ESL: Twitch drops stink

I’m still very much enjoying Elder Scrolls Legends (ESL), having purchased the final piece of the Dark Brotherhood expansion and collected its cards. I still have a few of the missions to beat on Master difficulty, but no rush on that as all you get is some crafting materials.

The number of viable ladder decks is really nice. Granted, I’m not talking from experience about the top leagues, but in the middle of the pack, I face plenty of variety, and tinkering with a bunch of different decks, the results are generally positive. I also like the different themes of the colors, and how you can mix them to create some nice complimentary decks. My current favorite is a yellow/purple creature spam deck, with multiple cards the buff incoming creatures, with the ‘win condition’ being siege engine that gets stronger the more creatures you have on the field. It’s far from a perfect deck, but it’s fun and so far seems to work.

One thing I could do without in ESL however is the partnership with Twitch, where if you watch a stream that is showing ESL, you have a random change to get in-game rewards such as currency or crafting mats. In theory this sounds like a nice tie-in, where if you want to watch someone play a game you enjoy, getting a reward is a fun little bonus. In reality it just means that if you are at all serious about ESL, you always have a tab of a Twitch ESL stream open, running in the background and getting you passive rewards. Sorry to anyone who has a bandwidth cap, or internet slow enough that one continuously running stream will be noticeable.

Sure, you don’t HAVE to do this, but again, if you are somewhat serious in progressing, not collecting what is essentially a free reward over time is very sub-optimal and ‘feels bad’. I’m really hoping this isn’t an upcoming trend and more games don’t start doing this. Imagine if you are playing 3-4 different games at a time, and since each has a Twitch partnership, you have 4 background stream tabs? Ugh… that’s going to happen isn’t it?

Posted in Random, Rant, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

DOS2: Late-game quality drop off

While I stand by my recommendation of Divinity Original Sin 2, the later parts of the game aren’t as charming as the initial, which is a shame. Long games have a more difficult time sustaining their quality, and DOS2 is certainly a very lengthy game.

Part of this is because, usually, developers will work on the start of the game first, and that’s when passion is highest and time-crunch deadlines aren’t looming. Towards the end, people are burned out, other people are demanding the work simply be finished, and as is too often the case, the end feels rushed and not fused with the same level of care and details as the earlier parts.

There is also now the factor of Early Access. The first area of DOS2 was open for EA, and that meant lots of gamers testing it and providing feedback. Later parts weren’t open, so they don’t benefit from that same treatment, and it shows. The bugs and such will be ironed out eventually, but the sheer volume of detail that the early area has likely won’t ever make it around towards the later areas via patches.

I want to see the end of DOS2, in part because I’m 80hrs in, and also because the main storyline has remained interesting. But I’m less invested now in the side quests (it really didn’t help that two major side characters seemed to bug out, and my only option was to kill them both, likely shutting off whatever quests and revelations they held), and my characters have reached a power point where new abilities aren’t coming, and gear upgrades feel more formulaic rather than exciting.

I don’t know if the fix is to make a shorter game, because ideally if you enjoy something, having more of that isn’t a bad thing. The problem in this case is that what I enjoyed was slowly stripped down and reduced. If the quality had been maintained, I’d be fine, but I also understand it’s difficult to do that. It’s also why classics like Baldur’s Gate 2, which IMO never had a dip in quality, are so highly regarded.

Posted in Random, Review, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why are you not taking my money!?

I’ve professed my love for Battle Brothers in the past. It’s an awesome, awesome game, so I was a bit sad when the devs announced they are done with the game.

Well it seems they changed their minds, because they just announced DLC coming shortly that adds a new boss-type creature (snake dragon) and some new armor. Yay! Then in the details they reveal this DLC will be free, which makes it less of a DLC and more of a patch, but terminology in gaming is so far gone at this point that who cares.

Myself and others want paid DLC for this game. I want to support the devs so they in turn give me more of the game I love. I can’t do that with free DLC. LET ME GIVE YOU MONEY!

Now to be fair, this update is kinda small, so charging for it might not have gone over well unless it was like $2-3, at which point I guess going free makes some sense in that you don’t want to come across as nickle and dime’ing your customers. But screw that, save this update and combine it with 3-4 other additions, announce it as paid DLC, and let me give you money. Or work a little more, add 5-6 things, announce that as an expansion, and let me give you $15 rather than $5 for DLC.

Why am I telling you how to charge me money for things…

Posted in Random, Rant, RMT, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Damnit, he was trolling this entire time

“So being on the leaderboard means consistent game wins against the other good players, ergo being among the best.” – Gevlon, high on leaderboard, zero wins

Great, now I have to pay off a bet, thanks a lot Gevlon. You just had to finally go all out 100% troll huh? 99% wasn’t good enough for you?

Also:

“While winning an individual game at 1200 merely means that you killed some literal newbies AND got lucky with the circle.” – Still Gevlon, still zero wins

Given you have zero experience with the above (the winning at anything part), maybe try it first and see if it’s what you think it is? I mean you spent 1000+ games in LoL playing against actual literal newbies without making progress (in a game where the ranking system actually works, but lets keep pretending it does something in PUBG just so we can keep this joke going), so let’s not pretend that you would be capable of actually winning a game in PUBG at any ranking, short of eventually getting “win while afk” levels of luck.

Posted in Blogroll, League of Legends, PUBG, Rant | 1 Comment

Being a completionist can be a problem

Being somewhat of a completionist can be a problem with certain games, with one of those games being the absolutely excellent Divinity: Original Sin 2. I’ll try to keep this post as spoiler-free as possible, but if you are hyper-sensitive to that kind of thing and haven’t played DOS2, maybe skip this post.

I’m now in the third major area/chapter of the game, and one pattern the first two areas have shown is that the game offers you multiple ways to solve problems. For example, one of the early problems is to get inside and then out of a castle/dungeon. To get in, you can try the front door and fight or talk your way in, you can intentionally get arrested and sent to prison and then break out, or you can sneak in via multiple back doors or tunnels. Lots of options, with many of those options requiring the completion of side quests or activities before they become available (a tunnel won’t open until you help the people who know its location, for example).

On one hand, a game offering you multiple ways to solve a problem is good compared to just having one linear path and no opportunity to do things differently. On the other hand, when someone like me plays and needs to ‘clear the quest log’ before moving on, having multiple solutions to a problem leads to some inconsistencies with the game, along with a general second guessing everything with a ‘was this the best way to do it’ attitude.

To return to the above example, once you figure out a way into the castle, you can still go back outside and do the other ‘get in’ options, with some of the characters still reacting like they have never been inside said castle. With a game as complex as DOS2, it’s understandable that not every combination of completing content has been considered, but some of the stuff is REALLY immersion breaking, like when a character you have already meet acts like they don’t know you because that’s how the start of a particular quest is designed. And again, if I wasn’t a completionist and just moved forward after getting past an objective, rather than going back to try to do all the other combos, that would be less of an issue.

Except sometimes DOS2 does reward you for doing more than just one solution, and I don’t mean just in terms of getting more XP and items. One early optional quest has you save someone, and that someone comes back around later in the game in another side quest that adds nice context to the story. But if you do another optional quest early on, you trigger another event that ALSO plays out later, and also adds more context to the story. Both are nice, and both add to the game, but you would only see and experience both if you go back after you have already ‘solved’ a problem originally. Knowing that things like this exist, it makes it doubly hard NOT to check every corner and try to complete every quest, even if the larger reward of a quest is something you already have.

Somewhat related to all of this is the fact that DOS2 right now has A LOT of broken quests. Not broken that they won’t progress, but broken in that in your quest log they will stay open, even though you have completed the final step. I don’t know how important this is to the overall ending, if at all, but it’s a bit annoying to leave an area and have your quest log update stating you never solved or helped so and so, when yea, you did, and there was nothing more you could do.

Patches have been coming out fixing some of this, and I’m sure over time more and more will be fixed. Plus I’m still playing the game and loving it, so it’s not like this is more than a minor annoyance, but an annoyance it is. Now excuse me, I need to complete the 7th quest to grant me something I already have 6 of, just in case…

 

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Great games getting better

I bunch of the games I love all recently got significant updates, so lets talk about them.

Up first is Clash of Clans, where the Builder Base got town hall level 7 and all that comes with it. The two biggest additions are an extra army camp, which greatly increases offensive power and options, and the giant cannon, which really hurts the Builder hero and can really mess up ground attacks. There was also a patch that added some additions to the main game, most notably new levels of the golem and the valkyrie.

It’s somewhat ‘more of the same’, but mixing up the meta in both modes is pretty big, especially on the Builder side. I have a feeling a more impactful update is coming to CoC, but that likely won’t hit for another month or more. Even so, our clan is going strong in wars, though the most recent tweak to the matchmaking formula has, if anything, made matches less balanced than before. We had one war recently that had us down 0-3 in terms of bases with an Eagle Artillery, which is just a silly gap in power we couldn’t overcome.

Clash Royale also got a major update, adding a totally new game mode. The new mode is American football themed, where there are no towers, and each side (its currently 2v2) tries to get any unit into the opposite side’s endzone. The map is also just one large field, so no river or bridges, and where you can place troops and spells is also different. It’s such a massive departure from what a normal match of CR is that the meta is totally up in the air, especially as right now its only played in draft mode. Most importantly, it’s incredibly fun so far.

It also has some interesting future options, like allowing pre-built decks, or a 1v1 mode. Pre-built would lead to a meta, and I’d be very curious what cards would rise to the top. Right now some people feel hog is very strong, but I don’t feel any card is overly broken (I think golem is borderline, because even with buildings its just so hard to stop without putting yourself really behind on elixir).

Our clan in CR always sits at 50/50, but ask here and I can clear a spot.

Finally, the expansion for Grim Dawn is out, which brings two new classes and a level increase to the game. I’m hoping tonight to take it for a spin with my buddy, but I can’t see how if you liked Grim Dawn, you won’t like more of it.

Posted in Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Inquisition Clan, iPhone, Random | 2 Comments

What are the odds of the sun rising in the morning?

It’s starting! If you had October 9th, 2017 in the office pool of “When will Gevlon fail in PUBG and blame his failure on corrupt devs”, you win. In LoL it took him 1000+ games of being unable to leave the starter league before he rage-quit and blamed others. Seems in PUBG his no-lifer stamina only lasted 600+ games without a single win. Still impressive to pound ones head into a wall for that long, but it wasn’t a LoL-level of failed effort.

Lack of any game design or even basic IT understanding on Gevlon’s part aside (though there is some comedy in him believing search-target bans are so easy, while he also plays a game with a clearly massively broken ‘ranking’ system that does nothing that he isn’t crying about being so easy to fix, wonder why…), the cheating in PUBG is getting comically bad. Now by comically I mean I’ve personally seen it only a couple times, so it’s not like its happening every other game or anything, but yes, it’s not good, especially from the PR perspective of said fake leaderboards.

At the same time, this is what happens in any game that blows up so quickly. Botting and gold selling were completely out of control in WoW at launch, and those same activities happen to a lesser degree in most other MMOs as well. Combine suddenly having one of the most popular games out with a smaller dev team, hacking being so easy and popular in FPS games, and your game using a common engine, and surprise, hacking happens.

The curious thing about the last few days is why the hackers are being so blatant now? To the average player, someone landing a head shot quickly on you from a fair distance isn’t automatically cheating (Shroud consistently lands ‘must be hacking’ shots), so if you run a hack and use it that way, you go undetected from the perspective of other players. That’s not what is happening here though. Players are blatantly speed hacking in full view of others, using clear wall hacks, and abusing the hacks so hard they kill 60+ people in a single game at comical speed (a game will have 10 people remaining while still in the first circle). That’s clearly someone who doesn’t care about the account and being banned, which again, raises the question of ‘why’?

One explanation is that the account owner doesn’t care about the cost of the game, so will abuse a hack as hard as possible for the laughs, and when the ban happens, they don’t care. Another, similar explanation is the hacker is using a stolen CC, so again money isn’t an issue. Considering how ‘visible’ these types of hackers are, even just a dozen or so of them acting this way will get noticed and posted about on Reddit, and since the leaderboards are already comically broken, getting into the top 10 is also very quick and easy for the hackers, which makes their current form of advertising the hacks effective.

So this all makes for some fun drama on Reddit (though currently not a single thread on the front page is about hacking), gives us a few more ‘that’s interesting’ clips to watch, and very rarely actually ruins a round of PUBG for someone. But in terms of overall problems, it’s still way down the list. I’d take performance improvements over this, as I would additional content (guns, maps) or systems like vaulting. Not that with the success of PUBG the team cant’ expand to cover more areas, or that hacking should be fully ignored, but that doesn’t happen overnight, while the next effective hacking tool can spring up at any moment.

As I said above, hacking happens in any popular game, so this is business as usual and shouldn’t be a surprise to most people. And if I had to guess, I’d say the current wave of blatant hacking will stop shortly, only for another form of it to pop up should PUBG remain as popular as it is.

Posted in MMO design, PUBG, World of Warcraft | 5 Comments