Author Archive: Isey

Bioware’s New Game is Shattered Steel (probably).

A lot of speculation out there, but here’s a visual cue on why it is probably a remake of Shattered Steel.

Capture from the video

That’s not a building, its a cockpit

See those two, round black bulb things above his head (and to the left?) He’s not shooting out of a window, he’s shooting out of a cockpit.

Oh look at this high rez screen from ages ago.

Either a complete coincidence, or nifty stuff.

EA probably heard I have banned myself from their products, and this is their clever way to get me back. I love giant robots.

More Proof of the Decline of Western Civilization

Stolen directly from Gregg Easterbrook of Tuesday Morning Quarterback (TMQ). The Zubon of the football world (meant as a compliment). And yes, it is game related.

Not only did huge numbers of people buy the latest “Call of Duty” video game — which allows you to play the role of Richard Nixon killing zombies — but Jeep announced a Call of Duty edition of its Wrangler model, to be released next month. Jeep is owned by Chrysler, which received a $8 billion federal bailout. Please don’t tell me tax money is being forcibly removed from our pockets to subsidize a car themed for a video game.

Ha.

Deferred Success

This title stems from educators wanting to remove kids from an ‘F’, or ‘Failing’ grade. No more failing – just deferred success! Clearly the change in terminology will make kids all become hugely successful.

This Epic Defer is part of a longer list of deferrments by public offcials who manage powerful unionized employees (the same unions that say it’s unfair to periodically test teachers to ensure they are, you know, smart enough to teach kids). So in essence the teacher’s union has accepted their own deferred success and want to pass that onto the kids. That part makes complete sense.

Sorry for the mini rant, its funny stuff.  The gaming slant comes next.

Gauging success in all forms of gaming has me in a proverbial pickle. Is wiping on a boss mechanic, only to come back and conquer it, any more or less satisfying than restoring from a save game point in a single player game? Single player games do have ‘difficulty’ levels, while MMO’s have been adopting that same sort of mechanic with Hard Modes. Developers have to take into account all sorts of play styles and ability levels to range the expected outcomes of success. Players want to win, developers want players to win too – for the satisfaction of the purchase. So in a sense, developers are just setting their own levels of deferred success for their player bases.

Make it too hard – players revolt. Make it too easy – players don’t feel challenged and have a superficial experience. Where, and how, is that line drawn?

This thought process has lead me to a pillar that should be of more importance – the story. Regardless of difficulty level story is a trump card. If the story is amazing, I’m more likely to bang my head against that wall in a tough level to learn what happens next. I’m also left with a feeling of satisfaction after completing an easy level as my waltz through it is still rewarded with a narrative. Call of Duty, Black Ops did this particularly well in their interactive movie experience single player campaign.

World of Warcraft, and most of the other MMO’s I’ve payed have not done the story aspect  particularly well.

Then we have the outliers, the games that don’t present directed experiences as the challenge but where the players create the stories. Minecraft is a good example of this. Sports games where players play against other humans also has a much stronger skill aspect.

All games are created for you to have success in them – they are just designed in a length of time format that players expect a return on based on the monetization scheme.

I don’t have a conclusion here and just throwing this up for discussion. It just all feels very shallow to me right now -the deferred success in our games – like the Wizard of Oz is just some dude behind a curtain was just revealed to me.

Inventory Full

A friend and old guildmate of mine has jumped into blognation over at Inventory Full.  I suppose technically he is a current guildmate from WoW (I am unsubbed, but details, details) and we always enjoyed parlaying in and out of game about games and other fun and relevant stuff. He only has a couple posts up about starting his blog, but stop by and say hi. I’m looking forward to seeing what Liam writes over there as he develops it all.

Enjoy the journey, Liam!

I’ve Created a [zombie] Monster [survivor]

There’s a lot of coverage and interest with The Terminator vs. Video Games trudging through the Supreme Courts right now. I’m sure blognation will cover it much better than I but I’ll share a story about games and parenting as a gamer and a parent of a 5 year old. While I do not claim to be the world’s best parent (my son would disagree with that statement – as I am sure every parent’s kid feels their parents are ‘the bestest’) I do try to answer his questions honestly. When he started asking for a brother or sister, and the inevitable questions began about how do babies get in bellies, I did explain about eggs, and how the mommy needs a daddy to help make the egg a baby, etc. Of course I did it in a non graphic way of trying to explain to a child how things work without really letting the cat out of the bag.

So, at breakfast yesterday when we were having eggs and toast for breakfast, he exclaimed:

“Daddy! Mommy is eating eggs! So now you go kiss her belly and then the egg will crack and a baby will grow! Can I watch?”

Next time I am using diagrams. Erm. Maybe not.

I have been a late adopter for games as of late and just picked up L4D2 as a huge fan of the first title. My 5 year old has his own laptop and plays his own uber MMO (Club Penguin) and after physical play time, or just winding down, we’ll sit on the couch and take an hour playing our games together. He caught me playing L4D2 and became completely enthralled in the game. I’ll share some fun/interesting observations after the break –  just don’t call Child Services on me.

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Spinning Politics

I try not to write much when it comes to American Politics – it’s very polarizing and I’m Canadian. My University education was a joint honors in Poli-Sci/Economics so I do watch with much interest, and since what happens to my favorite neighbors to the south has an impact to us Canucks, it’s an important observation.

The media aspect of American politics is fascinating to me. I find the negative campaign pieces humorous (apologies if my American friends take offense – we just don’t see that level of backhandness and blatant fact massaging up here – although each year we are moving closer to that ‘system’) and they seem to better belong as a SNL skit more than a decision making/changing mechanism.

For those American friends who haven’t enjoyed Canadian TV a brief explanation – we get all of your TV and news stations. We have some of our own, but for the most part we watch the same TV and the same commercials.

When I saw this while watching the CNN election updates last night, well, I was both shocked and mildly amused.

I’m going to point out here that my blog has a conversational style to it – I don’t write researched articles here. It’s more like we are sitting around a pub having a beer and the idea comes up in ‘conversation’. So, we are having that beer and this comes up as a topic – does it really work? Do people actually watch that and think they better vote Republican before The USA flag gets a new yellow star added to the flag?

Besides the possible racial effect it could have on Asian Americans which is a much deeper topic of discussion, I can’t help but feel that ad is an insult to the intelligence of the American people.

I’ll get back to the regularly scheduled gaming stuff as normal. Just something I was exposed to while watching the House switch hands last night.

Straws, Backs, and Camels

Ok. I’m going to see how long I can NOT buy an EA product. I’m disconnecting my cash from the company.

I’ve never had a major issue with the company, either. Their support (for me) has been just awesome. I’ve been buying their titles for as long as I have been gaming.

Sometimes, you just have to take a stand. I know that sounds like I’m making some huge gesture over a major event, but it’s not. It’s actually a bit silly.

I was first disappointed with EA when they struck PC development with their sports titles. I was a perennial purchaser. Madden and Hockey every year. Baseball when they had the rights. We are going back a decade or
more here on those titles alone.

The layoff notices are well documented at brokentoys.org each time they happen. I’m not even ‘taking a stand’ because of this, although their announcements are always framed as a good thing – and that annoys me. It’s the attitude moreso then the job losses. I don’t say that unsympathetically either – but losses happen in every industry, every day. Normally they just aren’t celebrated as a championed initiative to stock holders.

The proverbial straw here is the promotional email received from them this morning for a game I don’t even play.

I did say it was silly.

For a mere $10 you can buy their first multiplayer map pack for Medal of Honor. It also includes all the multiplayer unlocks (which are normally earned in game).

MoH has been out for all of two weeks. So, new smart business design is release your blockbuster with limited maps for full price, then hit your players with a charge 2 weeks later.

You know the maps were done, and could have been released for free with the game.

Heck, if they waited a year, I’d understand a dlc pack.

This blatant f*** you just put me over the edge. A lot of respect is gone for EA, and in the blogosphere I was one of the few that still had it.

(1. I’m posting this on my iPhone stuck in a waiting room, so I haven’t linked anything. Will update that over the weekend

2. I beta tested MoH and it was average at best

3. I say ‘trying’ not to buy as they have a bunch of upcoming titles I am really interested in. I will need help resisting the temptation. I need a support group!

4. Anyone else with me?)

Minecraft Zen (for you, Tesh)

Tesh often waxes poetic about forms of Zen grinding, and I found it recently in Minecraft. I realized in game I am not a fancy builder – but hey, can I strip mine with the best of them! When a much needed work break opportunity appears, I make 12 stone pickaxes (saving the iron ore for the future) and clear out my already very deep mine.

This evening while doing so I discovered a horriffic discovery.

Not-so-inside-yet-not-obvious-chuckles sure makes for good blogging.

And oh, that picture doesn’t capture the magnitude of how much I have strip mined (it’s well over half way down, and in one of the thinner areas), but I had to catch super chicken in the act. It’s the first animal I have seen this deep… coincidence?

Nodding Wistfully : Diku

A thankful nod to this article over at Qblog from Mr. Dr. Bartle. While I started my MMO adventures in EQ beta, I still didn’t understand where the holy trinity actually came from.  I’ve always disliked it, writing my own musings on how silly it all is, and the challenges of getting people to adopt something that may be different. Even if it is better.

I found the link through Zubon’s ‘Most Typical Member’ post over at killtenrats (which I’m not going to link directly, as this post doesn’t really add to his thoughts on the matter).

Read, enjoy, dream of change.

What I Don’t Get About the Gaming Industry

“As you know, seasonal roll-offs that follow game launches are common and vital to maintaining a healthy business” – EA Spokesperson Jeff Brown

Why is it that this statement seems only true for the gaming industry? I’m probably missing a few other industries that do this so nonchalantly in tone. It seems impossible to maintain a stable, motivated workforce in the gaming industry.

“We had a solid first quarter, exceeding expectations both top and bottom line,” said John Riccitiello, CEO (from Q1 2011 earnings report at investor.ea.com, dated August 3)

“EA is well-positioned for the year ahead and reaffirms its FY11 non-GAAP guidance,” said Eric Brown, Chief Financial Officer. “Digital revenue is expected to grow approximately 30% year over year, to $750 million in the fiscal year.”

Good thing EA doesn’t need staff to hit that growth. I suppose we have a better understanding of who straddles that ‘bottom line’. As a guy in business, I value my staff, their families, and their contribution as paramount to my personal and professional success. Talk to the Guru business leaders and you get the same story – it is all about motivating, empowering, and giving ownership to your team.

Not going to wax poetically here I do not know the way the gaming industry ticks – only that it sounds like a time bomb.

Oh, for giggles, the ending quote of Mr. Brown in the same article over at Gamasutra.com

“Because so many of our games ship in the holiday quarter, the team size adjustments tend to follow in the same timeframe. However, EA is growing and several of our studios are looking to hire talented people.”

Maybe you should move those talented, experienced people you just fired over to the new studios? Just a thought.

Steam Sale Stings! (also – my Baseball Game is now a RPG)

I picked up MLB 2k10 from 2k sports over the weekend. I enjoyed 2k9, and the $20 price tag is a nice entry level. Today I check out steam, and that same title is now on sale for $1.99. 90% off! While that is indeed impressive, now my valued purchase makes me feel like I was bent over the virtual counter. I emailed them to see if I can get credit (which I’ll promptly turn around and buy a different title with anyway).

I’ve always been a proponent of the Steam sales strategy and this is the first time it has bitten me in the bottom. I’ll update you if they do the right thing. If not, of course, then I suppose I’ll never buy anything off Steam again that ISN’T on sale. Should be a no brainer that due to the proximity of the sale I should get credit. We’ll see.

MLB 2k10 has ‘My Player’ mode, and it is a nice marriage of sports and rpg. You make a player, customize looks, etc and then go into the MLB draft. You can choose the team you want to play for or randomize it. I was drafted by the Giants.

What happens next is hella fun. You only play your role. I picked a starting pitcher, so I just pitch. That’s it. The games go by quickly (well, except for that nasty game where I earned a 7.45 ERA) and the pitcher/hitter interface is really well done.

The interesting part is how you improve your player. There are mini goals in real time (ie: do not allow baserunner to advance into scoring position, do not walk batter, strike out the side, etc) and successfully achieving them gives you points, which you can then spend to upgrade your abilities. You also get points for baseball worthy things (strikeouts, flyouts, groundouts, inning with no runs, innings with no hits, etc). Pitching, fielding, and batting all have separate point pools you earn for achieving things in game. Bonus idea is that you get 2x the points if it’s a key matchup – either a division/geographical rival (this happened when I got the start against the Oakland A’s) or if it’s a key positional matchup (this happened when I pitched against a star pitcher as a rookie). It’s pretty well thought out.

I’m playing above Pro level and getting a feel for how the game plays – spent the whole first season in the minors, midway year two called up to the bigs. Added a pitch type (Screwball) and working on my stats along the way. Winning and losing, but having fun. Supposedly you can also get traded to other teams if the GM deems it necessary.

Nice to see the RPG elements introduced into the PC sports game genre, although I suppose there aren’t a ton of players who swap their playtime between Fallout : NV and Sports.

(PS – I still hate you EA sports for stopping game development for the PC! I miss you football!!)

Welcome To Our Preferred Customer Program

My son decided he wanted to be a Skeleton this year for Hallowe’en – a far cry from his normal big budget movie choices (Batman, Spiderman, Bumblebee) and wow, is it ever hard to find a basic skeleton costume these days.

I ordered on online and had it priority shipped. It arrived in a day, and is a great costume. He and his exposed 3d glowing bones are also excited. I can’t wait to comb through his piles of loot and take out what I like next week. I have a sweet tooth.

The day after the costume arrived, I received an email from the company I had purchased the costume with, welcoming me to their ‘Preferred Customer Program’. While I am never one to shy away from future savings (how many Hallowe’en costumes am I supposed to buy in a year anyway?) my first thought was ‘seriously?’

I have been an off and on Customer of World of Warcraft for 6 years, and I still haven’t become a preferred customer there. What simple retail lessons can we learn after the break?

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On Relationships

Not interpersonal human relationships, as that is better served by the professionals.

Not MMO player relationships (guilds, etc) as that is still managed between human beings.

In Fallout: New Vegas, I am asked to manage relationships in game via two formats – Karma, and Reputation with various groups.

Karma is interesting – if you do something inherently bad, even out of sight, you ‘lose’ it. Down the road your Karma rating is a benchmark on whether certain groups or characters will work with you. It is an unforseen force, yet exists. Many argue that to be true in our real lives. Karma, is apparently, a bitch.

Example in game: I am tired. I see a bed. I mouse over the bed to have the option to sleep in it. The choice is in red – if I choose to sleep in it I will lose Karma. It is red only because it ‘belongs’ to a character in game. I can’t ask that character for permission to sleep in his bed. I only have the choice to sleep in it, lose Karma, or not sleep in it and find another place to sleep. For some reason you can’t sleep on couches. (One of my favorite pasttimes).

Oddly enough, if I kill the owner of the bed I don’t lose Karma. Now that he/she is dead, the game flags the bed as ‘unowned’ and I can choose to sleep in that bed and not lose Karma. Sad post-apolyptic survival social commentary that you get penalized for sleeping in a bed without asking, unless you kill the owner of the bed first. I should probably just end this article here, but there is more.

The second managed reputation is with faction. If that same owner of the bed is a member of a group, say the NCR, then if I kill him I lose reputation with the NCR (even without a witness). In my play through in F:NV the NCR and I don’t get along. Apparently I was more concerned with my Karma score than my Rep scrore, and heck, you need to sleep a lot in the game.

I get a mission to go speak to an NCR Leader at an Embassy. He teases me with the premise that if I go speak to him he has the power to offer me amnesty for my past crimes against NCR bed owners. I decide to go have a chat with him. Unfortunately for me he is located deep in a NCR Military Police Base. Unfortunately for the NCR MP’s the Leader didn’t inform them that he asked to speak with me.

I kill 40 NCR MP’s on my way to the NCR Leader ( I have to kill them, they won’t let me walk by) to get my amnesty. In fact, I even killed 2 in his room while he sat at his desk and watched. I believe a head exploded on his paperwork. There is a severed limb of one of his NCR guards in his lap.  He watched, waited for me to finish, then offered me my desired amnesty if I would take the time to go convert a neutral faction to the NCR cause.

I go do so, and the NCR and I are pals once again.

Conventions

Sorry - not that kind of convention!

One of the best blog articles I have read recently was at Elder Gamer regarding genre conventions in our beloved MMO’s. It hits on a lot of interesting and valid points, and is a great read. I find it interesting that a lot of the ‘outside of the box’ MMO design discussions (from the armchair folk) tend to look for solutions to twist those around, and try new things. It’s true that we are trained as gamers to expect certain things, and when they deliver on those expectations the moans from the crowd are ‘oh, just like that game’. But we play on. When we throw out interesting and possible ideas that go against those expectations – but make sense to us – it’s likely a non-fundable industry idea. We went from WoW, to games that want to be like WoW (but different!), to games that want to be like games that aren’t quite as successful as WoW because copying WoW has failed. In most industries change is enacted by a need in the market. You get the outliers who work to make that change on their own to position their product or service in a better market position, but those are few and far between. If oil prices and the education about the environment weren’t so front and center in our everyday lives, then we would all still be driving gas guzzling cars – and why not? If it’s the most inexpensive way to create the product, and socially acceptable, that is what we are going to get. Now car companies are struggling to catch up on making fuel efficiency and alternate fueling methods the forefront of their companies – because people actually want them now (and governments are forcing them to). It’s all demand – on different fronts.

The fun part with Elder Gamer’s example, that in AC2 they didn’t want an ammo slot for arrows and how it didn’t work for them then – is that WoW is moving that way now. Goes to show how long, and what it actually takes to, make such a seemingly minor design decision. Imagine the timeline on the bigger ideas.

Where am I going with this? Cutting my lawn! (after the break)

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Vindictus-ed

I have spent a couple days in the Vindictus open beta. I don’t really do ‘reviews’ but wanted to share some bullet points about the experience. My initial impression is MMO-lite meets Team Fortress 2, but that is meant as a compliment.

1) Currently there are only 2 character classes, a Fiona (sword and board) and a Lann (dual weapons). All Fiona’s are women, all Lann’s are men. While there are appearance customization options, you can’t choose your sex. While traditional MMOists will most likely question mark that design decision, it works. More on that later.

2) There is a small town with shops and quest givers. When you want to go kill stuff you go to the docks, and either board a player boat (who selects what mission, what difficulty, what ‘achievements’ they are working towards in the instance, etc.) The extra achievements are things such as ‘defeat with 2 players or less’, or ‘defeat in under 10 minutes”. There are many different options in this regard, and most make sense to the story line and scope of the dungeon. For example, on one mission where I have to kill 100 gnolls that continously spawn (aside from 2 15 second breaks) you can get bonus points for completing it without using a health potion. When you choose the option, it takes your health potions away, so if you suddenly really need one you don’t even have a choice. Conversely you can launch your own boat, choose level ranges that can play with you, how many party members you want (up to 4) and lock the boat with a password if you are waiting for specific friends.

More bullet points after the break.

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Minecrafting

I forgot how much I love the sandbox. It even took me a while to adjust my playstyle expectations – big, random generated world that I can do whatever I want with.

Sadly, I have lost the ability to post pics to my own blog (help, Joe!) – so I can’t share the sheer awesomeness of the completely crappy graphics. Although I prefer to call it ‘stylized realism’. The graphics are part of the charm, anyway.

I learned about Minecraft through Random Mileages blog who heard about it through Rock Paper Shotgun. I felt compelled to check it out. The game is in Alpha (and runs incredibly stable at this stage) and the game is, as advertised. Big sandbox. Do, or don’t do, whatever you want. There are some incredible gameplay moments to be had, and a little discussion about the incredible success of this little title, after the break.

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GAMMOP – Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Mobs Gear

MMO’s have generally accepted principles much like accounting. Rules and systems that have been adopted over the years. I recently signed up to try the Age of Conan Trial (haven’t played it since I dismissed the game as ‘not for me’ in beta). I’ll most likely discuss how things have changed there in another piece, but playing through the first 3 levels reminded me how loot systems in our MMO’s really kill immersion.

In AOC I awake on a beach wearing only a loincloth and slave tattoos. A broken oar is my only weapon. My character, a Stygian Ranger, must find Tortage. I look around the beach and see a slaver of particular interest – full leather armor, a bow by his side and a quiver full of arrows on his back. Wielding my broken oar with the fury of a thousand raining arrows I down the slaver, and begin to rummage through his gear.

Now, being a ranger myself, you would think that I would be overjoyed at the opportunity to pick up my weapon and ammo of choice to make my way to Tortage. No, though. The golden tooth of the slaver is the only thing I find of value. Perhaps I neglected my own dental hygiene and am obsessed with teeth – either way, I discard the weapons, armor, and arrows, rummuge through the guy’s mouth and remove 1 gold tooth and tuck it somewhere in my loincloth. (I won’t tell you where  – use your imagination.)

MMO’s have come a long way with loot, and some try to make that experience even better. Building my private set of dentures in AoC just left me with one thought – ‘why didn’t they even try something here?’ As a ranged class, providing loot that fits my class, from an NPC that obviously also slings arrows is a missed opportunity. In fact, I didn’t even find a bow or arrows until level 3.

Why didn’t they even try?

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Secure Online Starcraft 2

Starcraft 2 cost a reported 100 million to make. Not far into the release, Blizzard bans 5000 players for cheating.

I know, I know. The 1337 hackers are always ahead of programmers. Curious though, out of a 100 million development budget, I wonder how much was budgeted to make a game difficult to hack/cheat? Especially a game such as SC2 that is a huge online game arena – that Blizzard knows people will be quick to jump on the ‘get on an unfair advantage’ wagon.

Think it was more, or less, than the marketing budget?

(tongue in cheek. Curious though, if anyone played SC1 how they beat the cheats. I haven’t played in 6 years =)

Can We Teach A New Dog Old Tricks?

Blizzard seems intent on taking a new direction in Cataclysm – making the game more challenging. I’m very curious if the follow through, and if they do – even more curious if they stick with it.

The basis of the change, without going into too much detail, is making CC required in instances again as well as making healing more challenging. What is surprising to me is that WoW today has been built on accessibility and easing the game every step of the way. I wrote recently how my Shaman had managed to beat pretty much the most challenging of bosses in PUG’s. The game has hit its high subscriber base from designing every class to be competitive in any role it can assume.

I’ll give a brief history of my experiences in WoW and how I have seen things change, and then chat about whether this move is possible, advisable, and/or sustainable. After the break.

My first raider in WoW was a druid, back in Vanilla. Back then druids were few and far between (no Tree or Boomkin form) and I secured my spot on a raid team for one button, and one button only – Innervate.  Back then raiding was such a challenge, mana was at a premium, and my main job was to replenish the mana of the core healers – usually a priest. My Vanilla experience was a full time mana battery with healing capabilities. Most characters had one clearly defined role and spec, and if you wanted to raid as that class, you stuck by it.

TBC fleshed out the characters a bit more, but dungeon runs were still a challenge. Going in without your guild (because you knew the strengths and weaknesses of the players) rarely happened. Heroic Shattered Halls was a complete cluster f*ck if you didn’t have the right CC, and the right players responsible for that CC. While characters became much more well rounded, content access was still at a premium. Our casual guild (who raided hard) was ranked as a top 10 guild on the server at one point, and we hadn’t even killed all of the bosses.

Wrath finalized the current path. Nearly every spec of every class was end game playable, and the content was the most accessible it has ever been. Still a shortage of tanks and healers, but enough people could fill those roles well enough that a 20 minute wait was pretty much the longest wait for a DPS only class to get into some content. The dungeon finder is out, and in full swing, and a group of 5 random strangers across multiple servers can easily dominate the hardest of 5 man heroic dungeons. PUG groups form day and night for 10/25 man ICC (the end game of Wrath), many with heroic mode toggles. More people experience the most content available in WoW to date.

While that history is a severe simplification, all roads travelled by Blizzard have led to an easy to play, moderate to master experience. I am curious why they want to make the game more challenging since their success seems to have hinged on that mantra. Regardless, this is the vision they are working towards for Cataclysm. Spending 5 years training a playerbase to play a certain way towards the easy path, and then changing to make them have to relearn their expectations is, by all accounts, a very interesting goal.

Now, perhaps I only found Wrath to be extremely easy because ‘I learned the hard way’. Players who entered the game end of TBC, or WRATH, only know the ‘new’ way. Through hundreds of dungeons and raids, I have literally seen CC used a handful of times. It’s just not necessary. I have met rogues that don’t even know what Sap is. Mages don’t Poly (even in an emergency – it’s not a natural reaction to immobolize the mob anymore to try and recover). It has been completely removed from the game, and by recent accounts, is something people are going to have to pick up real quick on launch day. Will it succeed?

I applaud Blizzard for trying something new and attempting to inject a bit of challenge into their playable game. I just don’t understand the motivation. By keeping the absolute end game (Lich King) still very difficult to kill they have seemed to keep the hardcore raiders pleased. By allowing the rest of the player base to defeat most of the other bosses, the more casual component seems to be pleased. So, at this stage in the game, why alienate your core subscriber base? You tought these players to play one way and made it easy for them. Now you are going to make them struggle through a 5 man dungeon. Is this good design?

I’m looking forward to watching how it all plays out.

time = money / money = pizza [therefore] time = pizza

Callan hits an interesting point in the comment section over at Tesh’s musings about the value of his time.

I am in Tesh’s camp here, where my discretionary budget is at an all time high, and my time budget is at an all time low. Gamers often judge the value of a game based on how many hours it gives you, and that argument often supports ‘the reason why a subscription model works for me’. Take WoW, and remove the part of the game that annoys you the most that feels or is necessary (grinding for cash? getting locked out of an instance for a week? farming for mats? runnin the daily heroic for frosties?) figure out how much time you spend doing doing that activity every week you dislike, and realize what your sub fee is buying you.

It happens in all games. I just finished Mass Effect 2. I had great fun. I didn’t think it was too short, but there was a nagging part of it that drove me nuts. Go crazy with me after the break.

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Star Wars The Old Republic : Hopes and Dreams

I have writers block. I have 7 drafts written on various topics but am having a hard time piecing them together. Some of them are related, and I think, can I combine them? Do they make sense? I have lost my groove, and working to find it.

My time off blogging was spent playing 3 games. WoW, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect. Having just finished Mass Effect 2 this week it gives me cautious optimism for Bioware’s SWTOR, even though I made fun of them on at least one occasion. In typical naive internet fashion, I am basing my personal hopes and dreams not from the devs, or things I have read about the upcoming title, but because of the type of game I want (dammit!).

Review of what lead me to my hopes and dreams, and how I would like to see SWTOR end up, after the break.

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