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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.

 

Instagram – Credit Where it is Due

I am not big on social media. I have a couple twitter accounts (of which, my tagline is “consumer of tweets” – I read there but don’t engage. I don’t like the platform). I do have Facebook which chronicles my life in positive facing, bite sized pieces. I tried Snapchat for oh, a week – and still get ‘snaps’ from some people and rounding out all of that is my Instagram account, of which, I have very little of myself in there but a lot of what I look at. I have different opinions about all of the platforms and the two I like the most are IG and FB.

Facebook is easy, because I wish my grandpa (and his grandpa) had Facebook so I could go back and look at the amazing things they did in their lives. While you get told a lot of these stories as kids, seeing and living them would be so much better. It is kind of a diary of your life.

Instagram I like because I am a visual person. I find recipes there, get workout tips, etc. etc. Now, I don’t know the rules of Instagram but I always did some simple things, such as follow for follow. If someone follows me, I follow them back. I held true on this except in two regards – clear spam only accounts, and porn accounts. At first I was shocked at the number of naked Russian women that wanted to follow me on Instagram. They don’t get the follow back. I even started reporting these accounts to Instagram, an annoying process due to the frequency of them and after a while I just stopped to bother reporting – firstly, because they need to find a better way to stop these accounts to begin with (sheer volume of them indicate the seriousness of the problem) and secondly, like most companies, they don’t tell you the results of the notification.

Until now. And let me tell you, HALLELUJIAH!

Instagram is now my most favourite social media platform. I am tired of the excuses by Blizzard and other big companies when I report people for harassment, racism, cheating (etc.) that they hide behind the veil that they can’t share the action on the account. Of course they can. And they should. Every time. They just don’t want to because they don’t want to cut off their revenue streams. It is inconvenient when some of your big spenders may also happen to be harassers, racists and homophobes, and who take joy in ruining the experience of others through non-gaming methods.  I know it is expensive to build a stronger community in terms of technology and manpower but it is worth it. Invest in good people playing your game.

I had stopped reporting to IG because there was no feedback, and now that there is, you can bet I will more often and with great enthusiasm. I will help ensure spam and illegal accounts don’t exist. I will do it frequently. I will do it for free. It is a wonderful win/win.

I think MMO (especially) and gaming companies should take a page out of this book and start sharing when they get rid of community detractors. We need to make common decency commonplace in our virtual worlds. That happens by clearly demonstrating acceptable behavior in words and actions. Currently, most just share the words part.

Side note – If you have Instagram you also need the ‘Unfollowers’ app.  It tells you when people un-follow you. This is particularly useful for the “follow for follow” crowd. People do this to get their numbers up and then unfollow you a few days later. You have no clue who does that, but that app is completely free and helps you keep track of those sorts of things.

Technology Creep

When gamers talk about “creep” they are often discussing things such as “Power Creep”. I don’t want the title of this short piece to be confused with that. I am talking about pure creep-y, which is a much different kind.

I consider myself very tech friendly and tend to early adopt and welcome technology into all parts of my personal life. My house has a Nest thermostat and 3 Nest smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Onenote has replaced my pen and paper list obsession. I start far too many sentences with “OK GOOGLE” while holding my phone close to my mouth. I haven’t bought a paper based magazine in three years since my first The Economist digital only subscription. 90% of the books I consume are in audible or digital format. As soon as Nest let’s me do it, I’ll replace my door locks with Keyfobs. I am very comfortable with technology – even at my old age of 40. I can’t wait for my car to be able to drive itself.

I do find ignorance is a bit blissful when it comes to what our devices and services are actually tracking. This became a full realization when I got home last night from our two weeks in Denmark, and Google greeted me with this.

That is my trip in Denmark with key places, cities and timelines through the photos I took with my cell phone. Those weren’t the only photos I took, but were most through my Android based Samsung Galaxy s5. My wife thought it was really cool. I was a bit creeped out.

I didn’t ask Google to do that.

Google figured out I was back home because it knows where I live. It tells me everyday when I am commuting home from work how much longer until I get home – even when I don’t ask. Hell, I don’t remember telling Google where I live. It does know I sleep there every night though, or at least, that is where my phone charges all night (which means people are sleeping for the most part).

I have vendors trying to sell customers near my businesses geo-fenced coupons or ads to phones as they near retail outlets but I find that way to creepy. I figure that in all of my comfort if I have unease then surely others will.

I used to post with my real first name and last initial on this site while most others used their gaming names. I ended up getting a bit uncomfortable when I overheard some colleagues making fun of adult gamers. That’s when I switched it – although I felt a bit silly of it afterwards. I wonder how much of me should be here versus how much of what I think should be and the two are one in the same at the end of the day.

All that being said I am still pro-Google (and also not an Apple fan, although I think they can co-exist) but just want to pay a bit more attention to how my technology is in and around my life with a mind of its own.

Hell, after that whole article I still posted it up for the world to see. Although that is a bit presumptuous. My readers and Blognation to see at the least.

Do you have any examples of creepy tech – or maybe amazing tech? Am I over thinking this and should just be glad Google was nice enough to make me a digital photo album for free?

Gmail is messed up

Lately I have had a ton of weird stuff going on with my loveable Gmail account. It all started with me getting weird emails about a “new” account I set up (although I didn’t). These messages started arriving with services I had signed up to (which I didn’t) from an email address I don’t own which is eerily similar to my real gmail address.

For example, if my gmail address is Ihaspc@gmail.com, the new address is ihasp.c@gmail.com.

The strangeness is this: I had a password reset email come to me for the address with the extra decimal in it. I did it (through google directly) and it changes the one WITHOuT the decimal in it. Indeed, when I email the mystery second account it goes to my non-decimalled account. When I try to log into the account with the decimal in it, it takes me to my non-decimal account.

I got an email saying I added the decimal account to my yahoo account (which I didn’t) and when I linked it (verified link to yahoo first) the starting account wasn’t mine – it started with a V – and I was able to unattach the decimal account to that email address.

It’s thoroughly confusing. I did virus checks et al with nothing.

It would be my guess some phisinh service signed up the email address for confusion but somehow it has become integrated with my non-decimal email address.

I am curious if this has anything to so with google’s recent gmail collapse end of February but can’t be sure.

Any ideas?