This is not the case in Guild Wars 2. This is the first MMO (or MMO-ish) game I have played where I was actually happy to see other players...and I see a lot of them. While other bloggers have claimed that this lack of resource competition leads to a feeling of the world being "empty" I find it is exactly the opposite.

Lets put this in context. Often in SWTOR when someone else was killing the same quest mobs as I and they got into a sticky situation, a little voice in the back of my head whispered "Let 'em die..." because it meant less competition for me. In GW2 I find I am going out of my way to assist other players; I can say with certainty that a well-timed knife throw has rescued another player. I've tread off the beaten path to resurrect someone else because there was a nice xp cookie in it for me.

A few weeks ago Stubborn was asking about collectivism in MMORPG's and I think I have found one that's done it brilliantly. At least while out and about in the world I find that I am benefited most by helping other players. Having them around almost ensures improved odds for my own success.

Individual loot, individual resource nodes, bonus xp for contribution to objectives, xp for resurrecting other many "individual" terms and yet they make the game feel so friendly. Personally I don't miss having people swipe veins out from under me while I'm clearing the mob right next to it. I don't miss mashing pull abilities to grab needed quest mobs before someone else takes them. I don't miss a quiet disdain from other players as I adventure in the same area as them. I'm fine with those things in other games, but I am glad for once that there is a game that encourages and rewards cooperative activity in a meaningful way (and not just by forcing us to form a random party or get a guild). Heck, some Hearts actually are faster to complete with other people, since both players can activate the items that give credit. Playing as I write, I encountered crab traps which gave credit for a heart and spawned a crab, which also gave heart credit upon defeat. If two players use the trap, two crabs spawn, so each can get extra credit and xp.

Some might say that this removes the opportunity to form impromptu groups out in the world to overcome challenges, but I've found the opposite...a handful of times now I have ended up randomly forming parties with people I am playing near....we form, do our quests, talk, and eventually part ways just like any other group, but without the drama that came from a sudden drop or internal strife over who's iron vein that was.

These are things I don't miss, for me they don't take aware from my enjoyment in the slightest. I can leisurely fight my way to a node without fear of it being swiped. I can show up at an event without fear that there won't be anything to, I can go to a heart and know mobs will be plentiful.

So end, me like, I hope more games do this!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

[GW2 Review] A few hours in...

Random Quote: "You aren't allowed an opinion, you're a ficus." - Norn player to a Sylvari player

Now officially released, GW2 might not be the second coming of MMO Jesus and it may not be the game to step on WoW's throat, but it certainly improves on the formula. While dozens of other bloggers and reviewers have focused on the traditional elements...gameplay, endgame, sound, story, combat...I want to turn over a bit of a new leaf and look at some of the unconventional elements that still contribute to the game being enjoyable. Sadly I have only had a brief period of time to play because this also happens to be the beginning of my law school semester...much to my chagrin.

Friday, August 24, 2012

F__k that loser!

Funny that Diablo 3 might end up being remembered for three words, "Fuck that loser!", posted off the cuff on Facebook by Jay Wilson in what he thought was a private conversation. You would think a lead developer at a major gaming company would know that nothing is private anymore. In this post I aim to discuss why those three words mean far more, and how they represent a pivotal change at Blizzard. Given my previous discussions about professionalism in gaming, it seemed prudent to throw in my hat.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Individualism and Collectivism [@SheepTheDiamond]

Edit: Had some additional thoughts, and adjusted a few things! I do apologize, the post got a bit long.

I was reading Stubborn's post at Sheep the Diamond regarding how certain games push us towards Collectivist or Individualist thinking, and it got me thinking about some of my early games and first forays into the MMO-universe. I think Stubborn's scores (at least for the games I have played from the list) are fairly accurate, but I think I will aim to add to the list in this case and offer my perspective on a few of the other games.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

[WoW] Pandaria cinematic analysis

"Si vis pacem, para bellum." - De Re Militari

In my earlier post this morning I briefly announced and began some discussion and analysis of the new Mists of Pandaria cinematic.  I didn't have enough time to go into detail so I'll do it now. As always the CG quality is up to Blizzard's usual level of detail to the point of being practically photorealistic but with a certain 'fantasy' feel. I am not going to uphold it as a cinematic work of art as it relies on many tropes and cliches, but most of them it handles nicely. Comparing it aside the other WoW cinematics I actually would rank it highly because of well thought out use of subtext and content, but it does have some glaring flaws. I have relinked it below and there I go into analysis.

[WoW] Mists of Pandaria Cinematic goes live

I will happily admit that I am not all that excited about Mists; WoW has lost its excitement for him and once my raid cleared Dragon Soul our weekly raid became bi-weekly, then somewhat disappeared all together as we ran out of things we wanted to do. That said, I have always been a fan of Blizzard's cinematics...what can I say, I love CG. So I have linked the new one below and I must say I think it is a step back in the right direction. The previous two, Wrath and Cataclysm have both focused on the villains; Wrath was a nice poetic story and Cata was disaster porn, but they always felt like they had something on....the players! Vanilla and TBC both featured somewhat "generic" representations of the races and characters but to me they provided the "feel" of an MMO story; where there are many heroes and villains, all dependent on which perspective you have. In the Vanilla cinematic it is not really clear who is the "bad guy" in any of the small duels they show. TBC biased the viewer a little in its depictions of Blood Elves and Orcs but was still a solid watch. Some brief discussion of the video after the link....

Pandaria seems to be going back to those roots by having two more or less generic characters fighting a generic panda...which can be boring, but also allows the viewer to put their character in the view. That and the video is meant to focus on Pandaria, on the mystery. I think it is one of the better done...yes it lacks the poetic quality of Wrath but it "feels" more like a Warcraft movie to me. That and the animated Pandaria is gorgeous...I'm a sucker for cherry blossoms and fantasized Asian settings.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How you die in games matters

 "Our greatest glory consist not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
Oliver Goldsmith

The ways in which a person can die in a game are as varied as the games themselves. Furthermore, the effects of death on your gameplay are just as varied. You have Diablo 3 hardcore, in which death of a character is permanent and sets you back to zero, or games like Battlefield or Team Fortress 2 in which death is a temporary "you're out!" How that death comes about can matter a great deal; games are about learning and death should teach a player some kind of "lesson".

Monday, August 6, 2012

[Review] On Genocide (of Orcs)

\A week ago now Orcs Must Die 2 came out on Steam; having finally gotten around to playing the first game over the preceding weekend (which I enjoyed) and being without any other games currently occupying my attention, I dove on it (and at $15 it was worth it!). I would fully recommend it to fans of action games or tower-defense games alike...or heck, to anyone who enjoys gaming. My commentary after the break

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Steam's New Subscriber Agreement

Earlier this week Valve caused a stir when they updated their Steam Subscriber Agreement to include what is colloquially known as an "Arbitration Clause" which I have quoted after the break. Suffice to say this new addition has aggravated many, lending ammunition to those that want to claim that Valve is just as "bad" as EA and that it's "fanboys" are merely overlooking a myriad of faults in order to white knight their favorite system. Ironically, I am surprised less by the fact that Valve has suddenly included this section than I am by that it took them this long to get it in there.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

[DayZ] Good concept, needs polish

I've been playing Day Z on and off for the past few days, but once the initial "Ohhh shiny..." phase of a new game began to wear off some of its glaring flaws began to appear. Don't get me wrong, the game was worth getting ARMA 2 on sale for and I don't regret the time I put in, but as I play I feel like there are some lingering issues that diminish the fun. Below I detail a few of the changes/additions I think Rocket should consider adding before the stand-alone release; both for quality of life and entertainment value.

Monday, July 23, 2012

[DayZ] Day 1, or, "Eaten by zombie Jamie Hyneman!"

Day Z is one of those games where no player's first experience is the same, where the interesting stories emerge precisely because no one plays it or experiences it in the exact same way. Games like WoW don't much have this anymore because everything is very much on rails, a guided, tour experience. Not to say WoW is "bad" but it doesn't fill that niche. Even Mass Effect has become a 2-option path where many of the experiences are similar for each playthrough (everyone gets to punch Khalisah al-Jilani...). In Day Z, what happened to you the first time you found the Balota airfield or came across Rog Por castle are different. One of my first memories so far is watching some player run across a field with about 10 zombies giving chase...part of me wondered if it was Simon Pegg filming an in-game version of Shaun of the Dead. So in keeping with the growing blogger "tradition" of sharing your early experiences, here are mine...and in the interest of full disclosure, I omitted some of my first few lives where I was more or less learning the controls/engine....

 "I walked into a town and summarily got mobbed by zombies," hardly makes an interesting story anyways.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[WoW] Why tier iLevel jumps are so large...

This post came as the result of a thought experiment after a discussion my friends and I have frequently had. Why is it that, knowing that players are gear-hungry sorts, Blizzard repeatedly shoots itself in the foot and lets scaling go out of control by releasing such large jumps in item level. This kind of behavior has had serious affects in each expansion...things like...

Monday, July 9, 2012

[WoW] Attunements: All for one, and one for him/herself.

As the blogosphere buzzes about Attunements I feel compelled to add my two cents, but instead of just throwing out a "Yay!" or "Nay!" I think it is important to examine attunements contextually. Attunements often became an issue because they required a collaborative, group effort, for something that would benefit a single individual...or even just a single character.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Getting tired of Diablo 3, or, "Trying to earn enough on the RMAH to buy Torchlight 2"

The horse is basically a pool of red goo at this point, but I find I personally have just hit "that" point when I have more or less stopped booting up Diablo 3 for lack of interest in playing. In the interest of full disclosure: My highest character is 52, I have played every class through Normal at least once, and I have yet to hit a "bump" at which point my keyboard nearly found itself embedded in the drywall. That all said, Diablo 3 is failing to interest me lately....I play it with friends at their request but I do not play it on my own or jump to suggest it. This got me thinking...why did the successor to one of the most beloved games in history only keep my attention (barely) for a matter of weeks and within a year will likely be forgotten.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Professionalism" in gaming Part 2, or, "How intensely do you play?"

A week or so ago when I first thought to write this entry and claimed I would I had some ideas in mind about how each player is devoting a different level of time to the game and views their responsibility towards other players differently. Then the other night I was reading a thread on the World of Tanks forum about XVM (a mod that displays player stats in game, letting you see who on your team has a high win rate and a calculated "efficiency rating") and spotted a comment in there about playing to win. It dawned upon me that in a sense everyone (with few exceptions) IS in fact playing to win, but their criteria for winning and the INTENSITY in which they try to win differs and is one of the prime causes of friction between players of differing levels.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A "Player" first storyline

I know I promised to do Part 2 of the Professionalism post, focusing on player-to-player interactions, but that post is requiring a lot more detail than expected but is coming! In the meantime, I was reading an article on Joystiq about the "5 Worst Raid Encounters in Cataclysm" and Chase brings up an issue that highlights many of the issues I have with Blizzard's story writing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Professionalism" in Gaming Part 1

Today I was reading on Reddit about the first person to kill Diablo in Diablo 3, on inferno difficulty, in hardcore mode. Now that is no small feat...but what overshadowed this, was the conduct of the individual that achieved this and the conduct of Blizzard towards this person over the last few weeks. Suffice to say the two have had a rocky relationship, and it sparked what will become a series of post on "professionalism" and how it might apply to gaming. There are two main topics I aim to address; the conduct of the company towards its players and they to it, and the conduct of one player to another. Today I'll start with company and player interactions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Putting the Multiplayer back in MMO

Recently I was reading Rohan's defense of the trinity, and while personally I do think it is possible ot have a successful game without the trinity, it got me thinking. I'll save my case for the trinity-less game for another post, but for now I'll dive into the issues Rohan and the comments to the post brought up. Of all the issues with the trinity as implemented in 4-6 man groups there are two big ones I want to highlight: the role of DPS and the role of the "Excess" people. After the break I will tackle these two issues: What turn the third role (DPS) into, and making DPS more of a cooperative activity.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The MMO, where a franchise goes to die

I didn't want to say it, I really didn't. I had hope, I said to myself "Bethesda knows what they are doing, they will deliver an MMO Skyrim and it will be awesome," then they started opening their mouths and I began to feel like someone hit the reverse on the time machine. Welcome back to 2000!

I understand that many players pine for the fjords days of Vanilla WoW or the feel of Everquest, but when take off the nostalgia colored glasses we remember that the memory is primed to remember the good moments and forget the numerous times we wanted to plant our keyboard in the wall or wished for features to be fixed/improved. I loved Final Fantasy XI, I recall it fondly and remember the dozen classes, good looking visuals (for its time)...but I forget having to spend 2+ hours searching for a party just to level, losing hours worth of work because of a bad pull and so on. I don't want to go back to that, as obnoxious as things like LFR can be at times, I'd rather have a bad group in a few minutes than no group at all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Diablo 3 Musings Part 1 [Minor Spoilers]

It has been almost a week now and I feel as though I have enough of a handle on Diablo 3 to give a fair review of it thus far. Currently my highest level character is 33 and I have finished the game on Normal, played a little on Nightmare. I know Hell and Inferno are a whole new ballgame and I'll address those another time. As is my custom I am not looking to attach some 1-10 score to the game...I am going to point out my opinions of what works, what doesn't work, and what nags at me as I play.

Warning, there are some spoilers ahead but I will try to keep them minimal and vague.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Playing for fun v. Playing for competition

The long hiatus is finally over, finals have come to an end and I've a few weeks to enjoy the wonderfully convenient that it should happen to be right before Diablo 3 releases and I like much of the world will try extremely hard tomorrow to crash Blizzard's servers. However we have a day to kill before it releases! In the meantime I have taken up World of Tanks again after some rumblings in the blogosphere had refreshed my memory of it. However since I last took up the game I've found some new trends within I find unpleasant to deal with; namely the game's insistence on keeping a permanent record of everything done.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New DK PvP armor, next iconic set?

The way I understand it, despite having a massive budget Blizzard maintains a relatively small art team to preserve the "integrity" of their art style...this supposedly is meant to explain why it takes them so long to come up with new art. Lately I have felt like that the majority of their sets are starting to show stagnation...they're getting a little stale and end up producing sets like Shadowflame that look like the face-melting went a little too far.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Guide/Review: Sarcasm Edition

Warning: Vulgar language, adult jokes, and copious amounts of sarcasm ahead!

By now I somewhat expect everyone has formed their opinion of the single player campaign of Mass Effect 3...and while in my opinion the game is 99% awesome and 1% wtf-ending!? Some have argued that it is not worth its price. Thankfully for me, Bioware thought to include a multiplayer function, which actually is one of the more fun multiplayer games I have played in a while.

In short summary, it's a "Horde" or "Firefight" (Failfight?) sort of game with 4 players which fend off progressively larger, tougher waves of enemies from one of three enemy factions (Cerberus, Reapers or Geth) on one of six maps. Its a team game, with each player getting the exact same amount of XP and credits at the end of the match, meaning Goblins will hate it (though I have yet to encounter many "M&S"). There are three difficulties; Bronze (the LFR of ME3, everyone wins), Silver (Normal Mode, requires some skill/coordination), Gold (Hardmode; requires team cooperation and a good combination of classes, but will likely induce rage) and the rewards scale up with difficulty. Each player picks a class, and in each class are 3 subclasses (split into races from the game).

So off we go, complete with Resurgence DLC update!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

[MMOs Generally] The terms I am tired of seeing

Rather sparse posting lately I know, I've hit that busy time of year when final tests and papers are due...leaving me little time to write. Doesn't help that I've picked up SWTOR and am thoroughly enjoying my bounty hunter.

No matter the topic, journalism and discourse are ripe with overused terms. The main problem is that so many of these are more intended to provoke a reaction from the reader that is anything except "form a logical opinion and decide for yourself." They frame the issue in a specific, one-sided way that colors any discourse negatively. Personally when I see many of these words, rather than read what the writer has said, I have to fight the urge to just ignore them completely. Alas, the ones becoming all too common in Gaming. I note that many of these are silencing techniques, but I think that makes it all that much more important that we phase them out and promote actual discourse (deities forbid!).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The wrong way to bring women to your game

So at this point it is a fairly well known fact that the percentage of men and women in gaming is starting to rapidly approach (and in some cases surpass!) the actual sex ratio. Though I do not have the full statistics, there is some telling that a large portion of this includes Zynga games. At this point more traditional companies are trying to find ways to get a piece of that market pie. Below the break, a company trying a way that in my opinion is flat out wrong.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A smattering of Mists Beta changes and thoughts

I finally got in! Happy for me right? The game is still very much in the beta stages; in fact I'd call it more of an's nowhere near release and I think in some ways this could harm the game down the road. That said, a few interesting mechanics changes have made it in and I thought I'd talk about: abilities with charges, class specific quest rewards, better leveling curve and passive-active abilities.

Edit: A few extra notes at the end!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Comment Bugs

It has come to my attention that there might be some issues with comments being submitted; one user said they entered their google name/pass and nothing happened. I am not sure if this is occurring for others, but if it is please let me know by either commenting here (if you can) or sending an email to so I can get this sorted out. I have it currently set to Moderate comments but should allow "everyone" to post...and yet the comments are not even getting to my "Awaiting moderation" or "spam comment" folders.

The user in question used Google'd think their browser would work with their blogger!

Mists Lore Speculation: Jaina Proudmore & Post-Garrosh Horde

MMO-Champion has been diligent in datamining the Mists Beta and the blogosphere has deftly followed any announcements from the Press Release which turned up some interesting bits of information related to Azeroth's peace-loving mage; Jaina. For those averse to spoilers and avoiding all Mists of Pandaria news, turn back now!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Re: Mittani @ EVE Fanfest

TRIGGER WARNING: Post discussion includes mention of suicide

While there is certainly much to celebrate and discuss with Mists of Pandaria now in Beta and a panda-sized list of spell and ability tweaks released on MMO-Champion, SWTOR's vaunted 1.2 patch on the horizon and dozen of other highly anticipated games in Beta or about to release (Diablo 3, Guild Wars 2, etc). Today I am switching tone.

By now I have no doubt that everyone in the blogosphere, their mother, and their mother's cat have heard of the events surrounding Alex "The Mittani" at the EVE Fanfest suggesting that players harass a suicidal player such that he might kill himself. While I wanted to do a post on MMO communities, I've hemmed it down (though it may not seem that way) to focus on the current issue and I'll talk on Video-game decency another time.

The wall of text constituting my opinion after the break.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mists Beta Anger at a Glance, or, "Monks....monks everywhere..."

A brief post today, in regards to my quick 2 cents on the Annual Pass Beta and having gotten to watch a friend who did get in play a little over the weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Challenge Mode Armor in Mists has cool features?

A short post today on a little gem I found in the Mists Beta. In what I consider a somewhat ambitious step Blizzard is adding new "Special" effects to armor gained for completing Challenge dungeons at Silver level...and I love the idea!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SWTOR Free Weekend Visit

While I am surely late to the TOR party I heard about the free weekend from reputable channels (reddit is reputable right?) and decided to give it a shot. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised; the game was entertaining, but at this point I am not up to paying another $60 for a game and then having to worry about a subscription fee. Mainly this is because my playtime is unpredictable and limited. Many of the game's major qualities have been discussed and debated to death, so after the break I sort out what I liked and disliked that is not as mainstream (Full disclosure: Played a Consular to 11 (with a friend playing a warrior), an agent to 6 and an Inquisitor (Sorcerer) to 13)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Calling it right now...

So MMO-Champion has posted a slew of Mists of Pandaria information as the press tour gets kicking, and while a full post on my opinion on the issues is forthcoming (sneak preview: Its basically the same optimism I looked at the previous expansions with) I thought I'd get a few things out of the way right now:

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Blogs Added to Reading List!

I originally got involved in WoW blogging and commenting when I stumbled upon Rohan's "Blessing of Kings" and Beth's "Letters from Birdfall" (Sadly not operating anymore :( )one of the things that introduced me to to other blogs were their feeds which showed not just titles of the blogs but also the posts...without them I wouldn't have found most of those I loved to read. In that spirit I want to do the same for others, so I have added 3 names to my list (oh em gee I almost have a scroll bar on my blogger list!). And here they are!

MMOMeltingPot - A roundup of the interesting posts from blogs all around the internets (and world!), great for finding new reads.

Apple Cider Mage - A great writer who focused a great deal on feminist issues in MMO's, definitely a read even if those aren't your issues of choice.

Hypercriticism - Blogger might not think it exists (it doesn't want to create a feed! :( ) but I found it an enjoyable read. I'm also mega-jealous of the quality of the portrait she uses.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Female Pandaren Silhouette

As part of the March Madness Mists of Pandaria press tour Blizzard has released a silhouette version of the female Pandaren model that will be shown fully on Monday 3/19...but that's a few days from now and it's a hot topic, so I am going to discuss it right freakin' here and no one can stop me!...except good sense perhaps. The full image after the break. (Warning, image heavy post!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Ending, or, "The horse isn't dead yet!"

Alternative titles being, "Beating a synthetic horse" and "Where everything is made up and the choices don't matter"

AVAST YE MAYTEE...SPOILERS AHEAD! (No seriously, MASSIVE spoilers ahead, do not read if you haven't finished the game!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Death Knight Talents in Mists, or, "Death Pact is the Renegade choice" Part 2

Continuing from part 1 we get to the aptly named "PART 2!!!!!" which I personally find to be among the more interesting choices compared to 1. The best part of this whole talent experiment is that so far, even though there are only six choices, I feel as though I am actually making decisions.

Death Knight Talents in Mists, or, "My Ghoul vomits nyancat rainbows" Part 1

I've hit that awkward time in WoW's cycle when the current expansion is coming to an end and all I really find myself thinking about is the upcoming one. I find it hard to feel motivated playing systems I am not happy with when I know something new (and hopefully better) is right around the corner.

In anticipation of that I'm doing a few little posts on what I see coming down the pipe for the classes I play (which is most of them)...and first, DEATH KNIGHTS. To keep it from being ghastly long I am splitting it into 2 parts (15/30/45 and 60/75/90). Also, I am not much a fan of WoW PvP at the moment so this analysis is aimed at the PvE game, but my opinion of PvP may change in Mists!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mass Effect 3 - Spoiler Free Review

To be entirely fair, no review can ever be "spoiler free"...any details I tell you of the game or its make are ruining some level of exploration. However I am trying my best here to keep things general, and to leave those precious moments of discovery up to you, while I focus mainly on the elements which made the game good and bad. This is by no means comprehensive, more of a "player's opinion" on bits of the game.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Putting WoW on Hiatus

Though World of Warcraft was at the outset going to be one of my primary topics here, I am finding lately that I am preferring other games; in the past few weeks I've bounced around Tribes: Ascend, Mass Effect 2 and 3, Killing Floor and a little bit of Skyrim. I mainly just log on to WoW during my groups weekly raid night....we're a fairly close group of RL friends and it's a way of keeping up, we're not exactly progression focused. For various reasons the game just isn't holding isn't compelling or engaging.

I have no doubt I will return to it with Mists of Pandaria, but outside of the aforementioned raids I don't see myself doing much with WoW...everything I have left to do in WoW besides that feels more like a chore than fun....I was logging in to do LFR because I felt like I had to use up my lockouts, not because I was enjoying it.

I still plan to discuss the game however, and as the March news of Mists comes trickling in I'll see about adding some posts.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Healing away the Symptoms

Just yesterday I was reading a post by Liore at Herding Cats about Guild Wars 2 and it's attempt to eliminate the trinity. Like any avid MMO player I find myself skeptical about anyone who claims they will eliminate the holy trinity; but it got me thinking about just how fragile the trinity is, and how really it is just a few small innovations away from non-existence.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reasons to hate Mass Effect 3

I mean the title of today's post with no small amount of facetiousness, last week I downloaded the demo for Mass Effect 3 and since then have played the multiplayer for over 40 hours with friends, and the single player...oh about 20 minutes. Back around the time Dragon Age 2 came out and was a dismal failure to mare Bioware's otherwise nearly spotless record, I made a resolution that I was not going to blindly buy the next Bioware product. This of course was Mass Effect 3, and up until last week I had been more or less content to let its release slide past me without a second glance. That changed when I downloaded the demo and first tried the multiplayer with a group of friends. A testament to its addictive quality we (who usually call it a night around 11-12) played until 2:30 in the morning and only quit because fatigue was setting in.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Winning, or, "Two sides of the same coin"

When it comes to competition there are two distinctive schools of thought when it comes to what counts as a “win” and what does not. They don’t have distinct names per say; both have been dubbed something negative by their opponents and something more positive by their proponents.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Twilight of Pures

At this point in WoW’s development I am beginning to think that Pure classes are one of the issues holding back the game’s development.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blizzard Subscription Holding Steady

The most recent WoW subscriber numbers have come out, and I'm actually rather surprised by the numbers.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nerfs over time

Rohan at Blessing of Kings recently wrote a piece on why nerfs are good for the game and in the comments I asked why it matters to more serious raiders if this optional debuff exists. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sexism in League of Legends

In starting my series of sexuality and video games I’ve picked League of Legends, a rather successful (putting it lightly) MOBA game that is free to play. Let me get out of the way to start that this is not a critique of the gameplay; it is an extremely fun game. The issue I am addressing is how the genders are depicted. For all it does right, LoL is anything but progressive with its depiction of female characters. I’ve compiled a list of all the female characters below, organized into three categories: sexualized, arguable, and not-sexualized.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Design Coming soon!

To keep up some level of distinction from other blogs I am exploring some design changes in the coming few weeks as I futz around with photoshop in an attempt to make something pretty. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mists of Pandaria Wishlist

The following is something of a "Wishlist" for Mists of Pandaria; I know they are not going to do any of these but these are things I'd like to see. The goal is not to overpower anyone, any new capabilities these would give a class would have to be compensated for.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Assassin's Creed Revelations Single Player Review

I should preface this by stating that generally speaking I do not believe in the 1-10 setup of game reviews for a number of reasons that I'll save for another post; but chief among them is that it is an arbitrary number that does not give one a good idea of the actual quality of a game. Instead I judge games by the bar set by their developers and fan communities; so I use a system of "Expectations" weighing how a game compares to what the hype (and in the case of sequels or remakes, the prior games) leads one to expect from the game.