Community service post

Too many good games to play right now. I’m deep into my XCOM 2 game, I just picked up Divinity Original Sin 2, I’ve been messing around with ARK a little, I’m getting into Elder Scrolls Legends, and of course still playing PUBG when people are around. Oh and I’m mostly afk-managing my EVE pilots for PI and Industry while getting into the occasional fleet. Blog posts about most of that coming ‘soon’.

My gaming activity aside, two little bits of entertainment from my current favorite comedy blog. First is Gevlon STILL not understanding that MoA is insulting him via station name in EVE. I guess the renter-roaches don’t want to let the meme die? Dear Gevlon, go watch Fight Club, because after you do I’m guessing you’re going to do your normal fake news act and heavily edit that post, if not outright delete it. You’re welcome.

Second bit of comedy is that Gevlon is rapidly approaching the same level of ‘success’ he saw in LoL in PUBG. He’s not quite at 1000+ games in the starter league just yet, but with 500+ games and exactly zero wins, he is getting there (and this season has a pretty nice .03 K/D, his longest kill going out to all of 5 meters, so I’m guessing he has able to successfully punch some afk people? Good thing he has said he is focusing more on killing people now, having realized after 500+ games that’s kinda important to winning in PUBG). That does means the inevitable ‘PUBG devs are corrupt and out to get me!’ loony-tune post is surely coming, because if nothing else, Gevlon is very consistent with pushing his failures on anyone but himself and his very, very slow rate of learning. But just how bad is 500+ games and zero wins? Well considering you can win while literally afk, it’s not good…

PS: I do love in that afk video the person behind is realized showing someone win afk would be boring, so they sped it up, yet STILL left it as a 4m+ video. Good try good effort?

Posted in Blogroll, EVE Online, PUBG, Random, Rant

PUBG: Chicken with a side of fog


Who needs a 4th squad member…

The fog effect in PUBG is really fantastic, and changes so much in terms of how you play the game. Sniping is greatly reduced, close quarters combat is far more common, and mid-range combat is full of new unknowns.

Areas of the map you normally have a great view from you now likely don’t, and previous spots that left you too open can work because the fog limits how far you can be seen.

Great addition, and I wish it occurred more often, or replaced the damn rain.

Posted in PUBG, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

PUBG is to 2017 what WoW was to 2004

The parallels between the current explosive growth and influence of PUBG and WoW back in 2004 are many, though there are also some very interesting differences.

Neither game was the first in its genre. WoW wasn’t the first MMO, and PUBG isn’t the first Battle Royale game. But both games are the most successful in each genre, and by a large margin. Prior to WoW, EQ1 was the most successful MMO with 500k subs, while WoW peaked at 12m or so. H1Z1 King of the Hill was seeing around 70k or so Steam players daily (or something like that), while PUBG just broke 1m+ concurrent users and is still growing.

Side-note: Pretty comical that both WoW and PUBG rapidly passed SOE/Daybreak titles to take the crown. It’s also funny that EQ2 tried to be more like WoW without success, and Daybreak tried to make H1Z1 more like PUBG and also haven’t seen success.

Once WoW exploded, everyone jumped on the MMO bandwagon. Seemingly every studio suddenly had an MMO in production, and for a bit all the big releases were going to be a ‘WoW killer’. As we know, most of those titles were either poor WoW clones, or just bad MMOs in general. That said, we did get a few gems, mostly in niche areas (RIP Darkfall), but the MMO bubble started and basically ended with WoW.

Today it seems that seemingly everyone is either announcing a battle royale-style game, or adding that option to their existing game (whether it makes sense or not). The big difference is that unlike MMOs, making a PUBG clone is fast and ‘easy’. Just grab the Unreal engine license, get some of the free weapons and buildings, and boom, you have a game. And since we are still in an age where F2P is a thing and getting a game on Steam is cheap, the barrier of entry is low, so almost any title can get enough initial players to not have it be a complete flop (population so low you can’t get a game going).

Of course just like with WoW, these PUBG clones aren’t likely going to become the next PUBG or a PUBG killer. The perfect storm that helped push WoW into the millions is also happening with PUBG, where the game design is good, yes, but the rapid growth has as much if not more to do with a snowball effect of ‘hey everyone is playing this, I should too’ and ‘hey this is super popular, lets cover it in the news’ than it does with the game itself being significantly much better than everyone else.

The differences between WoW and PUBG however might be even more interesting. A lot of WoW success was attributed to it being more accessible compared to prior MMOs (true). But then that got pushed too far starting with WotLK, where even bad players/people could successfully raid, and WoW stopped growing. Worse still, many other MMOs didn’t just copy WoW, but copied WotLK+ WoW, and we know how all of that turned out.

PUBG on the other hand is a massive (by non-EVE standards) multiplayer game featuring PvP-only full loot combat. It doesn’t hold your hand, it doesn’t feature anything close to welfare epics, and the player skill required to actually win a game is fairly high. And yet it’s the most popular game out right now, alongside League of Legends (another high skill PvP game). Which isn’t to say ultra-casual games can’t be successful, of course they can be, but it does refute the point that ‘hardcore’ PvP games can’t hit the mass market, or that if you want mega success, you must cater to casuals. The casuals will come to you, and sure, they might struggle and see very limited if any success, but that won’t stop them from playing.

For me personally the difference here is I don’t want/need the Darkfall or even EVE of PUBG, whatever that might be. I needed Darkfall because WoW (especially post TBC) wasn’t giving me what I wanted in an MMO (PvP focus and a clan-based endgame). PUBG gives me everything I’d want in a battle royale game, which is mostly playing with friends and having a good laugh about what is happening, while still trying and occasionally winning games or having a solid round in terms of K/D. So I’m out on the coming rush of PUBG clones; hopefully the wave comes and dies quickly.


Posted in Combat Systems, Darkfall Online, EQ2, EVE Online, Inquisition Clan, League of Legends, Lord of the Rings Online, Mass Media, MMO design, PvP, Rift, SOE being SOE, SW:TOR, Tobold being Wrong, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments

XCOM 2: Value and enjoyment in failure

Soldiers are dying in my XCOM 2 game. A lot of them. Missions are being failed, the Avatar project is dangerously close to finishing, and the Chosen are getting stronger and more aggressive. I think I’m losing, the situation is pretty dire, and it’s awesome.

One of my general complaints about most games is either you are winning or you lose. When winning you are building up and getting stronger, likely increasing your lead. When you lose, that’s it, game over. Very few games manage the feat of having you struggle or fail, but not have that be an instant game over situation, or a situation you really can’t come back from (tons of Civilization games are like that, where if you fall behind, you can still struggle along, but you won’t pull victory from the jaws of defeat).

XCOM 2 originally was like that as well. If you failed a mission and had some key soldiers die, you might not see the ‘game over’ screen, but it basically was. The War of the Chosen expansion fixes that, mostly in requiring you to have a larger roster of soldiers, so any one death isn’t as bad, and by also having missions where you can fail the main objective but still get your soldiers out in one piece.

The larger roster need is due to the fact that in addition to the missions soldiers go on, they can now also be sent on covert operations that also reward xp, and the addition of soldiers being tired after a mission even if they didn’t take damage and become wounded. Also the three new factions also providing you recruits means a deeper and more diverse roster.

Losing soldiers is now a bigger part of the game as well. In addition to losing and having to replace any gear they might have had, soldiers who share a bond also get impacted when their friend dies, thus doubling how many soldiers you need to replace short-term for the next few missions. This also makes losing a soldier a bit more painful, because those bonds take time to form and you really need to plan ahead to make them happen (not send one soldier into a mission when his buddy is healing, for example).

I’ve lost missions in a variety of ways. On one, I had to defend a relay node, but I wasn’t able to get to it in time because of some Lost swarms. As this was a counter mission to the Dark Events and I failed it, on future missions the enemy had more armor than normal, which made things a bit more challenging. When I originally played XCOM 2, I don’t think I ever failed such a mission, so while I saw those consequences, I never actually had to deal with them. Now I do, and it makes for a more spicy game.

On another mission, this time to capture or assassinate a target, it took too long to fight through the enemies before I got to the target, so in addition to having to assassinate him rather than the more optimal capture, I also could only get four of my six soldiers to the exit point before the timer ran out. This resulted in those two being captured, and so far I’ve only been able to rescue one of them on a later mission. Technically the mission was a success (target died), but it was certainly not a complete success.

Finally, I just killed one of the Chosen, and while I don’t want to spoil anything, I’ll just say that the mission to do that is awesome, and feels like an appropriate and epic boss fight. There is a good bit of cinematics around the whole thing too, which again makes it feel like a major event. Success was a little bittersweet here too, as I brought my six best soldiers, and only four walked out alive (and heavily wounded at that). The loss included breaking a maxed-out bond, as well as losing a special faction character.

Obviously I’m playing Ironman mode, which is really the only way to play XCOM in my opinion. Otherwise it’s just way too tempting to reload when bad things happen, and if you do that, you never have to struggle to overcome the many obstacles failure places in front of you, which I think is a huge part of the game.

Posted in Random

PUBG: Weapon feel and knowledge

Adventures in PUBG continue. If you’d like to join in, ping me on Steam.

One of the more surprising aspects of the game is how different each gun feels, along with my personal feelings not always aligning with the stats of each gun. For example, based on stats the M16 is the best long-range assault rifle, but for me it’s my worst. I just can’t hit shots with it as consistently as I can with the M416 or the SCAR (I hate the AKM for long-range as well). That’s likely a combination of the stats (recoil mostly) of those guns fitting my style better, and just pure psychology. When I have those guns, especially fully modded, I feel I should hit shots, and so I do more often.

Scopes are similar for me. I like the 2x and 8x, while the 4x I find I don’t hit as well with at range. In close, I like the red dot over the holo. I personally like the UMP, but lately I’ve had significantly better results with the Vector, and I’m finding the Uzi also gets the job done well in close quarter situations.

What I’m a bit worried about is if/when the guns get tweaked. Already using each gun is almost like playing a different game, somewhat similar to playing different champions in LoL. You have your basic knowledge with things like the map, building layouts and loot locations, and then the next layer is actually shooting people, which is a combination of positioning and map location, along with the actual gun and hitting your shots. Feeling comfortable with any one gun takes time, and during that training time, you make mistakes. Mistakes that often lead to not only your own death, but also the potential death of your squad. On the flip side, saving a game with clutch shots is a great feeling, and builds on your confidence with a certain weapon.

When a new map is released, that will reset map knowledge, and if the new map has new buildings, that will also be a partial knowledge reset. And if/when guns get tweaked, that will also cause a knowledge reset, which makes the often-request offline shooting range feature that much more important. Get on it Bluehole!

Posted in Random

XCOM 2, War of the Chosen initial thoughts

Some early impressions today of the new XCOM 2 expansion War of the Chosen (WotC), but first how odd is it that a game released in 2015 is getting a full-blown expansion in 2017, more than a year after it’s last piece of DLC? Also how odd is it that the expansion is so great, while the first bunch of DLC for the game was pretty terrible? Different dev teams maybe?

I think the most impressive thing about the expansion is how well it integrates with the base game. Rather than adding missions to the back-end of the story, or being its own stand-alone side stuff, WotC adds to the core game, while still keeping true to the main mission (stopping the Avatar project and all that). There are new classes, which also come from new factions, and those factions have reputations you need to increase via missions and ‘quests’ you can send soldiers on. There are new alien enemies, from an expanded roster of regular enemies to the three new ‘boss’ aliens that hunt you and can show up during random missions. There are new abilities, and new ways to gain those abilities. All of that makes the game better, but also doesn’t change its core, which is great because the core game was already really freaking good.

Some additional observations:

The new 3rd party faction, The Lost (basically zombies), are awesome. Some missions feature them exclusively, while other missions they are a random occurrence which really spices things up. They attack both sides, and will spawn continuously, with the more noise created, the more spawns. Individually they are weak, with only a melee attack and generally low hp, but they always come in swarms of 5+, so if not countered quickly, have a real chance to overwhelm you. To help in that, anytime you kill one, you get the action point back, so it’s not uncommon to have one soldier in one turn down 3-5 of them, assuming you don’t have to reload or the Lost survives with a few hp.

The aliens don’t get the benefit of the returned action point (95% sure on that), so in some ways The Lost are a bigger issue for them, although generally leaving enemies up for their turn in XCOM is bad, so you don’t really want to gamble and hope that the aliens or The Lost attack each other. But sometimes you don’t have a choice, and being ‘saved’ by The Lost distracting some aliens who would otherwise blast your soldiers is a great feeling. It’s also somewhat cinematic, the way The Lost swarm the aliens, and the aliens really struggling to fend them off, only to have your soldiers push in and kill everyone.

The only downside is that The Lost don’t feel like a real swarm that you fight off in a panic, but that’s mostly due to the fact that the game is turn-based rather than real-time, and the fact that it’s not designed to have your 4-6 soldiers fight off a dozen or more enemies per turn. Often times some Lost will spawn, and one or two soldiers will kill the whole spawn in a turn, which is somewhat anti-climatic to a real threat. But as mentioned, those times when The Lost do play a pivotal role, either positive or negative, more than make up for this shortcoming IMO.

I might do a full review of the expansion once I finish it, but either way, if you enjoyed XCOM, there is zero reason to pass up on picking this up and playing through the game again. It makes an already great TBS game significantly better in almost every way.

Posted in Random, Review | 2 Comments

PUBG: 3rd vs 1st person

I have two groups I play PUBG with. One group is mainly the old Inq guys from way back in the Darkfall days (which has since grown to a rather large network of people between my blog and Paragus streaming on Twitch), while the second group I got introduced to via blog reader and EVE buddy Mainehawk. Inq likes to play first-person, while Maine likes 3rd because he is a terrible human being. Having to switch between modes puts me in the occasional bad situation/decision, as well as constantly reminding me about the strengths and weaknesses of each mode.

Example time: In a duo with Maine, we drove up to a warehouse, where a guy from inside started shooting at us. We drive to the side of the building, and I jump out of the car. I engage the guy who was shooting us near the corner of the building, only for him to light me up and force me to run back. As I do this, his buddy comes around the other corner and starts shooting. I get knocked, but Maine goes GTA on his ass and runs him over before he can finish me.

I crawl inside the warehouse where Maine revives me as the second enemy is rounding the corner. Since we are playing 3rd person, I can see around the corner without him seeing me, so I know exactly when he is about to come around the side to shoot at me, move quickly past his vision, and kill him. In 1st person, I wouldn’t know the exact time he is coming around, which would have made that kill much harder.

Second example: Later in that same game we engage with another duo. They are by a tree, but we come from behind and down one quickly. He crawls behind the tree, and his buddy comes from the side to also duck behind the tree (potato aim on my part for not downing him as he ran in). I decide to rush the tree while Maine provides covering fire. That’s a mistake in 3rd person. In 1st person, someone behind a tree can’t see you unless you can also see/shoot them. In 3rd of course they can see around the tree while you can’t see/shoot at them, so rushing someone in that situation in 3rd person is not exactly ideal. Similar to the example above, but in reverse, here they knew exactly when I was close, and could time/aim their shots. I go down, and Maine has to finish the game solo in what was otherwise a very favorable-looking game.


Posted in Inquisition Clan, Random | 2 Comments