That’s not how things work lady

July 15, 2015

I’m getting more amusement than I should out of the Amazon Prime Day ‘outrage’, but Jackie Dana ‘wins the internet’ with this:

This was the worst sale ever on Amazon. A bunch of crap no one wants that still sold out in seconds

Bolding is my work to help Jackie and Jackie-like individuals out.


Hearthstone: The more dice the better

July 14, 2015

I’ve posted my overall thoughts about Hearthstone in the past, but the TL:DR is that its less a card game and more of a graphical dice simulator. It looks like a M:TG clone, but the gameplay is a lot more like Candyland, where it’s less about the decisions you make and more about just watching things happen based on luck/dice.

That said, as a ‘TV goes to commercial, let’s kill 5 minutes and CoC/BB/FO:Shelter don’t need to be checked’ option, you could do worse. The most recent addition, the Tavern Brawl, plays to this strength, as it’s a completely randomized clusterfuck.

Basically every week a new Tavern Brawl starts, and each one has unique rules. Last week it was spells-focused; every time you cast a spell, the game would summon a random monster of your spells cost for you. The week before that, every time a creature was killed, you gained a random card that could boost troops or harm others. Before that it was a deck full of spiders, with said spiders giving you a random creature when they died. Before that it was two pre-made decks of silly, broken OP cards.

In other words, winning or losing in Tavern Brawl isn’t the normal 90% luck that a typical game of HS is, it’s 99%, and the deck building aspect drop from the usual 10% to 1%. And its great fun in very short bursts (one or two games a week, just enough to get the free card pack), because you can’t possibly take the games seriously or care if you win/lose. Just make your clicks, watch the explosions, and return to whatever you were watching on TV when the commercial break is over.

Hopefully Blizzard continues down this path with HS, just embracing the fact that it’s not so much a game as it is a WoW-themed dice simulator, and continues giving us more stuff like Tavern Brawl in 6 months when the next game update happens.


Blood Bowl 2: Pre-order and such

July 10, 2015

You can now pre-order Blood Bowl 2, and for the PC you pick either the Wood Elves or the Lizardmen as a pre-order bonus. It looks like additional races will be DLC, which honestly is a better fit than the old model of buying a different version of the game that just had more stuff.

Assuming the game isn’t a complete mess of bugs and broken features, I’m excited. I played a lot of BB1, and had fun running leagues. I plan to do that again, likely the first league starting very shortly after release. Pre-order players also get into multi-player beta a few weeks early, which will be a nice tune-up.


Early Access: Is it working?

July 9, 2015

Being in somewhat of a ‘main game’ lull, I’ve been looking over my 100+ list of Steam games of late. In particular, I’m checking back in with a some of the Early Access titles I’ve purchased in the past but have long since stopped playing. Some I stopped playing because they sucked, but others I played enough to say “this is going to be good” and waited for more development to happen. Consider this a half-time review of Early Access.

Some games haven’t been updated much, which leads me to believe they never will be. Those are the worst examples of Early Access, and the titles that sour people most on the entire thing. If you are a dev responsible for such a title, finish your damn game or go play in traffic, thanks.

Other titles have gotten updates, but either the ‘vision’ has changed, or the updates just don’t do it for me. Sometimes an early access game will be in such a state that you believe something good will come of it, because there isn’t enough there just yet to really know, and once the devs do hit those critical ‘pull the game together’ parts, it just doesn’t work. While these titles aren’t great games, they aren’t a terrible example of early access either. You are buying in early to see how a game shapes up. It won’t always shape up how you expected, and since the price is generally low, that’s not the worst thing in the world.

Then there are the titles that either made it out of Early Access as great games, or are still in Early Access but are clearly progressing and getting better as time goes on. If the devs throw in some stuff about how the Early Access-based funding has contributed to the game improving, all the better. It’s these titles that show the true strength of the system, especially for titles in genres or themes that aren’t viewed as major sellers or ‘viable’ by suits.

Finally, sometimes a title is in Early Access for so long that, despite it being ‘finished’, feels old or dated. Whether its the graphics, or the ‘unique twist’, or the combination of features, sometimes the gaming landscape changes so fast that what was cool or interesting a year or two ago is now tired and boring. Great games and great ideas age well, but sometimes a quirky little title just stops being quirky.

Overall I can only say I’ve truly regretted a small percentage of Early Access purchases, and have been very happy with many. I like the system, and while not perfect, is a plus to gaming IMO.


Fallout: The complete history

July 7, 2015

In case you have some spare time, go ahead and read this complete list of all major events in the Fallout Universe. Pretty great stuff, and should get you nice and ready for Fallout 4.


FFXIV: The good kind of difficult

July 6, 2015

One of the aspects that soured me on WoW post TBC (although even prior to WotLK this was already somewhat of a trend in the game, just much slower) was the decrease in challenge in the ‘normal’ game, with only special ‘hard mode’ versions of the same content being tuned to really push you. Especially in vanilla, there was plenty of content that would test you, even during the leveling game (elite quests, certain dungeons). This removal never made sense to me, because WoW never forced you to beat that content, and outside of max-level stuff, you always had the option to go back later if you wanted to see something.

FFXIV is a lot of fun in part because the content challenge doesn’t insult you with how trivial it is in spots. Yes, most random quests you pick up ARE very easy kill five of this or collect five of that tasks, but the dungeons you run as you level require some level of competence, and the main quest line (that isn’t optional) and class quests have some fairly challenging fights you must solo due to the Duty system (basically a private instance).

It’s these Duties that my wife struggles with at times (and sometimes I do as well), mainly because we always do them right as soon as they become available, and because our gear is limited to what we get from questing and running the dungeons once (no AH or crafting), and I think this challenge is a great thing overall. The smart thing about this design is you CAN come back to the Duty later when you are a bit stronger, but even then you can’t completely overpower it as the Duty will level-sync you should you be more than four levels above it (though four levels is a fairly significant amount of power).

The only consistent complain I’ve seen about FFXIV is that the main story is required to progress in the game, but I think the real complain is the challenge, because WoW has trained newer MMO players to not expect any. And again, this isn’t even older WoW, where if you wanted to see the main villain of the expansion (Illidan) you had to be a top-tier raider; this is simply required content you can’t completely faceroll to progress past, and yet a minority still complain.

As Rohan wrote, this overall helps FFXIV, as it weeds out the worst of the ‘WoW-kiddies’, meaning you don’t get randomly grouped with them during a dungeon, or have them running around spamming local chat, tagging mobs, and generally being WoW players. I’m glad SquareEnix ‘doubled down’ on this design by making the expansion content gated behind completing the original content, and hopefully they don’t make the mistake Blizzard made with WoW starting with WotLK.


Are Clash of Clans and Boom Beach MMOs?

June 30, 2015

This is mostly just food for thought, and spoiler answer: No, but its real close.

To really answer this question, you first have to ask yourself what you value most in an MMO, and how many of those factors does a game have to have before we can label it an MMO in the traditional sense.

Let’s start with the easy stuff.

Massive: A large number of players need to be around, more than a large FPS map or private Minecraft server of 64 or 128 players.

Multiplayer: Not only must a larger number of players be around, but that should mean something critical to the game. If you can get 90% or more of the experience without interacting with others, the game fails here.

Online: This one is interesting, because at first you think this is simply about connecting to a server, but does asynchronous activity count here? Or does ‘online’ mean two people are online and interacting in real time? A dungeon run is real-time, you selling something on an auction house is asynchronous. How much of the core gameplay needs to be real-time to count? Does it at all?

Let’s look at how I play CoC/BB. I run a ‘clan’ in both, the CoC one has 50 accounts, the BB around 30. In both games we have regular, guild-wide activities (Clan Wars and Operations), and in both of these activities we spend a solid amount of time helping each other out and working together to win. One is group-based PvP, the other is group-based PvE. Chat is very frequent and lively, and Reddit/YouTube is often referred for strategy or game updates.

Personal and guild-wide progression is a main focus of both games, and both games are frequently updated, often with content that adds more progression. Both games are played by millions in one ‘world’ (you can potentially interact with anyone playing), and minor solo PvE content aside, everything is multiplayer.

Basically, the way I play CoC/BB is more like playing an MMO than how I play FFXIV today with my wife, where we duo almost exclusively (random fate groups and dungeon runs aside). I’m more invested in CoC/BB, I’m more into the community of those games, and I do more massive, multiplayer, online gaming in those titles than in FFXIV.

Again, the biggest disconnect is the asynchronous difference, and the lack of a true ‘character’ to play in CoC/BB, although that last one I could argue is no different than flying a ship in EVE. In CoC/BB I’m the chief (pilot) of my village (ship), fighting against other chiefs (pilots) and their village (ship)*.

*Insert easy TiDi is asynchronous gameplay joke here.


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