BlogNation

Happy Belated Birthday : I HAS PC turns(ed) 10

Well, this is awkward. I forgot my own Blog Anniversary day. (Blog Birthday? Blogiversary? Whatevs…). August 27, 2008 I wrote my first post. It was short. Here is the full content to save you the link clicking.

We are all Experts! (notice the clever use of capitalization for emphasis). Surely we all are, are we not? We have blogs and a voice to share our “expert” (notice clever use of quotations) knowledge and profound experiences!

I have always been interested in blogging yet never really motivated. I scour message boards and blogs – a fervent fan – but never an author.  Something about having a single place to share personal opinions, instead of having to post all over the place, is attractive. Wondering if anyone will actually read the posts, is terrifying. I refused to read any guides or posts on how to start your own blog taking my preferred approach of jumping right in. Feet first mind you, as I am still not quite sure how deep the pool is in this end.

I HAS PC – Silly name, I know. Part of it is a play on how internet society has shaped our own language, the jokes between gamers and PC enthusiasts (all ur base are belong to us – anyone? Bueller?) but the truth is, I do have a PC, and I am an avid gamer. Currently I am entrenched in MMO’s and FPS’s. Fortunately for me, I have been in many a beta test since the late 1990’s and have enjoyed an insider view on game development. A lot of what I post here will surround the games I am involved in, the groups and organizations that are built around those same games, and the friends (and enemies) that post their opinions about both. Add in a dash of general interest topics, life as a gamer with family, professional, and child raising responsibilites (and funnies when they pop up now and again – who can live without the funnies?) – and we should have a fun little rounded blog here.

We all consider our own opinions important. Heck, it is one of the few things we have that that isn’t taxed (regularly) by the government. We have an abundance of them, an endless resupply, and many outlets to distribute them. Opinions are a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum. Do our opinions shape who we are, or is it who we are that forms our opinions? Regardless, I encourage everyone to add theirs on topics brought up. One thing I have learned, is that I have grown the most from other people who enjoy discussion and have opinions very different from mine.

The look and feel of the site will evolve as I figure it out. Special thanks to GTB for setting up the initial stage for me. Comments on the look and feel are very much welcome.

Well, there we go. First post done, and in the books.

I suppose I should buy myself flowers, or a new SSD, or something, since it is supposed to be tin or aluminum (are SSDs made of either of those?). As always, I credit Kill Ten Rats for me starting to blog as I was jamming up their comments section back then with so many thoughts and opinions. I still half expect them to apologise for that to the community at large at some point.

Last year I made fun of the fact that nine years isn’t a big deal, but ten – the big decade – definitely is. I am not so sure that I feel that way still. Moreso happy to be alive I think. Both in a human, literal sense and also from a “I write stuff and some people read it – still” sense. I’m lucky to have a platform and a voice and it is something I have managed to balance the enjoyment of, and the quasi responsibility, for.

I still use too many commas. It’s my calling card I think.

Some years, on this day, I reflect if I still do enjoy it and if I should continue to write. I had taken extended breaks in the past. I don’t really feel like I am ready to be done here, despite the less than cutting edge coverage I provide, and the same, comforting games I fall back into frequently. Back when I started I felt like I had so much to say about gaming, the industry, how things should be. Now I just write on what my whims are, and am just happy to be part of a strange, mostly anonymous community that still gives that comforting feeling of belonging.  Truth be told if options presented themselves I’d love a meet and greet to share stories in person, or at bare minimum, beer, but with life as busy as it is I will settle for comments, replies to comments, “likes”, and the like. It works.

Thank you for being a small but important part of my world here. It means more than you know.

Chris / Isey

Looking For Guild and Random Things

LFG

I haven’t had to look for a guild in 10 years in WoW. I became a part of a guild in Vanilla, and when we went from 40 man to 25 man raiding a group of us splintered off and formed a separate guild for TBC, and I was with that guild for most of WoW. Then when I left WoW for a bit and came back to find the people I was closest with moved servers (Uldum), I followed them with a character. Then another. My play time was very sparse at this time and I’d log in for a bit for each expansion and go long stretches outside of WoW. However, everytime I came back they were there.

Until Legion. The guild imploded and scattered to the 4 corners of Azeroth.

I wasn’t planning on sticking around Legion much and I took random guild invites just to get perks and see green text, and have people to level with, and chat with. There were no applications, few discussions – just “hey, you are in!”.

I want to change that. Not that my random guild experiences have been bad at all – but just looking for like-minded people. And people who read blogs tend to be those =) So, I have 3 Alliance toons I plan on playing this expansion and three Horde. All are on Uldum. If you have a guild or know of one on Uldum (I’m not even sure how it works cross realm now) let me know – would love to get a new home for the long term.

New Blogs Added

I have enjoyed reading Alunaria over at Alunaria’s Avenue and like many things, was surprised I hadn’t run into it before. We share a lot of likes over at Leo’s Life. Adding to my fun and fancy blogroll!

The second is a huge surprise for me – Marathal has a blog! Maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked. I see M all the time all over the Blogosphere participating in comments and likes for BlogNation. Once or twice I checked here by clicking his name and it took me to a link that was dead for his blog, so I assumed he was just a mega-reader and participator / contributor through comments. Oddly enough (again, back to degrees of separation) Alunaria liked a comment I made at Leo’s, so I checked her blog, and saw she linked Marathal and I was dumbfounded I didn’t realize it! Anyway here is a link to M’s blog and added to my blogroll as well.

Happy when these things happen, and it’s a Friday. Life is good.

Blaugust, Good Luck!

I know it won’t come to many a surprise that Blaugust has been reborn this year and just by you reading this here I know you are in the know. We have a small little corner of a community in BlogNation and if you look at my blogroll you will find many/most of the posts recently are about Blaugust.

I think it is a great initiative! And I am so very sad (and sorry) that I can’t participate. I had proudly displayed my Blaugust Champion graphic for several years (from 2014) like that guy who won a wrestling championship once in high school and still keeps the trophy on his desk well into adulthood. That was me. Blaugust was the first time I wrote more than 15 posts in a month (and the last time) and it was a fun exercise in though provocation, stamina, consistency, and routine. And I really loved it. That was 2014  and since then I have dedicated my first two weeks of August to teaching kids at a hockey school in beautiful cottage country in Canada. I literally have an hour every morning to check work emails and then its full go time – which leaves me no time to properly participate in Blaugust. I’ll still be reading blogs, of course, when I get spare time and breaks to keep up with the crew crushing posts, but that is about the extent I will be able to participate.

I love it, and I wish them well, and hope it gives me more blogroll fodder!

On that note – you probably won’t hear from me for the next two weeks – but I may try to squeeze in a post or two. Have fun, and I am suffering from FOMO already!

I’ll Show You Mine : Steam Spend

Steam recently added the ability to see how much you have spent with them.

Here is the link.

(You have to log in and all that jazz).

In the spirit of fun, and transparency (because why not) let’s see who the true spending addicts are!

External Funds Used
This is a sum of external funds that have been applied to your Steam account, either to purchase games on the Steam store or fund your Steam Wallet. This value is used to determine if an account is a “Limited User Account”.
Type Time Calculated Amount in USD
TotalSpend 2018-06-09 08:30:02.783 $948.97
OldSpend 2018-06-09 08:30:02.783 $500.96
PWSpend 2018-06-09 08:30:02.783 $0.00

$948.97 USD. Yikes. I could have gone on a vacation.

Still, Not all that bad. Not as bad as I was expecting, of course. And of course that doesn’t count any other platform, box sales, etc. Just steam. I’m actually mildly disappointed I didn’t crack 1000. Anyone know of a game for sale for 51.03?

Care to share your steam spend? I know that is treading on some pretty personal ground, but we are all friends here.

Could be therapeutic.

 

Mind your Manners : Twitter Snitch Tagging

I am not an avid Twitter user. I have an account, I consume tweets sometimes and I even interact with some of Blognation there now and again. I wouldn’t classify myself as a regular user or even that interested in the platform – let alone take the time to blog about it. Except for an article I read this morning which rubbed me the wrong way. And normally I don’t mind being rubbed.

The article is here, go ahead, and enjoy the read.

I actually thought it was satire at first.I thought I was reading the Beaverton, or The Onion, but no.  If you don’t want to read it here is the basics of it – and I have never even heard of the term “Snitch Tagging”.

The general notion of Snitch Tagging is that when people are talking about you, in a public forum, they should be able to do so privately. And the act of “snitch tagging” is when a third party who reads you referencing or talking about somebody “tags” them in the thread so they are aware.

For example.

  • @ihaspc tweets – “I am a WAY BETTER Blogger than Bhagpuss. I can’t believe people read his stuff”.
  • @memyselfandI tweets – “@Bhagpuss”

And somehow, many people have a huge problem with this. It is akin to “I want to publically shame/criticise/make fun of/reference these people in a global, OPEN forum, but I don’t want them to know it is me!”

That is such bullshit.

First off I never say anything about someone I wouldn’t say to their face. That is just good manners. And if I have a problem with something someone said or did, I should approach them about it. If I am not comfortable with that, then i should just just keep my mouth twitter shut.  At bare minimum, if I want to talk about someone and them not know about it – I can do that in private, direct messages to my friends. (I still don’t do that). Or, just say it, and who cares. But don’t get mad at people for letting subject matter people know how you are sharing your non-private thoughts in a global, public forum about them.

Is this old school thinking? Where and how do people think it is fair and fine to talk about people – in a completely open, global forum, and be upset that someone else made the person aware?

In fact, I believe it should be the opposite – that Twitter should automatically notify someone when their handle / organisation is referenced.

In the article, the reason they use is that less people are sharing less information. BUT – if you are sharing a personal opinion, you should be able to defend or stand by it. If you are sharing facts, you have nothing to worry about. The only people that have anything to worry about when sharing information about someone or an organisation is if they are trying to slander them or use it for their personal benefit. Or hide behind their computer screen.

I can’t see any reason why this is an issue – is this an age / demographic thing? Am I missing something that is actually important here? Or am I just taking crazy pills?

 

Beta Fatigue : 2018 Version

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.

Small Update Post

I hate going a full week without posting, but that happens from time to time when I have nothing fun or exciting to write about. Both of those should be qualified a bit – things I fun fun or exciting. I have been writing about un-fun and boring things from you, the gentle reader’s perspective for (almost) 10 years now. I have been playing 4 games regularly but none of them have inspired an interesting post to write, let alone read. So I figured I would just touch on each.

I can’t stop playing Magic The Gathering. I go through these feast/famine stages with many games and right now I am at an all you can eat buffet, 10th trip up, and still plenty of room on my waistline. Even better is that a new expansion is coming out (in the real world) and they are right on top of launching it at the same time in the digital world. Each day you can get 500ish gold in game just by playing – so I have been doing all the daily quests and grabs, stocking up on gold. Currently I can buy 6 new packs when the expansion drops end of week and hoping to get that to 10. I have a deck I love and am cruising with a ~60% win rate with it so I see little reason to change at this time. Eventually at this rate I will climb up and start seeing more competitive decks that will probably wipe the floor with me – but will stick with my fun deck until that time. The post about my deck and why I built it that way is coming soon!

I finally bought MLB the Show 2018 – the baseball season is in full effect. I played a TON of the 2015 version (maybe too much?) and I dislike that sports game release annually, so give them several years before buying in between to see if there is any real change. My favourite mode – Road to the show – where you are basically playing a Baseball RPG – is back and refined. Levelling is more skill based (grows by using) and they even get worse if you don’t do well. Maybe there is even permadeath – who knows! The fun/annoying new aspect of it is the social media sidebar, where fake, digital fans trash/ support you on twitter and other social media. Pretty sure the Russians are behind it in game, too.

Slay the Spire’s daily challenge is fun but already starting to feel a bit repetitive. How a new and interesting daily game mode gets repetitive is not really clear to me either, but I am just getting that feeling in that game. I know they are planning on launching new modes and even a new character to play – hence the joys of early access.

I bought Starbound on whim and a mood for some reason. I have enjoyed it and played through to getting my ship. I can’t even recall what the impetus was….

So those are the 4 I am playing right now. World of Warcraft has fallen off the playlist. I was close to unlocking the new races, but don’t have a desire to level a full new character – especially when I only have a couple that aren’t at max or near max levels (Mage / Warlock). No desire to level up another character again, just for a new race look (not even story?). If I really want a new race I suppose I will just pay for a race change at some point. I’m still undecided on the expansion (as I am every expansion…)

In other, awesome news Battletech – I game I early accessed (And a cross between the original, board game format and the new X-Com) launches fully this week. I am already pre-loaded and super excited. I am expecting this to take up a lot of my time when it goes. I’ll have much to.

I dislike when I am going through the motions in gaming – and writing, but sometimes that is just the way things are.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q4

Good news is my site is back up! My tinfoil hat edition is that one day I get a notice from WordPress – sign up for paid backups now! I said no. Next day, a standard, Jetpack update broke my site for a week. Quite the coincidence, right? I am so sad that now I am a cynic when it comes to digital companies, since there are no regulations to ensure they aren’t breaking things for profit. And no, not paying for that service for sure, because, that would mean they would win.

Bad news is not sure if anyone had missed it, anyway =) Yes, I just smiley-faced mid post.

Q1 Post here, Q2 Post here, Q3 Post here

And here is the Q4 post.

October 2017

  • Post Count: 12
  • Games: Destiny 2, Warframe
  • Other Media: Blade Runner
  • Themes: Politics, Single Player, DLC

Mood / Content: Love/hate Warframe/Destiny. In that order. Destiny’s failure to add base features (raid group making) has creating a black/third party market for it. I learned that Canadians don’t have property rights enshrined in our Charter, but that it probably isn’t a big deal because we are supported from other laws. I watched and loved Blade Runner 2049, much only how a big fan of the series could and would. My son and wife were lost on what was really going on but found the whole thing really, really pretty. I bit the bullet and downloaded Warframe for “what the heck” because it was getting a lot of good press. It was so smooth, beautiful, and utterly confusing at the same time, but worth exploring further. I tried not to say “I told you so” when Destiny 2 sales came in below expectations. Which wasn’t a big surprise because it was essentially a step down for Destiny 1 in content. I lamented the death of the single player RPG because it wasn’t a gateway drug for more loot box sales. EA killed the best hope we had for a Star Wars rekindling RPG with that mindset. I further explored Warcraft, their codex, and realized even more how awesome the game was – and still, how confusing. Destiny 2 started losing a lot of players as the realization it is a step back from Destiny 1 but with added loot box sales and was more shallow became reality. Bungie doubled down on silliness by resetting Clan XP every “season”. (ie: shopping season, when they could introduce and sell more loot boxes!). I celebrated how wonderful and incredibly deep Warframe customization was (it has earned the nickname, “Fashionframe”). I explored the differences between User and Metacritic scores comparing Warframe and Destiny 2. Not content to being nice to Destiny 2 (ahem) I called them out for their day one DLC pack – another uninspired, boring jaunt of content that was done before release and should have been included in the base game to provide a bare minimum of content that was severely lacking.

It was a hard month on Destiny 2, I admit it. Warframe made it all worthwhile though.

November 2017

  • Post Count: 10
  • Games: Warframe
  • Other Media: Stranger Things 2
  • Themes: Community content, login rewards, blog therapy

Mood/Content: Serial gaming love. It was all about Warframe in November, and started off the month with a post exploring the very incredible, very cool 700 day login reward – and whether that was fair or not. I then explored the pay-for community created cosmetic system that Digital Extremes had created. I loved Stranger Things 1 but was ultimately disappointed in the lack of detail, intrigue, erm – story, in the second season. Was a bit of a wasted opportunity too build off of the first. OF course, they will cash in, and continue to do so. Look at the Walking Dead show.  I stopped a smelled the roses – admiring the backdrop to Warframe and the various beautiful things I found on my slaughtering journey on several planets. I revisited my blog series of purging draft posts – the fifth in the series – and there is at least one left. Thankfully now I don’t do a lot of drafts, I just write and complete. I never want to make that kind of a mess again.  I was prompted to respond to a randomization article Gevlon wrote – calling for the end of it in gaming – and reflected how much I enjoy  and appreciate randomization. I hit 50 hours in Warframe and marveled about the good in it – and the things they needed to work on. I wrote a piece on modding in Warframe to support him since he asked for some good starter builds. I shared a Warframe video – 100 Days of Warframe – which captured the feeling of a new player pretty perfectly. I made a Warframe specific Christmas shopping list to reward DE for the hours of enjoyment they had provided me and last, but not least, I had to call Destiny 2 out again when it was discovered they secretly throttled XP gains in the game to encourage loot box purchases. The reckoning of government intervention is coming. Gaming companies cannot be trusted to do anything except maximize profits. Capitalist bastards!

December 2017

  • Post Count: 13
  • Games: EQ2, DDO, Warframe
  • Other Media: Calvin and Hobbes
  • Themes: Housing, old games

Mood/Content: Nostalgia is strong. I started off December profiling a couple of my favourite Warframes, Mesa and Rhino, and admired the different ways you could impale bodies in the game. I discovered and subsequently played around with a very cool screenshot mode in the game which more games should offer. I watched parts of the video game awards and was pleasantly surprised there were actual secrets and things revealed for the first time (in a world of spoilers). I found an artist who mish-mashed two of my favourite things – Star Wars and Calvin and Hobbes. I watched, with sadness, as Paladins went the Battlefront 2 loot box mode and lost a lot of players very fast, ruining what was ultimately fresh and exciting with the game. May it (or what it was) rest in peace. I was pulled back into Norrath in EQ2 and found a wonderful, rich, new experience there. This prompted me to look at DDO again and was also very pleasantly surprised. I was even in the same guild from a decade ago. I started my Year In Review posts, and spent many, many more hours in EQ2. Something about the 1-20 experience there – so many new abilities and ways to explore the game. It’s addicting. I became sucked into housing and couldn’t (can’t) stop. I explored some nostalgia in Norrath visiting the new, old zones and experienced all of the refreshed starter zones.

2017 is over and with it I had a lot of fun with the blog. I didn’t break writing, or reading records or anything and didn’t quite stick to my 2x a week posts for the full year – but broken blog aside, had a really strong fourth quarter. I only write when I am inspired to do so and gaming has been good to me. So has this community, which was the biggest part I noticed I was missing when my blog broke – all the links to fresh content and perspectives from my living blog roll.

I am not sure what 2018 holds in store for me, gaming, or this blog but I do know I will game, and write about it. I will also read other blogs faithfully and comment often. I enjoy the interactions that blogging provides no matter how little or much this little corner of the internet generates. I have a dozen or so posts in my head to catch up on with the gaming I have done and experienced lately and well, no point in waiting now, is there!

Onward, 2018. Onward.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q3

Q1 post here and Q2 post here.

Continuing wrapping up last year’s blogging and gaming efforts with the July to August calendar quarter.

July 2017

  • Post Count: 3
  • Games: Fortnite, Paladins, Battlenet (early backer)
  • Other Media: None
  • Themes: Against the grain, Feedback, Early Access

Mood/Content: Largely absent! Summer I like to be in, on and around the water. I have a 35′ sailboat, a canoe, fishing rods, camping gear etc. I am surprised I blogged so little but then again in hindsight July was a heavy sailing month. We had lost most of May and June due to dangerously high water levels (so much so the docks to get to our boat were 3′ under water!) and this did not get remedied until mid/end of June (by building new docks on top of the old docks. We sail the Great Lakes in Canada (and the St. Lawrence Seaway) and it was just a year that no one had seen in 30+.  This may have been why I managed to blog regularly in May and June and less so in July. Still, I managed to join and write about the new, early access Battletech game that captures the essence of the board game moreso than it’s FPS counterparts, and was still playing Paladins in a community full of Overwatch players. I spent a lot of time and effort on the main forums for Paladins – something I haven’t done in/for a game in years – and got into petty arguments and was reminded how challenging it is to have meaningful conversations when one or more parties are hidden behind a keyboard (irony not lost, I assure you.). Finally I jumped into Fortnite – another early access title – and was surprised and delighted with the amount of content and layered systems that existed – as well as the general gameplay, graphics style, and premise of the game.

August 2017

  • Post Count: 6
  • Games: Fortnite, Paladins, Destiny 2 (beta)
  • Other Media: None
  • Themes: Birthdays, Cottage Life, Loot Boxes

Mood/content: gone for two weeks every August teaching at a summer hockey school. It’s nice to get back on the ice and fun to see the kids loving life, spending a day at the rink and evenings on the lake. I did a quick vacation post espousing the joy of cottage life. I posted one of my first personal gaming videos – without commentary – to better show the gameplay that is involved in Fortnite (which was still shiny, new and fun. My blog had it’s ninth birthday and I mused around about how 10 years is such a big deal as a milestone, but 9 is largely ignored. I felt warm and fuzzy inside as it was my most commented on post for the year. I started to fall out of love with Paladins (due to League of Legends-esque issues) and Fortnite for it’s cashy and really non-early access state (paying to test an eventual free to play game… what is more dumb than that?). I was screwed by Paladins with unfair and sleazy loot box mechanics and called (and continue to call for) self regulation by the industry – before somebody forces them to do it. Finally in August I did the Destiny 2 beta and once again was completely let down by the sameness, the terrible story, and the fact there is no true first person PVE shooter competitor to show them how to do it better.

September 2017

  • Post Count: 9
  • Games: Destiny 2, Clash Royale , Fortnite
  • Other Media: Best game trailer
  • Themes: Cross platform play, disappointment.

Mood/Content: Disillusionment and disappointment. Destiny relaunched with a 2 beside it but had less content than most of their expansions did. Frustrating when something is so close to being amazing and falls short of all expectations – except financial. It did have the best game trailer (maybe ever), at least. I had a few posts in this month daydreaming that Bungie did something good with the title except stepping backwards, which they did in spades. Fortnite took all of the PVE money thrown it’s way and abandoned the game mode to launch a non-monetized Battle Royale mode to compete with PUBG. The good news is that it is actually really good. The bad news is – the millions of people who supported it for a rich and meaningful PVE experience were pushed aside. Fortnite also clicked a server button which allowed cross console play (by accident) which Sony immediately shut down. I will not be buying a PS5 because of it.  I more fully explored how little content Destiny 2 shipped with and was sad that they held back content knowing they had DLC to deliver. I had yet another rant post (quite against my nature, I assure you) for both Fortnite and Destiny 2. I also started recognizing cash shop patterns in Clash Royale – where they would incent me to buy based on what deck I was using. It’s all dirty money at this point.

It’s clear in Q3 that I found more joy offline than online. I really should try to do that more often.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q2

This is building off of my first post reviewing this blog and the year 2017. Q1 Post here

April 2017

  • Post Count: 9
  • Games: Andromeda, Hearthstone
  • Themes: Nostalgia, Exploration, Satisfaction

Mood/Content: Fully immersed in Andromeda the entire month. Everything about this game improved on the first series. Yes, everything. The gameplay, the RPG elements, the abilities, and yes, even the story.  I know Andromeda received a lot of criticism. Much of it justified. You can’t be this big and ambitious and not make a few mistakes. Unlike many people (clearly) I played through the first three Mass Effects prior to Andromeda launch and what a jumbled, often unplayable mess it was. Yes, it was a beautiful mess – but so was Andromeda. Unfortunately the inaccurate nostalgia of what Mass Effect 1-3 was put undue expectations of what Andromeda could have been. And now we will likely never know. April was speaking of those improvements, being fully engaged and surprised with Andromeda, explaining why I uninstalled Hearthstone, discussed pacing in games, was enthralled with the planets created in Andromeda, was sad when I finally finished the game, and was ultimately looking forward to trying something new (or old, as I sorted through potential games to follow up with).

May 2017

  • Post Count: 7
  • Games: Destiny, Paladins, Overwatch. GW2, The Division
  • Other Media: 13 Reasons Why
  • Themes: Wandering, familiarity, diversity

Mood/Content: Trying to find a gaming home. I started off May back in The Division and my welcome back wasn’t fantastic. I really wanted to finish off the main story but I was struggling with the current missions I was ‘supposed’ to be running. The bullet sponges – having to dump 400 bullets into a human being to take them down – was just pretty silly. I still plan on beating it someday. I jumped back into GW2 and had a lot of fun starting it off, but once again, it just didn’t hook me – even with a fresh start. I had an A-HA! moment with diversity when I finally felt what most (or all) non-Caucasian gamers felt when I realized the protagonists in Prey didn’t represent me – and I actually noticed that. I didn’t play the game (not for that reason) but wasn’t looking for a single player FPS to play. I binge watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and loved it, I think it is essential viewing. I was mad when I learned they were doing a sequel to cash in on what they created, instead of letting it stand as the beauty that it was. Trailers started dropping for Destiny 2 and they were terrible and embarrassing, and now with the beauty of hindsight I can say ” I told you so!”. I did, however go back and finish up Destiny 1 which now (again, hindsight) was the proper goodbye to a franchise that had a really good chance but royally screwed it up. I toyed in Overwatch but ended up falling in love with Paladins instead – which for me was a better game in every category, angle, and design.

June 2017

  • Post Count: 6
  • Games: Paladins, Injustice 2
  • Other Media: Instagram, Wonder Woman
  • Themes: Hope, credit where it’s due, customization, prognosticating

Mood/Content: Self congratulatory, shooting things, punching things. I started off June posting about Wonder Woman and how much I loved the movie. While a Marvel fanboy at heart, I did appreciate the serious nature and tone of the DC Universe but felt WW hit at different tones (and out of the park). It touched my emotions in a tangible way. I heaped praise on Instagram for telling me that my feedback actually removed a spam account. This encouraged me to report more spam accounts (I had given up on it, and actually had 50 or 60 spam account followers – I just couldn’t be bothered to report because it seemed like nothing was happening). Now that they did I called on gaming companies to do the same. Blizzard / Hi-Rez / EVERY developer, if I report a player for being a general douche, please let me know when you suspend their account. That will encourage me to help you clean up your community. I started playing Injustice 2 to get my Green Lantern fix and was amazed of how great of a game it was – and I haven’t played a side scrolling fighting game since Street Fighter on the Super Nintendo. It hit a lot of things on the head. Pun intended. I explored Paladins and how beautiful and amazing their customization card system is in the shooter – creating interest and personality to the game. I mused how I suggested to Blizzard in 2008 that they should start selling gold to their own players to combat RMT and give a cheaper subscription option. I was right! Send me royalty cheques! (Yes, even a blind squirrel.. I get it..) I explored more of Paladins, and their lovely statistics reporting system, and how I fared at different roles in the game.

The second Quarter of 2017 had me going from serial game (Andromeda) to lost in space (playing 6-8 other games trying to find my next serial game) to finally landing on Paladins, which, I guess will make up a good chunk of my Q3 posts. I could be wrong, but I did dump 120+ hours into that game and I can rarely get 100 hours in a month of gaming.

It is fun to reflect on the year this way to see where my head and heart were at. Next quarter, coming up soon!

Cup Runneth…

Over. Definitely Over.

I’m a lucky person in pretty much all areas of my life – professional, personal and digital. It is never lost on me the need and suffering in the world. Still, there is much beauty and hope. You just have to believe. And act.

In my online world here, at I HAS PC I have more posts to write than ever and I wanted to thank you for visiting, reading, and being a part of this site. I never wanted to have any sort of impact here I just wanted to be able to say that I am a small part of someone’s daily or weekly thoughts as they digest what I write.

It’s a hobby I enjoy but made all the better by those who stop in and say hi.

Best to you and yours this holiday season, and hell, to the world in general. I hope we get more right than wrong in 2018.

Chris / Isey

Things are Looking Up: EQ2, PC Gaming

I spent the weekend thinking about gaming, and playing a bit. I kind of realized that I don’t envy being a developer trying to make games right now. I read somewhere that Battlefront 2 probably “only” sold 1.2 to 1.5 million boxes in it’s first month of sales – and is considered a complete failure. There are not many industries where doing over 100 million in sales in your first month (on a single title) – with Christmas sales and a supporting movie launch on it’s way still – that causes your stock to drop – but welcome to PC gaming and a broken capitalist system. It was #2 just behind Call of Duty on the sales charts.

We had some super hot titles such as Crowfall and Camelot Unchained that have largely fallen off the radar, and depending on who you talk to Star Citizen is either vaporware of the best self-funded perpetual marketing campaign in history. Didn’t Lord British launch a game? Or almost? Is that still in Beta or Alpha somewhere? Fortnite, a Co-OP PVE darling that I funded decided to (very successfully) copy Player Unknown Battlegrounds and finally find a niche they could be successful at. TONS of people are playing Fortnite : Battle Royale. The catch? They haven’t monetized the game mode yet. They launched a paid-for beta for a largely abandoned PVE mode to instead successfully find a niche in a free for all PVP mode that is not monetized. That that shake around your noodle for a bit. Heck, I was largely tempted to buy myself pre-alpha access to Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen – except I still don’t trust Brad and Fortnite swore me off of early access titles. Meanwhile, Paladins is in it’s 64th patch of Open Beta and has changed/altered their monetization methods four or five times in 14 months and have finally settled on one – that has their best supporters quitting outright, and most others following them. Despite an outcry to please listen and not ruin what makes their game great – they are not listening and ruining what makes their game great.

Yet, as the title says, I am very optimistic.

It’s the little things – like PCs and NPCs making eye contact when interacting

I visited Norrath again. I do this often in EQ1, but have not in EQ2. I have often updated EQ2 on my PC and thought about it but this time I finally did it, and spent hours. Stalbik was not my first character in EQ1 (That was Fisdib, a Gnome Magician in EQ Beta 1) but he was my EQ Guide avatar on the Rathe server. And instead of making a new character I decided to retrieve Stalbik from the EQ1 Guide only island and give him his first real adventure that does not involve a player camping dispute. He was off and on his way.

Before specifically discussing my EQ2 experiences I have to say that my year in review post is underway as a draft and where I spent all my time gaming this year was a bit of a surprise. Not to spoil it, but looking back makes me hugely optimistic for PC gaming. There are so many long running games that are so interesting and satisfying to play. There are platforms where small developers can launch great games and make money. There are still tons of sequels and big titles for the giant conglomerates to launch meaty marketing yet shallow but satisfying experiences. There is really something for everyone right now. Developers clamoring that if they can’t monetize something to death they won’t build it will only push gamers to games that are fun instead. If you can’t develop a fun game at a decent profit point then learn a new way of developing games. No one feels bad for you that you haven’t mastered the easy way to suck the blood dry out of a big enough fan base.

I should be a big target demographic for gaming companies. I have more disposable income to game with then I can imagine. I almost spent the $1000 on the Pantheon alpha because I have no issue with spending that on games in a year, and I can’t see where or how I will spend that in 2018 with what is coming up. Unfortunately for gaming companies I am a very patient gamer. I don’t mind waiting for 3 days for my next Warframe to be ready. I will pay for the extra slots and customization options though, so Digital Extremes gets my investment. They have found something that is worthwhile for me to invest in. It wasn’t forced either – I won’t spend money on a “you must pay this to be on a level playing field” or “you must pay this or wait!” items. I pay to reward companies for good gaming design that makes me happy. And I’m willing to pay a lot of they figure that out. Unfortunately, it seems many gaming companies are instead focused on triggering consumption habits that players can’t control – taking advantage of their weaknesses. That won’t last long, I am afraid.

Back to EQ2.

I have returned to this blog with the news of my victories! While EQ2 was very new to me it is also very familiar – both by being standard MMO fare with WASD and hotkeys, as well as being the sequel to my favorite game of all time. There weren’t many surprises along my first journey except the voice acting. As funny as it is, I don’t remember that when I first tried EQ2 back at launch. That is actually something pretty stand out that most MMOs still do not do (at least not the ones that I play) and I found myself paying more attention to the NPC interactions because of it.

I rolled an Enchanter because I really enjoyed playing one in EQ2 – sorry, Coercer. I always loved controlling a group of NPCs and making a “friend” of my enemies to fight with me. Here is a short list of thoughts / first impressions / questions:

  • I rolled on Maj’Dul server – I believe Izlain and Bhagpuss are both there.
  • Outlevelled the starting island really quickly, but I was invested in sorting out what was causing all the issues there – so I stuck through the story line to the end although all bad guys were grey to me
  • Impressed with little things – like how on one quest I had to disable totems as a source of infection, and during the last boss fight I had to notice there were also totems there – and that by disabling them it allowed me to damage the final boss. It didn’t prompt me to destroy the totems first, I just figured that out from my prior quest experience. One of those experiences that reminded me of The Secret World questing. Rewarding to solve something on your own.
  • Appreciate things such as quests that start by inspecting random loot – for example, zombie flesh – which leads to a bigger quest if I am willing to farm other pieces of zombies to really understand how they are put together. (badum-ching)
  • Aforementioned eye contact between PC and NPCs when interacting was a no brainer. Especially so as a gnome
  • Is there any reason to NOT trigger a heroic moment when soloing? Seemed like it did a ton of damage? Can you macro that to a spell hotkey, so you hit that and then a spell automatically?

I finished the starter Island and had the boat drop me off at the docks at  Qeynos. Qeynos was special to me in EQ1 although I never made a starting character there or venture within it’s walls much. The Qeynos gates was the end of a long journey for my Gnome pals and I. At launch, Minotaur Axes were one of the best starter weapons and of course they only dropped in Steamfont Mountains. We would farm them, fill up our bags, make the long trek to Qeynos and sell them for handsome profit at the gates. The city is familiar and brings me a bit of joy and a lot of comfort – although it is hardly the same except in name now.

Greeted at the docks, Moyna had an all too familiar style of quest to collect centipede meat so she could continue to fish. I was prompted to go to a nearby Inn to find a room – my new home perhaps? The tutorial kept flashing about housing and every once in a while Daybreak reminded me I could give them money for things, even though I had no clue what things were best or what would be wise to do. The docks were as good of a place to log out after Stalbik’s first adventure and like a creature comfort, I know he will be waiting patiently for me right there for when I return.

Where to next? Who knows! That is the best part.

Blinking and Missing the Moment : Brian Kesinger

The world is a giant, strange place full of good, bad, and everything in between. Most importantly, and often the source of many of those emotions, are people. There are billions of us on this planet and we are all making our own way through our versions of what our lives should be. My point is that there is no way to know of everyone out there, but sometimes you learn of someone – their talent, their gift, their personality, quite randomly or by accident even – and you discover something amazing. This happened to me when I hit a Bored Panda link on Facebook by accident. Until last week I had no clue who Brian Kesinger was. According to his Instagram page  he is a “story artist at Walt Disney animations studios and an Artist for Marvel Comics”. He is also a big Calvin and Hobbes fan, and evidently, Star Wars too. He has mashed up a whole bunch of joy between two of my favorite worlds

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#lilkylo #starwars #calvinandhobbes #mashup

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Calvin and Hobbes has always been one of my favorite things. I have the entire anthology and now my 12 year old child is reading them and really enjoying them (which makes me very, very happy!). I linked a comic here once back when the economy was crashing. I want to use them on my new, still boringly white goalie helmet (if I can find the artist to do it!). I even have a tattoo of Hobbes, leaping across my body that I got when I was 15. To better give you insight into how much of a rebel I was/am, even when I was 15 and getting a tattoo done against my parents wishes in the basement of a suspect, older high school student I had the foresight to put it somewhere where I could choose who would and wouldn’t see it. There would be no mistaking a tattoo-viewing without my absolute permission.

Mr. Kesinger has brilliantly merged the two. Any fan of Calvin and Hobbes, or Bill Watterson’s art style (the creator of Calvin and Hobbes!) and more importantly the style and attitude of the former syndicated strips will instantly recognize – and fall in love – with the mashup. He has hit many nails on many heads.

I just can’t get enough. If you look through his Instagram page you will find all sorts of awesome pieces from other genres and popular movies as well – but because I have had a Calvin and Hobbes drought AND the upcoming The Last Jedi movie launch I am only focusing on these ones. If you dig deep enough you find The Little Mermaid, Dr. Who, Big Hero Six, Guardians of the Galaxy, and much more. Heck, even Garfield!

Mr. Kesinger is not selling a book of them (unfortunately) and rightly respects that his works are fan fiction and that he could not sell without prior written permission from Mr. Watterson. Still, I’d pay to buy a book and not so secretly hope that there is some way, shape or form that proceeds from such a sale could go to a needy beneficiary of some sort. Of course maybe I am the only willing buyer but these mashups really pull all the right levers for me.

I’ll link a few more but just a happy way for Calvin and Hobbes, and Star Wars fans, to start their Monday. I’d encourage any fan to stop by his social media and give lots of likes, and loves =)

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Poor #lilkylo.

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By @briankesinger #lilkylo

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#lilkylo and Darth review the Death Star plans

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Thank you, Brian. For sharing your talent and passion.

 

Caught in the Cookie Jar : Developers

Destiny 2 has not been a favorite of mine for many reasons, and not going to rehash those at this time, but it was for purely game reasons. They have, unfortunately, stooped below the game-level issues I disliked. Literally slowing XP gains secretively on Bright Engram boxes. You know, those same boxes that you can also buy with real money, or grind for in game. Bungie has come out and admitted it – without admitting they did anything “wrong” of course – and are adjusting the practice. They are only admitting it because they were caught by the community as the community ran several tests to try and replicate the “bug” that made XP gains “inconsistent”.

Turns out it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. A hidden money making feature.

Trust is at a pretty low point with developers right now, I’d say. If it’s not for you, it should be.

Again – as discussed in this space previously – I don’t blame them, entirely. This is what a business is supposed to do. Profit. However, the pure dishonest nature of it all is what bothers me. When you program things in your game to affect the player’s expected experience you should come right out and say it. This is pretty scandalous, and should be treated as such. In fact, it is far, far worse than the EA Battlefront II lock boxes – at least EA didn’t lie about it or hide it. If you are going to slow XP gains to players to encourage payment you should just say so. If you don’t feel comfortable telling the truth to your customers about an internal decision you have made that impacts their gameplay dishonestly, chances are it’s the wrong decision.

It’s our fault, of course. We engage developers as if they are our friends, as if they truly care about the gaming communities we have fostered. We buy their games based on their past successes, even when we say we won’t.  I wrote about how I felt about developers and past successes back in 2009:

I am not  anymore a big fan of “rockstar designers” than I am of “rockstar CEO’s”. I believe their success is as much entrenched in timing and market conditions than their own personal contributions. Mark Jacobs, of DAOC/WAR fame is a great MMO manager for sure, but doesn’t have any unique or special vision. WAR is proof of that. Lord British had a great hit with UO 15 years ago but has been unable to follow up with any sort of recent success (in gaming – the man did make it into space – kudos). The Diablo team’s follow up had a short life span. Brad? – well, you read the above if you got this far. One success – no matter how successful, does not give you a design pedigree that you can fall back on – solely. Good business managers evolve – they do not rely on past successes and hope it carries them through. Even WoW has changed lead designers multiple times. Is it more important to have someone who knew what they were doing in the past, or someone who you think will know what to do in the future? Seems like a gamble either way

I am begging the industry to self regulate. The other two options – government regulation, or continue lying to the player base – are far worse.

Self regulation can be this simple:

  1. Any loot box style items will have the percentage chance of winning a specific item listed IN GAME before purchases (and companies will have their randomization code audited by an accredited third party)
  2. Any background/invisible mechanics in game that impede progress that can be circumvented through purchases are clearly outlined on the login screen.
  3. Any matchmaking mechanics that involve purchase history as a condition must be transparent

The first should have happened ages ago. Every company is lying about the odds of getting what you want by not sharing the chance. The second covers off hidden, dishonest grinds quite simply. I am sure there are several others the industry can agree to and if they don’t, anything the government(s) of the world could do could be much worse. Volkswagen programmed their cars to lie about emissions and fuel efficiency to incentivize you to buy Diesel cars. and avoid regulatory issues. Destiny programmed their game to lie about XP gains to incentivize you to buy boxes. They are in the same ballpark.

The only purpose of a gaming company – now more than ever – is to make profit. Once you start believing that and acting on that you will be far less disappointed. As consumers our direct ability to hold them accountable will shape the industry in the future – as it already has in the present.

 

UPDATE: Kotaku reports that when they adjusted XP gains to be consistent, they doubled the XP needed to level from 80k to 160k. No mention if this is a balancing feature from the increased XP gains, or a mistake. Nice article for other mess ups by Bungie. Consistent with my disappointment with Destiny 2.

So You Are Saying There’s A Chance

Gevlon wrote a pretty sarcastic piece (I think it was meant to be sarcastic!) calling for the end of all randomization in gaming to counterbalance the future of loot box mania (which is already here, and not going anywhere). I do appreciate that some people – and “gamers” in particular – appreciate some certainty. This is why we went from random boss drops in MMOs to tokens, and the like. Some randomization is good, but when it is too much in specific circumstances it can be bad. Many games try to find a balance.

Back in 2009 I wrote a piece about how much I love randomization in games – often in extreme cases. While the premise was built on a pen and paper game that took the idea to a very fun place.

One thing I loved about the Star Wars pen and paper game was the concept of the ‘red’ dice. SW was played with all d6 – and on your rolls you always had to had an off colored dice. That dice was the “special” dice. We called it the fate dice. It may have officially have been called the ‘Force’ dice. I’m not sure. Its been 15 years. The crux of it? You rolled real bad on that dice, even if you rolled all 6’s on the others, and crazy things would happen. Crazy bad. It also worked in the reverse, where a good roll – on that one dice – would make amazingly incredible things happen. Out of the ordinary.

The off color dice in Star Wars PnP gave a full creative licence to the Game Master to do amazing things to the person, situation, and campaign. The game was far better for it. I even loved the randomization of a bad luck roll that cost me a perma-death member of my Blood Bowl team (in that same article). That was always part of the game and the chance that that could happen made the game have consequence and tension. I could easily avoid that chance by not playing that character but I would lose more games because of it. Choice and consequence are exciting things in games and sometimes I feel like we are seeing less of both.

Truth be told when thinking about randomization in games it’s basically the main vehicle to keep things interesting. Games (across all spectrums – board, card, digital, heck, even live sports!) are built on chance and that chance creates the moments that make the games worthwhile. If not for randomization, we would just be playing math problems – and as much as I like math I also like shooting things in the face and having random things happen around that. In cards, the lone Euchre hand is built on randomization. What cards are dealt in each of the four hands (100% random, but from a defined number of options) what card your opponent leads with (partially random, with some skill based on experience) and when and what trump cards you use. Being able to say “I’m not playing this hand” after it is dealt to you in essence ruins the game. Especially moreso for the person who actually has a lone (or strong) hand to play.  Most board games have rounds resolved (or started) with the roll of a dice – what is more random than that? Taking away the element of chance is taking away concept of the “game” as well. Sure, some games such as Chess have no random elements outside of the human choice made (which is defaulted more to strategic thought) but on the whole – if you are playing or watching most games there are elements of chance and elements of strategy – how much of each co-exist is dependent on the game itself.

I do agree that randomization should not be tied to – or a result of – monetary investment. This is the slippery slope where video games are heading (or at, depending on perspective) and once again it is up to the consumer base to send a message by voting with their wallet. It has been demonstrated that some people actually like that opportunity to exchange their time for money and as such many of these titles will see success with the model and continue to build those contingencies in.

Thankfully we live in a gaming world of choice, and not just chance. It’s far more interesting that there is both.

 

Blog Therapy – Drafts Folder Purge Part 5

I still have pesky drafts sitting in my ‘Posts’ folder from waay back in 2015. I am continuing to examine and decide whether to finish off the post, or delete it to the blog-void permanently.

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

What I am, and Not, Playing (4/30/2015)

Back during #writersblogblock (you know, the online version of writers block – because everyting in blogging has to have the word “blog” in it) I managed to pull of a full two blog posts in April. Two. That is basically my worst month of blog posting during months that I posted at all. I took extended stretches of breaks to deal with a cancer scare and a self-induced divorce avoidance. Those were times where I was more focused on hiding and being in denial than writing about games and hobbies. I literally wrote a couple sentences in this draft mentioning I was still enjoying playing  Baseball on the PS4  and used the quote “In this giant gaming market of choice of freedom” without finishing the sentence. I think it was a general malaise statement – that even with all of that I did not feel inspired to write. This post is pretty common in #blognation when bloggers don’t post for a while they often come back and post what they have been playing to pass the time. I keep a list of all the bloggers I used to follow closely who no longer post as a reminder of old friends and voices gone (or changed). Some of died on that list.  Of course, it is just a tiny snippet of the multitude of bloggers who stop but they were close to me.  I still check them randomly to see if their sites are still alive (many are, just forgotten) and every once in a while one will post something. My hard and fast rule is that if you don’t post for six months you are a Writer Resting In Paradise (WRIP) but you can always come back.  Anyway – off topic here but a clear outcome of kill the draft, save the world.

Emotional Connections (4/30/2015)

I just couldn’t get a third blog post out that month, despite my best effort. While the text wasn’t exceptional it did hit on an area I think games are primed to succeed in:

Games and gaming are immature industries. I am often reminded of this by Tesh.

Wait, isn’t it silly to call a multi-billion dollar industry “immature”? Gaming has been happening for *years* and with it huge productions, programs, studios (etc.) have made (and lost) millions upon millions. I have spoken before about how the industry needs to look to other retail methods and sensibilities that most retail and purchasing habits follow.

Connect with heads and hearts. We use that in retail all the time. You truly can’t win over a customer if you only connect with their head. Their head, will find other and better reasons to shop elsewhere.

Video games are well placed to succeed here. Games naturally play on our intellect with focus and engagement. They also help us form bonds. On a deeper level, some of us traditionally connect better through our online bonds than in regular social situations (stereotypes aside) or have learned how to socialize OUTSIDE of games from the in game parts.

Gaming as an industry acts in many ways contrary to business fundamentals. The churn and burn mentality. The taking as much advantage of your customer base as you can without crossing the line. Eschewing any sense of loyalty or rewards beyond access to their games although loyal customers tend to make up the majority of repurchase decisions. I think gaming companies are fortunate that a lot of money comes from immature consumers and eventually their actions will come back to haunt them. Still – this post resonates with me as I remain very curious and interested in wondering the impact of a gaming company acted like a normal, retail company in how it treats, supports, and engages it’s customers. I do believe there is an opportunity here and have spoken about loyalty and gaming several times. Will be interesting to see the industry grow and adopt. Outcome: treating this post like gaming companies treat customer loyalty. Ignoring it.

Before Midnight (5/21/2015)

The romantic movie Before Sunrise (1995) was a movie I watched with a University sweetheart that immediately connected with me.  I loved the conversations, the actors, the setting – everything. I can still recite the waterside poem by heart. There was a second, Before Sunset (2004) that resolved the ending of the first and introduced new ideas and issues to the lovers. Then the third, Before Midnight, came out in 2013 and I hadn’t watch it yet until I made this blog post. I am not going to give away any spoilers to these movies but the writing is amazing, the characters relatable, and the situation – in all three – is very honest. This, of course, from my novice moving loving opinion. I wouldn’t even qualify myself as a romantic and I think why this movie trilogy is brilliant is that it isn’t made with the romantic at heart. I can’t say much else without spoiling the plot. This post draft explored my history with the movie and themes within and I already had 500 words written down – which is often a regular sized post for me.  All that being said I am hardly going to revise and update a post I started two years ago about a movie that is 4 years old already. Oucome: Not finishing this one as it’s way in the past, like an old lover you can’t forget but still get choked up when you think about them. Even though you have both long moved on.

Better the Second Time Around (06/23/2015)

This was another 500+ word draft that I just didn’t finish. It was based on how much I was enjoying playing Everquest on the progression servers, of which, I already have several posts about. A small excerpt about an old XP penalty for a class that is now long gone – and how taking the old base game and giving some modern day improvements doesn’t ruin the experience.

My Shadowknight is now level 8 (with  around 10 hours played) and that does seem really fast. The old SKs faced one of the worst XP penalties (168% as a troll, I believe). Could you imagine that in today’s MMO landscape? That class/race combinations would level at different speeds? That’s crazy talk. It also didn’t survive and those penalties are gone.

That is like how Monopoly now has debit cards so you don’t have to count all of your cash and have these stacks of funny money that get lost and stack terribly. Some purists may like that torture but I’ll take the quality of life improvements while preserving the core experience any day. This post might be relevant today with the WoW server announcements but i am just not sure if it will hold the same appeal to me. Yes, vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade were formative MMO years and my recollection of trial and tribulations of getting something solo I wasn’t supposed to be able to do with workarounds (still love that experience, and that post!) but those moments have been long removed from MMOs and even though the grind, comradarie, and joy of being “back home” in EQ had some staying power it was still a temporary visit. Like going to a high school reunion and realizing how small the gym actually was, and looking at old class pictures to realize the fantasy of the past was really out of style. Outcome: killing this draft as I stopped playing shortly after, and had the realization that yes – you can go home again – you just can’t stay there long.

Listmas (12/21/2015)

Yes, I had a 2014 Listmas post in the LAST Draft cleanup roundup. Seems I really want to get on board with Murfvs‘s #Listmas push but I didn’t get around to it. For a second year in a row. And now Murf is WRIP, so I will never be able to do a Listmas. I am not great at Blognation events, although I did crush a couple of Blaugust months back when they were a think. I even played around in Anook when there was a push to focus on a blog social platform, but really it was just a place I reposted what I already post.  I don’t even use twitter for blogging – well barely, but I do use it as a resource where I read some tweets and defend the honor of Ketchup Chips. Like a good Canadian.

The Listmas I was going to do was the top 10 things to try as a gamer to get healthy. I started posting about my own health journey where I went from 230 pounds to 175 and the impact it had on my physical and mental well being. Some other gaming bloggers suggest I make that “my thing” as there is a stigma around gaming and being unhealthy – you know, the Mountain Dew fueled 12 hour sedentary lifestyle the gamers embody and often promote. I did a couple posts around that but in the end the information is out there – but you just have to want to do it, commit to it, make small and manageable changes, and not beat yourself up when you fall off your goals (which you will). Key is to fail often. Anyway – this Listmas was going to be about how and what small changes to start with if you wanted to focus on a healthier lifestyle that doesn’t interfere fully with your passionate hobbies. The two can co-exist and I am living proof. Outcome: there are 10 reasons why I am deleting this draft. #10 – Listmas is over. #9 – I am not chronicle-ling a health journey here as a focus. #8 – you get it already, right? ….

Another batch of Post Drafts cleaned up! Sad that I am not building off of any of these but as mentioned in prior posts it feels good to purge the folder. It feels even better to review what I was thinking at that time and where I was planning on going with posts that didn’t make the cut. The best news is that my drafts folder is almost full caught up – I might have one more of these cleaning posts to do.

Blade Runner 2049 – Commentary

Heads up, there will be some spoilers here, so I am going to insert a nice big graphic about Blade Runner that I stole from the internet, and then discuss openly. You have been warned. I don’t typically review movies – I leave that to the experts – because my general expertise and thoughts after I see a movie are two things. First, Did I like it? And secondly, How did it make me feel? I have trouble judging what a good acting performance looks like, progressive cinematic directorial erm.. shindigs? Shenanigans? See, I can’t even make up the right jargon! It’s like how I review wine on Vivino. I can never discern or discover the hints of jasmine undertones and juicy aromatics in a glass of wine. It’s red. It tastes good. It’s affordable. Although when I am really inspired I can explain that glass of wine on how I feel – recent reviews of Ports that I have enjoyed include:

“I went back to this one to see if my tastes have matured. Nope, still a 4. Could have guessed the maturity angle by realizing I still love superhero movies”

and

“Remember your first kiss? It was probably awkward and sweet. Remember your first French kiss? Yeah this Port is like that. More complex and exciting.”

OK. Time for spoiler territory and low-set expectations movie discussions.

First off – if you haven’t seen the original Blade Runner you will not understand most of what is good about this movie. This is not a reboot, or a vehicle to introduce new people to the world of Blade Runner. If you go without the prior knowledge you will be treated to a visual treat and three hours of what the f*ck is going on? I am in camp one. Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies. I have watched it too many times. I have not watched it in 10 years, however, and coming into BR:2049 I was pulled back into that place of wonder – so mission accomplished. I think. I enjoyed every minute of the movie.

The picture above I chose very much on purpose. BR:2049 has a lot of social commentary that can apply to what is going on in the world right now but none so interesting and engaging (to me) as the relationship between Joi – a purchasable video AI companion and Officer K – our replicant Blade Runner.  This relationship is introduced early on when K returns home, wading through hundreds of human beings, to lock himself into his apartment. The AI quickly establishes that it has memory (“I am getting cabin fever”) and a sense of understanding that she loves K and is an important part of his life. Throughout the movie that relationship is deepened, challenged, and eventually, destroyed. This made me think deeply about if Joi ever did exist and if capable of thought – is she alive?

This is all thrown for a loop near the end when K interacts with the giant Joi billboard above – where pieces of what she used very personally to K presents itself in an advertisement to buy the AI that “tells you what you want to hear”. Was Joi capable of thought and connection with K, or was she just following a script as programmed? Throughout the movie the former was explored and seemed a sure thing but this moment cast that doubt. Which makes sense in a movie that was designed from front to back to question what it is to be human anyway. This made me think of our current social media and the interactions we share with people there. Are they true interactions? Are they meaningful? Is that possible through a digital lens?

Adding to my struggle with Joi and what she represented in the movie is that she looks like a woman I have had a crush on since high school, and who I only interact with via social media now (as friends). So it has a real world theme to me. (Defining crush here – we are both married and completely happy – but high school nostalgia is a thing, you know?) Seeing her reminded me of the young her and of course with my beer-goggle Ryan status (Reynolds, not Gosling – but hey, stretching! On both.) The scenes where they interacted had an emotional impact on me. It was very strange, uncomfortable and unnatural. Much like the K’s journey of changing from a robotic bounty hunter to unique being (replicant born, not created) to conceded pawn grasping at what it means to be human (via sacrifice).

And, if you haven’t seen the movie and still read this post anyway, not worried about spoilers, you are probably as confused as someone who didn’t see the first movie and walked into this one. And congratulations – what I just explained covers less than 10 minutes of screen time of the whopping 2 hours, 45 minutes. So plenty more to discover and be curious about. There are so many themes to explore and so much homage to the first all wrapped up in incredible visuals (with slight peaty undertones). Sorry about those last four words, confusing my next whiskey review with this one. They all feel the same.

I label this movie a must watch for fans of the first, and a must watch for science fiction fans who are willing to watch the first movie before seeing this one. It is time well spent.

Straws, Backs and Camels Part 2 : Consoles

My first post about the last straw – losing it on a company was about Electronic Arts. That was way back in 2010. My self imposed EA exile lasted all of almost a year, but I caved in when Dragon Age 2 launched. (Dragon Age is one of the best RPG games out there, ever. DA:2 was a disappointment in comparison, but I still just couldn’t help myself). In the past seven years I am certain there were other principled stands I should have / could have / would have taken but nope, I haven’t. Glad I could so firmly stick to my ideals.

For years I have struggled with the console world. I was X-Box, to X-Box 360  (friends were there), then they switched to PS4 when the new models came out, and I followed. I love PC gaming more for the most part but gaming on a 60″ TV is fun and consoles allow a different kind of gaming with my son as well. There are two things that have always bothered me with consoles. First, is the lack of backwards compatibility. If there was backwards compatibility out of the gate I would definitely have stuck to X-Box One, but once I learned I needed to keep my own system anyway then that gave me the freedom to move to a new system. Both have to stay plugged in regardless. Of course, there is no true technical reason that the old games cannot play on the new hardware except the console makers do not want you playing the old games. They want you buying the new games. So in Microsoft’s greed to try and force me to buy new X-box consoles and games I went to the other team and have spent thousands of dollars between the console, games, and monthly fees. Sorry X-Box, your fault.

The second thing that has always nagged at me is the lack of cross platform play. While console makers have explained this away over the years we learned yesterday just about how much bullshit they have spewed.

Fortnite, by accident, allowed cross-play between PS4 and XBONE. By hitting a switch on their server configuration. The consoles didn’t even have to do a thing. It works as a native function. All of these years of not being able to play with friends, and making purchase decisions based off of that.. I was rarely and perhaps unfairly incensed by that news. Gaming by definition is all about the friends. Console makers are holding back on us because, well, they can. Think of all the times you needed help in a game, or had a hard time with unfair matchmaking, or wish the player base was just a bit bigger on your console so you could enjoy the system and game you bought more fully. It’s available. They just won’t let you have it.

I understand why. Sony, the dominant player, is forcing people to choose because they realize (much like my situation) that people are choosing their console over their competitors. It makes financial sense to them. Although, people who have already made their decision have already made their decision – unlikely someone who has invested their gaming in XBONE after all these years is suddenly going out to buy a PS4. Xbox is getting better with this allowing cross play with PC gamers on titles designed for it (Looking at you, Sea of Thieves!) of which I have participated in and it works gloriously. I doubt the purchase decision is that quantifiable and perhaps as hard to quantify as the extra joy the people who play on PS4 would get by being able to play with their X-friends. Make no doubt about it, not a single console player on either side would not be thankful to have this option. In fact, it’s a no-brainer. In every sense of the statement. I hope enough people care enough to voice their displeasure to Sony.

I’m done. I’m not buying another console game. I’m not supporting Sony anymore. And, if a new console comes out, and for some crazy reason we decide to hop on that train again, it will be going back to Microsoft. This by the very definition is voting with my wallet. Yes, I know it’s not going to have any impact, and I will write emails explaining why to Sony, who won’t care because of the millions of others of people who probably don”t care.  But I do.

 

Start the timer. Let’s see if I can break my previous record. I mean, this is also the very definition of first world problems. Next week I take on people who double park!

Destiny 2 – What Could / Should Have Been

I think the Aggronaut and I are the main discussors of all things Destiny in this corner of Blognation, (Adding Dragonchasers to this short list) so I won’t continue to link to him on each post but chances are you are already reading him anyway. We are on different paths of our initial enjoyment of Destiny 2 and it will be interesting to see how or if they converge at some point. Will his satisfaction start to wane while mine grows over time? Will he stay strong and I’ll hit some new part of the expansion that surprises and delights me ramping up my happiness with the game? Who knows – it definitely will be interesting to see and we’ll no doubt revisit that in the month(s) to come. Because, for all of my issues with it, I do expect to be playing Destiny 2 the way through. I am about half way through the campaign at this point.

I still can’t ignore the missed opportunities. There are several, low hanging fruit that I fully expect in a major expansion, worth of the “2” label. There are many examples of this – Diablo 3 is very different from 2 or 1. Look at the way major titles have changed and improved over the years. A true sequel should be a major step forward  where an expansion is often a small step. Here (in no particular order) are the easy and obvious things Destiny 2 missed out on.

New Class

There isn’t much that is more exciting than a new way to experience a game. A new class is probably the biggest. The Titan, Warlock, and Hunter classes are different enough to be worth playing them all in look and feel – but no reason why a fourth class couldn’t have been introduced. The game did introduce a new subclass to each of the main classes but took away one as well – in the end, you have more of the same. I do like the new subclasses but I also liked the old ones that they took away. Why not have 4? Why not add a whole new class to begin with, with another four subclasses? Why not actually invest some time and energy in moving the game forward?

New  Race

The Humans, Awoken and Exo have always been your options and I am not even that concerned that you needed to add a new player race – but at bare minimum they should have added a new enemy race! No, you are still fighting the fat-bastards from Mars, the sentient microwaves from Venus,  the Walking dead on the Moon not-Zombies and the four armed gang members from Earth all over again. Not a single new race. Each got a few minor tweaks (Fallen stealth classes now shoot from range instead of melee with swords, for example) but we are very much in the “you have seen this before. Nothing new. Move along” territory of it all. And that is extremely disappointing.  They literally mostly spent time recoloring skins on enemies.

New Narrative

Much has been made of the story being front and center in Destiny 2 and they have definitely upped the production value there. I will give them that. The problem is, the story is just bad.  Somehow our defenses that have stood for centuries were easily overcome by a Cabal member and his army and our immortality stolen by a fence put around a moon. For an hour. Then you lose all of your gear and everyone hides on three new planets. You can’t visit the old planets, or areas – they are no longer accessible – magically poofed away – but the new planets have the same enemies with minor changes and soft excuses to go explore them. They didn’t even add voice lines for the hero. They doubled down on the Mute Immortal  Zombie Savior story line. It’s weak. It’s bad. It was mailed in. This was their chance to reset this part of the game (and it has always been my biggest complaint) and they did it very poorly.

There is some Good

I don’t have that many great weapons yet but whoever designed the guns, scoping in/iron sights, feel of shooting should get a raise. The guns feel so very different and so very cool – I always enjoyed scout rifles and recently got one that has a scope on it – not as far as a sniper rifle but just enough zoom – and every time I get a new gun to play around with I marvel with how different it feels and how well they have done with that aspect. Each class now also has a third special ability and that does feel new and great (my Titan can make a half wall, and scoping in/out behind it auto reloads my gun – this makes taking out large groups of enemies from range smooth and extra fun. Bonus is that my teammates also get the advantage. Guilds/Clans looks to be an great new feature – hopefully as a solo player I can find one that will take me in.

Destiny 2 struggles because it isn’t a MMO per se, but a shared world RPG shooter.  The complaints people had about Destiny 1 were given some attention but not really solved, and in some ways it feels like  more was taken away then added. The shooting is still great but I feel like their attempt at a narrative took away from being forced to build your own in D1 – many players probably had a more coherent, believable story line in their own heads for what was going on. I know I did.

When the bosses to date are all re-skins of the old bosses with most of the same gameplay mechanics you can tell this “sequel” should have been called an expansion and they could have introduced these new mechanics on the new planets and left the old worlds around – giving more content for players to enjoy. Instead, we have all bought in on the new title purchase (and many, including myself, pre-bought two DLC packs). I have heard some praise it that this what Destiny 1 should have been and they have dealt with some of the inventory and loot issues (while adding blatant, money grabbing mechanic issues – google “Destiny 2 shaders”) and if you are a new player who doesn’t care about story depth this is an ok place to start in the Destiny IP. If you are a Destiny 1 player who just loves the gun play of D1 and the hunt for marginal, iterative loot improvements this will also make you pretty happy. If you were a Destiny 1 Crucible player you may want to read someone more on the PVP side of things – I know they made smaller fire teams and less control of maps, etc. – but I haven’t done PVP yet. If you were a Destiny 1 player who saw incredible bones of a game with much unrealized potential then Destiny 2 – so far – is the exact same feeling.

I am not giving up on it yet, I will finish the campaign and hope things turn around.

Post Vacation Post

Not sure if you noticed, but I was gone for two weeks.

Add to that, my site went down. I was pretty sure it was a foreign oppressive regime – North Korea or Maybe Russia – but my tech guy claims it was just some update error. Maybe the foreign oppressive regime put that there. My time away from work and gaming wasn’t a full vacation, I was teaching at a hockey camp up in the Muskokas. Hockey camp was a ton of fun and it is always great to teach kids about anything. Muskoka is a beautiful cottage area in Ontario full of lakes, cottage living, and bad internet.

A couple quick observations from being away.

  • Cottage life is amazing life. Spending days at the rink in the summer sounds a bit like madness, but getting back to the rental cottage at 3:30pm, jumping in the lake, going fishing, drinking beer – tons of fun.
  • I didn’t miss gaming that much – I suspect it was because we were so busy the whole time. When I got home this weekend I had a lot of fun booting up Fortnite. Of which, I’ll have another post about soon.

Just letting you know I am back, in case you were wondering. <ahem>

The Oracle Speaketh!

Sometimes, I get it right. Every once and awhile I go read an old post – this is normally because someone else read it and it got a hit and I try to see what lead them to that post. Here is the paragraph from what I wrote in 2008

A side thought to this is to change the MMO subscription model a bit while introducing leasing. Drop the “magical” $14.99 per month sub tag to a lower number, and start selling gold to your own players. That way everyone wins. People who want instant items without the lease (and the gold on hand) can buy it from the MMO company. The people who do, subsidise everyone’s subscription fee so the ones who don’t pay a smaller monthly fee. Company wins from increased revenues. Playerbase wins from decreased costs.

I wrote that way back in 2008. in this post, about a stupid idea about leasing items but hey, is that close enough to say ” I called it?”

Probably not. But for a brief moment it made me feel like writing here all of these years hasn’t been a complete waste. And yes, I barely remember writing it.

13 Reasons Why

I do not watch a lot of TV. I find I get interested in some shows and find them really well done, and get engaged in early seasons. Eventually, and pretty much always, writers on the show change, TV studios realize they have a hit and do everything they can to stretch out what might have been a 3 year planned show into a 5-8 year planned show for commercial purposes. In TV the longer a show goes the more the show provides revenue – and more often, the lower quality it becomes.  It is rare that I am gripped by a TV show. I currently only watch one regularly, a comedy (New Girl) which will have it’s final season next year. Besides that I watch sports or documentaries. I prefer to be engaged in my entertainment which is why I play video games.

I started watching 13 Reasons Why on a rainy day after I read about the controversy. If you haven’t heard of it the premise is simple: a high school girl kills herself but before doing so records 13 tape recordings. Each tape is about a person who helped push her towards this decision. The tapes were meant to be listened to in order by the people she put on the tapes – so the first person to receive the tapes was meant to listen to all 13, and then pass on the tapes to the person on tape two, who would listen to them all and then pass them on to the tape three subject person, and so on, until all 13 people heard all 13 tapes. The show is told through the perspective of Clay, who has a tape, as he listens and explores what happened. I am not going to give plot spoilers here directly but will be talking about general themes about it, briefly.

Through the first seven episodes I found it interesting and worth continuing. It was fascinating to read about experts and schools tear the show apart for glorifying suicide when I watched it from two very different perspectives. One was that of a parent and the show did not hide the the many “signs” of a struggling youth. It did it in a very clever way, through Hannah’s tapes (who we know from the outset did end up committing suicide) but also through Clay’s behavior as the tapes and their content change him, his habits, and actions. The viewer knows Clay isn’t suicidal but to a parent much of how he is acting is similar to that of Hannah in several regards. Just for very different reasons. It was an obvious way to show that warning signs might not be true – or they might.

The second way I watched the show was through the lens of my own High School experiences. I didn’t quite fit in any group but jumped in several at any given time. I always felt like an outsider because of that but also managed to fit in “enough” with wherever I happened to be at that moment. I was a good hockey player, so I fit in with the “jocks”. I was on the school computer programming team ,so I fit in with the nerds. I had a whole separate group of friends that I played PnP RPGs with so I fit in with the geeks. I was a skateboarder, so I fit in the ska-loving half head shaved skater kids. I was a social chameleon that fit in everywhere and no where at the same time.

I was very lonely. I empathized with Clay and felt like I understood how he felt. I also understood the different dynamics in tribal actions and thinking in High School. They existed in my days there too.

13 Reasons Why resonated with me – too much. Episodes 8 through 13 became more and more difficult to watch. I cried. A lot. I think it was just a challenge to watch as I have struggled with my own mental health issues for most of my life alone and in silence. The combined pressure of living the show through the eyes of my high school self and the fears and trauma of watching it as a parent of an eleven year old who may face these struggles as well was just too much. For me. I haven’t had a show make me feel, well, anything in so long that when it was done, and I was trying to pull myself back together I just let myself… be. For a little bit. Then I started thinking about the whole experience.

The show is good, and well acted. There are some plot points and moments where you (might) shake your head but they are few and far between. It is very consistent and engaging. I believe it is a good show to watch, especially if you have kids, because they are watching it. It is very popular among the teen crowds. Watch and understand it so you can talk about it. I also think that despite warnings from schools and suicide groups that this may encourage people to commit suicide I believe that the more kids that watch it the better – because it shows how sometimes little, daily interactions can tear someone down piece by piece until they feel they have no other option. It also tackles far larger and more serious interactions. Maybe it will make kids try a bit harder to be positive and engage their peers, instead of doing some of the things in the show that we know are happening in our schools everyday. Maybe it will make people better understand the impact their actions can have on other human beings – both big and small actions. It should raise awareness of  signs when someone is struggling – and if people are aware then that is the first step to getting help.

When I heard they were doing a sequel, a second season, I did get angry. There isn’t a second book. The characters were all honored to the source material and everything was tied up nicely. The only reason to do a sequel is money. The producers realized they have built these characters and connections and have a great setting for another young adult show – a more depressing version of 90210 and feel that needs to be fully exploited. I do not understand why viewers are not allowed to use their imagination on what comes next to completely close off what is most likely going to happen. It’s bullshit and cheapens how I was made to feel throughout the series. It cannot be better, it cannot get better. It can only get worse. I have never been so disappointed in a television show (and sequel announcement).  I will not watch it as I fear it will ruin the whole experience for me.

As angry as I am about the sequel announcement I do recommend the series and thank it for forcing me to take a closer look at myself, and outward to my friends and community.

Aha Moment, Diversity

I have always been sympathetic to ‘liberal’ social causes. First, I am Canadian and we have a supportive society with a distinct world view. We are just friendly people, for the most part, to use the stereotype. Most of this came from attending a liberal arts university that back in the 90’s was considered ‘gay friendly’. That is a pretty progressive label to have back in the 90’s. I came from a rural town in Canada and while homosexuality was very foreign to me I was in such an accepting and open minded environment that I learned quickly how normal and natural it was. It was even cool, in our little circle of friends and spheres of influences. There was still hate, and bigotry (there always is), but there was also hope and acceptance. Turns out my favorite uncle ended up being gay and hid it until he was able to move away from hick-town and go somewhere where he could fall in love openly and get married. . I use the term ‘hick’ as a term of endearment here. Very small town folk we were/are.

My general viewpoint on equality is that I unequivocally support the exact definition of the word in all societal senses, labels and freedoms even though I am an outsider to many of them. Religious equality (I do not participate in organized religious constructs, but I am spiritual in my own way) Gender equality (Women should be equally empowered. I am a man). Sexual equality (Love whoever you do, openly and without harm. I am cisgender) Racial equality (Humans are humans! I am white). I am an outsider because I embody the privileged, middle class, white cisgender male that is the root cause of what ails the world today (if you read the news). I could only be worse if I was a christian as well, I suspect. This is not my fault – it was the way I was born and brought up, I did not have the choice in this. Please do not judge me based on who I am and my skin color.

As much as a good natured, open minded and progressive cisgender white male that I strive to be I cannot draw from experiences when it comes to racism, or sexism, or most ‘-isms including the own privilege I enjoy. I know it exists, but my cisgender white friends and families are also as afraid of the future as our more diverse friends and families. They are scared about good work and providing for their families. The world is changing in many ways and most of it not good for middle and below home incomes, regardless of what color of skin you are or how you self-identify sexually.  I think no one really feels safe anymore. Not even the rich, because we common folk are coming to get them. (This is part of how I think a guy like Donald Trump gets elected, but another story, and I try to keep this blog politics free).

I try not to get on heavy topics here. I don’t write particularly well enough to ensure I am getting across what I am feeling so typically leave this space to  my gaming whims and child-like hobbies. Still, I do have a point coming up. And that point is that I finally had a moment where I understood how visible minorities have felt for some time about representation in games. Because it happened to me – finally.  The difference is that when I felt it it wasn’t a reflection of the struggles I have had in my real life, or a disappointing  ‘yet another time” I was made to feel small, or an outsider. It was an “A-ha!” moment. One of small triumph. Because I finally had what felt like a more honest and true understanding of the movement for more diversity in games that I have already supported in thought only. It was nice to be able to draw a direct experience to how that made me feel – so I could, for an instant,  and on a very safe level- have a small glimpse of understanding.

I am going to be clear here that I do not think it was wrong, and for me that didn’t matter – it was just a moment of realization and understanding. And because it is such a sensitive topic in general, as you can tell, I am really trying to be clear and cautious about how I present this, because I am petrified to have it come across the wrong way. One more table to set before sharing.

People who read here often understand by now that I am a terrible roleplayer. I do not roleplay. When I am engaged in a game (with a story for the most part) I insert myself into the story. I am not playing as Scott Ryder, I am a my real life counterpart, thrust into the situation by whatever backstory/justification I could think of. When I insert my present-day self into my games I find I can more deeply be moved by them and feel more closely to what is happening to my characters – because it is happening to me.

With that, and the rest of what I have written, in mind, Prey.

Screenshot Credit: The Verge (https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/15/14622050/prey-bethesda-softworks-arkane-studios-science-fiction-game-preview)

Having protagonists with clear Asian decent is progressive, right? I am unsure of how many First Person Shooter games that have. My immediate thought was “this was different – good for them!” and then I wondered how it would be accepted by the gaming community. And then it hit me:

“They don’t represent me. I don’t feel connected to those characters visually.”

That’s the AHA moment, as silly as it is. Those four words (They don’t represent me), probably felt by millions of non-white gamers over decades of being forced to play as white, male characters as the norm and I felt it for my first time. I haven’t even played the game and I doubt that racial selection of the Prey protagonist has any sort of real impact on the game either, but there is the realization that I understand it just a little bit more.

Funny to note I was afraid to write this post – silly, right? I spend so much time reading things on the internet that I felt that just presenting this thought could have negative consequences in this friendly little gaming space. Would people think I am racist because I feel those characters don’t represent me? Would they attack some of the phrases or words that I used? I don’t have much hope for the internet, of course. I do know that I am not perfect and am just a human being, trying to be cool to all other human beings, and learn and get better along the way.

I understand that people who are good at roleplaying might not understand this line of thought and relish the opportunity to be different people, sexes, aliens, etc. Any tips on how to build that comfort? I feel like I am missing out on huge opportunities. Even when I played PnP games in the good old days I stuck to male humans. Boring AF.

Where to Next?

With Andromeda fresh in the books as the most satisfying gaming experience I have had to date I have 3-5 years to kill before the sequel. Plenty of time to try other games. I’m just torn on where to go so I thought I would reach out to Blognation to see what hidden opportunities may be out there. The shortlist I had in mind (and open to a longer list) is the following

  • HORIZON ZERO DOWN – I have a PS4 and know this is a pretty darling game right now, and well reviewed by Blognation.
  • SWTOR – I only finished the main campaign and unsubbed at the first expansion due to ME:A coming out
  • LOTRO – I have had several stops and starts in this game, and I don’t think I’d want to sub it until I built up enough comfort level that I may actually stick around – is it playable if you aren’t subbed to it?
  • SQUAD – the spiritual successor to Project Reality and I havent played a FPS in quite some time (Destiny was the last, which is now unplayable due to impending-exansion-itis)
  • FFXIV – free to play until level 35 makes me feel like this may be my best chance to give this eastern MMO another try.
  • THE DIVISION – I have heard there have been a swathe of improvements – I only got to level 25
  • STEAM BACKLOG – Because apparently that is always a thing
  • EQ – I have been logging in and poking around here and there… not sure why.. but there is an itch!
  • OTHER – I am totally open to trying something new. Most of those ideas are going back somewhere.

If you have a suggestion, and it’s an MMO/Online game you are playing please leave the server name and/or your ID in the comments (or my email if you want to keep it private) so I can has friends in game too. I am a lost explorer looking for somewhere to find right now. My serial nature of gaming really only gives me space to focus on one at a time, and I just don’t have a clear cut number one right now. All seem like an OK idea.

And oh, just for fun, this popped up on my “you posted this 4 years ago” Facebook memories, and figured it would be worth a share for Friday giggles.