Author Archive: Isey

Extended Absence

Not because I will be spending hours in Anthem. It does a lot right, but also (even in the honeymoon period) does a lot wrong. A outweighs B on the outset and curious by how much, for how long.

No, I am going on a 6 day trip on a long trek that will have no cell or wifi during the day, and maybe some, spotty at best, at nights when we get to various destinations. So you may not hear or see from me for a bit.

I’ll miss you! I will also miss gaming but a 6 day break from electronics and social media is never a bad thing. Keep BlogNation running in my absence, will you?

Anthem Launch Day – Quick Impressions

GOOD:

  • Logged in at 10:01 AM EST without issue
  • Only one graphical gameplay bug (Forge, Javelin screen)
  • No lags/bugs/disconnects
  • Lots of people to play with
  • Missions are coherent, varied, and fun
  • Backstory cut-scenes exciting. Helps set the stage.
  • Got to meet the big bad guy early on. Good introduction, way stronger than you, something to build towards to beat later.
  • Loot is fun already! (For example, I had two loot pieces with LMG inscriptions. one for +9% damage, one for +3% damage. I did not have a LMG. However, I was able to craft one. Nice damage bonus
  • There have been some fun and impactful inscription bonuses already that has had me change my playstyle. I feel like on the climb to 30 you will always switch along the way with new loot (as the levels climb fast) which is a good experience

BAD / MEH:

  • Lack of response options disappointing in dialogue. You either are “doing it because its my job” or “doing it because its my home” style responses. Paragon, Renegade, or Neutral options is a miss. A big miss. (Responses feel pointless so far).
  • Loot is overwhelmingly difficult to get a feel for. Rarely I say too many options are good, but here if you didn’t play demo weekend you are likely to be a bit lost. A little spoon-feeding through early levels would have been good. I am only comfortable with it because of my prior 30 hours in game
  • Levels are very, very fast. Level 8 in a couple hours of play.
  • At HARD level, things die too quick in a group. Might be scaled a bit on the easy side to start. This and the prior point might be to appease new generation of gamers.
  • I leave Sunday morning for a week, and I know the entire world will be level 30 and in Legendaries by the time I get back.
  • Lack of desire to blog, there is a game to play

I’ll add to this and update as I go….

Anthem Conviction Live Action Short

It’s live, it’s pretty cool, and even for those of us who have been paying some sort of attention to what minimal lore and story that has been released, doesn’t provide much clarity.

Spoiler alert (which is a guess) – I think this is the origin story of The Monitor, the big bad guy in Anthem.

Watch it here:

I’m guessing that because of what we do know about this video. This is an event from 15 years before Anthem. And watching the video a few times you see a woman who was in the forest alone, and rescued by a freelancer. Who then trains and becomes a freelancer herself

That woman is seen interacting with something, and her friend / ally obsessed with the possibility. Cue the connections. Also there is some betrayal for some reason, not entire clear.

That’s a very simplistic take on what is there – it could absolutely be anything, including a separate, side story that has nothing to do with the current day setting of Anthem but it doesn’t make much sense to me to get Neil Blomkamp of Chappie, District 9 fame to put together a 3+ minute short that didn’t have some sort of narrative tie in that people could get excited about.

What did you think about it? Those who haven’t followed Anthem much – does this do anything for you? Those that have – any theories or ideas behind it?

Anthem – Nothing Left but the Launching

I spent an equal amount of time in Anthem Demo weekend as I did in the VIP weekend – which actually surprised me a bit because my pilot and Javelins carried over meaning I only had two events I could do – Freeplay and the Stronghold. Yes, the same stronghold I had done for 12+hours in weekend one.

I still played it a ton.

I finally was able to play with the other two Javelins – the Storm and Interceptor and while both were fun and very different my heart is set on “maining” the Colossus and also keeping tabs on the Ranger. One of the best things about Anthem is that you only have one pilot and can jump into any Javelin suits you own at anytime (and collect loot and components for them during regular play). This is good because I will have an up to date Javelin of any kind, just by playing any kind. This could be frustrating a bit if the better drops occur for the Javelin’s I do not prefer. Still, I like the overall system this way far better than only improving them when I am playing them. This makes it far more likely I try them all in different situations that arise.

I am recommending this as a “buy” based on what I have seen and experienced so far but I am going to be fair and transparent – I don’t think Anthem is going to be a home run with the first pitch. I think the bones and gameplay are phenomenal but the convenience, fleshing out, and sub systems are all going to need work and time to improve and add. If you look at a lot of the dev responses to QOL suggestions, you hear a lot of “not at launch”.

I know the anti-EA camp is going to have a field day at launch with every little issue (perceived or real) and I believe it will be review bombed and have a hard time out of the gate. That being said, those that stick around will form a great community around the game and as they improve it so will the experience. This is just my gut – not wishful thinking – as Battlefield V has had some MAJOR patches since launch (over 700(!) bug fixes and improvements last patch) and I loved it out of the gate too.

Truth is, when it comes to games like this with the long view it’s not going to be perfect at launch. But it will be good, and will get better. I will be along for the start of the journey and will experience how it all plays out. If they are able to follow the same path of content and improvements as BFV they will be fine. If not, well, there’s a ton of other great games out there right now – I feel like we are really spoiled as a gaming community with options.

Disincentive To Play

I’m struggling with the EA model of “Games as service” as I play through (and largely enjoy) my time in Battlefield V. I know that sounds confusing and bear with me as I try to explain.

Instead of DLC packs BFV went for periodic events, that last a determined amount of time (and that reward many different things). Currently we are doing one that has two sets of rewards – one set for the weekly accomplishments, and 40 XP levels for the over-arching rewards.

It’s simple enough and most branches give you good options so you aren’t stuck on a single path. And for bonus points, you can complete all paths. Each path step can only start to unlock once you completed the one before. For example, the first above is to play Breakthrough – a game mode – three times. This does focus the community and anyone can do this step (win or lose)

chapter rewards take longer

Each of the weeks (4, in this case) give bonus XP for the specific ‘chapter’ of the game, and the XP levels raise in difficulty to obtain. So this is the new system.

The downside is obvious. If you miss a week of gameplay, you can’t unlock anything from the week. EA claims that you will be able to get these in the future in other ways without specifying that “other ways” probably means in the cosmetic pay-for store.

I haven’t even hit max level in the game after 100 hours of gameplay, and the chances of me hitting level 40 for a chapter is remote. Mostly because this kind of achievement based gaming makes me play less, not more.

That may not make sense to you but I now only play when I have easy to reach objectives. Last week, I unlocked everything I could in two gameplay sessions. Since there was nothing left to unlock (outside of a long, chapter level grind), I stopped playing. The new week launched and now I am playing again. I know once I finish off the rewards for the week I will be done again (until next week).

I can see how hardcore players might love this and it IS holding my attention for the quick and easy hits, but I’m not sure if it holds my attention at all when I have to juggle other games that will be doing this (Anthem, looking at you.)

Curious how these gameplay levers and buttons to push influence your gameplay? Do they at all?

Anthem Stumbles and Stars

This weekend was the highly touted (and covered) Anthem VIP weekend for people who pre-ordered, their buddies, and anyone lucky enough to win a giveaway.

How most people started their Anthem Journey

Things did not go as planned at first. Well documented server outages, shortages and issues stopped most people from entering the game on time.

I got in about an hour or two after launch (I went and played other things) and put in 13 hours over the weekend maxing out my level and the items I could get for my Javelins (currently locked at Rare, level 19 items and pilot level 15).

I wanted to stop playing, but couldn’t. And that should tell you something. Especially considering the content was around 2 hours of quests (estimate) and then a repeatable “dungeon” (called “Strongholds” in Anthem) which I did over. And Over. And then upped the difficulty and did it over. And over.

The backdrop is incredible. Immersive.

It’s fun. The things you see, do and play in the game is very fun. The shooting feels good, the flying is great, and the kill / loot / equip / kill cycle works well.

I think your perspective going in really shapes your opinion coming out. I have read a LOT of angry people being angry about the game. People who really want EA to fail, and Bioware to fail (because how dare they not include f*ck options for NPCs!) and the whole game to just flop. I have also read undue praise and claims that the game is the second coming of Destiny (or what it should have been).

Then there are measured and fair opinions. Not as many of those I have read.

Vinyls are awesome. With a click you go from THIS …
.. to THIS. Customization is some of the best concepts I have seen in gaming.

Me? Well, mine isn’t outright fan-boyish but definitely excited to see what they do. I do have concerns, of course, and I’m worried they may be more justified than I hope. The big one being that the game doesn’t quite feel done. It’s just not.. intuitive. Best example of that I can give is that after you finish a play event, you go to a screen that gives loot, faction rep, badges, and XP. The loot was VERY generous and varied (which makes it cool) but there is no way to filter or sort the loot. Bare minimum I should be able to sort by Rarity, Level, Type, Javelin Type (etc.). Nope, just a pile of guns, gear, rarities mish-mashed all in one big bucket. That is something very simple to implement but also feels like a glaring, gigantic oversight. Who doesn’t want their loot sorted in a loot based game that gives gaggles of loot?

That’s the type of polish that is very much missing. Three weeks from launch. I doubt many little nice things like that will get into the final game since crunch time will be optimization and bug hunting.

Oscar peeking out of the trash can

I played the Ranger first (like everyone) and secondly the Colossus – which I originally thought would be my main but the Ranger just moves so elegantly and quickly that going to the slower, hunkering Colossus felt slow. Sure, there are amazing things you can do as a Colossus but in a game built on movement limiting it feels self-defeating. We will see. Next weekend I get to play the other two Javelins (you could only unlock one additional this weekend, all 3 next weekend) so plenty to mess around and see.

Loadout screen

My final thought on this is that due to the bad rap EA gets, and knowing the game isn’t perfect (this close to launch) I am actually OUTRAGED (sorry, inside joke) CONFUSED why they did a VIP demo to begin with. They did it with Mass Effect: Andromeda which was a really great game with some issues – and all the early peek did was allow the really negative people to shine a light on the deficiencies and that sunk a major IP. Free weekends are just inviting people who hate you to publicize everything you are doing wrong – justified or not. Some from people who hate EA outright and refuse to play any of their games anyway. Gives them a platform to sink sales. I saw / read a lot of that after the Anthem VIP demo weekend, and expect it just to be worse after next weekend.

Bug hunting. All the devs are doing it.

The middle group, those who want a solid sci-fi looter/shooter experience with a better story will find that in Anthem. But it won’t be perfect at launch, I already know that. Most live games aren’t. Not letting people see/play it first would actually result in better sales I bet, and a better future for Anthem. The state of the game now will not sell the 10M or so rumoured copies EA wants sold on this (their stock badly needs a huge hit) but I believe that it will be a solid game and foundation for years to come – if people give it the time and patience to become what it needs to.

Magic The Gathering Arena Deck : In ACTION!

My last post explained some of the intricacies of my MTGA competitive deck. Writing about it is one thing, showing how it actually works is another – so I decided to make a video to see one of my win conditions.

Fun thing(s) about this video:

  • I don’t have a proper mic – I just used earbuds.
  • I have never made a video with a voice-over
  • (I had sound off for the game, sorry!)
  • This was the first, and only take – and I did ZERO editing. Still, it shows the pace of MTG:A better. It was also the only game I played. (It actually worked out in my favor, too!)
  • Hover over the ‘pause’ button in case you want to read the card descriptions. I wanted to be a good opponent still and not take a full 60 seconds between turns – so if you aren’t familiar with the cards a quick pause when I hover over them will show you their descriptions

There you have it! I am not a big video content creator, but if you have any constructive feedback I would be happy to hear it. If you think there is any fun or value in me slowing it down and explaining things in more detail, I would be happy to do some proper post game video editing and sharing cards, explanations, what I am looking for (and against), etc.

Let me know – the video is under 10 minutes long and was actually kind of fun to do =)

My Magic The Gathering: Arena Deck

I will be the first to admit out of the gate that my competitive, ladder climbing MTG:A deck is a straight up, gong show, “WTF were you thinking?!?”mish-mash of play styles and inferior deck building that I am almost afraid to share it. Not because of the ridicule that will most likely be present from Magic The Gathering experts / fans, but because you might actually try to play with it, and pull your own hair out.

But here’s the thing. I love it. And it’s SUPER fun. When things line up. Which seems to be more than 50% of the time still, because I am climbing up the ranks and now up in a Gold One ranking.

Fun is important too, right?

Let me explain why this deck in the first place. I love Green / Black decks. It was the first MTG:A deck I started using and everything about it resonates with me. I typically only play BG decks with each expansion. It’s my jam, so to speak.

Now, let me explain how I deck build. There are two parts to that.

First, I don’t read up on them, google, find the hot decks. I just play and open packs. If I see a card I like in the packs I open, I try to think through how it could work in my current deck. Whether it is better than a current card, has synergies, etc.

Secondly, during my playing, if I find I card I go against that I love/hate I also wonder if it could have a space in my deck.

Lastly, I play the MTG:A “one off” mode ranked. Which means it’s a best of one. Most MTG games, from what I can gather, is a best of three – so you have your base deck and a “sideboard” – cards you can add or subtract after your first game. This allows both players to adjust their decks for bad match ups (etc.) Not in the base MTG:A mode.

So I built a deck that can compete with anything I have ever seen thrown at me. Jack of all trades. It’s very versatile, a bit unwieldy, but has so many win conditions that every game plays out very differently – which keeps the game fun and fresh for me.

I will break down the deck into Lands, Spells, Creatures, Etc. But it is hard to explain how each card works without sharing what the deck does. If I were to name it, in the type of way I see Magic Decks named, but very literally, it would be a Golgari Explore Graveyard Removal Pot Pie. The basis of Explore is when you play a card that ‘Explores’, you get to reveal the top card in your deck. If it is a land card it goes into your hand. If it is anything else the creature card gets +1/+1. The ‘Graveyard’ part is that I have several ways to get my cards out of the Graveyard and back into my hand or onto the field of play. That means that my creature threats are never really gone. the ‘Removal” part is a significant amount of my deck is to remove opponent cards, neutralizing their threats. The “Pot Pie” part is the side that doesn’t really fit, but really throws opponents for the loop. “Pot” is that I inserted a single type of Blue Card, and the “Pie” is that I inserted a single type of White card. Technically my deck is four colors.

Why two separate cards? I will explain those first as it is important. The first I looked for because I needed a way to clear all card types if I get into a jam. My deck allows for the long game but in the long game you can face some pretty powerful creatures.

Settle the Wreckage, from my last game, can put this situation – a clear loss:

He thought he won!

Into this – and I ended up winning

The second, more important card is what I kindly refer to as the “Brad Marchand” card. It’s the card you HATE playing against, always, every time. BUT, if it’s on YOUR team, well, it’s awesome. Here is that card:

Thief of Sanity lets you pick one of three of your opponents cards and use it against them. It’s ridiculously powerful. More importantly, super fun to use. As mentioned before not many 4 color magic decks are built around two specific color cards but this gives me options. Many of them. So how I get around not carrying the specific land cards and having access in regular play – let’s start there.

Lands (and Cards that affect Lands)

For the record, I carry 11 Swamp, 11 Forest, 3 Foul Orchard, 1 Woodland Cemetary, 2 Gateway Plaza, 1 Guildmages’ Forum, 1 Memorial to Folly, 1 Chromatic Lantern, 2 Gift of Paradise.

The Gate cards, Lantern and Gift of Paradise give me access to all colors. Enough so that I am starting to toy with adding other color cards to my deck, but things are working well right now. Memorial to Folly is a Graveyard card that is land based (so it cannot be countered). I rarely have to use it but it’s there just in case.

Creature Cards

My creature cards have a nice mix of low cost cards (to counter quick damaging aggro decks) and cards that interact well with each other.

The Graveyard part of my deck makes things fun. They kill my Ravenous Chupacabra (which is a great removal card for me ) and then I bring it back with the Golgari Findbroker. The Wildgrowth Walker is the key card and I carry 4, as every Explore gives me back health. This is also why I love the Deadeye Tracker as it doubles as a graveyard removal tool (meaning opponents don’t ahve the option to bring their cards back from the discard pile like I do.

Spell / Enchant Cards Interactive

Understanding how explore works, and how returning things from my discard (Graveyard) pile is a big part of how my deck works – it all comes together with the spell cards I carry. These all play nice together with my creature and land cards.

This is where things get really fun. Arguel’s Blood fast and Journey to Eternity are two cards that you can transform (when certain conditions are met) and before that transformation are still very powerful cards. Arguel’s Blood Fast let’s me sacrifice life to draw cards. This balances well when I have WildGrowth Walkers on the board. Journey to Eternity protects a card as enemies don’t want to trigger it. Sometimes I use my own removal cards to destroy my own creature (because I get it right back).

Those two cards, when both are transformed, are an incredible fun combination. Temple of Aclazotz (Arguel’s Blood Fast transformed) allows me to sacrifice one of my own creatures to gain health back. Atzal, Cave of Eternity (Journey to Eternity transformed) lets me bring that card right back TO THE BOARD (not just my hand) – which triggers their card event.

To put that in perspective – lets use my Ravenous Chupacabra. When it enters the battlefield it can remove an opponents creature card for a pretty fair cost. I can then sacrifice it using Temple, and then bring it back to the battlefield with Atzal, triggering it’s removal effect again. Twice in the same turn.

Other cards are fun too. Find // Finality is a good mass clear for low level cards, OR I can bring creatures back from the graveyard. Recollect allows me to bring back ANY card from my graveyard, which is amazing. Gaea’s Blessing is a simple card draw but also protects me from a Blue deck that attempts to discard your whole hand as a win condition.

The final two cards are things that are triggered based on playing cards. Guardian Project is a card draw state (which I looked for specifically since I was often at the whim of my next draw) and Path of Discovery triggers explore on every creature card play (including when they come back from the graveyard.) This creates amazing loops of card draws, pulls, explores, and heals.

Spells – Removal Cards – bringing it all together

The last piece of the puzzle is my suite of Removal cards to keep the battlefield clean of my enemies cards – creatures and enchants.

Duress is a very cheap card that removes a spell from your hand (my choice). Cast down and Vicious offering are reasonable creature removal cards, Assassin’s Trophy kills EVERYTHING (but they get a free land for it) and Golden Demise kills low cost aggro decks. Never Happened has been a life saver for me (removes ANY card from their hand) and of course, when things really hit the fan, we have Settle the Wreckage as an emergency card.

Planeswalker

Planeswalkers are powerful cards with fun and interesting play dynamics. I currently use Liliana, The Necromancer – who isn’t super powerful but plays really well into my deck.

Liliana has a direct attack, another Graveyard retrieve, and the best part about her -7 loyalty move is that I can pull a creature from my opponents graveyard as well. She is the least important card in my deck and I toy with the idea of not using her anymore. The good part about Planeswalkers is that opponents feel like they must get rid of them fast, so it works as a quasi removal tool / focus changer as well.

That’s my deck! Let me know if you have any questions!

Anthem Hype Level : 11ty Billion

I have two games right now that have me super hyped for gaming. The first up is Anthem – which Leo has spoken about a bit. I have been following all the livestreams, dev blogs, etc. I was in the technical Alpha as well. I ended up buying Origin Premier ($129.99 CAD for a year of ALL new releases (top end collectors editions) as well as a huge back catalog. That purchase is paying off in spades as I have been playing Battlefield V, and will play Anthem, and have downloaded a dozen other titles I was curious about but haven’t played. Everything from Darksiders 3, to This is the Police (1/2), Battlefront 2, and even Peggle. Yes, I admit that. It’s been a bargain for me as a platform.

Here is a video better explaining and demonstrating Anthem. I can’t wait.

BUY ME! BUY ME!

For the record, the other game I am excited for has no release date (Cyberpunk 2077) since I was huge into that PnP platform and it’s yet another, sci-fi shooter / rpg. Since it is so far away we aren’t really talking about it much.

Are you going to buy Anthem? (If yes, do you want to be my friend?) Since I have the top end pre-order I also get a bunch of buddy codes for the VIP weekends – let me know if you want to play it in advance or if you are just going to wait for release (or skip it altogether.)

I was also a huge fan of Andromeda, and as a Bioware “person” have high hopes the team can deliver on this title. Whether their strategy is sound (VIP weekends, free weekends, etc.) or if it backfires will be interesting to see how this game launches.

Ravnica Allegiance Launch : Magic The Gathering Arena

Time to buy packs!

What the screenshot doesn’t show is that because I have been so happy with my deck, and play daily, that I had saved up enough gold (free currency) to buy 45 packs of the latest expansion on release day. I also had over 20 standard Ravnica packs unopened as I was waiting for the new “bad luck” protection change which was included in the patch. Overall, a great day with a ton of cards

I’m still extremely stubborn and really only play and build black/green decks – it’s my comfort zone and I know how to counter most of the regular opposing color decks that I face out there. I do play any color based on the daily quest, but that’s only in fun mode (which still counts for daily quests) compared to ladder ranked.

Speaking of which, in the last MTG:A season I was stuck in bronze most of the time but with my Golgari Graveyard deck (my own additions to the standard Midrange variety) I have climbed all the way up to Gold 4. That may change quickly as deck building for me is finding cards to deal with how I am losing in game, which is a practiced art that includes lots of losing. The new expansion may create a brand new losing streak for me as I sort through all of that.

I am still only sticking to the “best of one” format that MTG:A started with as I am not a strong deck builder. I am going to start trying to construct my own decks for the practice, off color matches as when I read Izlain’s post on Magic that sounds like a big, fun part of it. The important thing is now that after a year or so of playing beta, and the live format, that I am very comfortable with all the mechanics and know most of the cards out there.

As with most expansions they introduce new mechanics – Green this time around is “adapt”, which ads +1/+1 counters to your cards per adapt level. This gives the opportunity to create really powerful cards if they aren’t removed from the board quickly. Black has a death mechanic called Afterlife that spawns new token creatures when the non-token ones die. Also a mechanic that allows you to spend a lower cost on cards if the enemy took damage this turn.

All in all, the learning curve begins again. Not nearly as harsh as Hearthstone and savvy spenders like me can get a ton of new cards for free at launch. If you like card games on the computer, and aren’t playing this, you really should give it a try. The base decks they provide to you as you learn have remained a competitive entry with varying styles.

2018 I HAS REVIEW – Q4

October 2018

  • Posts: 3 (Really? Just 3?)
  • Games: Magic The Gathering: Arena
  • Other Media:

October was my second lightest posting month and 3 in a month (along with the couple 5s I had earlier in the year) shows my inability to post consistently. Blogging is one of those things I love when I feel like I have something to talk about but struggle with when not – I would be a terrible place if I needed to have dependable, episodic content. October was about blahs and a general post, followed by a rentry into MTGA after the wipe (which I dreaded), and then an inspired post about an old gaming friend who I lost touch with – we were quite close, and he was suicidal near the end, and when we lost touch I worried about him. I still do from time to time.

In October 2017 I was playing Destiny 2 and Warframe

November 2018

  • Posts: 7
  • Games: Perfect World, Torchlight Frontiers, Breach, Magic The Gathering: Arena, Battlefield V, World of Warcraft, Fallout 76
  • Other Media:

In November I cleared out what was at the time, my last batch of Spring Cleaning blog posts drafts. It was a fun exercise. Checking recently, seems as though I may have another batch to do in 2019. We shall see. I had an Alpha based post on the 4-5 I was in at the time, as well as a great laugh at the bloopers from the Fallout 76 terrible launch (and the game continues to plague them, from what I am reading. I started playing (and being excited about) Battlefield 5(V) which I am still playing and being excited about. New free content update drops this week. I , along with many, many others groaned about the general boringness of Blizzcon this year.

In November 2017 I was playing Warframe

December 2018

  • Posts: 1 (FML)
  • Games: Slay the Spire
  • Other Media:

To be fair I had 3 weeks of vacation planned in December and that included a spill over into the first week of January – and two separate countries on two trips. Still, I didn’t put the effort in. My game of the year was Slay the Spire which my game of the year post neglected to mention (outside of the gameplay and screenshots). Never a dull moment here at IHASPC

In December 2017 I was playing EQ2, DDO, Warframe

Overall, not a bad year here statistics wise although I fell short of my 6 posts per month that I’d like to stick to. Good news is, heading into 2019 I have a lot to write about already and I only have two fears heading into February. The first is that with the upcoming Anthem launch IHASPC will become an Anthem blog for the foreseeable future. My other, bigger fear is that it will not – and Bioware will fade as my favorite gaming company.

Once again, thank you for reading, and here is to a happy, gaming filled, healthy, satisfying 2019!

2018 I HAS REVIEW – Q3

July 2018

  • Posts: 6
  • Games: World of Warcraft. Magic The Gathering: Arena, Warriors of Waterdeep,
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games: Blaugust

Summertime is more time outside time, less gaming time, and even less blogging time. I started a series about some World of Warcraft Specs that I thought would be really fun to include/play in the game and had drawn out several for several classes, but I didn’t get past one or two. (Maybe just one, will find out when I do August / September! My focus was on healing and tanking specs for every class to ensure you can play the flavor and role of class that you prefer. At the end of the month I wished the Blaugust participants good luck due to the fact I am at a cottage first two weeks of August and teaching at a hockey camp, so I don’t have time to blog at all for the most part. I spent a lot of time exploring my roster of World of Warcraft characters and tried to sort through how I would launch in Battle for Azeroth and where my focuses would be. I didn’t stick to my plan and even less did I do the armor class quests for the new races. I tried to give away Magic The Gathering Arena beta access as I had 5 keys – only two people asked. I managed to win at getting my Awesome Bear Form challenge before the deadline (And continued to use it through BFA – it is that awesome!). With my continued attention to D&D I ended up downloading a fun mobile game Warriors of Waterdeep, although I stopped playing it shortly after. Didn’t stick.

July 2017 I was playing Paladins, Fortnite, and Battletech

August 2018

  • Posts: 8
  • Games: World of Warcraft
  • Other Media / Non-Digital Games:

At the end of August I was already wondering if I should resubscribe to World of Warcraft. I did, but the fact that I had to second guess myself was telling to me of the quality of enjoyment I was having. I was enjoying the core story of Horde more than Alliance. I HAS PC turned 10 in August and as always, I reflected a bit on my 10 year journey here and what’s next for me. I looked for a guild of like minded people but wasn’t having much luck – so took random invites instead and was fine with that with my solo-ish playstyle. I found and added two new blogs that I enjoy Deez Words and Allunaria’s. I slogged through the low 100s and reflected often about my experiences as a once again, sole World of Warcraft (apparently) blog. I sourced a temp work position through the blog for a test, successfully, and I DID do a second part of my “SPEC ME OUT” series. Awesome rogue specs that I would 100% play for myself.

August 2017 I was playing Fortnite, Destiny 2 (beta), and Paladins.

September 2018

  • Posts: 7
  • Games: World of Warcraft, Telltale Games, WildStar, Cyberpunk 2077
  • Other Media / Non Digital:

I unsubscribed from World of Warcraft in September. Didn’t last long, sadly. Before doing so I grinded out Warfronts to get top end gear for basically just showing up. The ultimate welfare epics. I was sad about Telltale games – I really enjoyed a few of their titles (but the delivery did wane on me). I compared and optimistic view vs a pessimistic view on the 6 month mount subscription announcement by Blizzard. Level 120 in World of Warcraft was checking in, doing the work, but not feeling the love. Kind of like real life. I shared every post I made on WildStar and of course was sad that the game didn’t stick. Sad but NOT surprised – one of those “called its”. Finally I watched – with glee – the announcement and sharing of Cyberpunk gameplay. It was one of the PnP games I played the most in my youth (Rifts, Star Wars, Shadowrun being the other ones I spent my time on).

September 2017 I was playing Destiny 2, Clash Royale, and Fortnite

Q4 is less old but will still share, I really enjoy being able to go back through and see where my head and heart was at the times

2018 I HAS REVIEW – Q2

As a Side note, WordPress has changed their base editor and the main thing I hate is that there isn’t a full justification option. And it is built on building blocks of things. Change is hard when you are used to something but sticking to it! It also seems to have changed my font which doesn’t make me happy. Ah well, will work through it.

April 2018

  • Post Count 5
  • Games: Magic The Gathering Arena, The Show 2018, Starbound, Slay the Spire
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games: N/A

April was a very light posting month for me and most of it was spent in MTG:A. The posts were heavily about the learning and luck curve in MTG:A and how I felt like I was finally getting to a place and a deck where I could win consistently. I am still playing that game frequently but will save those updates for a non-review post.

Comparing April 2017 I was playing Andromeda and Hearthstone.

May 2018

  • Post Count 5
  • Games: Battlefield 1, Magic The Gathering Arena, Everquest 2, Lord of The Rings Online
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games: Origin

May, another light posting month, saw me revisit Battlefield 1 to help me decide if I was going to adventure in the newly announced Battlefield V, and signing up for the Origin service. I revisited Beta Fatigue – a theme I have posted about before where I burn myself out on games in Beta and can’t be bothered to replay from scratch when the “live” game launches. MTG:A was nearing a reset. I jumped back into EQ2 to get a free 100 (only to not play him/her) and started levelling my dream class – the Warden – in LOTRO. Finally. And lastly, I got ranty about how everyone wants everything free and without a modicum of effort in F2P games, while I felt the pace was ridiculously generous in MTG:A – an opinion not many shared.

Comparing May 2017 I was playing Destiny, Paladins, Overwatch, Guildwars 2, The Division. Clearly May is a “play lots of things you don’t stick with” month.

June 2018

  • Post Count 7
  • Games: World of Warcraft, Magic The Gathering Arena, Battlefield 1, Destiny 2
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games: Steam, Twitter

June saw me rush back to get my bear form before it was gone – there was a limited release on the artifact skins and the clock was ticking. MTGA launched a new card expansion and much like Hearthstone, I had to change my decks and my approach because it was kicking my ass. Steam had an easy way to see how much you have spent there – forever – so I started showing mine (hoping you would show yours). Most of you did. I complained a bit that unlocking perks in Battlefield 1 required me to play contrary to how I prefer to play (which isn’t always a bad thing) and even encourage me to do things to not help my team win (which is always a bad thing) yet there I was, doing it anyway. Battlefield V has some of the same issues, except worse – they time gate it forcing you to do things contrary to the benefit of your team more deliberately and often. Twitter Snitch Tagging is a thing and I once again wonder why I bother with the site (probably will delete soon, because in 2030 the word “Thank you” will be associated with hyper privilege-ism and using it – although fine for the current time, would mean I lose my job and life in 2030 for my past politeness. Why take the chance. I got angry with Destiny 2 (again, and continue to be so – unfairly, mind you) and another ranty-ish post about people maximizing their ladder climbs in MTGA by quitting the second they think they may not win (so they can more quickly lose, meaning they can more quickly go into a game where they may win). Me? I hang around to the end and some of my best moments were coming back from a game I didn’t think I could win. I love it.

Comparing June 2017 I was playing Paladins and Injustice 2

2018 I HAS REVIEW – Q1

That time of year is upon us where we look back. I really enjoyed this series last year as the memory gets worse and I get older it’s fun to see what got me excited, dissappointed, and curious throughout the year. As a longer post I am breaking it up in quarters.

January 2018

  • Posts – 9
  • Games – Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, Hearthstone, Dungeons and Dragons Online,  Everquest 2,
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games – D&D
  • Theme(s) – Review posts!

I am not currently playing any of those games regularly, and still have not gotten into a proper D&D game in my area (haven’t tried that hard either – the commitment level for a multi-hour, multi-session game is really hard for me. ICOTFR (say that 5 times fast) was the first “idle game” style that I spent some time in. I didn’t quite get it at first, a game you “watch” more than play, but it actually had a fun slant – for a while. Hearthstone was to explore the new PVE versions which were fun, but ultimately didn’t keep me with staying power. I invested in DnDBeyond source and rulebooks and became very excited about the idea of playing Dungeons and Dragons PnP.

Looking back to compare January 2017 I was playing: WoW:Legion and WoW:Legion only.

February 2018

  • Posts – 9
  • Games – World of Warcraft, Dauntless, Slay The Spire
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games – Critical Role Podcast, D&D
  • Theme(s) – underdogs, nostalgia

Funny that in February 2018 I went back to “finish” World of Warcraft. Flying was there finally and the game had progressed along enough that there was a lot of content for me to catch up on and enjoy. I also dabbled in Dauntless (which I spent very little time in, it was an Alpha invite and the game was very rough and without a great vision. I predicted it wouldn’t fare well due to the impending launch of Monster Hunter World a much more polished, proven game.

Looking back to compare February 2017 I was playing: World of Warcraft, Star Wars The Old Republic, and Mass Effect (Original Trilogy)

March 2018

  • Posts – 4
  • Games – World of Warcraft, Paladins
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games – N/A
  • Theme(s) – Zen grinding, Gamer Skill differentiation, Lessons learned in game design

March was a very light month of posting for me and it was all about WoW with a little bit of “I told you so” when Paladins went against their community wishes and changed their game to be more lootbox based during the Battlefront 2 EA fiasco – I mean, you just have to pay attention to how the market reacted to that to not do the EXACT SAME THING. Last time I checked steam charts the game hadn’t rebounded to their high before this decision.

Looking back to compare March 2017 I was playing Andromeda, and The Secret World Legends

Not a ton of consistency from year to year (fun to be able to do that this year) . I have a lot of posts in my head and drafts but currently still on vacation (a winter one, after my beach one), so behind on gaming and writing.

Happy new year! I’ll get to the other three quarters in due course.

Game of The Year – Vacation Edition

Gaming has been fun – but busy year end business meetings and holiday cheer, coupled with a new acquisition, coupled with year end business meetings and holiday cheer for the new acquisition, leading into a family vacation – there has been little time to write. Time zones, airports, hotels. Gaming has been great for me as down time during all of this – and while I have a good enough laptop to game I have mostly been sticking to bite-sized gaming.

The many paths to the top of the spire

I have started my Year In Review drafts and was going to wait until those were done to release my game of the year – but then I saw Zubon beat me to the punch not just by doing a Game of the Year post but by picking the same one I had planned to.  And while I have only blogged about it once back last February, and a small mention again in April, Steam is quick to remind me that I am pushing the 100 hour mark. That’s pretty impressive for my gaming time on an early release game.

The Defect has some really fun and interesting mechanics that really make you think a few cards ahead

And full disclosure, I only bought it because Zubon recommended it in the first place. So thanks Z.

It’s a PVE card game Rogue-like. There are three classes that play completely different, all of them having their own quirks and card sets. The art is great and there are so many different ways to play and enhance your character – through cards, relics, card upgrades, potions, (etc.) that every run is very different. And there are glorious moments where you get the right card and relic combinations that things just go incredibly. The sense of accomplishment when that happens (which is a mixture of good planning, some strategy, and a healthy dose of luck) the game becomes exhilarating.

The ending… or is it?

The piece that was always missing from this game was an end goal. I mean, you get to the end, damage the “heart”, see how much damage the rest of the world has done to it and then get to start all over again. But I hadn’t played in a while and this time when I beat it with “The Silent”  character something new popped up at the end, an uncolored rune became colored. Again when I won with “The Defect”. Now I just have to beat it with the character I enjoy the least (but is still fun).

A new puzzle to unlock

With that, I have been playing furiously. I have reached the end three different times with three different strategies (a Block based deck, a Strength based deck, an HP loss based deck) but have fallen short each time on the last boss. I love gaming like this when there is a clear objective, and it is easy to focus on round after round. The last, great piece about this game is that there is a “daily” challenge mode where the base rules get thrown out the window and all sort of random modifiers are added in, making it a really fun and crazy shot to play daily.

I am still doing my Year In Review posts, but no reason to wait for those. Go try this game – it’s a gem.

Blog Therapy – Drafts Purge – Part 6

This series is when I get a bunch of draft posts left in the background and I feel compelled to clean them out. And by clean them out, I mean talk about what my point was when I was thinking of writing it, whether or not it’s worth continuing the thought (or not) and why, and the delete it, complete it, or leave it on the back-burner for a future date. So far in the series I have only parked one post to redo in the future and I actually want to adopt it as a pet project. But that is a post for another day.

 My other posts in this series are Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4  ,  Part 5 

Mad Money (12-9-2016)

I have a love / hate fascination with WoW tokens and this post was the beginnings of exploring that. Here is the snippet, which is kind of funny:

I continue to have an odd fascination with the WoW token. I understand true markets and how market forces work but continued to be confused and curious with The WoW token itself. I can’t understand what is driving the price changes. I even have a Token price tracker on my phone. Here is the history of the WoW Token by all time price.

You can see a slow climb from 20,000 gold to near highs of 60,000 currently. The dips are also particularly fascinating – prices rose steadily until Legion launch and then dropped to a new low

The funny part is the WoW token is currently at 130,000 gold(ish) down from a high of 241,000 earlier in the year.  The reason why I struggle with the token in general is that because it is not regulated, there is no impetus on Blizzard to bow to true market demand / forces. They can unilaterally set the price at whatever they want, and can just create supply from thin air as need be – so I am extremely sceptical of the validity of the price and how player choice and decision can impact that. Due to the fact they have monetary value, am I incorrect? Do they have to stick to a standards as set out by the Stock market in the USA? Is there a resource on this so I can take off my tin hat and see there is some legitimacy to it? Of course, due to the date and the prices I was talking about I am going to let this post plunge like the DOW and NASDAQ will do in 2019.

Stop Me if You Think (9-6-2017)

I had to add this one, for the irony of the post title. That was it. I think I was going to do a play on a Morrissey song, but there was no finish to the sentence, no text placeholders, nothing. And just reading that is probably a good test for me. Just stop me if you think. Period. Which means I should stop, right? Melancholy-ing destroying this post as I ponder my place in the Blogosphere 

Warframe – 20 Hour Impressions (10-17-2017)

I used to put a lot more text and base thoughts into my drafts to save for later and all I had included in this one was:

Codex is hidden behind scanning, of which I can’t figure out how to use on my PC – even when googling and checking out

I loved the idea of the Codex in the game but was having a really hard time sorting through  how to scan properly. Until I found the right article, and I ended up getting a gadget that I could load up 200 scans into it and it would Auto scan as I fought. The only downside to this was that sometimes I would kill things too fast before it could scan, and sometimes it would run out of scan-ability that I would have to reload at the end of the mission.  Warframe was a game I put a LOT of time into and loved a lot of things about it. Will be curious if Anthem can take it’s place for me. The learning curve was (is) steep and in pauses between other games I have played I did try to foray back – and hit a few roadblocks. Sad part is that I almost have completely forgot everything about what to do and where to go, and since that mountain is so hard to climb it is extremely challenging to even think about getting back into it. They just launched another expansion which makes me feel even further behind (I didn’t even GET to the last expansion planet). I still cheer for this title due to the happy balance of micro-transactions it has – its the darling of the industry for that right now. Killed, like my desire to reboot this game

Ostrich Burgers : Destiny 2 (10-25-2017)

Continuing my poor draft post design this was another little title that I think I know the idea behind the title, albeit completely misguided. And little text to support it.

The Destiny 2 PC Launch happened and the internet is breaking. Not because of how awesome the game is, but because apparently many people are getting banned, permanently, for “no apparent reason”.

This post was subsequently solved to the tune of not admitting what was doing it but I always wish that companies would call out the people who do lie on these. There have been some cases in the past where devs have done just that, and showing who is banned and why is a great step to be transparent with the community and to also build a support network around the company for when they do ban. Everyone likes bans, except the person being banned. And, I am one of those people what would err on the side of the ban being more likely to give a false positive (with a system to correct and identify quickly) than to have a system that is too lax and lets cheaters through the gates. Recently in a Battlefield 5 game there was a guy clearly using a wallhack glitch as he was 76-0 before people found out that he was shooting through walls in a very safe place. Destiny 2 is still the only game I want to play that I can’t due to how terrible the premise/story is that it is on principal now. Banning this post, and telling the world.

(no title) (10-28-2017)

I was still playing Warframe, and this was the text I had written:

Hattip to the Warframe Reddit:

Not sure if I need to say much else.

I still don’t. Meta-critic is broken as a place for people to review bomb. It’s too bad we don’t have a place to decide on whether or not to take a chance on a game… it’s the opposite of Flixster in many ways – which seems to work – as fun and blockbustery movies often get panned by the critics but fawned over by the public – and I always trust the user rating on those ones. For some reason gamers are unable to divorce a game from the social issues they may or may not feel is represented / not represented (blah blah blah). Judge a game by the game, enough already. I think I did a post about this already, so giving this post a 0/10 for it’s SJW stance.

Show and Tell : Limbo (12-05-2017)

One of the really fun things about Warframe is that your main character can control so many different kinds of Warframes that it is a very “alt-friendly” game. Since I was really enjoying the game I started doing a Show and Tell series about my favourite frames. Here is what I wrote about Limbo.

Limbo is the gentleman Warframe. It has to be true, because, well, a top hat! From my understanding he is also the only Warframe that has interchangeable hats as an option. You do need to look good while you kill, right? Limbo is a quest frame – you get him by completing a quest chain (but still need to build).  I had a very strange run with Limbo leveling him – I went from complete confusion, to mild frustration, to a degree of joy in sorting through his playstyle and abilities. He is definitely  Warframe that proves Digital Extremes is not afraid to try new and interesting things with their mechanics. Those mechanics, however, make gameplay a very intriguing option with overall frustration for non-grouped players – or players unfamiliar with the mechanics.

Here is his reveal video, to high level the concept before I go into greater depth.

The Rift mechanic is fun. Hitting a single key can remove myself from danger – but I am still visible. This means that when I am in the rift enemies see me, and try to attack me, but they can’t hurt me.  Limbo’s abilities push and pull friends and enemies into the rift (against their will) and that is where frustrating play can happen. Oh, you just unleashed your super damaging ability on the big bad boss? Sorry – I just banished them to the Rift so that damage is wasted. But here, let me put YOU into the rift with me and we can now 2v1 him since we can ignore all other enemies.

I didn’t finish the post, or the series, but I still really loved playing his interesting Rift mechanic when I was a player. I’ll let this one rest as is as well.

That cleans out any and all drafts I had from prior to 2018 – and as with my other posts on the subjects, it feels great to have it all cleaned up and can face 2019 with only 2018 drafts to fix. Which will come at a later date. Isn’t there some saying… cleanliness is next to bloginess? Something like that?

Alpha Gaming Weekend : Redacted

I spent my weekend playing games I can’t share impressions on for the most part. And while people know I am in certain ones, because I announced it, I can safely group them all into “looking forward to what they do next” territory without mentioning specific features, feelings or thoughts. Wish I could share more but I do respect the alpha process.

I had a schizophrenic weekend and week of gaming. Nothing jumped out at me per se as a “must write about” but many little things. So here you get another general post hitting many topics, in particular order of importance or magnitude.

Magic: The Gathering

I am still playing this daily but due to the card rotations I have lost the core of my new favourite decks. And it is completely confusing, because they retired cards that were released in 2017. I know it is a sprawling game but the solutions I had to counter the decks I faced often were taken away, but the decks I face often were not. It is confusing to have cards that have been around from the start of beta but whole sections and subsets of cards added and removed afterwards. It makes no sense to me. The ones I miss the most are Prowling Serpopods – the only real defence against a control deck when you play green – and even then it’s a crap shoot to be able to use and utilize it – and the Walking Ballista. In fact, due to card retirements, I basically lost my favorite deck to play at all. That is frustrating as a collector. I don’t think other card games take cards away, but willing to adjust. Just goes to show MTG:A really, really needs a wildcard mode where all cards can be in play.

This fact alone makes the game less fun for me. I haven’t checked out of it yet, but am just sad and disappointed that I can’t enjoy it as much.

Secret Alpha Update

I can’t say anything here except there was an update to the Alpha. And with that update came a character wipe. Once again, I am reminded of the downsides of Alphas and how there is a correlation to the amount of time I spend in an Alpha and the diminishing likelihood that I pay for and play the game when it goes live. Where once I was a “great” alpha tester trying to break things, I am now also ensuring I am enjoying my limited gaming time. So the dozens of hours played are gone, and I get to do it all over again. If I decide to. I did take the first steps, made a character, and sat there hovering over the play button wondering if doing that was how I wanted to spend my time. It wasn’t, it turns out, but I think it was just the mood I was in with the first realization that all of the things I had done and prepped for for next steps was now gone, and back to square one. Not that I was surprised, just not ready for it.

No So Secret Alpha Update (Torchlight Frontiers)

I am still pretty sure we can’t share information on this yet – definitely not videos or pictures – but I played the heck out of it on the weekend and it was fun to see the stresses put on servers, and the parts of the development processes (patches quickly, etc.) to fix any issues and move forward, and find more issues. Being mindful of not sharing impressions of the game but to share that the development process part of being fun in itself. This is definitely one I will jump in on future tests and in the end when I CAN share things, will try to draw a line from where it started to where it launched. Will be interesting, to say the list.

Alpha I keep Missing (Breach)

It is patched and ready to go but the windows for participating have been so small – a couple hours here and there, sometimes during business hours – makes me think that this game must be in a real early Alpha state. Still, I check out announcements when I can and looking forward to playing this one too.

Battlefield V

While many parts of this game has taken it back to its roots, I still struggle that the pace is a little too much COD for me. There are way too many times that you die too fast without a chance to react or impact the outcome of that death. That is frustrating. I don’t remember it in the old 2142 days. Seems like there is a lack of ability to control your own destiny – which may reflect the realities of World War 2 but less fun in gaming. Snipers (Recon) are a bit overpowered right now and Medics very under powered – balance patches are needed and they are coming ™, but even that won’t balance out the high tempo nature of the game that detracts from a strategic experience (vs a twitchy experience). I have almost fully unlocked the Medic tree and my Sten (primary weapon) but also dabble daily in the other classes as the daily “assignments” suggest. (There are objectives each day that reward in game currency that require everything from flying planes, to resupplying teammates. They are quick and easy but force you to try different things so I am appreciative.) I still think less “busy work” is needed in all games, but this is the new reality. I am still enjoying it and new game modes come December 6th. This game will continue to compete for my time and attention. I did, however, re-download Squad to balance a more strategic shooter against the ADHD one.

World of Warcraft

Odd how when you stop the daily chores and familiarity of the routine, you don’t really miss it. Uninstalled to buy room on my hard drive (before buying the new one, see below). Will take something big to pry me away from all the more-fun gaming going on right now.

New SSD External Drive

Black Friday sale I got a 1TB SSD external so I have more room to keep all of my games patched up and ready to go. This will make my hop in and out gaming mood and style lately even more varied. Although I am going away this weekend, so that means little to no gaming for me. I am having constant and consistent DISK WRITE ERRORS to it on Steam and it randomly will open up the drive folder on top of what I am doing – I think there is either an issue with the drive or an issue with my Thunderbolt port. I need to return it. Having to restart 12GB downloads every 2-3 minutes is not efficient. It is a Sony t5, anyone else used to having errors with it? Google has been unhelpful.

Another week in the books, and another weekend coming up – sadly out of town so little to no gaming, and next week is a bit of  a writeoff as well. I can’t believe winter is here already.

 

Because 5 is a Thing : BFV

A problem I am having with blogging and Battlefield 5 is that I play at my home laptop, and take pictures there, and then blog at work I need to change the default screenshot folder to one of my OneDrive folders so it syncs across platforms. So until then I don’t have more BF:V pictures. This will be a soulless (sans picture) post about my 5 (V?) favourite things about Battlefield 5 (so far). And since WordPress will not let me do a reverse order bullet point, we will not have a ranking, just five random things.

  1. (I) Squad Play is enhanced. You actually NEED all four classes, and running off on your own without them is detrimental to your game.
  2. (II) Scarcity of resources. It doesn’t actually feel that way when you play proper in a squad, but building off of the first point – you will run out of bullets if you don’t have a Support Class near by. You do NOT regenerate health passively – so you need a Medic nearby to regain any health. In Battlefield 1, anyone could spot and you spent rounds aiming at red circles (Because you couldn’t see people in the distance, but because they were ‘spot’ted, you were shooting at colour indicators near where people were). Only the Recon class can spot, and only with their spotting tool. It has made the game so much better to be interdependent on each other.
  3. (III) Dying animations. If you listen and experience it, it is actually awesome. Left click cries out for help. When you are an Axis soldier it’s hard to understand, but last night as I lied there as an Allied soldier, bleeding out I hit and held left button and my bloody hand outreached, struggling for help, and I screamed “I’m fucking dying here, please, someone help, please!”. The desperation in the voice actually made an impact that hey, this is actual war. These are lives.
  4. (IV) War Stories. There is not a real, single player campaign here but instead they are telling lesser known stories. The first one is about the British SBS – the Special Boat Service. I didn’t know this existed historically. How accurate it is, I don’t know, but the story mentions that soldiers weren’t put into the SBS but instead people who “got things done”. And you take on the role of an inmate, who is good at blowing things up, as you are recruited to do guerrilla warfare along the coast in canoes in small, non-unformed outfits.
  5. (V) Destructible / Build-able environments. Buildings you are in can blow up from tank and gunfire. And you can build them back up. We took over a small town in Conquest that was basically a barn with blown out windows, and I spent 10 minutes building sandbag walls, razorwire, boarding up the windows for protection from snipers, anti tank hedgehogs, etc. The entire area I was able to protect both of the flanks and prepare it to be attacked. It was a complete renovation. I wish I had pictures. I did find a video!

It’s amazing. A game changer.

Anyway – I still have way more to discuss about this game, but it is my early favourite iteration of the franchise. And it’s not even released to the general gaming community yet!

Beautifield 5

I am now a PC game service enabler. There needs to be a better term. I had become an annual Origin Pass member, which gives you access to 150 EA games (plus early access to new titles on a trial basis) for the grand price of $29.99. They now added a service – Origin Premier – which gives you access to all of their NEW Games (and old) including all pre-order bonuses, MTX benefits, etc. It was $129.99 Canadian. I did the math and with Battlefield V coming out (it IS out for Premier subscribers) and Anthem later in the year (Premier get early access and beta access as well) I figured I’d pre-buy the year long access for less than the cost of two games. I now have another 154 titles I could mess with if I wanted to. It’s a very good deal for me, knowing that I would have bought both anyway. Now I get a full year of access to all games they have – and that includes some I used to play but can’t bother buying these days (Madden Football, FIFA, etc.) So I can dip in and out as I wish. It’s good value.

I spent 3 or so hours playing Battlefield V, the new, WW2 inspired shooter and my first impression is this. It is gorgeous. I couldn’t hit screenshot fast enough during the introduction that gives you short stints of all parts of the game – infantry, tank, plane battles, all through a well narrated but light story about war and many country backdrops throughout. The game also really tugs on the heart strings. Instead of hardy, veteran soldiers the presented them as what many of them were – kids, thrust into battle via conscription or a sense of country and the innocence is lost quickly – along with many lives. I am looking forward to playing more.

The gun play and gameplay is amazing. It brings me back to the old Battlefield days. It’s still a bit too fast paced to be a full strategic shooter but it did slow the game down enough to be less bunny-hopping and un-immersive like the COD titles I stopped buying years ago. The maps are awesome, progression is on multiple layers and quick enough to feel fun and meaningful (early on, at least). The customisation is fitting and fun to play with from weapon skins to various clothing parts. It should be a hit. I know it is getting some negative Metacritic scores because they DARED to put a woman soldier on the primary loading screen, but that is the new normal in the PC world we live in.

Here are some shots. I’ll be covering more of this – the gameplay, the depth, the maps – in the coming days and weeks. The gallery below are parts of the opening sequence and while they will not fully capture the experience of it all – the sounds and movement are missing, of course, it does capture a lot of the beauty of the game.

Enjoy the gallery! If you have any questions about the game, send them my way. Happy to answer!

Click on any picture to open the gallery. It is not the full sequence, so reading any of the text may not match up with the text from the prior picture!

Blizzzard (Im)mortal

I was away for two weeks. Long flights, late nights, time zones, work, play. Good times. As always when I step away from the blog I miss writing. Because of the kind of trip I had I don’t have a ton to write about – but I did follow a lot of the Blizzcon announcements, the subsequent grumblings, and all. So with a two weeks away post you get a bullet point paragraph post!

  • Blizzcon

Not surprisingly, underwhelming.  Almost seems like “what’s the point” of having a convention if you have nothing great to share. A simple “We aren’t having a convention. We are going to continue to monetize existing games, and even revive an old one to monetize further! Also, we will put a game already on it’s last legs into mobile format and find new ways to monetize it!). No one is surprised.

Well, Blizzard fans are. And here is where I say “reality check” time.

Blizzard is a digital company. You should not expect them to treat you like a friend, or a loyal customer. They have spent years not treating loyal customers like most other companies have to treat loyal customers. North America is not the main focus market anymore. There is far more growth other places in the world – countries that have billions of people who game more on mobile. You should not be surprised (or disappointed). Digital companies are the worst at treating loyal fans, because fans are happy with information over incentives. Ask anyone who has a loyalty card from their favourite restaurant what the bonus is – you spend  money there, and you get rewarded. The more you spend the more rewards you get.

Digital companies only take.

This is NOT sour grapes on my part. Although I have long argued that gaming companies would do well to treat loyal customers as loyal customers they continue to value the person who plays one title for ONE month as the equivalent of a customer who has played 4 blizzard titles, some for a decade (or more) as the new guy on the street. They can afford the churn and burn in the global marketplace. I am not disappointed because this is exactly what I expect Blizzard to do – make the most amount of money for the least amount of effort.

They are making mobile Diablo because they need to monetize Diablo. And a mobile game is far easier, cheaper, and faster to build than a full blown game. They have probably run the numbers and have sorted that a mobile Diablo would make more money than a full PC version of Diablo anyway. They have or they wouldn’t be doing it.

  • Alpha Breach

I was invited to a second Alpha, of the technical variety, called Breach. I am looking forward to it. Right now testing seems to be focused as every time I have tried to log in the servers have been down. There are no secrets here, you can stream the Alpha, so I can talk about it all I want. Co-op, 4 player, RPG, classes. Heck, might be fun. We will see. I will share more when I can.

  • Secret Alpha

The other, Alpha that can’t be named, unless you are clever like Bhagpuss, has been a fun experience. I am worried it is one of the “more fun without other people” experiences, as it is a PVP game and right now I have time and space to explore and sort things out. I can see a future of roaming gankers and no room to breathe. Yes, I know, MMORPG MEANS OTHER PEOPLE. Except when it doesn’t. Like every PVE MMORPG right now. Still, advancing and learning is fun. There is some mystery. There is a lot of work left to do. Looking forward to when we can talk about it. On a side note, am I the only one that thinks that Survival PVP games only really work on terrain that is randomly generated? (Else people just find and fight over the “best” spots…)

  • Diablo III for reals

Somewhat ironically I have been playing a bit of D3 because I never did level a class on my PC version. And with the lack of  a WoW sub right now was looking for games to mess around in that I already have. Which has largely been taken up by the Secret Alpha and the Alpha I can’t access yet. Still, It is fun which had me itching for a not 5 year old RPG….

  • Path of Exile

Free to play, I have been trying it. It’s not so bad. I know there is a ridiculous amount of complexity to it that I am quickly picking up on the learning curve. Not sure where to stick or how long it will, but it is a time passer and fun to play back to back with D3.

  • MTGA

Daily play, get my packs, build my decks. It’s the best card game out there. Funny on what is old is new again – when I first started I was playing a Golgari Explore deck which was ok, but not really competitive with the control decks and aggro red decks of the time. I had to build my deck to be unwieldy to ensure I had win conditions vs the decks I was seeing a lot of. Fast forward to Ravnica, and I am back to using that deck and not facing the same problems I had before as people are playing base Ravnica decks for the most part. Perhaps it is true that I just got actual experience during those hundreds of hours of play “testing”. It’s an easy and quick play to get through every day. Fun when your deck gets the right cards in the right order and things go swimmingly. I still hate the quick quitters though and enjoy playing it out to the end.

Big roundup, glad to be back – did you miss me?

When You Say Nothing At All : Quotes

I don’t like going a full week without making a post. This is more of a challenge when you didn’t really do anything or have anything tangible to write about. So, if you hate general posts about a few things, stop reading now. This is one of them.

“Not as bad as I thought”

While not sounding like a ringing endorsement, but was the general consensus about Kansas City. I have been to a lot of cities in the USA but that was my first trip to KC. It was for a conference and I spent Sunday – Thursday in the “City of Fountains” (without seeing a single one, mind you!). Turns out it is a really pretty city. Clean, good food, nice places to have drinks at night. It felt oddly empty, mind you, where we were (near the Power and Light district) and unfortunately there wasn’t a Chiefs game in town and of course the Royals are out of the playoffs. I love seeing live sporting events in new cities I visit. Gives you a real feel for it.  I probably wouldn’t go back there for a straight vacation or anything like that – but if another conference pulls me there I’d definitely look forward to it. Problems with conferences is that you tend to spend 90% of your time in hotels and conference rooms, conferencing. We managed to see some of the city but not nearly enough of it.

“Do you want fries with your airmiles”

I have another doozy trip starting Monday which will also mean less posting. The first leg of my trip is to get from Canada to Perth, Australia. Which is three flight legs. And 29 hours of airports, layovers, and flying. That’s a long day(s). I get a few days in Perth and then it’s a flight to Auckland (7.5 hours), then ChristChurch, then back up to Sydney, then Vancouver, Toronto, and then home. 12 days away with a full 48+ hours in planes and airports. While I am looking forward to my destinations the journey part is going to be long and exhausting.

“Your Go”

I do my daily quest in MTG:A and have been building up some fun decks with the pieces I get. I have been splitting my earned packs between three sets – Dominaria, Ravnica, and Core Set 2019. I have been fortunate to get some legendary cards and my Golgari Saporling deck has been my favorite so far. While I play ranked, I am stuck at Bronze 2 for the most part because I play whatever color combo the quest requires, and it takes 1-5 matches a day to complete the quest. So playing something I have zero knowledge of, like a Blue Black deck means I wing it and focus less on winning or losing and just learn as I go. I mentioned this before but the best way to learn what tools are in the standard decks are to play them (of course) so there is still value there. I play stock decks of every color except for Green / Black which is my wheelhouse. “Your Go” is one of 5 pre-set options you currently can say to your opponent. I do not understand why they don’t have full chat available, with the ability to turn it off. I’d love to chat with opponents. I know it can get dicey that way, but it takes all the social aspect out of it and with proper reporting and mute tools could be a huge boon to a casul, fun player like me. Eventually you will be able to play with friends and why shouldn’t I be able to chat with friends in game while we play? It’s a shame and missed opportunity.

“Well, it’s LFR”

I am back to my subscription countdown in WoW. I am maxxed out on my characters (even though I did start levelling more) but right now I run all LFR wings on my Paladin/Druid and still plug away at Emissary quests. My Subscription will lapse on my next business trip. I was lucky enough to get a BOE drop that sells in the high 300s so that would be 3 months of subscription time for me. It’s not selling fast, however. I will probably keep going if I sell it, or take a break if I don’t. the game is so comfortable to play and the pacing and fluidness of going through the motions is very comfortable. I do need to download an “offline only” game – probably an RPG – so I have something to do besides work on my flights. I do a lot of LFR and do the mechanics properly, and have been getting heck for it. Yes, heck for tanking right. Most people are geared enough and it’s easy enough that you can skip a lot of mechanics and still have success (Taloc Cudgel) and when saying to the group I prefer to do it right, that was the response. Hilarity. I do miss the challenge in MMO gaming and know I can still make it myself in WoW (Mythic+, Raid teams, etc.) most of that is generally out of my time reach.

You probably won’t hear much from me the next two weeks but I’ll definitely pop my head into the blogroll and get some good reading in during my down times. Bon Voyage to me.

Rebuilding : MTGA

I had a LOT of fun with the Magic The Gathering Arena closed beta but was less than enthused to restart after the wipe.

Currently, there are around 1300 unique cards and you can have up to 4 of each. By the time I was done in closed beta I had around 2600 cards – so half way there. Starting fresh, without your favorite decks, is daunting. I predicted I wouldn’t even play again but I did end up reloading. It’s free and a lot of catching up to do.

MTG:A is an amazing card game. It puts Hearthstone (and any others I have tried) to shame. Yes, there is complexity there and nuance but of course with decades old games that happens. This version is so easy to play and learn. If you ever wanted to get into MTG this is the perfect place to start.

The challenge is rebuilding what I once had. I am not entirely enthusiastic about giving them money yet – I want to see how things are structured and while they mentioned they don’t plan for an Open Beta wipe if something “catastrophic” happens they reserve the right to do so. So I am treading cautiously.

I am also playing it like WoW Emissary quests right now – something I don’t really want to do, but I have to to progress. Every day when you play a match you get a free full deck. I am not sure when this stops, but each deck has 60 cards and so far all the decks have been different. If you want to get into MTG:A just log in and play one match a day – even if you lose horribly – and you are building a collection.

There is also a daily quest (or two, or three) that you get once a day and they accrue – exactly like WoW. These also reward money (to buy packs) and pack rewards. So these also must be done. They are often “play 40 green or blue spells” or “play 25 lands”. They often force you to certain decks and colours. It is good to learn these but more importantly to see what opponents are playing.

After that, the rewards aren’t worth the effort, to be fair. So every day I log in for 1-5 matches to clear out the quests and get packs. At this rate, I will be able to play my old decks sometime in the new year. Sooner if I am very lucky (or spend a lot of money, which I won’t do in Beta state). So now between WoW and MTGA I have two daily routines on my computer. Neither make me scream GET IN THERE! but both keep me connected to the games.

And for good measure, I was just invited to a big hyped, interesting Alpha test. Which the fine print says I can’t tell you which one, although supposedly a Dev on their discord said you could say you were in or not – just nothing more than that. I’ll respect the system and not say that quite yet until I can confirm. Unfortunately it is a game mode and style I am not particularly fond of, but Alphas are always interesting to go mess around. Will see what happens.

At least there haven’t been any Hopes and Dreams style interviews yet.

Dagome

I was inspired while reading Kaylriene to take an introspective look at my gaming personal life. In many ways it has mirrored my own life and friendships. I found myself getting wispy and nostalgic reading the tales of their trip from A to Z. I struggle with these kinds of posts because I feel utterly exposed. There is not much in my life that I struggle with as a mid 40s, white, cisgender male with a logical world view (albeit empathetic) and the CEO ability to compartmentalise emotions and decision making. I’m not so sure how healthy that is. In fact, I am shocked that I fully understand the seemingly overused term “trigger” that we hear a lot about these days. Because thinking about my old EQ guild is a true trigger for me. A sadness overcomes me. Now, I think I know why – it was during this time that I had a nasty drug addiction (which I kicked without help) and that experience is as much a part of the good feelings of belonging and gaming. I have always blamed this on nostalgia but I know there are deeper forces at play, but my ability to understand them – fully – or perhaps face them and put them to rest – remains elusive.

I think to better explain what I went through it would help to explain what it felt like for me to fight addiction. First, I cut off all contact with those I used with. It was the only way, I quickly learned. They were already my only support and friend group but even when I did well to avoid the drugs – just having a few drinks with them and being around access to it would make it hard to avoid using. So I cut everyone out of my life who I was close to because I couldn’t handle it. Things got bad quickly. Withdrawal is terrible. I can’t explain the feeling in words enough to do it the horrible justice it is. It’s appropriate, mind you, as a barrier if you do get through it that no high can ever balance or make worth that low. When I was fighting during my personal rehabilitation I could never sleep. My heart would race at night uncontrollably. I was so sure my heart was going to stop that I would drive to the hospital, park in the parking lot, and sleep there. At least if my heart did stop I would be close to help. I did this for months. Try to sleep at home, panic, drive to hospital, get some sleep in my car in the parking lot. Winters were cold. I lived and was alone. I probably pushed away people who could have helped.

As a gaming blog I don’t know if I want to continue too far down this path. I just wanted to explain this part as I was a heavy user, and recovering addict, during my time with EQ. The bright light around it was that I used my online friendships as support and purpose to pull me through the dark time. Having to cut out your in-life friends and being too ashamed to explain to your family is a very lonely place. I found that support in my guild. Even though THEY didn’t know what I was going through (being an addict is a complete embarrassment to me) they were always there – someone was 24/7 in game and someone or a group to spend time with, have fun with, and just not feel alone.

So yeah, that is the basis on which every time I think of my old guild, or visit the forums that still exist (they boards themselves have gone through 3-4 hosting changes and survived unscathed), I feel a deep sadness. Maybe it isn’t sadness, but the emotions are hard to explain or control. This sometimes leads me to believe that maybe I hold a depression inside, in one of my tidy and clean compartments but it is only triggered by my old guild. I log into EQ and I have characters still in that guild and I check to see if anyone has logged in. Years have passed for almost all, even decades. I don’t really play there but I can’t let go either. I stop by regularly to check and to do a /who all on the server to see if I recognize any of the names.

I am not sure if I feel worse about all of this because of how healthy my life is right now – physically, I am very fortunate. I have a great life and do not have many struggles to face “in the world” that many do. It is sometimes because of this I feel guilty for harbouring these emotional struggles. As a business leader it’s hard to show or share this because I am afraid people will not want to follow someone who isn’t “a rock”. And while I mostly play that part quite well and can inspire others to be the best versions of themselves, I have this one trigger that always pulls me back down to a weird place of happiness and sadness, existing at the same time.

Yes, writing about it feels good. That fear of someone connecting this to my real world self is cowardly but I can write under general safety of anonymity, for the most part. I am not that important for people to care either. Good thing I never plan on running for office. =)

Dagome. All of that to explain Dagome. Dagome was an enchanter in The Grove on the Testserver. His name was Wojtek. He was Polish. We were online friends and late-night grinders, often just the two of us. I was a Troll Warrior. One day he asked if he could call me – and that was strange because we had never spoken. Of course I said yes, and he did. He had a very heavy accent.

He was suicidal.

This was after I went through my challenging period and I was able to support him well on the phone. I knew the feelings he had. They were all too familiar with what I struggled with. This gave me strength, oddly enough, to be able to help him. That was the first of many calls (from what I can remember – funny how memories are), and we were great in game friends for many years. Eventually he left to a new game, tired of EQ. He was in a pretty good place when he did, again, if memory serves me correctly. We had a brief time where I joined him at DAOC but the personal ties weren’t as strong as the gaming needs. I wanted to recreate the test experience on Pendragon, which I ultimately did for several years. He was still angry about how the devs did things on Test with the wipe, and just wanted a regular life on a regular server. We both made characters on each others’ servers and promised cross play. Didn’t happen too often and we lost touch.

I had locked away that part of my life and moved on. WoW was always positive and I stopped thinking and worrying about the past, and moved on happy in life. Met a girl, married, have a healthy child. Something drew me one day to search for the Guild, and it’s members from The Grove. I am not sure what, or why, but I did find the forums. And that was when the first trigger happened. And it hasn’t stopped since. Although the trigger is still there and it always hits me when I visit, good memories and happy feelings always follow. It’s quite strange.

Sometimes I wonder about Dagome, about Wojtek. Where he is today. I tried looking for him on facebook but without any luck. I hope he is happy and healthy in life and relationships. I sometimes worry if he went the other way. I logged into my Shaman in EQ recently and she had logged out at the Lake of Ill-Omen. She was there because I would log her in to give Dagome and his enchanted goblin buffs, and log her back out to log Braack back in. We farmed that spot for hours, pulling goblins from the lake. It reminded me that that was the last in game place in EQ I spent time with Dagome in. Probably the last time I spent meaningful time with him. If you can count gaming as that.

When I was young I had a real life ‘movie moment’. I had a summer job with summer friends and for several years we spent our summers working and having fun together. Their grandparents had a cottage nearby and I was a local. That last summer we were hanging out in a bunkie by the lake after a night shift, listening to music and talking. The twins weren’t coming back to work the next summer. It was the end of a long run together. Forever young was playing on the radio. I was on the bottom bunk, one was on the top and the other on a bed by the window. We told stories and shared memories. We said we would keep in touch and always be friends. I pulled out a jack knife and carved my name into the bottom of the top bunk. I cried.

Even though I spent years there I never saw their grandparents cottage, that bunkie, or them again.

Life is funny sometimes.