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.
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.
I wrote about Beta Fatigue back in 2009. For me, then, it was the start of the changing process of how Beta tests went from actual bug hunting and shaping games to public marketing stunts. We have become even worse with beta phases lasting several years while “testers” pay for the honor of supporting a beta cycle. Heck, I was once a part of a group that was paid to beta test. Yes, you rea that right. Paid. The organisation was tasked with stocking beta testers who actually gave focused feedback. (The testers didn’t get paid, but the company did.). Still – that kind of engagement, where beta testers could lose their spot if they weren’t being productive and helpful is a better start than what I see in betas today. You can tell on the beta forums for Magic The Gathering: Arena a very vocal group who are trying to sway developers to basically give everything away for free because those individuals have zero intention of actually ever paying a cent. The idea that they would have to pay for any part of a game in 2018 is appalling. That is the sole focus of this loud group it seems – get the game as free as possible so they don’t have to invest in or support the company financially. Those that speak against them are attacked as employees of the company or rich whales that want a monetary advantage.
So much for civil discourse. Still, I am on a similar side of that but for other reasons.
The new Beta fatigue is more damaging in my real upcoming world example. I love the game, MTG:Arena. I have played around 1000 matches. I have several decks I love, tons of cards to build more, and over 20,000 gold (around 20 packs worth) that I haven’t spent because I have no need to. The game is slick, fun, challenging, and has a bright future.
Except I probably won’t play it.
I can’t imaging having to play another 1000 games just to get back to where I am today. I love where I am. I’m in a great spot. I am invested and have invested a TON of time and energy into it. But starting from square one on “launch” day just do do everything and collect everything I already have will not happen. Having this realisation over the weekend I almost logged out and was done – but then I realised that no, this is my time to play. When they wipe everything I have done and accomplished to date, when the “final” beta wipe happens is when I will be done with the game. And it is a shame because I won’t be supporting them financially after all (and they do deserve it). Before you get mad at me for that last line – the truth is, the game could be out right now. It doesn’t need to be in beta. They are choosing to leave it there and have people invest hundreds of hours (and dollars, the payment system is live. When the final wipe happens no one gets refunds of cash but gets refunded the crystal currency to start fresh). The game runs well enough and with some avatar tweaks and basics the game is ready for prime time.
The only option I can see that would change my mind would be if I were able to pay for the option to keep my beta progress. Have a supreme collectors edition. I’d pay well over $100 to keep my deck and current progress. That would also keep me playing, and paying in the future. Unfortunately, as of now, I will just be a beta player – who did help shape the game, but will not be a part of it when it moves to live status. Which may be 2 years from now, with how many other betas have run recently.