Author Archive: Isey

Corporate Governance

This sat in drafts and I never got around to finishing it. Now the info is really outdated, but still – wanted to talk about companies that make games really briefly.

First, we have this nice reminder of EA being voted worst company to work for (again)

Then, we have FUNCOM being raided for suspected wrongdoings

Add in a whole bunch of short-term stock thinking, churn and burn/crunchtime production mentality and man, I can’t help but think:

Is it really a surprise we get crappy games?

Then I read this gem from over at Valve – their awesome employee handbook

And this – the Bteam website

Is Corporate (North) America ready for an epic showdown? Is it all coming to a head as hard working humans reject that they need to be taken advantage of to earn a living?

Can we have purpose AND profits?

(side note: go read Tony Hsieh – Delivering Happiness)

Hopes and Dreams and Tools

Could EQN:L lead to a full blown platform to make our own games? While I don’t think so, I like to be positive and for a change think “why not”.

Very blue ocean thinking but take Landmark, add in Story Bricks, and an item editor\creator and quest builder and voilà – you have many tools to make custom MMOs. From my understanding not much programming is needed. The world building tools alone in EQN:L have proven that even I could build simple town assets or landscapes that players could traverse. Programmers are making the tools better all the time, lets make them great, add some scripting and unleash the collective MMOspace’s imagination.

I‘d bet we’d finally start seeing the games we want.

The best FPS I have played was community created with Project Reality (by Black Sand Studios) who have literally spent YEARS working for free, in a community across the globe in partnership. Graphics, scripting, game modes – everything!They have produced the best paced, most realistic shooter on a 10 year old engine. Rumor has it this effort will lead to a standalone title – I wish them the best and hope it happens. It has won many modding awards. Imagine if they had even better tools than were available for that old game (Battlefield 2)

Take MMO/World Building tools, and unleash them to the world. You know collectively gamers would come up with something incredible. The landscapes some alpha players have created in EQN:L rival those in published games I have played. Human beings have a desire for art, sharing, and collaboration – all things needed to create a true next gen MMO. Many would share their talents just to get creative license and experience on a project – which could lead to bigger and better things.

We crowdsource funding, why not crowdsource talent? Zooppa does this for companies. Instead of getting one solid idea from an advertising company that has been institutionalized, throw it out to the passionate creators on the planet. Put in an incentive, and watch the magic unleash. The proliferation of cheap HD cameras, computers, and editing software has pushed this renaissance – the tools. Are we really that far off?

Heck, we can build immersive, amazing games on 24 hour contests imagine what we could do with months or years. I believe all of us have a game – or part of a game – to share. Together we could make that a reality – if we only had the tools.

How could a publisher benefit? Many ways. Way back in 2008 I was arguing for different revenue models that could be beneficial for both player and developer. Licensing, % of sales, buying and selling of the creative content itself – EQN:L is building a model to support this already. Picture it on a bigger, grander scale.

Having a glass is half full kind of thought train here. I’ll return to regularly scheduled pessimism shortly.


I Still Can’t Build

.. but I am having a lot of fun trying. Some shots of my “progress”

A hole you say? Yes. I was able to craft dynamite and threw 10 sticks (one by one) in a single spot. Explosives could end up being a lot of fun in this game. They need to tune it so its more random on the explosions – its  pretty perfect cylinder down.

Starting to take shape. I ended up taking out the bottom one and moving it up more to top of the mountain. Still not really a dragon’s head, but obviously something with a mouth (obvious, right? RIGHT?)

Distressing and aging rock will be an art form. I did mention my art ability…

The fire doesn’t show well. I did fire nostrils and the fire in his throat is actually from the fireplace in the house. Except I can’t get a picture of either from front on right now (will need to build scaffolding..) its the angle of everything.

I am just putting this in for the lighting/shadows effects. They are really well done.

I am no where near getting this done or near some really, really amazing pieces of works that pros are pulling out in Alpha but its fun and I feel like I am learning the tools, and getting better. I farmed out most of the top end stations and items in the game so its kind of “hurry up and wait”. All you can do is build and harvest. Soon, they’ll add water, and underground caverns (etc.) which will then really bring the game to life.

I’ll stop posting pictures unless I really get it together – go check out some amazing ones. It has been fun seeing other’s create and learn to create as well and I’ll start posting less on pictures and more on gameplay, looking ahead, etc.

Soft Posts

I have been travelling for work the past couple of weeks (and doing so until this weekend) so I haven’t been working on my masterpiece (*cough cough*) in EQN:Landmark. And I am missing the game.

My travel PC is a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and as I have mentioned in the recent past, I love the unit. Its awesome on planes, the battery life is amazing, and I have adopted the pen input to take over what I would have used to have used my mouse for. It’s a great machine. Bit pricey, but huge fan.

Problem? Integrated graphics. The stats on a MS Pro 2 are actually pretty beefy:

Surface Pro 2

Technical Specifications

  • Software
  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Exterior
  • Dimensions: 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 in
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Casing: VaporMg
  • Color: Dark Titanium
  • Physical buttons: Volume, Power
  • Storage* & Memory
  • 64/128GB     256/512GB
  • ————————–
  • 4GB RAM      8GB RAM
  • Display
  • Screen: 10.6 inch ClearType Full HD Display
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (widescreen)
  • Touch: 10-point multi-touch
  • Durable display
  • CPU & Wireless
  • 4th generation Intel® Core i5 Processor
  • TPM Chip for enterprise security
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology

I am not telling you all of this because I get a cut – I am actually telling you about it because by all accounts, this game should play EQN: Landmark but it doesn’t – some texture issue that everything above ground (props) render nicely, and I get great FPS but the VOXELS textures all come up black – so hard/impossible to build, impossible to mine/collect (anything but trees).

I am SUPER excited for when they fix this (they say they are) because I am looking forward to drawing my building items. The pen input and EQN:L should be a nice match made in heaven.

The building bug has hit me and it reminds me of a story we use in our business discussions.

Three bricklayers are all working on a site. A man walks up and asks the first one:

“What are you doing?”

He answers “laying bricks”

He asks the second man – “What are YOU doing?”

He answers “building a wall”

He approaches the third man, who is working with a big smile on his face – “And what are you doing?”

He responds

“I am building a cathedral”

Go build cathedrals. Its all about perspective.

Measuring The Same Thing Two Ways

Interesting observation as I was travelling through the USA and watching Olympic coverage.

Canada counts good medals as the ultimate qualifier (odd considering their demeanor) for medal standings. Most gold medals is first, if tied use silver as a tie breaker and then bronze as the “rubber match”.

A country with just 15 gold medals is better than a country with 14 gold, 10 silver, 4 bronze.

USA evaluates by number of total medals. Each is worth the same. If you have 40 bronze you are better than a country with 39 gold.

Guess which country had the most of what last Olympics in Vancouver.

They should talk it out and come to a fair compromise – 3 points for a gold, 2 points for a silver, 1 for a bronze. I’m sure whoever would “win” under that setup would agree to that!

Neither will and the debate continues. Canada will claim whoever has the most gold medals  is the Country who won the Olympics and the USA will claim most medals is. That will probably stay the same unless the USA gets the most gold medals (they have used this argument in Summer Olympics) or Canada actually becomes a sporting dominance outside of hockey.

Information is only useful when used properly. That “properly” is hard to define. How about “when used without prejudice or dishonest intent without personal or representative regard”

Think also – anytime a politician uses data/stats.

(hopefully I get to play video games again so my thoughts can stay more focused)

A House Isn’t A Home (without a Dragon’s Head)

I haven’t been building much but have been playing with the outside of my home. The inside is the intricate work that I don’t have a natural eye for (and there aren’t that many “props” in game yet).

Outsides are dramatic. People can see them from miles away. Your outside is likely to make people decide if they want to see inside. I really don’t care about any of that – I am just trying to learn the tools. With that said, here are some pics!

This is the front entrance. Bit of a rocky path to get there. That design is built in as part of the tools (and it is very popular right now – there aren’t many “ornate” ones)

This is the view of my crafting terrace. There is actually a path down through my main room and through the mountain to get there.

This is the beginning of my Dragon’s head that will protrude out the side of my mountain. Eventually the mouth will be a second entrance to my house (And to the crafting area). Plans are to have smoking nostrils (torches), glowing eyes (light stone) and a fiery throat (fireplace). We’ll see how it goes. Again, ZERO artistic ability, but curious how much I can fake it using the tools.

For example, the bottom part of the jaw I made a flat, elongated trapezoid using line and select tools, then added triangles and angled corners rotated and different sides (to be jagged), and then the smoothing tools to take away too much jaggedness (still needs more smoothing.) I then copied the bottom jaw, and rotated it (see the blue arrows? and placed it away. Now I just need to build out below the jaw and above the jaw and meld it into the side of my mountain. Lots of work to do.

Also, I am currently building it in dirt. Everyone has lots of dirt. After it is done you can “paint” it with stone or other materials to match up.

Couple final shots:

This is the view from on top of my chimney. I put in 4 torches for faux smoke. I see I have a new neighbor… building into the mountain across the way. The box you see is my current “claim area” and restricts where I can build. I haven’t figured out how to turn it off for screenshots yet.

Here is the view down from my chimney. Again, the scale and detail of this game is amazing (that is the top of my dragon’s head, for reference)

Last but not least there is where I am in case you wanted to go check it out. It is on COURAGE server, Ledge zone (which is a tier 2 zone). Feel free to stop by and use the crafting stations.


It’s not pretty. I have zero artistic or architectural ability. I do have patience, however.

I got the LINE tool (which is quite the grind) which requires tier 3  crafting stations. This makes roofs easy to make. Basically its great for slopes, ramps, etc. So, armed with all(?) of the tools in game currently, let’s build. here is how she looks so far.

That view is from the back. The left side is a chimney (complete with fire) and the little left side ramp is a basement carve out through the mountain where I put all of my crafting stations. The engine is really good for when you extend anything into the existing geometry, it fits it in really nice.

This is a picture of the inside:

That’s a fireplace with copper around it. Yes, it does look warped – I was messing around and testing the shape tool. The game does right angles so well (and so much) I wanted it to look old and weathered. Lots of work to do in that regard. There are prefab chairs, carved table, and iron pitcher (full of beer, I promise you.) The wall pattern is standard stone, and the floor is “granite”. I am going to do some mantle work (etc.)

My place has no windows, and I’m sorting out how I want the door to look. Once I sort that I’ll get better pictures. I really just planned on teasing you this far.

Oh, the bottom HOTBAR?

In order: My Gold Axe Veridium Mining Pick, Shape Tool, Add Tool, Delete Tool, Smooth Tool, Line Tool, Paint Tool, and Heal Tool.

This last view may give a better idea of how high the plot actually is. That brown rectangle dangling in midair is a sifting tool that just decided to stay there. Again, this is chimney/crafting patio side from almost on the ground (still up a hill, definitely not sea level!

As much as I love my mountain top, when water finally makes it into the game I’ll be building lakeside. Always been my dream.

3:10 Train to Ledge (Tier 2)

I have a couple of paths I run in my normal “day to day” in EQN: Landmark. There is a sweet, sweet area I found ripe with multiple ores I require for progression, and a hidden forest which is needed for every tool and crafting station (in unfair abundance right now, although they are patching that down as I type this to 60% of current). What is fun about this is seeing other people’s creations coming to life. Land claims are non instances (although specific islands are) so you see things grow in real time.

I have started to leave my outskirts location (there is a centralized teleporter to go to other islands/Tiers) because I have requirements that are in higher tiered areas. Currently in Alpha resources are split on Tier islands based on what level you are creating items for. In the future all resources will be on each island, but for now it is easy to sort out where you need to go.

This makes me have to leave my “neighborhood” and venture to the teleporter. Wow, have things changed! It is like going to your home town after 10 years and learning they got a McDonald’s, Walt-Mart and Target while you were gone.

Where I am going with this : I hope they don’t put in instant travel. If they do, the creating part (which is the main part) will probably be missed in game. Horses? Sure. Just not instantly. Stop and smell the giant castles.

(here’s one randomly I ran across)

and here is how players have changed the landscape. (squint)

I have a house now too! (next post =)

Love Thy Neighbor

Well, now that I see Bhagpuss is playing testing I need to go claim beside him! Then I can love him and squeeze him and call him George. No, I wouldn’t be THAT annoying. I also won’t link to his updates every day =)

That silly thought was inspired by meeting two of my neighbors – one at the foot of my mountain (ok, not my mountain.. but im on the peak!) and one accross the canyon…

The bottom neighbor is from the UK AND plays similar times to me. We are constantly running into each other. Sometimes a small chat, other times just a wave as we pass each other. Sometimes we use each other’s crafting stations depending on who has what ready.

(Edit: I wrote this a couple of days ago. I logged in today and my neighbor was gone. Land unclaimed – maybe I do smell, or maybe they went to the new shiny server that has lots of sweet claimable spots left….)

Since it is a non-instanced world this starts begging the questions if neighbors have disputes or simply dislike each other there could be some issues. You can block people from coming on your claim but I am curious what tools they will end up having available.  Not to focus on the negative, the link above to Bhagpuss has a good community story – and I am even MORE excited to see what collaboration tools SOE provides.

That ledge way off in the distance is mine. Well, the ledge is gone (voxels aren’t saving properly) but I own the top of the mountain. I’m thinking art deco chic cottage. Whatever that means. Some random Landmark thoughts:

  • build your tools first. Its not as fun until you get the tools! you can’t build nearly as well or with as many options.
  • it is a grind. You have to grind out mats to make the equipment to craft the tools to grind out mats to make the new equipment to craft the new tools to grind out mats to make the even newer equipment to craft the even newer tools to grind out mats….
  • Things break/get lost/don’t work/stop working all the time. It is Alpha. Have the right attitude or it becomes not fun really quick.
  • Lots of things aren’t working – but the fun is on full bore =)

I am 30 burled logs (if you are in alpha, you are pulling your hair right now) from the LINE tool which helps you slope (think roof?) from what I have read. Once I have that, I am going to stop grinding and start building my cabin in the woods.

Alpha Dog

Combine an Alpha test of a highly anticipated title with a $100 entry fee and what do you get?

What do you think you will get?

A lot of whiners. I am going to keep the cut and pastes to a zero because it is an internal alpha boards (even though there is no NDA there is still a forum confidentiality agreement) but as you would suspect, a lot of people are complaining that they paid $100  and they can’t play.

I also paid to play alpha test but since I have done over 21 beta/alpha tests (I really need to update this list) and I didn’t have to pay for them, I know what to expect.

The other players testers should know that too. To SOE’s credit, they are gladly giving back refunds to get rid of the riff-raff. Kudos for them to recognize they have zero chances of making day one whiners and complainers happy during an alpha process that will have continual changes, bugs, and probably multiple wipes. Get rid of them now instead of later, the noise they make will drown out any significant contributions.

I am not even going to complain at that Queue – SOE has been great in communicating saying hey, we are throttling hard because we have been crashing. Seems there are 10s of thousands willing to pay to test. I have no problem with this considering how many millions are given to games and game creators that may never get past drawing board phase so take my money and relieve me of my boredom in the digitalverse.

All this being said, at least I have lots of new subject matter to cover on the blog. I have played two hours. It is nice to be excited about something again.

Nice to be excited about SOE again.

Everquest Next: Landmark Alpha Launches

Founder’s Pack

I have never been much of a blog to cover the latest news, but this was in my inbox bright and early this morning. I am really close to pulling the trigger on it – I am interested in building, and the pace just might be my style.

Of course, I miss the old days of getting invited to betas and alphas for free, but hey, I’m bored and looking for something new.

Anyone who reads here in?


Reroll and Random Thoughts

After the grand level of 8 on my “Return of the Warden” project I rerolled to an Elf. I was reminded early in the Man-questing campaign that I was mortal by Elondrialle (sp) and I said screw that!

No, no, no and not because I secretly yearn for Legolazz leetness or anything either. My LOTRO main (back when I paid for it) was a Hobbit, and going through the Man campaign I started remembering the quests and storyline – I had played a champ as well. Dwarf was out (can’t be a Warden) so Elf was left. So, I became immortal and rerolled.

Some other LOTRO observations:

  • I can use coins to warp to quest areas faster (mithril I think?) so the FTP elements are starting to rear their ugly head…
  • I am still only using in game resources and man, after so many years there is a LOT to learn. I love the complexity of MMO’s but forgot how much you really had to study, google, read, and spreadsheet out to be optimal in a MMO. Even sub ones. Can’t simplicity be just as beautiful and engaging?
  • The daily login prize is giving me food, drink, and clothes.
  • The animations/graphics/movement/flow are better than I remember them. They probably haven’t been updated but pretty smooth.
  • I love the non-stylized world. Feels gritty, foreboding, and yet appropriately beautiful.
  • I see about 1 person a login session at best – which is cool, but feels very single player-ish

Some related thoughts:

  • I have been stopping to smell the roses a lot more in LOTRO than other MMO’s. Not because its closing down anytime soon but because I am in no rush! I have no goals in LOTRO but to experience the game. No raiding guild waiting for me to fill a spot, no friends to quest with (I am on Gladden if you get bored *cough cough*) and no plan or agenda. Just playing.
  • I have been looking at things in a different lens also – someone actually created this stuff! When I see a nice piece of map layout or a specific troll-turned-stone and sun is shining on it – well placed, I take a look, soak it in, and appreciate that someone thought to put that there and built it.

That last point is my final thought of my blogging week – the people behind the games. I really appreciate the talents and efforts who create the worlds we play in. That probably deserves its own post (and I’m sure I’ll write it in the future).


In MAY 2009 I wrote a post about Remakes.

In it, I listed my three favorite old games I wish would be remade – this was on the heels of Mike Tyson’s Punchout being relaunched which I bought for the Wii, and played all the way to the champ himself.

This is why it is fun reading your old posts sometimes!

#1 – X-COM – Remade 2012

I *still* haven’t played the remake. I read a lot about it, and want to make the time – I’m sure it’ll go on sale on Steam at some point. Dropped the ball on my favorite game of all time. (To be fair, I did rebuy the original on Steam, but man, its hard to play. That’s a whole separate, future post.)

#2 Star Control 2 – Fan Remade 2012

Haven’t played this either. I am a terrible fan. To be fair, I just googled it to see if anything had been made of SC2 and lo and behold. I’ll be trying this soon. I’m really pumped for it =)

#3 Privateer – Coming soon!

Ok, not *exactly* but Star Citizen can be spiritual successor. 37 Million in “fundraising”? Holy $H^T! Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into another rockstar computer CEO shenanigans.

While I have a lot of excitement for these titles, is it also a Hollywood-esque issue that new, creative ideas for blockbuster games are getting thin, and rehashing the greats of old is the way to go?


I have a bunch of items in LOTRO that are flagged as non-junk – supposedly I can turn them in and get daily rewards for doing so. (tattered hides.. battered hilts..) unfortunately for me, I am only using in game resources to learn my way around LOTRO. No websites, nada. So, learning that these can be turned in from a fellow player, I decided to embark on looking for WHERE to turn them in.

Sometimes, being lost gives you neat experiences. I was in Archtet, the starting town (still) and as I am looking around I see a woman arrive in a balcony window. She just sits there. I try interacting (nothing) and then she walks away.

I tried to get into the building to go meet her. Who put her there? What function does she serve? I can’t enter that building, and I can’t interact with her, but it was just a nice add in to make the world feel more alive. Well done.

My standards sure have dropped to be amazed these days.

Over Rewarding

I get something nice just for logging in everyday in LOTRO. I got a pair of gloves yesterday that were literally 10x better than the ones I was wearing.

I mean, I know people want little wins.. but instant success is many steps past deferred success and does absolutely nothing for anyone. I could almost justify a logging in reward if:

  • you had to group with someone for 10+ minutes to get it (enhancing community/grouping)
  • had to complete x number of quests (living, breathing world – I have only seen two other actual players so far in LOTRO)
  • you got a free gift for buying something in the LOTRO store (supporting development/costs)

As it stands now, I just have to log in, click the present on the corner of my screen, get my reward, and log out. Once a day. It doesn’t do anything really for anyone.

Of course, unless LOTRO is going to start marketing how many millions of players LOG IN everyday


5 Mans

First, an aside.

When reading Rivs blog on my blogroll this comment stuck out to me:

it’s nice seeing people reading what you write. It was easier to comment on blogs, nowadays it seems you have to jump through hoops of fire to comment on a blog.

Which I find is true for a lot of blogs – they want a link to my Facebook, or google plus. There is typically a WordPress option and while my blog is WordPress based I own the URL so I can’t use “open ID”. So often I want to participate on a blog, only to find out I can’t without using either something that identifies me personally in real life, or sign up for something new. When I comment on blogs I want to use my blogging name! Thankfully, most blogs do have ways (name/url) and use programs like Askimet to filter out the spam, and/or have a separate approval process.

I was reminded of this when I read a post here at The Sith Paladin while hunting for new blogs to read and saw he was calling for more 5 mans – and I agree! Unfortunately I couldn’t quite post that there so I am here, and linking it instead.

I tend to try not to link other blogs in my posts unless I am giving them cred for inspiring a post, or reposting a good find (flash games, etc.) because I prefer to be active on other people’s blogs where the thoughts originated. So, with that being said, where I CANT do that, I’ll just post here and link. Best of both worlds (for me)

End aside.

So, to the 5 mans – I have ALWAYS loved 5 mans. It is time well spent in a small group, doing something other than grinding or dailies.  I once posted:

Instances: WoW has ~80 pre-cap instances, (when you count instance wings and heroic modes) and only 22 targeted for max level. Isn’t that split in reverse? Shouldn’t there be 20 instances before the cap, and have 80 instances when you hit the cap – wouldn’t that make it harder for players to “run out of content” fast when the game truly begins?

and still believe it is a good design decision. Simply put, old hardcore players (and raiders) such as myself, we are growing in number. We have often started single (lots of gaming time), got a job (less gaming time) got married (even less gaming time) had kids (super less gaming time) and are settling into a place where we can’t enjoy the games we love in the same way. Sure, I can raid LFR now in WoW, but I can’t be part of a full blown 3x a week raid team – it just doesn’t work for me.

Jumping into a 30 minute 5 man would though. In fact, that would be enough to resubscribe me to WoW. Even when WoW had godawful faction grinds, the fact that I could do them in 5 mans made it manageable for me (and conversely, when they moved to a Daily Quest only format it pushed me away from Mists). In Warlords of Draenor, they have an opportunity to get me back.

Or any MMO for that matter. It could be a good strategy to get a certain type of gamer in a certain point of their life where they want the experience, but can’t make the same commitment they once could. 5 mans could be an avenue to do that.


Turbine Loves Me!

So I started my Return of the Warden adventures in LOTRO. I have no friends that play LOTRO (that I know of) and I really haven’t played since launch (2007) except for a quick jump in when it was free to play Mines of Moira – which allowed me to test drive the Warden. To which I never played again because Turbine wouldn’t let me play a Warden without paying for it.

The warden was one of my 4 favorite MMO classes of all time from my quick play of it. I finally caved and gave them $8 and bought the warden. As you see from the crazy link-love above, I have always really wanted to play and like this game I just haven’t found the traction with it. It’s late in this game’s life but I am going to give it the old college try.

I was greeted back in LOTRO with some surprises!

First off, two cloaks

Cloak of the Peace Keeper, War-Cloak of Isildur. I have no clue why I got these – but very nice to have a cool cloak when I log in. I am guessing that it has to do with either beta, or pre-order, or maybe both.

I also have 6 gift boxes – one for every year! A 1 year Gift Box, 2 year, etc. These yielded (in yearly order)

  • Anniversary Fireworks (GB1)
  • 90 Min +5% Damage buff (GB2)
  • 10 Battle potions of Restoration (GB2)
  • 3 sturdy steel keys (GB3)
  • Festive Azure Clothes (dress, trousers, tunic, cloak) (GB4)
  • Festive Azure Steed (GB5)
  • Festive Azure Caparison, Halter, Saddle, and Accessory for the horse (GB6)

All in all, a nice welcome back. Now I am going to go kill things, and do a good old MMO Quest-a-thon. I am actually looking forward to old school, non-dodge combat and normal questing. Hopefully its zen-like. I am going to read all quest text and see if I can be immersed in Middle-Earth.

After 5 levels, two quick comments – one is that I am ridiculously overpowered for my level, but two is that there is no looting in the traditional sense. You kill stuff, and you have a loot menu that you can go to anytime, and click “loot all”. you have one hour per item to loot.

I like that part. I also like how they throw a major character at you in the beginning tutorial. Strider was mine, and I am running quests for him throughout the first part. That is a nice connection with the main story and movies.



A Dark Room

What a great little text/flash/ascii game.

There is a lot to do and discover once you get past the idle games part, and I was disappointed one of my discoveries led to the end of the game – I felt I had more to learn and discover but I actually “won” (by accident. I thought I was still discovering…). Playing through again to see if I missed anything.

Sometimes the simplicity is in the delivery, and I am glad shared it.

If you haven’t yet, go play it now.

Since we are on the topic: reminder of Gods Will be Watching for other cool games worth playing =)

Insanity: Doing the Same Thing…

Oh look, Brad McQuaid is back and people are picking on him (pretty accurate?) and/or taking a “hey something to talk about!” (also accurate) approach.

I made my feelings known about Mr. McQuaid back in the day when we couldn’t tell if he was hoaxing or not when coming up for air – and Jim Collin’s “Good to Great” research was pretty clear research that ‘rockstar’ CEOs tend to fail more often than not (its a great read) especially compared to the down at home, technocratic types.

Is it ANY surprise that “our” generation’s ‘rockstar’ CEOs – Lord British, Arundane, and Marc Jacobs (does he even have a cool rockstar-CEO pseudonym?) haven’t done any gaming good since their “one and done” hits that many would chalk up more to timing than to vision.

I tend to agree, after all, if it was vision, follow up games would have been better (because they have the budgets to support their visions!) Yet WAR failed miserably, Tabula Rasa as well, and Vanguard…. ok, they all may have contributed to gaming and gave some people some good times – but on the backs of the “superstars” these three games were supposed to revolutionize the MMO spaces – because look at who they were made by!

So each are now 1/1 in shipping a successful title and I am surprised that anyone is giving them even a fighting chance – all made some pretty good excuses for failing the second time around (issues with big labels, etc.) but the true failing was their leadership – and the employees paid the ultimate price.

They will all get their chances thanks to fandom and Kickstarter and I honestly hope they make something worth playing. I am not holding my breath though. I’d rather support people that make great companies and have a history of success that’s not tied to one win 15 years ago…


Curious curiosity – you cannot talk to your opponents in Hearthstone.

I find this very odd.

For a social game and gaming company as Blizzard who once wanted people to be their real selves while online to take away a basic chat function is puzzling. What are they afraid of? Its a head to head game, so there is no chance of cheating. The only possibility I can think of is that they are afraid games will go on too long – but there is a turn timer built in for that already too.

Harassment? Trash talk? Why is Blizzard so afraid to give the opportunity for two people to talk in a card game? Isn’t that the point of a card game – socialization?

They do give you right-click standard options “Greetings”, “Oops”, “Sorry”, “Taunt”, (etc.) and they have carefully designed those in such a way that you can only do so many in a time frame so you can’t ‘spam’ the presets.

And if you do, your opponent can right click on you and ‘Squelch’ you so you can’t Greet, Say Oops, Sorry, or Taunt them. All in all, a TON of effort has been put into limiting player interaction in Hearthstone.

I just can’t understand why.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Part of myself maturing as a gamer is learning to share video game time with my eight year old son – who is also an enthusiast. Of course I try parenting hard (1 hour a day tops gaming time) but sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

A game style/series we have seriously enjoyed and put some great time into together is the Lego series. They just get better and better. We still haven’t finished the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (sitting at 83% completed) and when Telltale launched the Avengers game we jumped (flew, swung, smashed) right in.

All of the series are a fan’s (whatever your flavor) dream. We have played Batman, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, the aforementioned Lord of the Rings… they are all well done. The game play is a delicious mix of living/reliving a story line, puzzle solving, item/character collecting, questing, jumping, shooting/fighting and discovery. Most levels you will have to complete several times (and on free play mode) to collect and discover every nook and cranny.

We have been plugging away at the Lord of The Rings Trilogy well over a year. Its not a daily play by any means, but we keep going back to it. 17% to go – and we both are VERY curious what happens when we “beat” it. Of course, there will be a Hobbit Trilogy Lego (no doubt) after movie three, so I see us playing these series to completion and beyond for at least that long.

Of course, maybe once he hits 10 he’ll stop playing with me and move to Call of Duty 12 or something.

Improvement Realization

I don’t mind losing when I play games. Part of this is from the old MMO raiding mentality where we knew we would die several times while “learning” the fight. It was the ultimate proof that if you kept practicing, and learning, and get a bit better everyday, and learn to work as a team better, you win. The more you beat an encounter the easier it becomes. This whole process makes sense to me and is easy to put time into. That example is very PVE centric.

PVP/FPS games you lose a lot but doing so learn about your enemies – what they like to do, how they perform, what they are capable of, what strategies they employ (etc.) This allows you to change your strategies and adjust at the next encounter. You learn and get better.

I am having a hard time even knowing if I am learning in Hearthstone. Yes, it is still in beta but due to the prior discussions I have had on here that decks can easily be stacked with pay to win – I can lose 10 games in a row with a deck/class and then win 10 in a row using the exact same techniques. This doesn’t give me any clarity:

  • Did I lose/win because they had a better/worse deck than I did? How can I tell?
  • Did I lose/win because they were a better/worse player than I am? How can I tell?
  • Did I lose/win because the built in matchmaker gave an insurmountable advantage/disadvantage? How can I tell?

This is the main beef I have with the game so far – I can’t tell if I am getting better (or worse) and there are no clear indications to help me figure that out.


One nice integration with the Hearthstone beta is that my WoW-playing friends still show up on my friends list in Hearthstone. At first, they seemed really excited that I was coming back to WoW… until they realized that “oh, you are playing that card game thing”.

Personally I am surprised at how many of the same people are still playing WoW. Most in the same guild, with a lot of the same people. It isn’t just WoW either I have a lot of gaming friends who are still connected in EQ.  In both cases that is a lot of years playing the same games.

With the reoccurring arguments about community erosion in modern day MMO I am starting to doubt if that is entirely true. Sure, it is taking on new forms and shapes (cross-realm, casual raiding, etc. etc.) but you have to give some credit to the longevity that people are playing the same old games, often in the same old way, with much of the same old people.

I am looking forward to Warlord’s of Draenor so I can buy it, play it for 6 weeks and wait for the next one – even picky little me keeps going back. I suppose I’m more of a sprinter while my old friends are long distance runners.

I just don’t have that kind of Stamina for gaming.


Guild Wars 2 Offer

40% off offer for me to give to a friend.

I stopped playing GW2 months ago.

Use data! Incent me to come back! For data driven companies (or at bare minimum, data-capable companies) I am not sure how MMOs use their data effectively on subscribers (if at all)). MMOs do a crappy advertising job. I know how companies use consumer data to connect with their customers. It’s really simple, and can be effective.

It’s a waste of an email to give a guy who isn’t guilded and hasn’t logged in in months a 40% off the game offer for someone else. Give me some coins to spend in the store (or something) and I might check it out. I am not going to give a coupon to a friend for a game I don’t even play.