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Friday, August 7, 2015

[WoW] Why Varian should be nervous...

As I was pondering the WoW storyline so far and looking at the upcoming content I struck upon the notion that this is all a repeat of what has happened before. I mean it is obvious that Legion invasions are a repeat, but the nature of the story itself is littered with similarities. It really hit me when I noticed a particular scene in the features trailer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

[WoW] What the investor call tells us

Activision-Blizzard's investor call today revealed that World of Warcraft is down to 5.6 million subscribers (including token users). So what does that tell us? Not a great deal...or does it?

Friday, July 31, 2015

[LoL] Fiora and Gangplank, two changes, two reactions

Over the next few patches Riot is making major modifications to several League of Legends characters including Miss Fortune, Gangplank, and Fiora. The latter two occurred at roughly the same time, and the player reactions to each serve to demonstrate the prevalent sexism of how we depict women in video games.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

[Blizz] Changing of the Guard

Today it was announced that Blizzard would be announcing the next World of Warcraft Expansion at Gamescom on August 6th. This came as no surprise after the latest patch dropped in June and players are already expressing boredom. Bear in mind that Blizzard is racing a clock it set for itself. They promised repeatedly that players would not suffer a repeat of the debacle that lead to a 429 day gap between the release of Siege of Ogrimmar and the release of Warlords of Draenor. However, the news that this announcement would come at Gamescom instead of Blizzcon has ruffled some feathers.

Monday, July 13, 2015

[WoW] Tanaan is close to perfect, but I can't seem to love it

Continuing a trend started with Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard has released Timeless Jungle Tanaan Isle Gul'dan's Welfare Loot Headquarters Tanaan Jungle as the final patch's "catch up and stuff to do" zone to (supposedly) finish off Warlords of Draenor. In continuation of the "zone to do shit in every patch" trend started with Pandaria's 5.2 "The Thunder King", the zone was designed to give players plenty of solo content to chew on, and engineered to draw the content out for as long as attention spans will hold. There's certainly a lot to do, and a lot of RNG involved, but the RNG is not the worst I've encountered and the zone reflects several iterations on the concept. In short, Tanaan is as close to perfect as Blizzard has yet come, and I "like" it, but I can't seem to love it.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The glory of the Group Finder

In the past I have been very critical of Blizzard's automatic group finding tools, and being a socially awkward and shy person I am usually reluctant to try to form groups myself outside of my guild. So I was resistant to the idea of using the Group Finder initially, but after giving it a shot in Tanaan jungle my opinion has been completely changed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hugo Ballot 2015 with Puppies marked

I don't normally tread all that far outside the realm of gaming, but as I am attending WorldCon this year I've been paying special attention to the Hugos and the...lets call it "kerfuffle" going on around it. It was originally brought to my attention by George R. R. Martin's tweets, and I think he does a fair job of summarizing it. 

The following is the full Hugo Award 2015 bracket with nominees put forth by the Sad and Rabid Puppies slates color coded. When I got down to reading the nominees I realized I wanted a coherent list of how the slates impacted the nominees, including both slates, so I decided to make one myself. Sad Puppies are marked in Blue, Rabid Puppies in Red, and any nominees suggested by both are marked in Purple.* I want to make it very clear that this should not be used as a slate or voting guide. At least some of the authors the Puppy groups included on their slates were not consulted about it, and it would be unfair to them to deny them an award merely because of an undesired association. So say it with me, “This post should NOT be used as a slate.” Each work should be judged on its own merit. Of course if you do not feel that any of the works in a category merit a Hugo award you are free to choose the "No Award" option in that category.

However, due to the exploitation of the Hugo nomination system (and this was an exploitation of a system that previously relied on non-slate voting due to a, apparently misplaced, trust in an honor system) I feel it is only fair that voters have some knowledge as to why individual works were included. All knowledge is worth having, and so I leave it to you to decide what to do with this information. You will notice that in several categories ALL of the nominees belong to a slate. If that troubles you I recommend considering John Scalzi’s system.

This post will be updated as new information becomes available.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

In re: Last Hitting and HotS

Edit Addendum: I was reminded via Twitter that HotS does have some mechanics resembling a last hit; however I have since tested and confirmed that the HotS versions (at least those tested; Diablo's passive and Raynor's first tier talent), despite saying "minions and heroes killed" in their description, only require you be in the vicinity of the death, not actually land the killing blow.

I want to start by saying that from a thousand feet I don't disagree with Izlain that Hereoes of the Storm (HotS) is a more mechanically simplistic MOBA than League or DotA2; but accessibility is Blizzard's wheelhouse and frankly I'd be shocked if they tried to be the next Heroes of Newerth. HotS is angling to be the MOBA for the average Joe/Jane, the person who doesn't want to spend hours researching item builds, buy a rune build for each champ/lane, a mastery page to match, and know each champion by magic defense per level.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Talkback Challenge #3: What Made You A Gamer? #NBI2015

I like this question because it offers an opportunity to dig back into my personal history and try to figure out where my first exposures to gaming came from. Perhaps unsurprisingly my first exposure to gaming came from family. The first video game I can remember playing was Joust with my cousin on his NES. I want to say that it was at that moment that my love for gaming crystallized, but truthfully I was so young that my memory of it is foggy. The next memory I can conjure up was getting bootleg copies of Warcraft 2 and Doom from my father's co-workers.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

[WoW] Botter tears fuel my LOLZ

A day or so ago Blizzard announced on that it was issuing a huge wave of bans for the usage of bots. Unlike previous waves this one was accompanied by a lot more visible rumbling from the playerbase than I could recall from previous ban waves. Historically news about these waves has had an undertone that the majority of the banned were offshore gold-farmers rather than the "ordinary" player. This time the wave was accompanied by a myriad of reports of Mythic raiding guilds losing half their roster, streamers getting cut off during their stream, and known personalities finding their accounts banned for 6 months.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Do I support unfinished games? TalkBack Challenge #2 #NBI2015

Early Access and Kickstarter – Do you support unfinished games?

I don't think it was intended but this question somewhat frames the issue on its own. I hate to use the favorite phrase of attorneys but I suppose that part of me is showing through, "It depends."

I am eager to support the developer of a game I am enjoying in its current state and the developer has big plans for (that they are reasonably likely to achieve). However, there's no way to know whether the latter is true, or whether I will enjoy said game going into its Kickstarter.

Monday, May 11, 2015

[Splatoon] Let things be different

Over the past few weeks Nintendo's newest IP Splatoon has been in the news because it's been hosting what are basically Open Betas. Splatoon is an FPS in which squid-people shoot ink at each other in team fortress-esque objective based team game. Now if having "Nintendo" and "FPS" in the same thought confuses you...well you're probably reacting the right way. That said Splatoon has all the hallmarks of a Nintendo game; a cute, cartoon aesthetic with minimal if any sexualization, approachable gameplay, a less-violent approach (ink and squirt guns instead of bullets), and an overall goal of being friendlier, less toxic.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Elemint's Draenor Safari #NBI2015Safari

Inspired by Murf's NBI screenshot safari challenge (and completely ignoring the rules thereof 'cause I ain't part of your system! Disqualify thi-[CENSORED]) I ended up packing up my Print Screen key and heading out into the wilds of Draenor. Aided by Aviana's Feather I went on a whirlwind safari in hopes of getting a few shots to capture the beauty of Blizzard's latest continent. As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I am incredibly critical of Blizzard, but at the same time there's a certain nostalgic fondness for them in my heart, and if they are good at one thing it's making gorgeous landscapes. Keeping in mind that I am just a fan, not a photographer so please bear with my novice (read: terrible) skills. So without further ado, lets go on a trip.... (I think it goes without saying that these are for the Landscape theme)

Friday, April 24, 2015

What bad implementation looks like

If Valve has done one thing very well with it's Steam platform games, it was finding ways to bring players into the creative process and ride the coat-tails of their ingenuity into wealth. For a few years now Team Fortress 2 and DotA 2 players have been able to create items for those games, submit them to the workshop, and potentially get approval from Valve. If they got approval they could even get money every time another player purchased that item. For a game company it's basically printing money; you earn goodwill with your fans by letting them contribute and giving them a cut, and you get art assets for your game without having to hire as many artists. Plus the community will tell you which ones they want.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Data Mining and the death of surprise

A few years ago some enterprising players realized that they could glean information on upcoming MMO content by datamining the game. Posting this information on popular websites offered information-hungry players new insights into what the next patch had in store. Yet, at the same time every single MMO developer in the universe let loose a collective groan.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Liebstering! Lobstering?

Liore has tagged me with this Liebster thing, and I'm flattered! It's new to me and sounded like fun so here I go with the ten questions she posed!

Monday, February 23, 2015

[ESports] Streaming went and got complicated

Earlier today Kotaku ran a piece on an issue emerging in the streaming world. In short, Faker, a professional LoL player, has signed a deal with streaming service Azubu to only stream his games using their service. However, another user, StarLordLucian, is using a Riot-approved mod to stream Faker's games on Twitch using League's built-in spectator mode. Thus Twitch users get the full benefit of the stream, sans the player's image and commentary.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Interpreting player feedback is an art

I was reading Wilhelm's post about Torchlight 2 being too late for the Mac market. Wilhelm points out that three spiritual successors to Diablo 2, Torchlight 2, Path of Exile, and Diablo 3 were released roughly around the same time. Yet of the three Torchlight 2, despite its developer carrying over a lot of good will after the cult success of Torchlight, more or less flopped into obscurity. The problem was that while Diablo 3 and Path of Exile correctly identified portions of the Diablo 2 formula people liked and disliked, Torchlight 2 didn't, and thus couldn't hold players.

Friday, January 23, 2015

[WoW] Reputations gone wrong

WoW has had a mixed history with faction reputations, and each expansion has tried to shake things up. Burning Crusade brought us gated grinds with daily quests. Wrath brought us tabards to wear in dungeons. Cataclysm combined the two. Mists drastically changed things by adding dailies, removing tabards, giving rep for a dungeon run per day, and eventually the faction Insignias. Personally I liked the variety approach, the problem is they had to set caps on most of them to avoid people grinding out reputations in a single day due to each giving a relatively big burst. Then we got Warlords where Blizzard transitioned most of the reputations into straight-up grinds with the occasional burst from a follower mission.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

[Heroes of the Storm] Free to spend $40

Today Blizzard announced the Heroes of the Storm Founder's Pack, finally granting eager fans a means to get into the Heroes of the Storm beta if they weren't lucky enough in the lottery, a popular streamer, press, or the friend of a Blizz employee.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Phantasms of Commercialization

Edit: The post has been edited to clarify my point and remove confusing statements.

So while I was ranting about a quote from Jim Sterling's video about Evolve's DLC the insightful Talarian asked:
Sadly the question requires more than 140 characters to answer so I delayed for time and scrambled over here to hash something out. The question makes a good point, it's difficult to say when something was cut because the developer ran out of time because theoretically the developer would throw everything in if time and money weren't a factor and when it was a feature that was simply planned to be added later.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

[WoW] Veteran rewards controversy

Today I read on MMO-Champion that apparently Blizzard has decided to send "Veteran Rewards" to eligible World of Warcraft accounts that are ten years old. I've been playing since a few days after release so theoretically my account qualifies, but as I did not receive an email I am assuming that one has to have subscribed for the entire duration which rules me out. Naturally this created controversy. On one side we have the people who think it's a great idea and I'd imagine the "People eligible" and "People for it" circles on the Venn diagram of this opinion have a lot of overlap, but not necessarily. On the other side are players unhappy with this decision, and I'd imagine that side has a disproportionate amount of overlap with "Ineligible players."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

[Dragon Age Inquisition] Origins gave me a character, Inquisition gave me a husk

One of the key differences I've encountered when playing Dragon Age Inquisition was the feeling that my character was just a stand-in for myself rather than me stepping into the shoes of some figure in Thedas. In Dragon Age: Origins the player experienced a brief tutorial/backstory event, determined by their race/class, that explained how your character ended up in the Gray Wardens. The experience primed me on how my character might view the world.