Spoiler-free Fallout 4 review has me wishing this day would just end already

Polygon has a great, spoiler-free review up for Fallout 4.

The things I’m most excited about based on the above is that crafting sounds not just like its been expanded tremendously, but is more critical to success this time around due to the difficulty of the game. In previous Fallout games I’ve always felt that crafting was, at best, a side activity that only made things too easy, rather than being a needed tool to overcome a challenge. Crafting with a purpose is something I can get behind.

The other major takeaway is that the world is aware of itself. Again in previous titles, and also in The Elder Scroll games, it always felt like each town was only aware of itself and maybe the ‘main quest’. If Fallout 4 truly has an entire world that is aware of itself, that’s going to be amazing. The part about companions commenting when being replaced with another companion has me dying to know what they say, as I don’t believe that has ever been done in a game with companions joining and leaving you, but seems like such an obvious addition (notably, its also a addition that is a massive resource effort that may only be minimally experienced by those who don’t swap out companions, which is why Bethesda having a nearly unlimited budget for its games is so important and unique).

The Fallout 4 icon taunting me on my desktop (thanks Steam pre-load) just got a lot more… taunty? Can’t wait.

Posted in Fallout 3 | 2 Comments

At least we know why Blizzard won’t be reporting WoW sub numbers anymore

With Legion not coming out until 2050, pretty easy to see why Blizz doesn’t want to talk about sub numbers anymore; they won’t have any. Nice run WoW had, but looks like its off to the retirement home. No worries though, I’m sure Overwatch, a likely subpar TF2 clone for $60, will pick up the slack.

New Blizzard doing New Blizzard things times a hundred!

Posted in World of Warcraft | 14 Comments

King of cashing out, Blizzard matches three, sets fire to $5.9b

Blizzard buying King is really a match made in heaven. What’s Blizzard famous for? Taking a game, cloning it, and putting the Blizzard polish on it. Not familiar with King? Some light reading for you via Forbes about all of the games King has produced so far. The cloning factory just got a little bigger, and a little more mobile.

That aspect aside, the deal really makes zero sense for Blizzard, and is a great cash out for King. In addition to being a one-hit wonder (Candy Crush), King is also trending downwards, because while match-three is a near-timeless game/concept, the mega hype and mega spending around Candy Crush is dropping, not increasing. And while it could happen, the short history of King suggests that Candy Crush was their peak, and they have basically nothing else of real value. The odds are very low that their next game is a smash hit, especially in the cutthroat mobile arena that itself may be approaching its own peak (you can only hook and fool so many whales before they become a unicorn).

I think it’s far more likely that in a few years, King is closer to what Zynga is today (a basically-dead afterthought and industry joke) than a solid, major contributor to the Blizzard brand. I think it’s already too late to release a Warcraft themed match-three, that ship has sailed, and King doesn’t bring a solid core of good mobile gameplay experience like a Supercell would to produce something new and top-notch. (Imagine a Warcraft-themed Clash of Clans? That would print money and be an acquisition that would make more sense, though the purchase price is likely far outside what Blizzard is able to afford)

This seems like a diversification panic move to me, perhaps fueled by the very lukewarm reception to Hearthstone in the mobile space, and I don’t see how it ends well. That 5.9b isn’t money well spent. If anything, the question is how much of that 5.9b is already in the money pit, burning up into smoke?

Posted in Clash of Clans, Random, World of Warcraft | 8 Comments

Dead State: Get your scripted story out of my sandbox!

As readers here know, I’m a big fan of sandbox gameplay, MMO or otherwise. The core thing that attracts me to the sandbox experience is the sense of unpredictability, of seeing a bunch of tools laid out for you by the developers and seeing what happens when you interact with them.

Dead State is an interesting, if ultimately frustrating quasi-sandbox game. I don’t want to get into the details of the game or do a full review, as I honestly think it can easily be summed up as “turn based State of Decay”. Now on paper, TBS State of Decay is right up my alley, and honestly the game does play like that for the most part.

The main issue I have with the game is that it’s not a sandbox experience, but rather a directed experience posing as a sandbox, which is initially very odd and gets more and more frustrating as you go. Quick example; the game has an infection mechanic, where if someone is infected they will turn undead after a few days. This can be delayed by using antibiotics daily. That’s actually a fun mechanic, because it adds the burden of finding or making antibiotics, and getting infected isn’t a total dealbreaker as any one character dying isn’t game-over.

Dead State however has an event that gives you an infected character which then drives an infection-based storyline. That’s fine, other than being a little heavy-handed in terms of driven content. The issue is that, at least in my game, I had another character already infected from some random encounter and was already treating them with antibiotics, yet because the event is scripted, everyone was acting like this is something totally new and unexpected. Hell, my previously infected character even had scripted dialog talking about how horrible being infected would be. Not only is that just a laughable immersion breaker, but it reminds you that while bits of the game are sandboxy, you aren’t really playing in a true sandbox.

The really frustrating thing about Dead State is that it SHOULD be a 100% sandbox game, or at least have that mode. It really feels like the story-driven part is tacked on, often ungracefully, to what is otherwise a fairly open and player-driven setup.

It’s also very clear that the ambition of the game heavily outmatched the budget here. The low graphics I can deal with (in fact I think the environments are fantastic, but the character models are pretty meh), but the disconnects and inconsistencies of the game just scream “ran out of money/time”. There is a reason Skyrim cost a fortune to make; to get a sandbox setup that still has heavy scripted stories, you NEED a giant budget to make it work, and clearly Dead State didn’t have that going for it. But again, it would have been a MUCH better game if it never tried to go heavy on a pre-written story, and instead just dropped you onto the map, said good luck, and let you play things out.

Maybe that will be patched in at a later date, but I doubt it, which is very unfortunate, as Dead State has a lot of good stuff going for it. Still somewhat recommended, especially heavily discounted, but know you are getting something that while fun, is a bit flawed and taunts you with unlocked potential.

PS: The zombie-based combat is also pretty stupid since 99% of the time you will fight them one at a time, which feels terribly lame and gets boring fast. The encounters with other humans, who make noise with guns, are far superior, and again taunt you with what could have been, especially since zombies already have noise-based AI, but its so terribly imbalanced that melee never triggers another zombie, even one standing a few squares from your current fight.

Posted in Random, Rant

CoC: Supreme Cream Season 1 is in the books

(Text and stats by Delpez)

Supreme Cream Performance Season 1

For the last couple of months I’ve been tracking a number of war metrics to measure our performance. No stats were gathered for mismatches in our favor – my loose cut-off is that the opposing clan should score at least 2 stars per base for a war to count. I follow a seasonal approach in order to reset things once in a while, with every season lasting ten wars. With the win against Las Sombrachou we’ve reached the end of Season 1, and here are the results.

I’ve broken things down by TH level – players leveling during the season pose a bit of a problem, but I grouped them where they ended the season and it didn’t make much difference to the results. Also, I only considered players who participated in at least five wars. Finally, we only have a couple of TH10’s and TH7’s, so I haven’t listed performances for those TH levels here. However, for those and other results here is a link to the performance file (I think it can be opened with Google Sheets or Excel in order to work with the numbers):



Bleeds are the number of times a base is attacked after the first – in other words, how many attacks were wasted on that base.

TH8 Bleeds

Caldazar 3.4
Claudius 2.6
Zelazny 2.3
MattyC 2.3
Saucelah 2.1
RogerRabbit 2.1
Jenks 2.0

TH9 Bleeds

Kryss 1.2
Malcolm Renolds 1.1
Jonneh 1.0
Lui Klea 1.0
Vorash 0.9

The discrepancy between TH8 and TH9 bleeds is because TH8 bases are usually attacked until a 3-star is achieved, while TH9 bases are usually attacked only once (unless that attack was a failure). Having said that, Caldazar’s base is drawing a huge amount of unsuccessful attacks from good clans. Most of the TH8’s on the list are relatively low in war rankings, thus they are often ranked with players with only dragon attacks. Once TH8 opponents get access to Hogs and GoWiPe the number of bleeds also decreases. Still, our lower TH8’s contribute a lot by soaking up enemy attacks.

At TH9 the number of bleeds is a lot lower (average of 0.6 bleeds per war), but Kryss’ base is doing extremely well. All the others on the list are lower war-ranked TH9’s (Jonneh was until recently), but Kryss is usually ranked against their top 10. Drawing an extra attack per war from the enemy is a decent return at TH9.


Holds are the number of stars a player managed to hold onto at the end of the war – basically how hard it is to 3-star the base.

TH8 Holds

RogerRabbit 0.38
Zelazny 0.33
Jani 0.33
Claudius 0.30
Jenks 0.30
Ellroy 0.30
Sunette29 0.30
Siouxsie.Q 0.30

As stated before, TH8 bases are usually attacked until a 3-star is achieved, so the holds are quite low. However, holding onto a star every third war is not a bad return, especially considering TH9’s nuking down to clean up.

TH9 Holds

Exile 1.00
Kryss 0.90
NatoGhost 0.90
Mikrakov 0.90
Syncaine 0.89

This time around most of the holds are from high level TH9 bases, except for Mikrakov who build his X-Bows two-thirds through the season. Kryss’ base is the only to feature on both the Bleed and Hold lists.


Closer stars are awarded to the player who scored the most stars against a base in a war. In case of a tie, closer stars are awarded to the first player who scored those stars. The total refers to all closer stars, irrespective of the TH level being attacked.

TH8 Total Closer

Caldazar 4.9
Sunette29 3.8
Alistair 3.0
Ellroy 2.9
Jani 2.8

At TH8, you need to get 3-stars with your attacks, otherwise someone else will clean up the base and take the closer stars. Caldazar has an amazingly high closer rate, averaging almost five stars per war (six is the maximum). Sunette29 is also doing pretty well at almost four stars per war, most of them against mid to high level TH8’s. There are some players in the 3 star range, but after that the number drops off quickly to below 2.5.

At TH9 I’ve decided to separate players who attack down a lot (cleaning up) from those who predominantly attack other TH9 bases – the cut-off is at 25% attacks against lower level bases. Note that we need both these groups; new (rookie) TH9’s are expected to clean up after TH8 bases, while more experienced TH9’s should take care of other TH9 bases (although they sometimes do hit down if needed).

Rookie TH9 Total Closer

SleepySam 4.30
Saate 3.60
Syn Alt 3.60
Lui Klea 3.59
Trego 3.11

These guys dominate the lower TH9 and TH8 level. However, our TH8’s are getting better at scoring 3-stars, so clean-up attacks are becoming less common in the last couple of wars.

Veteran TH9 Total Closer

NatoGhost 4.00
Mikrakov 4.00
Jonneh 3.44
Delpez13 3.30
Syncaine 3.00
JHO 2.90
Draconis 2.88

I really couldn’t separate Nato and Mikra – their stats are exactly the same! To give an indication of how impressive their numbers are, only Sleepy in the clean-up squad scored higher in closer stars.


This is just what it says – how many stars (not closer) a player scores against same level bases. This basically says how good you are, whereas closer stars track how efficient you are.

TH8 Same Level Stars/Attack

Caldazar 2.54
Sunette29 2.50
Ellroy 2.20
Jani 2.13
Jon 2.05

Once again, Caldazar and Sunette29 have the best TH8 offensive stats. After the players on this list there are some at 2.00 and then a steep drop-off. This is a potential area of improvement – if you are struggling to average 2-stars against TH8 bases, the step-up to TH9 is going to be severe.

TH9 Same Level Stars/Attack

SleepySam 2.10
NatoGhost 2.10
Mikrakov 2.10
Jonneh 2.06

These are the only players averaging more than 2 stars per attack against TH9’s. There are a number of players above 1.5, but more than half our TH9’s are averaging less than 1.5 stars per attack on TH9 bases. This is definitely an area we need to work on, as most of our current losses are because of our inability to attack TH9 bases. However, I do believe we’ve improved quite a bit since I’ve started tracking the numbers. Our TH9’s are getting much better at securing 2-stars first up, but we do need to work on the higher risk/reward 3-star strategies if we want to compete with the better clans.

Well, that’s it for now. Congratulations to the players who made these lists – you are now our benchmarks! Please follow the link to see how you rate against your peers, and analyze the attacks and bases of the players listed here so we can improve as a clan. Going forward I will also analyze how the clan perform against these metrics, by tracking the averages per peer group.

Posted in Clash of Clans | 14 Comments

‘Dumb it Down’ is dead

This post is sparked by Loire’s post about the Overwatch beta, specifically this line:

The “simplified genre” idea is successful because it opens up games to a much wider audience, including the still-massive World of Warcraft audience.

Certainly back in the day, gaming was this obscure, hard-to-get-into niche that nerds in basements wasted hours with. It made sense to take that and make it easier to get into, just like it made sense to take the relatively hard-to-access EQ and release the more accessible WoW.

I think we might already be past a tipping point here however. Look at the most successful mobile games to date; Clash of Clans isn’t a simple game (in fact its far deeper/harder than most games once you get into clan wars), nor is Boom Beach. If Blizzard or anyone else released a ‘simpler’ CoC, I think they would lose more people due to the lack of depth than they would gain by being more accessible.

In fact, I think we already have the perfect example of this in action; League of Legends is the most popular game out right now and has been for years, and Blizzard released the more casual HotS, yet HotS is an afterthought in the MOBA market, and many players see it as an overly simplified gimmick-fest. Technically HotS has the Blizzard polish, uses all of the Blizzard IPs, and had the marketing push of a AAA game. In short, it has failed to gain traction not because it’s a cheaply made game or has crippling bugs/flaws, but IMO it has failed because the average gamer views LoL as accessible-enough, and anything lower is overly simplified. Blizzard lost more gamers than it gained by ‘dumbing down’ LoL.

I think this trend is only going to continue as gaming becomes more and more mainstream, and the ‘average gamer’ goes from someone who is relatively clueless to someone with years of gaming under their belt and who is looking for something with real meat to play. There will always be room for the bottom feeder ‘click and watch’ games like Farmville, but that group of uneducated gamers will continue to shrink into a smaller and smaller minority, while the expectations of the ‘average gamer’ will continue to rise and mature.

‘Dumb it down and polish’ was a successful business model in the past, but times have changed, thankfully for the better.

Posted in Random, Rant | 9 Comments

LoL: Does Riot even need/want TV time for the LCS?

Back in Dec of last year, I wrote about watching the championship for LoL. Well it’s that time of year and here I am, once again watching almost every match and loving it. It’s funny to think that LoL and something like Hearthstone are technically in the same ‘eSport’ category, because to me watching a LoL match compared to a HS match is like watching the NFL on Sunday vs watching a home video of a kids wiffleball game. Yea, both are sporting events, but that’s basically where the similarities end.

I am curious if eSports will ever make it to TV in a big way, like how Poker has become a fairly common event on TV. As I said in that linked post above, the demographic that watches eSports is the mostly highly prized (18-35 male) when it comes to advertising, and when you look at something like the LoL LCS, the show and it’s production value are already there. You literally could put the stream on ESPN or another sports network and it wouldn’t look low-budget or need major tweaks (other than commercial breaks during matches, as the 30min format doesn’t fit the ‘commercial every 15min’ format of traditional TV, but that’s easily solved with picture-in-picture or a scrollbar of ads).

But does something like the LoL LCS even need TV at this point? TV as we know it from the cable company is on a downward trend as more and more people watch shows on platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and other Internet-based means and drop subscribing to cable altogether. This trend is only going to increase, so one could argue that the LCS being on Twitch and Youtube doesn’t show that LoL hasn’t ‘gone mainstream’, but rather that LoL is simply ahead of the times compared to ‘traditional’ sports.

Personally I’m a bit torn. I do see and acknowledged the trend in TV viewership, but at the same time a prime-time TV slot still has a certain prestige and legitimacy to it, and I’d like to see eSports secure such a spot. I don’t really think it needs it, and it will grow regardless, but yea, that stamp of approval would be nice, and if anything LoL and Riot deserve it based on the work they have done in the area and how far it has come.

Either way, it’s very enjoyable content once again.

Posted in League of Legends | 4 Comments