I’m officially back in WoW!

November 10, 2014

Little note: If you are going to smash your face into the keyboard over and over again in blind rage, at some point you need to move past believing in clickbait and actually answer why financial numbers submitted to regulatory authorities don’t line up with what you want to believe. The conversation is cute in that ‘debate on the internet’ kind of way, but once it reaches “because that’s god’s will” logic, I’m out.

Speaking of Blizzard, and recent surprises from customer service following my Comcast interaction, over the weekend I reached out to them to get my ancient Battle.net account back (rolling my face across Hearthstone as we speak, and we seriously need a new term than dumbed down, because yikes!). The account is so old WoW was never linked to it, and I went into the whole thing 50/50, part of me thinking the account with the associated email was lost forever.

My first attempt was through email, but that ticket was rather quickly closed with the advice to do this over the phone. Bad start, but on some level it made sense, plus filling out a form with your phone number isn’t all that painful; it’s not like you are sitting on hold waiting.

In the 15-20 minute estimate that was given, someone called me. They spoke English and sounded human, so we were already off to a very promising start. After some basic info was provided, the agent found my old Battle.net account. Success. He then tracked down my long-since hacked WoW account to link together. The funny thing about that? Even though the account was hacked and linked to some random Battle.net account, it wasn’t looted since I didn’t have enough ‘stuff’ for the hacker to bother adding time to loot it. WoW inflation helping me out, who knew. As a final nice (I think?) gesture, my old WoW account has 15 days on it, so I can check out all the recent (since TBC) changes. I guess I should?

By contrast, my ticket with SquareEnix for my FFXIV account still sitting in limbo days later. (I recently reformatted, tried to reinstall FFXIV, used the Steam key, and the game says the Steam key has already been used (by me, duh) Any ideas?).


Games I’m playing these days

November 4, 2014

Little roundup of what I’ve been playing recently, because this is info you need to know.

Clash of Clans: “Supreme Cream!” has hit 50 clan member, although a few are alts as we are holding two spots for former members taking a break. Wars have been interesting and really fun, though we haven’t had a real nail-bitter in a while. We got smashed by a clan with way more TH9s and 10s during a recent war, but otherwise we have been rolling everyone rather consistently. Good times. I’m at TH9 now working on upgrades, and really enjoying the added depth at this level. Very much looking forward to TH10, although that’s still a few months off at my current farming pace.

Payday 2: Started playing this little gem again recently and loving it. All of the new additions are great, and the devs (Overkill) do a really good job of mixing free content updates with new DLC releases. Currently my favorite loadout is a heavy with two shotguns, as the new weapon and ammo options give you more flexibility while still retaining that ‘shotgun’ feel.

Civ:BE : The more I play the more I’m thinking that this game would be a blast multiplayer, but I haven’t been able to line that up just yet. Coming off the wealth of options and systems in Civ V with all expansions/dlc, Civ:BE does feel a bit too limited to play single player over and over again. Still worth the cost to play a few rounds IMO.

Endless Legend: I’m enjoying this one more than I expected, but its on the back burner right now as I do run into some slowdown on larger maps, something I expect the new machine (Xmas gift) to solve. Another title I think would absolutely shine with a second player in the game.

LoL: Season 4 has just about come to an end, and I’ll finish it in platinum in the solo queue. Watching the world championships on a big screen TV in the living room with the wife thanks to a wireless bluray player was pretty great. Speaking of Aria, she is going to finish solo queue in Gold, meaning we both moved up a tier since Season 3. Doubt I’m going to hit diamond in season 5, but you never know.

FFXIV: Subbed but not playing due to time constraints. Expecting us to get back into this in a big way after Xmas when we have two machines capable of running it maxed out. Been somewhat keeping up with the news on this game, and the new additions of late sound good.

EVE: EVE Offline’ing my main. 40 day skills never felt so easy.


Patching, how does it work?

October 9, 2014

A few small items as we wait all day for Trion to apply a 150 mini-patch:

Inquisition is off to a good start in AA in terms of membership. We are averaging just under 10 people online most nights, and we will soon have people high enough to really get into larger group content. Just a reminder: we are on the Ollo server, East side factions. Come join us!

SteamWorld Dig was a fun 4-5 hours of gaming. When it goes on sale, picking it up won’t be a bad use of your gaming funds.

My Steam wishlist is getting pretty long, which makes looking forward to the yearly Xmas sale all that more exciting, though the prospect of actually digging into a lot of the games is a bit daunting, as most of them are in the “you need a solid 30-60 hours here” category. Plus the new Civ which is an easy “whelp, there goes 200 hours”.

RL has caused a pause in playing FFXIV, but the two accounts are still subbed because :wallet vote:. We will be returning however, most likely after xmas when things have settled down a bit more and we retire the now 6 year old Alienware machine that was struggling to run the game.

Only 4 spots currently remain open in our Clash of Clans… clan, Supreme Cream! Jump in now before that window closes.


Why we all need AA to be successful

September 24, 2014

I should have a “specific to me” post about my ArcheAge experience when I’m around level 30 (currently 23), but today I want to talk more ‘big picture’ about the game and the genre, because I think a lot of interesting things are happening.

Trion hinted that they have well over 2 million active players right now, which is double the number they had signed up for beta. As both beta and release are ‘free’, that’s pretty interesting. What caused a million+ people to get into AA now rather than show interest when it was in beta? Positive word-of-mouth, just general release hype, or something else?

The 2 million number is also interesting, as that’s also the number of subscribed accounts FFXIV has last we heard. With WoW down to 5 million or so and dropping, are we really that far away from the day WoW is no longer the biggest MMO out in the West (I think MMOs in the East have already surpassed it, but the East isn’t a place I keep an eye on for such things.)? One can only hope, as it will mean the genre is out of the shadow of that once-great, now-bleh title.

Another funny bit about AA and FFXIV; they both beat WoW, but in different ways. FFXIV is vanilla WoW done right for 2014; its focused, and what it focuses on it does very, very well. AA is a 2014 version of what WoW could/should be; it has a bit of EVERYTHING, but that everything fits together to form a virtual world rather than a collection of lobby activities, all without insulting the ability of the player.

Moving to AA specifically, what does this mean for the genre if the game is able to retain players like FFXIV has? What if AA has 2 million+ subs after 6 months? For one I think it would drive home the fact that launching the game as F2P was a mistake by Trion, especially because of how poorly the F2P crap has been layered over the otherwise solid foundation of the game (remember AA was developed and launched as a sub MMO initially). That said, if AA is successful, might it become the first MMO to move OUT of the F2P minor leagues? One can hope.

And if AA is successful, along with some of the other upcoming virtual world titles, does this mean the genre has finally turned the corner and will return to what it should be? That part still seems a little too good to be true, but at least there is some hope, unlike what we had in prior years. Cautious optimism everyone!


Spam, freebies, rewards

September 9, 2014

Slow days in blogging land of late, unless you are really into ‘debating’ definitions or pounding away at the corpse of a long-dead horse, so just a quick couple of notes for today.

First, if you own a blog that I occasionally comment on, check your spam filter. Seems I pop into spam filters now. Not entirely sure that’s in error…

Second, I’ve noticed that if a company outright sends me a copy/code for a game, I’m far more likely to at least give it a shot than if someone sends me one of those “would you be interested in…” emails. Just something about getting right to it and not pre-filtering it with a wink wink nudge about a positive review works for me. Still doesn’t guarantee you anything, but if you have a solid product, it removes one barrier I have to giving you a shot.

Finally, I like how Final Fantasy XIV handles subscription longevity rewards, in that you can see what you will get the longer you stay subscribed, and (I think) all of the rewards fall into the fluff category. It’s not THE reason to stay subscribed, but at the same time it is a nice bonus and does its part to justify the monthly cost. FFXIV maybe not have the one killer feature to make it amazing, but so far it seems that everything it does, it at least does well, and the sum of all those solid parts makes for a great MMO.


FFXIV: Removing the alt hurdle

August 19, 2014

One thing that annoys me about a lot of MMOs is “add it for the bullet” features. Basically stuff like crafting, PvP, ‘exploration’, etc tacked on when they don’t fit just so the back of the box (or in modern terms, the Steam page) can include that aspect of the game in a bullet list.

Most of the time the addition is little more than a distraction and a waste of dev time, but occasionally it ends up crippling the main point of your MMO (PvP gear being better for raiding, throwaway PvE deciding PvP balance, etc). I always point out that EVE is the best-designed MMO out, and it’s primarily for this reason; everything is important, and everything works together. That’s very difficult to do, but is critically important if you are actually attempting to achieve a virtual world (most modern-day MMOs don’t aim for that of course).

FFXIV is by no means a virtual world. It’s as themepark as MMOs come, but it also features a crafting/gathering game that is, well, an actual game rather than a throwaway feature. I can’t talk yet about how it integrates with everything at the level cap, but even halfway in there is a lot to like about it.

The main thing I like is that FFXIV lets you play one character you identify with, but due to how job switching works, you don’t constantly progress in power in everything and have to ‘downlevel’ should you go back to something. This means that when I switch from my main class down to something new, I feel like I’m playing at level 1 rather than being a max-level character with reduced stats simulating level 1 (usually poorly). This also means my main level job stays put, so playing side stuff doesn’t put me ahead, which pretty key for enjoying the game as a duo. It’s not a totally new concept in the genre, but it’s by far the cleanest implementation I’ve seen in an MMO.

Crafting and gathering greatly benefit here because each profession is its own job rather than skill, meaning you actually level up your miner or blacksmith job, so a level 1-10 zone that you finished as your primary class becomes relevant and challenging again when you enter it as your level 4 miner, and again it’s not ‘fake’ challenge with the game down-leveling you (FFXIV also does that should you enter an area above level, and it feels as wonky as in other MMOs).

The same applies for different combat classes. I finished the 1-20 quests in one area for my main job, but rather than down-level to experience the other two starting area questing zones, if I switch to a new combat job everything feels appropriate, while I still retain the name and look of my character. It sounds like a minor thing, but feels very smooth and makes enjoying all aspects of the game much easier without the ‘roll an alt’ hurdle.

I’ve got more but RL just happened and it’s off to the hospital right now (blogger dedication!), clan is expanding.


Candyman, candyman, candyman

August 18, 2014

Trollbold is back it seems, and in classic style.

Let me just cut that post down completely with one question before moving into the details: What day-one F2P MMO has been more successful than recently launched sub MMOs?

Because if the sub model is dead, surely some new F2P mega-hit must have replaced it, right? That’s what everyone must be playing now? The new F2P hotness called… what was its name again? You know, that F2P from day one MMO that is doing so well. Never can remember its name, or all those other really successful F2P MMOs before it…

I do find it hilarious that Tobold is linking to Superdata as well. Just trolls linking trolls and dancing around in a fantasyland circle together.

But let’s put aside fairyland numbers and look at something solid shall we? That recent NCSoft financial report for instance, that showed WildStar bringing in more money than GW2. Now GW2 isn’t F2P, but it’s also not good enough to be a sub MMO either, and NCSoft’s numbers back that up. An MMO made for the “1%” pulled in more than the MMO who’s manifesto told us was changing everything for everyone; funny how that works. And yes, WildStar will drop because its box sales drive the numbers up, but isn’t it cute that the “1%” consists of about 450k people initially? One would think you could sustain an MMO off such a population if you did it right, huh?

Of course the most glaring omission from the two troll sources is FFXIV, but it’s hard to call something dead when a 2m+ account behemoth is standing right in front of you, more than a year after launch. And while you’re at it, you should probably also ignore its previous iteration, FFXI, because that also isn’t helping your case.

The problem here is the same one we have had since day one; in order to remain a subscription-based game, an MMO has to be good-enough for its core audience to keep them. There are some MMOs at that level, and then there is a near-endless landfill of F2P titles below them trying to sell you a hotbar or the One Ring, because if you aren’t a quality game, you might as well try to dupe suckers out of a few bucks before they catch on. But just like with FFXIV, whenever someone has something they know is better than average, they go with the business model that best supports good games, and unless the genre just up and decides to stop making worthwhile games, the sub model will remain.


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