CoC: Initial impressions after the TH13 update

Quick CoC update since the release of Town Hall 13 happened:

I’m really enjoying things, especially the new hero. From an offense perspective the game feels very fresh right now, and I haven’t even unlocked the new Yeti unit yet. At least I’m able to use some of my long-stored consumables now, while I wait for my core units to complete their updates.

Defensively I haven’t unlocked the new building yet, and I haven’t reconfigured my war bases either. The change to lab and camp building sizes (they are smaller) has had some impact, but luckily for me its been minor to my bases. That said I am really looking forward to what the base meta will look like at TH13 once things are closer to max and people figure out some standard attack armies.

Overall its nice to have things to upgrade and unlock again on both accounts, and it has me attacking and collecting loot far more than I was doing prior to the update. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being a ‘veteran’ of the game and near-max now; I can slow down when I get near the end, and then ramp back up once an update hits, which feels more manageable than grinding full time all the time.

Posted in Clash of Clans

CoC: Town Hall 13 is coming, and now is the perfect time to return

The December update to Clash of Clans will be a big one, with the additional of Town Hall 13. SuperCell has started sneak peaks, and so far they look good. Over the years its clear that the developers are getting better at updating the game (Imagine that Blizzard!), and today’s meta is as diverse and interesting as any I’ve seen over the years.

In preparation for the update, there is an event right now where the cost of all upgrades in the main base are 50%. This is massive, and allows people to catch up much faster. My main account is maxed out in everything besides walls and a few troop types in the lab. The 50% discount is making the wall grind go a lot faster, and I’m not overly concerned with the remaining troop types for now, though I might refocus on different troops depending on the balance update that comes along with the content update this month.

In our clan, we have two ‘factions’ right now. A group of us are near the max, and that group is the focus of League Wars. Unfortunately, we don’t have a full 15 in this group, which is a problem for League. The second faction is TH10 or below, working their way up. That group participates in regular clan wars, but aren’t high enough to effectively help in League wars, where war weight isn’t a factor and due to our ranking we face only TH12 and a few TH11 bases. Bringing a TH9 into League means they will have a nearly impossible task of getting two stars vs a TH11, but also they will give up an easy 3 star on defense.

My hope is that with this update, or the run-up to it, we have a few of our former high level members return to the game, or that the update brings other players back who will join the clan for the first time. Of course I’m biased, but it really is a great time to return, catch up, and experience what TH13 will bring to the game.

Posted in Clash of Clans, Inquisition Clan, iPhone

This War of Mine gets free “Final Cut” update

I glowingly reviewed This War of Mine back at the start of 2016. To date its still one of the more unique and powerful games I have ever played.

The game received a free update recently, which is a testament to how well the game has been supported by the developers. It has also received a few pieces of DLC content, Stories, which are well-done and offer more linear-driven narratives set within the world of TWoM. They are all good to great, and IMO worth the low cost if you enjoyed the base game.

I’m playing Final Cut now, and having a great time with the game. It’s good that I’ve forgotten how it all works, because being surprised and dealing with the unexpected is a key factor in the game. It’s also aged beautifully, and runs without a hitch. Go grab it if you still haven’t!

Posted in Random, Review

New Blizzard should rename themselves Daybreak 2.0

The story of New Blizzard screwing with WoW Classic continues, but first a recap.

New Blizzard starts with a comically low number of services for Classic prior to name reservation, which meant that any planning guilds did prior to this was basically worthless, as the odds of playing on one of the initially announced servers was pretty slim (or you stayed and sat in multi-hour queues).

Even given the heavy volume for name registration, New Blizzard still doesn’t open enough servers for go-live, resulting in massive queues, last-minute new servers, and overall a terrible launch of a 15yr old MMO in all aspects they actually controlled. The game worked because Old Blizzard designed the game, but everything New Blizzard touched was basically handled as poorly as possible.

Post go-live, New Blizzard is still too slow to open new servers, and opens server transfers too late as well, resulting in queues weeks after go-live, despite using layering and modern hardware vs what was available in 2004.

Finally, New Blizzard, knowing server populations and server balance, still believes it’s a good idea to release the PvP honor system prior to releasing battle grounds. Oh, and since they are also releasing two worlds bosses, this means they have to rush removing layers, even if many servers still have far more players than the zones were designed for back in 2004. Everyone with a pulse predicted that PvP servers would be unplayable in contested zones, and guess what? Classic has been unplayable on PvP servers since the honor patch! Every zone is camped by massive amounts of players, flight points are death zones, and unless you only want to PvP, you aren’t getting anything done.

If New Blizzard wasn’t making more money off Classic than any other game they have out right now, I’d swear they are intentionally sabotaging the product, as that’s the most logical explanation for why this has been managed so, so terribly.

In New Blizzard fashion, they react instead of plan ahead, and now battle grounds are coming earlier than original planned, which just confirms the above-described fuck up, but doesn’t actually help make Classic playing between now and BG release (and even then, since server pops are still so far above design, the most popular zones will continue to be a nightmare).

It’s also important to note here what the real ‘nostalgia’ of Classic is all about. It’s not about replicating the entire 2004 experience. Players aren’t throttling internet connections down to dial-up speeds, they aren’t setting monitor resolutions to 800×600, and they aren’t unplugging graphics cards to achieve that sweet, sweet 10 FPS when raiding. The nostalgia is for the content, and that nostalgia is especially strong for Vanilla WoW because Retail WoW is such a bastardized version of the game compared to ‘classic’ EQ1 vs Retail EQ1 or other MMOs.

So Classic nostalgia isn’t going to be ruined by a different content release cadence compared to 2004-2005. Releasing honor and BG together wouldn’t ‘ruin’ anyone’s experience, just like having servers contain 10x more players today than was possible in 2004 doesn’t invalidate Classic feeling like Vanilla.

But this is why New Blizzard is New Blizzard. They can’t manage WoW correctly. They can’t predict what MMO players might want or do. They always react to mistakes, and even then, the reactions are poorly planned band-aids rather than true fixes. New Blizzard is lucky that Old Blizzard was as good as they were, and that the content in Classic, the one thing New Blizzard hasn’t impacted (yet?), makes dealing with all the mistakes they make worth it.

It would be nice if we had someone even halfway decent running Classic so the experience could be all it should be, but we are stuck riding in the clowncar of New Blizzard.

Posted in PvP, Rant, World of Warcraft | 3 Comments

Rolling Horde characters on Mankrik

Due in part to New Blizzard stupidity (more on that in a different post), we are rolling Horde characters on the PvE server Mankrik. If you have wanted to join up with us but missed the boat with our Alliance characters for whatever reason, now would be a good time to join Discord and jump in.

More specifically, at least one set of characters will level at a very slow pace, with the intent of hitting every dungeon along the way as a group. Level caps and dungeon runs will be clearly posted both in-game and in discord. If we have more than 5 people, we will make the numbers work and plan additional runs as needed. The goal here is to enjoy the best of Classic (group stuff) at a pace that hopefully almost anyone can keep up with.  Everyone is free to roll additional characters and level as they wish of course.

Posted in Inquisition Clan, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments

Outer Worlds: Thoughts after finished the main quest

I beat Outer Worlds this weekend, finishing the main quest. I specifically state the main quest because I skipped all side quests from about the halfway point in the game. My character was level 24 at the end; the level cap is 30.

Overall Outer Worlds is a good to great RPG, though not without its flaws, and it says a lot about the game that I effectively rushed through the back end of it.

One observation I have is that Worlds might suffer a bit from The Witcher 3s “Red Baron” syndrome; in that the first area is really well done, but content after that is not nearly as entertaining. In Worlds, the first area, Emerald Vale, is incredibly tight in terms of theme and pacing. The big story points FEEL big, the side quests are mostly entertaining, and there are plenty of side secrets and areas that feel rewarding to discover. The enter area is also very well themed; everyone has an opinion on corporate ownership and control, and the whole setting of the game becomes clear.

After Emerald Vale, the tight corporate control theme is less obvious and exaggerated, which on Vale was a strength. It’s still there, and the main quest is (mostly) about that theme, but a lot of the side quests don’t factor into this theme at all, and the way some NPCs act you’d think the overbearing all-controlling corporations aren’t even a factor for them.

Difficulty was a problem almost the entire way through; the game on normal is just too easy, which makes caring about gear hard after about the mid-way point. I used the same assault rifle with the same mods for the last 50% of the game, and even when I did switch armor I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. That’s bad in a game so loaded with random loot, that has so many side quests and areas focused around gearing up. Another reason for my push to finish the game is I want to play it again on a higher difficulty, which hopefully fixes the issue of gear not being a focus. We will see.

Without spoiling the content of the main story, I will say I enjoyed it, and am very interested to see how it plays out if you pick ‘the other side’. There are some nice twists towards the end, and I’m sure I missed a lot of details by rushing to the finish.

Right now the high point of the game for me is the companion system. Not only did I enjoy all of the companions, but having two follow you around at all times results in a lot of fun interactions between them, and gives you two points of view at major moments.

Ultimately if you enjoy games like Fallout, Outer Worlds is worth your time.

Posted in Fallout 3, Random, Review | 3 Comments

The broken promise of the MMO genre

Could you imagine playing the same videogame for a decade? Ten years, one game?

If this question was asked in the 90s, it would seem silly. That would be at least two generations of consoles, and PC hardware was changing so fast back then that it just wouldn’t make sense.

Then in the late 90s Ultima Online came out, and with it the promise of a virtual world that was always changing, always expanding. UO wasn’t a game you picked up and played until you beat it, it was a service you signed up for and lived with. The promise was, in a nutshell, an RPG with a story that never ended.

Early on in MMO history, the late 90s and into the early 2000s, this promise was mostly upheld. UO was a virtual world, EQ1 was less so, but was ever-expanding. Asherons Call and Dark Age of Camelot came along and added new ideas, but were still ultimately true to that core concept of a ‘forever’ game.

At some point in the mid to late 2000s however, the MMO genre went from a service that provided ‘forever’ games, to titles you jumped into to complete the newest content, and then left once you consumed it. This doesn’t apply to every single game (Hi EVE), but that is generally the case, and especially in the bigger titles like WoW and FFXIV. In this regard, the MMO genre has failed or abandoned the promise of the ‘forever’ game.

To return to the original question of playing a single game for a decade, my answer is yes, yes I have. But those titles aren’t MMOs. I’ve been playing League of Legends for close to a decade now. It’s not an RPG, but it fulfills all of the core promises of being a forever game.

Most importantly, the core game that is LoL is the same today as it was ten years ago. You control a single champion on a team of five, in a PvP match vs another team, on the same map. The details have changed and been expanded, different side flavors have come and gone, but at the end of the day if you liked LoL back then, you can still play that game today. It’s why the eSports scene in LoL is so huge; because fans across a decade can relate to what they see. It’s like pro sports; the NBA or NFL tweak the rules, different players come and go, but the core game stays the same. If you liked the NFL 10 years ago, odds are pretty high you still like it today. As we have recently seen, if you liked WoW in 2005, you need to play Classic because Retail is a dramatically different game now.

Games like LoL, along with mobile games like Clash of Clans (close to 5 years for me), show that it is possible to entertain players for a long, long time, so long as you stay true to your core while providing quality updates to keep that core feeling fresh. The MMO genre got corrupted at some point :cough: WotLK :cough: into believing this wasn’t true, and that instead an MMO just needs to provide bursts of content rather than a sustained experience. This to me is the biggest reason for the decline of the genre, and is the root problem to solve to return MMOs to their original promise.

Players want and will support a ‘forever’ game, its just up to the devs to deliver and keep that promise.

Posted in Asheron's Call, Clash of Clans, Dark Age of Camelot, EQ2, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XIV, iPhone, League of Legends, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft | 7 Comments