Survival Solved

Violated

Right now I am having a little bit getting started this morning.  I went to the cleaners yesterday, and after I got home I forgot to carry in the clothing.  As a result this morning I hurriedly got dressed enough to be seen outside, and went out to the truck to get the laundry.  When I got out there the door was slightly open, and apparently I either failed to lock the car last night… or failed to completely shut the door.  As a result someone got inside and rifled through the glove box and the center console, I can only assume looking for drugs.  They passed up a bunch of change, and didn’t touch my work id badge, or any of the few packs of magic the gathering cards that were deep down in the console.  I don’t really keep anything of value in the vehicle, so I am certainly they were sorely disappointed.  Unfortunately the whole event has left me feeling a little vulnerable, because we live in this super quiet neighborhood…  but every so often something like this happens.  We have a ton of teenagers and I am certain it was probably one of them.  I just lack the gene apparently to fully understand why something like this happens, and I am kicking myself for not having a more proper inventory of the stuff I keep in my car to be able to tell if anything is actually missing.  There is this sense of dread inside me that something was taken that I will miss… I just don’t know it yet.

It seems like another one of those blog award things is cycling through our community, because last night I was tagged by my friend Sandrian.  I was originally going to go ahead and answer the questionnaire this morning, but since it is all about positivity and blogging and all of that sort of stuff… I am maybe not in the right mindset to do it.  I will have to do it before too much longer however, or I will forget about it… much the way I forgot about the last one and then didn’t actually do it until I was tagged a second time.  These things are cute, and mean well but they also often feel like the chain letters of the blogosphere.  They are always interesting ways to get to know the people who are filling them out, but by the same token I always feel horrible for trying to obligate someone else to keep the chain letter moving forward.  While there are no dire predictions for not completing the task, in the same way as chain letters normally have… I still feel nonetheless obligated to complete the task.  In any case… it will be answered in a morning I feel a little less violated.

The Slow Spot

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As far as gaming and happier subjects go, I spent a good chunk of last night playing the tail end of Iron Banner.  I am not sure if they ratcheted the drops down as the week went on, but the last few days after hitting rank five on all of my characters I really didn’t see much in the way of drops.  I was hoping to get more 335 items to use as infusion fodder, but even though I played a dozen or so matches last night, the only thing I ever seemed to get was a bunch of blues, some strange coins and a single class item.  I mean I did get a bunch of drops early on, so maybe there is a cap on the amount of dropped gear you can get from it or something.  Either that or maybe I just had a lot of bad luck.  In any case, right now my lowest item is 330 with the bulk of my gear being between 333 and 335.  I only have boots, gloves and heavy maxed out at 335, so my hope is that with Challenge of Elders this week I will get another piece of armor to fix some of that.  The lowest piece is the 330 helm, so getting a 335 helm would go a long way to bringing up my total light level.  I am just pumped that I managed to get a set of gear that allows me to max out both intellect and discipline.  This weeks Challenge of Elders is going to be strange, in that Melee does bonus damage… but you score extra points through super kills.

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I had every intent of logging in last night to Overwatch and spending the entire team playing that.  However when I actually went downstairs, I wound up riding along with Kylana for some more levels and gear.  The shitty thing about the item set this time for crusaders is that it feels like I need some super specific items to make it viable.  I am sitting at four pieces of Invoker, so truth be told I might jump ship to that set if I find the last two pieces.  I did however solve my survivability issues it feels, because after doing some fiddling I was able to survive incoming damage a whole lot better.  I had fiddled with some stuff one night as an experiment and apparently never flipped back off the rune that made it so I could not dodge, but blocked more often.  That alone was apparently the thing that was completely destroying me when running any content.  Once that got turned off, I was amazed at just how well things went.  I managed to solo a level 30 greater rift, but my damage dealing capabilities are still too low for me to really be able to do that comfortably.  I do however need to spend a bit of time doing greaters so that I can get the rest of the gems I will need, and then also spend some time pouring levels into them.  I think a lot of my lack of drive to play Overwatch is knowing that I am already “bought in”, and also knowing that there will be yet another reset before the game actually launches.  I do however want to get in and play some with Tam, so I will need to check in tonight to see what folks are doing.  It is my hope that I can get home with enough time to run Challenge of Elders in Destiny and then pop in for either Diablo 3 or Overwatch shenanigans.

Flowers and Rank 5s

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Backyard Whim

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One of the interesting developments that has happened this summer is that we are spending a good deal more time outside than we have ever before.  I mean we have lived in our house for seventeen years now… and we’ve never really taken advantage of our backyard.  My wife and I tried to sort out why this was, and I think in truth it was that the back of our house looked bad.  Before moving in during the inspections they found a lot of termite damage on the wooden siding, and the bulk of this was located on the back of the house.  The repair job looked adequate at first, but as it aged… the back wall ended up looking like a patchwork quilt that even with a fresh coat of paint just looked “wrong”.  So in many ways I think it just put us off from being outside and having to look at it.  With the recent renovations and new siding, we also had a door installed off of the bedroom.  Years ago we created a quick and dirty patio with pavers, and now it feels like everything has finally come together.  Sunday morning for example by the time I had woken up and gotten out of bed, my wife was already on the patio off the bedroom reading.  There have been many times during the weekends that we end up eating lunch on the back patio as well.

Now I am not exactly certain where it came from… but recently we have talked about trying to put flowers sprinkled around the backyard.  Granted we have always had a brown thumb, but this resurgence of backyarding…  has made us want to at least try it.  This reached a boiling point Saturday when while running errands we found a couple of planters that we really liked at Sam’s Club, and you can see one of them in the foreground of the above image.  Given that Sams always has a rotating stock we went ahead and picked them up, thinking that if we waited they probably wouldn’t have two of the color we wanted later.  Now I had zero intention of doing anything with them this weekend… I mean because I had Iron Banner and Diablo Season 6 to play.  However before I knew it Sunday we were making a trip to go get rock and potting soil, and plants.  We are massively cheating in that the start of each of the pots is a hanging plant, but so far so good.  Now we just have to make sure they keep watered, but the hope is that since we are spending so much time out in the backyard anyway…  that it won’t be that big of a deal.  For those that are curious I created a nifty panoramic shot of the entire back yard.

Rank 5 For All

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Even though we spent a chunk of the afternoon working on flowers and such, I still managed to make it upstairs on the PS4 by around 4pm.  This allowed me some dedicated time to play the Warlock, and push forward towards Iron Banner rank 5.  I closed with the weekend with my Titan and 333 light, Hunter at 324 and Warlock also at 324 which is significant movement.  I have a feeling that those last two points of light on the Titan are going to end up being pure hell.  However on a similar photo from the 22nd… I was sitting at 324 on the Titan, and 314 and 304 on the Hunter and Warlock respectively.  So I have to say… I am pretty damned pumped about the rapid progress.  The Iron Banner as a whole was very good to me, especially in the equippable gear and infusion material categories.  I managed to get all of the available gear for this week, minus a pair of legs for the Warlock.  There are numerous copies of the Auto Rifle, Rocket Launcher, and even managed to pick up a sidearm and sniper rifle from Rank 5 packages.  It has been interesting playing all three classes this weekend, and I have to say that in truth… I think maybe the Warlock and Hunter are just inherently better at crucible than my Titan.  It feels like they have a lot more tricks up their sleeve, whereas the Titan is just pure brute force.  Warlock Blink seems to be the best escape method for getting out of an engagement, and Hunter throwing knives seems to be the best finishing move ever.

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As far as the sniper rifle goes that I managed to pick up, I am not exactly a huge fan.  It has Eye of the Storm, Speed Reload and Spray and Play which in theory would make it an insanely fast sniper rifle, but given its low impact…  I question how useful it really is.  For crucible at least you would have to land so many shots to make the kill, and it is hard enough to nail a single shot let along multiple at range.  I will probably end up holding onto it just because it looks really cool, but I have a feeling that sooner or later this will get infused into something else to bring up its light levels.  As far as new snipers go, I am still a much bigger fan of the 333 Her Fury that I managed to pick up from my Challenge of Elders this week.  High impact, paired with Triple Tap and Armor Piercing rounds makes it something enjoyable to use.  Tonight I have plans to hang out upstairs at least for a bit and try my luck at getting more of that tasty Iron Banner loot.  It would be amazing if before the end of the weekend I manage to get more of the 335 items to help push up other gear.  As far as the rest of my Destiny schedule for this week it feels a little up in the air.  I did not set foot into Kings Fall last week, and I would really love to remedy that this week.  The thing that sucks is that I am now in a position where the only benefit I will see is from a hard mode run, given that all three of my characters are now over the 320 light level that normal drops.

Crusaders and Guardians

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Season Six

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While I greatly enjoy the concept of the Developer Appreciation Week… I am always somewhat happen when it is over.  During the week I feel like I have to be making posts along that them, so when things happen that I want to talk about…  I end up pushing them down until the week is ultimately over.  Now as I sit here for the first unfettered post in awhile…  I am finding it super hard getting started.  The biggest happening of this weekend is that Friday evening at 7pm my time the newest Diablo 3 season began.  For season six I opted to roll a Female Crusader, because I had so much fun playing as one last season.  I have this general goal of getting a male and female of each class eventually, but that also means that someday I will have to finish playing that mage and attempt to play a witch doctor.  The only problem I am running into is that it feels like what made the crusader so amazing last go round… was the fact that the Invoker set was just phenomenal.  Now that I have my six piece Akkhan set, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as powerful as I did last season.  In fact while the set dungeon was a breeze for me last go around, this one is only causing chain wipes.  Granted I am not nearly as geared as I was at this point last year, in part because I am not getting drug by Carthuun.

When the season started we ended up with six people on the guild discord, and as a result we split into two three player teams.  Ultimately ending up with me and Grace playing together, with Solaria and Kodra joining up for short periods of time.  Towards the end of the evening Kylana was with us as well as the other three player team ultimately disolved with Ashgar got pulled away for work, and Callalil went to bed.  I myself only lasted through level 60, because that was ultimately the point at which I was starting to fall asleep at the keyboard.  So I went to bed around 11pm and the rest of the group pushed onward.  Yesterday morning Grace and I ended up playing together, and she helped me get the rest of the way to 70, and unlock my gear set.  She was sitting over 100 paragon levels, which means that more than likely Carth is sitting around 300ish.  At some point I will join in his Torment X shenanigans because I really need some gear.  All in all it was a great start of the new season, and at some point I will sort out my spec and with gear should be able to solo more stuff.  Right now the challenge is finding thorns on gear, and I have ended up burning through all of my materials trying to enchant away useless stats and turn them into thorns.

Banana Split

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Another awesome happening this weekend is that yesterday while waiting on folks to show up for the AggroChat game of the month show, I managed to push my Hunter to rank 5.  This is the first month that I managed to get to characters to rank 5, and I’ve since started working on getting the warlock there as well.  My hope is that after I finish knocking out this blog post I will head upstairs and work on that.  Iron Banner has been really damned good to me, letting me amass a lot of gear and weapons that will ultimately either get used as is or serve as infusion fodder.  In theory I should probably be doing matches on my Titan with the hopes of getting more 335 items, but it feels good actually working on my other characters.  After playing the hunter I can absolutely see why they do so damned well in the crucible.  Throwing knives are amazing, and I had so much fun yesterday finishing off people with them.  I still feel like golden gun however is the least exciting of the supers, but I am getting used to using it to optimal efficiency.  There was one point where I managed to get three kills in a row with it and earned the way of the gun trophy.

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Over the course of the week I have picked up so much gear, with the latest acquisition being a 335 Tormod’s Bellows.  The only challenge here is that I am not sure if I will keep it or infuse it into one of my heavy weapons.  I could really use a 335 sword… just saying.  The funny thing is… I got the 335 drop on my absolute lowest level character while working on the Warlock yesterday.  So I am wondering if maybe the buff in faction that you get for pushing up additional characters does something as well to the chances of getting max light drops as well?  In any case another Iron Banner has come and almost gone, and I have loved every minute of it.  I finally sorted out why I like PVP in Destiny and never have in other games.  There is something about getting real loot at the end of matches, as opposed to a currency in lieu of loot that can maybe someday add up to be enough to get something interesting.  I love random chance, and I love being rewarded with interesting stuff.  More so than that… I love getting not quite perfect items… and then trying to figure out how to use them to my advantage.

DAW2016: Final Day

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Developer Appreciation Week is here!  For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster.  The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios.  As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better.  That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole.  So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there.  If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.

The Roundup

Today draws to a close this years Developer Appreciation Week and there are always more things that need to be talked about than there was time to do so.  During the week I wrote about five different studios.  Some of them were pretty pointed discussions, and others were just nostalgic romps.  What is always left at the end of the week however are a bunch more than I COULD have talked about. So the purpose of today’s post is to recap where I have been this week and do a few shorter blurbs.  Here is the rundown of studios discussed this week.

Now here are some topics that ultimately got left on the cutting room floor for lack of time.

Bethesda Softworks / Zenimax Media

Ultimately had I not taken a break for a day this would have been the missing topic.  I have this huge love for Bethesda games in their own right, but over the years they also snatched up iD software and became a third party publisher for amazing studios like Arkane.  The root of my love however comes from the modern Fallout and Elder Scrolls Franchises.  These are games that I can lose myself in for hundreds of hours and still feel like I have not even begun to scratch the surface on what there is to see.  There are so many times in the past where I have lost entire weekends to exploring Tamriel or the burnt out husk of the Capitol Wasteland.  I will also always have a soft spot in my heart for Elder Scrolls Online, since it feels like I have a closer connection to that title than most.  It has made me pretty happy to see that the game is now thriving after a pretty rough start.

Larian Studios

I love this company, in spite of the fact that they have seemed horribly confused as to what sort of game company they actually wanted to be.  They have this world that is amazing, and each game they have released has told a piece of the story of its background.  The only confusing part is that each game for the most part has been in a vastly different genre.  You have Divine Divinity which was originally a Diablo style game… and then the follow up Divinity II which has a very Elder Scrolls/Dragon Age type feel to it.  Then there is Dragon Commander which is this strange 4X mixed with RTS elements.  Finally you have Divinity: Original Sin that feels like the game they always had been meaning to create.  The title is so insanely content dense that I have trouble actually making any progress because I keep finding something else that is interesting to check out.  In the very first town it felt like every single NPC had some interesting backstory to delve into.  I just love that a game company is out there trying to create all of these different game types, and for the most part succeeding at it.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every single Larian game that I have set my hands on, and look forward to playing more in the future.

Supergiant Games

This company makes some really amazingly detailed and well crafted games.  Bastion had so much going on, from the physical mechanics of gameplay… to the amazing running narration.  I was also a huge fan of the soundtrack and have spent many an hour with it running in the background.  When Transistor came out, I was shocked that I loved everything about that game even more.  We have devoted at least three podcasts where we have gushed about Transistor, and how well written the story was…  which combined amazingly with the soundtrack and gameplay.  Now Supergiant has a brand new game that they showed at Pax East called Pyre.  At first look it doesn’t exactly seem to be my sort of game, but I know from past experience that if they have crafted it…  then chances are I will ultimately love it too.  I am amazed how they can seem to do it every time… build this completely unique experience that I still love just as much as their others.

Gearbox

This company comes with some baggage.  I unequivocally love the Borderlands series of games.  It has such amazing characters and writing, and manages to pull off a sort of self aware comedy that is extremely hard to do in a game.  Most “comedic games” fall short, and end up not quite translating into actual humor.  Borderlands has mastered the art of telling a real story while making me go into full on belly laughs at times. This in itself wouldn’t been all that amazing, but it is on top of a really damned solid shooter.  When I first heard the concept of “Diablo with Guns” I was not 100% sure I would be sold.  However playing the first Borderlands I was completely bought into the concept, and then Borderlands 2 came after improving quite literally everything.  Now I am not sure if I am sold on the notion of Battleborn, but I am giving it a shot because of the pedigree and some of the single player videos remind me a lot of the things I loved from Battleborn.  Now when I say the company has some baggage…. this is also the studio that released Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines.  I am just hoping that Battleborn ends up feeling more Borderlands… and doesn’t add to the detractor column.

Bungie

I feel like I have to write about Bungie, but I also didn’t really feel like I had enough ammunition to really do a full post.  I was never a Halo player.  I never owned an Xbox, and when I played the PC port it didn’t feel all that amazing as compared to the game I was super into at that time Unreal II: The Awakening.  I feel like Microsoft did a massive disservice by keeping a strangle hold on the Halo franchise, and does to this very day.  However when I first saw Destiny… I knew this was going to be a game for me.  In fact this was the game that ultimately made me buy my PS4 and learn how to play a shooter with a controller.  While the game didn’t really grab me and keep me during year one… year two and the Taken King expansion have been amazing.  I love this game so much and over the course of the last few months it is really my primary game.  While I loved the Diablo 3 season launch last night, there was a little part of me that would have rather been playing Iron Banner in Destiny.  The game has its hooks in me hard, and it really has become this perfect package of game play feel, with a reward system that makes it feel like my time spent was worth it.  Seriously bravo to Bungie for the creation of this game… the only thing that could make it better is if it released on the PC as well.

 

DAW2016: Square Enix

SquareEnix

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Developer Appreciation Week is here!  For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster.  The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios.  As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better.  That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole.  So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there.  If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.

SquareEnix

I knew sooner or later I would end up needing to do Square Enix because at various times during my life they played a huge role in shaping how I looked at games.  Lets go back to a time and a place where the only gaming news I got was through Nintendo Power magazine.  In one of those issues I was first introduced to a game called Final Fantasy.  For ages I had been looking for the personification of Dungeons and Dragons in game form, and while the gold box games did a decent job of doing just that… there was always something missing.  Final Fantasy bridged the gap and gave me precisely that, along with a story line that made me care about all of the dungeon crawling.  I remember being so insanely excited when I went to a nearby Walmart and they had this game in stock.  The only negative was that within a short few days I would be heading to Boy Scout camp for an entire week.  While I normally loved camp, this was quite possibly the most miserable week of camp I have ever experienced.  All that I really wanted to be doing was playing Final Fantasy from the comfort of my bedroom… and instead I was making campfires, and hiking up sharp flint rock strewn paths.  When I finally got home, firing up that Nintendo and playing Final Fantasy was quite literally the best feeling ever.  Regardless of how exhausted I was from a week of camp, I still ended up pulling an all nighter and getting through that damned Marsh cave.

When Final Fantasy 2 was released… aka Final Fantasy IV for the rest of the world… it once again dominated my life for a period of time.  I was completely blown away by the graphics at the time, and also amazed at how much more complex the story line of that game was.  This was also the point at which I learned the hard lesson of save at every single save point, because of a bad mishap with the Magus Sisters.  The game also introduced the term “Spoony Bard” into my vocabulary and for that I will always be grateful.  This was also the first game that gave me characters I had no interest in playing…  I am looking at you Edward and your inability to do any real damage.  The game also gave my quite possibly my favorite goofy archetype of character…  the Dragoon, with its amazing but also sometimes frustrating jump attack.  I was completely hooked on the notion of having this huge cast of characters that I could switch between at will…  but then ultimately only ever seemed to play with the same party ever.  For the most part that party was Cecil, Rydia, Kain, Rosa, and Edge… with that last spot being highly variable as I went through the play session.  This is really something I do even today when I play for example a Bioware game.  In Dragon Age Inquisition, my party is pretty much permanently Cassandra, Dorian, Sera and my character.

It wasn’t until High School that Final Fantasy 3 was released…  or Final Fantasy VI for the rest of the world.  I remember it coming out around Christmas break and at first I rented it…  which was a truly dumb idea given that the Super Nintendo didn’t have memory cards.  The main reason for this was because the game itself was something stupid like $85 when it released, which was an awful lot of my limited resources at the time.  However after a few days of playing the game I was making a trek to the big city to try and find a copy.  After searching a dozen different stores I finally found a copy at Target, and much to my shock it was on sale for only $65.  I am not sure exactly sure what it is about Final Fantasy VI, but for whatever reason I think this game will always be my favorite.  I tend to love games that pull a bait and switch on me, when you think you are nearing the end of the game… only to realize that the world just got much larger and instead of being nearly done… I was just barely starting.   I also have a soft spot for a lot of the characters in this game, because it managed to make me feel things that video games had not really succeeded in doing up to this point.  Ashgar and I have had a conversation about this… and for me the game that did all of these things was Final Fantasy V.  However for me… that game was not available and didn’t even receive a fan translation until I was well into college.  The two games do a lot of the same things, I just happened to experience six first.

Over the years there has been a string of Final Fantasy titles always in my life, and several non-FF series games that I loved as well.  For example I love beyond love Vagrant Story, and I remember playing the hell out of it when it came out on the PSX.  I also spent more than my fair share of time playing Chrono Trigger, and the subsequent follow up games.  Then there are games that I wish would get a reboot like Parasite Eve that were so amazing for the time in which they came out.  Essentially there has always been some Square Enix game somewhere in my life, be it Bravely Default that I am slowly working my way through on my 3DS downstairs on my bedside table, or the Kingdom Hearts collection I have sitting beside my PS3 ready to start in earnest.  All of these are in fact great experiences, but the one I feel like I really need to talk about is the miraculous rebirth of Final Fantasy XIV.  This game was released in 2010 and was essentially universally despised.  I remember getting into the beta for it and finding it just largely uninteresting more than anything.  I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t really feel anything about it.  So I was more than happy to return to World of Warcraft, and forget that the game existed.

However in August of 2013 the game relaunched as A Realm Reborn, and I have to say I was shocked at just how much I liked the title.  We played for a handful of months until our group ran out of content that we could realistically complete.  Then July of 2014 I decided to fire the game up again, because I wanted to see how it had progressed in our absence.  Final Fantasy XIV was one of those games that our group left on good terms.  What I found waiting on me was this rich cache of content that laid untapped.  Over the next several months we had what could only be termed as a renaissance of MMO gaming all centered around this game.  I was happy to raid once again, and happy to be doing pretty much all of the tropes of a MMORPG.  What made all the difference was the loving way in which this game was being crafted.  I have to give huge shouts to the localization team and namely Koji Fox.  Final Fantasy XIV is so amazingly well written and is packed full of more feels than most games ever manage to muster.  There is content that will make you painfully belly laugh, and other times infuriate you for all of the right reasons.  Then there are moments that will make you cry… and there are certain cut scenes in this game that even the mere thought of will summon up the waterworks.

While I am currently on a break from the game after burning myself out again with the launch of Heavensward, I know sooner or later I will return and be happy to do so.  Heavensward was quite possibly the expansion I have looked forward to the most from any MMORPG that I have played, since maybe the launch of Trials of Atlantis in Dark Age of Camelot.  Unfortunately much like ToA…  I got my expectations up way too high, and the content drought that followed the launch ultimately ended up with me stopping playing.  However as a couple of patches have built up for me, I plan on returning soon…  probably after I get the upcoming Diablo 3 season out of my system.  I am happy to know that there is still a very thriving guild presence in this game waiting on me.  I have a feeling that sooner or later we will all return for yet another renaissance of MMO gaming and when it happens… it will be in huge part to just how great Final Fantasy XIV turned out.

Lucky Banana

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Strange Dream

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This morning I am opting to make a more traditional blog post rather than an other DAW post because…  well the DAW posts take a lot out of me.  It takes a lot of effort to summon up this hardcore reminiscing, and after doing four of them, I need to take a day off.  I am sure I will return tomorrow with another segment.  Though it seems like not that many people are joining in, and it was a little disheartening the other day when a friend of mine called it a marketing gimmick.  In truth we forgot about it this year, and I felt that it was bad that we forgot about it.  Normally speaking this thing is supposed to happen during the last week of March, but instead I rescheduled it to happen the last week of April because I didn’t want a year to go by without this thing happening.  I feel it is important for us as players to remember that the games we often complain about… are made by actual human beings who just want to do a good job.  So it only seems fitting to spread a little love around during a single week in the year.  I don’t really get anything out of doing it, and I am certain Scarybooster didn’t when he first started doing the event back in 2010.  So if it is a marketing gimmick it is a piss poor design.

I’ve been pretty sick over the last few days, a combination of allergies and asthma, so last night I decided that I really needed to turn in early and get a full nights sleep.  I had a really strange dream as a result and I can only assume it is due to me not exactly being all here right now.  So I had this dream that I was being thrown a birthday party, but instead it was all of my internet friends.  There is a lot of the dream I am already forgetting but there were some really strange moments.  For example my friend Tam that I record AggroChat with, had this circa 1980s Lisa Frank folder with a rainbow colored tiger on it… and inside he had written on big chief notepad paper…  these summaries of different pen and paper character archetypes.  For some reason Markiplier was there, which I found odd because I only really know of him from various Pax panels.  He ended up getting me a gift called a “Cat Tether” which is supposed to be I guess like a cat leash?  The box looked like it came from the as seen on television aisle at Walgreens.  The rest of the dream is pretty fuzzy but I thought it was strange enough that it was worth writing about.  In any case I feel more rested this morning and feeling a little less horrible, so I guess it worked?

Iron Banana

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The other reason why I wanted to take a day off from DAW is that I want to talk about the current Iron Banner.  Largely I want to talk about it… while there is still enough time to people to get into Destiny and participate.  In the past loot from Iron Banner felt like it was few and far between, but it seems like Bungie cranked the switch up to 11.  On average it felt like every three to four matches I was getting a piece of legendary gear.  This week the items up for grabs are boots, class items, Tormod’s Bellows Rocket Launcher, and Haakon’s Hatchet a bullet hose type Auto Rifle.  The loot that you get as drops seems to be limited to these four items that are available.  From the moment you hit rank 1, aka after your first match/bounty turn in you seem to be able to get either the Class Armor or Boots.  When you hit rank 3 the weapons start dropping, and I got my first Hatchet from that next match after hitting the rank.  The rank 3 package sadly is only a 320 artifact, which isn’t all that good for infusion, however all of the items that you end up getting are.  For most of the matches I have been sitting between 327-330 depending on my weapon loadout, and all of my gear so far has been 332-334 with sadly no 335s as of yet.

RemotePlay 2016-04-28 06-30-43-35

Over the course of my matches so far I have managed to get four Auto Rifles, six boots, six titan marks, and a single rocket launcher.  Now the dropped variants have wildly differing rolls, but I managed to latch onto one that wasn’t too horrible and have been using it for most of the banner.  Hip Fire sadly is useless on an Auto Rifle, but the other stats on this one are pretty great.  Right now I am a little over half of the way to Rank 5, and the goal is to buy the vendor roll which is phenomenal and infuse this 334 into it.  The vendor rolls for pretty much everything are really good this time a round, and if I actually cared about rocket launchers I might consider picking that one up.  If I ever use a rocket launcher I am going to use Truth for the tracking ability, because I suck at using rocket launchers.  Other things I have figured out, is that 330 seems to be the current cap for faction packages, because during the course of the last few weeks I have turned in a ton of Future War Cult, Vanguard and Crucible packages… and essentially everything I have gotten stopped at 330.  The funniest thing is that the last three Crucible packages have all rewarded me the exact same primary scout rifle The Saterienne Rapier, one of which was worth holding onto because it had hidden hand and explosive rounds… however the bulk have served as infusion fodder allowing me to bring up weapons I will actually use more often.  As far as Scout Rifles go… I am most likely to use my brand new Hand of Judgement that I pulled out of Challenge of Elders this week.

 

DAW2016: Bioware

BiowareLogo

DAW2016_logo

Developer Appreciation Week is here!  For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster.  The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios.  As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better.  That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole.  So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there.  If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.

BiowareLogo

This is going to be a difficult one to tackle, especially since I didn’t get a ton of sleep thanks to the tornado warnings.  However I am going to give it to good college try, and hope that the end result turns out at least not too shabby.  I first became aware as Bioware as a company with the release of Baldur’s Gate, or more so the existence of what I later came to know as the “Infinity Engine”.  I have been a fan of Dungeons and Dragons since I first found a players manual abandoned in a locker on the last day of school in second grade.  Finding that book spawned a lot of things, not the least of which was trying to hungrily gobble up anything TSR related.  I played the “gold box” series of games, namely because I had read the novels behind a lot of the stories.  There was just something missing with the game, and while I enjoyed them at the time they never really felt that good.  The story that was being told felt limited by the meager technology, and while I was happy enough with the end product…  that only lasted until I had played my first Final Fantasy game.  Baldur’s Gate was the title that brought me back from my console days into once again believing that the PC was a great platform for role-playing games.

Subsequent games were released…  Icewind Dale, Baldurs Gate II and even one of my all time favorites… Planescape Torment… all using this “Infinity Engine” I have to admit I got a bit of the wrong idea behind what exactly the company Bioware really was.  In my mind it seemed like Bioware was the tools company, and Interplay, Black Isle, or later the reboot Obsidian were the game creator.  It wasn’t until Neverwinter Nights was released that I really started to understand that Bioware was both the tools division and a lot of great storytelling wrapped into one package.  Neverwinter Nights was one of those revolutionary games for me personally.  While the original campaign was awesome… it was the inclusion of the aurora toolset that set my mind on fire.  At this time I was playing a lot of Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot so I tried to replicate some of my favorite features of those games using the Neverwinter engine.  I learned the C Script language and figured out how to code things like randomly generated loot from tables when you opened chests or killed mobs.  I also eventually figured out how to create a token based system along the lines of the one that allowed you to purchase armor in the Darkness Falls dungeon.  The end result was this amalgam of the EQ Plane of Hate and DAoC Darkness Falls that I called the “Plane of Spite”.  While I never did anything really interesting with it, I loved every single moment of working on it and figuring out the inner machinations of this engine.

It was not really until Knights of the Old Republic that I hopped back on the Bioware fandom, and I remember being crushingly disappointed when I learned that the title was going to be Xbox Exclusive.  Thankfully later that year it came out for the PC and I was absolutely thrilled to be dissecting that game world as well.  I loved Neverwinter Nights for its technical precision, and the Aurora and Infinity engines for giving me this awesome framework to go out and explore worlds in.  However KOTOR was the first time from Bioware that I was completely stunned by the storyline.  Last week we went into a discussion on AggroChat about the best Star Wars stories, and by the end of that show all of us pretty much came to the consensus that Knights of the Old Republic was if not the absolute best story, it was at least among them.  There are moments in this game that had shocking revelations that I have never quite recovered from.  Even though the engine is dated, and the graphics look like crap compared to what I am used to… I can still play this game happily over and over just because it was so damned well crafted.  I’ve bought it for others, and even own the mobile port of the game.  I feel like this game more than any set the tone for the modern incarnation of Bioware.

I ultimately for one reason or another skilled Mass Effect at launch, and instead picked up the Bioware banner once again with the release of Dragon Age: Origins.  During this period of time I was raiding in World of Warcraft rabidly… but there were a few weeks where I completely dropped off the face of the planet, and it was thanks to this game.  I was just completely enthralled with the world and the setting, and the concept of the dark spawn and deep roads.  I am a Dwarf at heart, so I loved every single moment of Orzammar.  My first play through was as a Dwarven Noble, and I have to say after all of the subsequent play sessions that is still the one I cherish the most.  Much the same as KOTOR, it was ultimately the characters that set this game apart from the others I had played.  They felt so fleshed out and three dimensional, and I actually cared about interacting with them.  I am a huge proponent of smashing things with a big weapon, and games that allow me to slaughter by the hundreds… but it is significantly harder to find a game that makes me feel.  Dragon Age made me feel so much, and during this time I had a really interesting encounter.  One of my guildies invited me to tank for some friends of his, and when I popped onto voice chat we had some of the usual getting to know a new person discussion.  I mentioned that I had been playing a ton of Dragon Age… and it was at this point that they started grilling me about this character or that, or what decision I made where.  It turns out that I was ultimately raiding that night with a bunch of the writers, and you could almost hear them beaming as they proudly chimed in that they wrote this or that as I gushed about various details.

With the release of Mass Effect 2, I later went back and became an addict of that series as well.  I still wish that someone would make that into a Walking Dead style serialized television show, because the story that is being told is among the best science fiction tales ever.  It just seems a crime that the only folks that will ever see the story, are the ones who have played through the game.  Then you of course have the release of Star Wars the Old Republic, that my friends and I tore through rabidly when it launched.  I burnt myself out on that game but recently a bunch of us ended up going back and remembering just how damned well written all of the story arcs really are.  At some point soon I want to go back and finish where I left off which is the start of the Revan content, and try out the new experience fallen empire content that I have heard so much about.  For sake of time though I am going to wrap things up, because otherwise I could probably carry on for a dozen more paragraphs talking about all of the things from Bioware games that I love.  It is a great studio, and while I was scared that EA would destroy its spirit… I have been pleasantly surprised that the core values of the company and the creative might seem to keep trucking along happily.  I look forward to more adventures be it with Andromedia or the next great IP that we have yet to experience.

DAW2016: Blizzard Entertainment

BlizzLogo

DAW2016_logo

Developer Appreciation Week is here!  For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster.  The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios.  As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better.  That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole.  So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there.  If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.

BlizzLogo

This morning marks the conclusion of three years of daily blog posts, and the beginning of year four.  As a result I thought it was fitting to do Blizzard Entertainment today since it is one of the companies that I have the most longevity with.  I have a complicated relationship with this company, and if you scroll through the back log of this blog you will find times when I am bashing them and times when I am praising them.  While I knew of the existence of Orcs vs Humans, I didn’t really come into the fold until Warcraft II:  Tides of Darkness.  I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of RTS gameplay, but the thing that sold me on this game and the company as a whole was the level editor.  Prior to WC2, my life pretty much revolved around Doom II and making custom maps for it using MapEdit for windows.  Trying to get things to work as I hoped they would was always a struggle, and MapEdit had this nasty habit of completely destroying maps in the process of making them.  That said I didn’t want to mess with constantly having to shell out into DOS to get the “good” Doom map editors to work.  So when I encountered a “good” windows map editor for Warcraft 2 I was enthralled and hooked, and began churning out “PUD” files left and right.  To be honest I spent far more time in the level editor than I actually did playing the game.

However when I truly became sold on Blizzard as a company was with the release of Diablo.  They essentially took everything I ever wanted in a hack and slash dungeon crawler and made it work in vibrant isometric rendered 3D glory.  I can remember many an hour in the Art Department lab that I was supposed to be monitoring playing Diablo, or fiddling with the meager modding tools available for it.  I even own a copy of the barely mentioned Hellfire expansion that allowed players to crawl through the dungeon as a Monk.  What made this game so revolutionary however was the introduction of Battle.net.  Prior to Diablo networking in games was pretty much limited to IPX/SPX which meant that you had to more than likely be sitting on a corporate or college Novell network to play them properly.  There were clients that you could use like Kali that you could run to emulate IPX/SPX networking over TCP/IP, but in doing so you also added a bunch of lag to the process.  The introduction of Battle.net meant that over a TCP/IP connection you could dial into a server and play in a hosted environment… and it just worked with minimal fiddling.  So much of that time sitting in the lab was because I was connected to the college T1 line and able to play lag free on the Battle.net servers.

Later on with the release of Starcraft I ended up building my own windows network back at the trailer my wife and I lived in during the last years of college.  The middle bedroom was my computer room and in it were two desks with two computers connected together over a super cheap coax peer to peer network.  With this setup my cousin and I played so many co-op and versus games, but the majority of these were afternoon long matches of Starcraft.  We were both base builders, and in the process kept trying to build impregnable fortresses to keep the other out.  There was a sweet joy in sneaking that ghost over and listening to him scream obscenities as the game told him “Nuclear Launch Detected”.  The next big game that I devoted large chunks of my life to was Diablo 2 which launched shortly after I entered the work world, and what was ultimately my second job out of college.  I had by then been pulled heavily back into console gaming, devoting most of my time to playing the Sony Playstation and imports on the Sega Saturn.  When Diablo 2 launched however all of that halted and I was back to being chained to the PC, devoting every moment to figuring out the inner workings of this new game.  When the expansion launched and the Druid class was released, that became my jam.  I am really hoping that at some point down the line they give us another druid to play with because that class was insanely fun.  I loved having the various animal companions fighting with me, which in part is why the World of Warcraft Hunter class appealed to me so much at first.

In large part by the time Warcraft 3 was released, I was largely tired of the RTS genre and instead addicted beyond reason to a series of MMO games…. starting with Everquest, continuing into Dark Age of Camelot, Horizons, and ultimately City of Heroes.  We were happily playing CoH when everyone started talking about the next Blizzard game…  The World of Warcraft.  At first I was super snarky about it, joking that I didn’t see how Blizzard could do an MMO given that most of their games only had just enough story to keep them from falling flat on their faces.  Then I got to see the game when a friend of mine got into the closed beta and he brought the client up to work.  I was completely and totally hooked and wanted more.  Most of us managed to get into a stress test weekend, and I remember that it was the weekend of my ten year high school reunion.  All I could think about was getting home and playing more with my friends.  During the beta weekend I played a paladin and a friend of mine played a holy priest, and those two classes had this amazing synergy together.  I would crusader strike things, debuffing them against holy damage… and he would burn them down with smite.  Sadly this ultimately died by the time the game was launched, but it hooked me on the concept of the game…  so much so that when I returned to playing City of Heroes after that weekend it had just lost its luster.

I was a devoted acolyte of World of Warcraft from the day it launched, forming House Stalwart that morning by creating a couple of throw away characters to generate the money needed to buy that guild charter.  From there I stayed happy and engaged through two expansions, and it was ultimately not until the sweeping changes of Cataclysm and several years worth of pent up frustrations and drama that ultimately caused me to leave the game.  Now World of Warcraft is much like a friend from High School that you get along with extremely well… in small doses.  This is the part of my relationship with Blizzard where things get complicated, because it is hard sometimes for me to remember that they are not the “World of Warcraft Company” but instead this company I have had this storied history with since 1995.  They are this friend that has given me countless hours of enjoyment and wonder as I wander around the the worlds they have created.  So while the shine on Warcraft has dimmed for me… it is still polished to a sheen on Diablo 3 and Overwatch and I hungrily gobble up every last morsel of information on them both.  I also greatly appreciate games like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, even though I am not really regularly playing them.

The truth of Blizzard is they have this innate ability to take an idea, and render it down to only the bones…  and then build back upon that notion this fun and polished experience.  The RTS genre was cludgy and unwieldy before Warcraft.  As much as I adore Baldur’s Gate… it is not the clean and easy to pick up experience that Diablo was.  Similarly Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot were these arcane and difficult to begin experiences, and World of Warcraft finally brought MMORPG gaming to the masses.  This invokes so many different feelings in people, but you have to respect their ability to distill the pure essence of a thing and then amplify those “best characteristics” into a finished product.  For me this is exactly what they have done with Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and ultimately Overwatch.  Even though I sometimes am critical of Blizzard, I will always be among their biggest fans.

DAW2016 – Undead Labs

undeadlabs

DAW2016_logo

Developer Appreciation Week is here!  For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster.  The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios.  As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better.  That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole.  So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there.  If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.

undeadlabs

I was first aware of the existence of Undead Labs back in November of 2009 when articles started filtering onto the various MMO news sites that this company had spun off of ArenaNet to create a zombie themed MMO.  Firstly I am a huge fan of all things Undead, and I started watching any news about this upstart company to try and glean bits of information about the upcoming game.  Few things make me happier than slashing my way through hordes of the walking dead, and I’m enough of a fan of the George Romero movies that I have a vial of dirt from the graveyard that the original Night of the Living Dead was filmed in.  With time it was announced that they had set their sights on creating a really solid single player experience instead of an MMO, which honestly was probably a really solid move given that by the time the game would have released…  the MMO market was looking a little shaky.  On June 5th of 2013 the resulting game, State of Decay was released exclusively on the Xbox Live Arcade, and I bought it the moment it was available for purchase.  If you were to craft a perfect Zombie game…  you’d have State of Decay.  I loved everything about it… minus one little detail.  The game felt like it was originally designed to have co-op support if not a fully fleshed out MMO experience.  However as excited as I was about the game I took to my blog and made a post talking about my day one impressions.

Shortly after making the post I had Annie Strain the wife of Undead Labs founder Jeff Strain interacting with me on twitter.  This really told me that this game studio was a little different than the big polished institutions I was used to interacting with.  Everything about Undead Labs seemed like a big family, rather than a business.  I had the fortune to interact with a handful of them at Pax South 2015, as they were ramping up to launch both their pokemon-esc mobile MMO Moonrise and the State of Decay: Year One Survivor Edition.  Just talking with them really brings home this feeling of them all being in this together.  The best part however is that they really do make amazing games, and over the years since State of Decay has launched I have purchased it for so many of my friends.  I even purchased the disc copy of YOSE for my boss, when I found out he had just purchased a Xbox One.  While he is not a big gamer, he was a huge fan of The Walking Dead… and as a result is now also a huge fan of State of Decay.  Once again… the only problem with the game is that it begs to be a multiplayer experience.  We’ve talked about this before on our podcast, but if we could explore that game world with friends it would truly be one of the best games released on any platform.

Another huge boon about Undead Labs is the insanely hard working Sanya Weathers.  If you have been around the MMO industry since the early days, there is a large chance you know that name.  I became aware of her during my time playing Dark Age of Camelot, and always appreciated the job she did trying to wrangle the crazies and help out the folks who really needed assistance.  Within the community management circles she is a bit “infamous” for her blogging days.  Regardless of how you might remember her, she is one of those forces that it wouldn’t matter what company she was working with… I would pay attention to them from that point on.  I am hugely thankful of my own interactions with her during the lead up to, and after Pax South 2015.  I would not have actually had the interview with Undead Labs were it not for her reaching out to me on twitter, and that sort of proactive nature is just awesome.  It was heartbreaking when the Studio announced that they would be cancelling Moonrise because I was right there with them pulling for it to be the next big breakout hit.

One of the folks that I met with during Pax South was Geoffrey Card the Lead Designer for State of Decay.  Since the convention I’ve followed his movement a little more closely and found that he does this amazing series of live streams.  What is awesome about these streams is that he tends to grab various folks from Undead Labs and streams over the pacific timezone lunchtime.  The thing that I find valuable about them is the way that the various folks end up breaking down the games as they are playing them, and deconstruct what elements are really well done and what elements could use improvement.  A lot of the games that I have seen him play are other zombie genre titles, and it feels like he is trying to grok everything that is going on in the title so that he can absorb it like a sponge and burn it down to the purist element to use for inspiration on State of Decay.  As someone who has always been a bit of an armchair designer myself, I find the process valuable and it also serves to give the watchers a bit of a glimpse into the inner workings of the game studio itself at times.  If you are into that sort of thing, I highly suggest you check the stream out sometime.

The best thing about the Developer Appreciation Week construct, is it gives me open season to write love letters to the various companies that I really respect and appreciate.  Undead Labs is one that I knew without a doubt that I would be touching on during this week, and I am really excited to see whatever the next thing is that they are working on.  Part of me is crossing my fingers hoping that we finally get either a co-op experience or a full fledged MMOized State of Decay.  Regardless I will be watching any news about this great studio with interest.

DAW2016: Trion Worlds

DAW2016_logo

Developer Appreciation Week is here!  For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster.  The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios.  As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better.  That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole.  So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there.  If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.

trionworlds_wht

So this year I am kicking off developer appreciation week with Trion Worlds.  2011 was a bit of a fraught year for me as far as gaming goes.  Cataclysm had just landed in World of Warcraft, and I was reaching this point where I found myself falling out of love with that game.  Early in the year I had friends who were talking about this new and exciting game called Rift.  It turned out that it was precisely the sort of experience I was looking for.  If you had put onto paper every single feature that I ever wanted in World of Warcraft… you would end up getting a feature list that looked a lot like Rift.  While it failed to gain serious traction with a number of my friends, it was my gaming “main squeeze” for quite a long time.  So much so that I ultimately rebooted this blog into a Rift fan blog, and became an official fansite listed on the Rift game website.  From that point onwards Rift has been one of those games that is always somewhere in the background of my life.  One of the most awesome things about the launch is that I ended up striking up a friendship with some of the folks responsible for building the game.

Now over the years I have done the same for various companies, but I was remarking the other day how few of those folks are even in the industry these days.  The ones that are still in the industry are rarely at the company I first knew them through.  However in the case of Trion Worlds, all but one of the folks I knew there… are still there and seemingly happy five years after the launch of Rift.  That tells me that Trion as a whole is doing something right to keep employees engaged for that length of time.  As with every company in the MMO space there have been a lot of false starts, and some cancelled projects… but I have been pleasantly surprised that they have managed to weather that cancellation of these projects.  Rift for example started as a subscription game, and successfully navigated the transition to free to play, with one of the more viable cash shop models out there.  Sure there are some things that they do that I find egregious…  like the various mounts that can only be found on lockboxes, or the constantly limited sale mentality.  Overall though even with all of these things taken into account, I find them a really great company and I am always interested in whatever they happen to have going on.

One of the more interesting experiences with Trion was the development cycle for Trove.  This was really the first time that I had ever seen a AAA title do a fully NDA free Alpha program.  Even more interesting than this however is the way that this game community embraced Reddit.  There are no official forums for Trove, but instead they have an open community on Reddit that has also spawned a separate sub Reddit for users to submit creations.  I love that when you pick up an item in game, it tells you which user in the community designed it.  The only problem with this development style is that it felt like Trove was constantly changing, and in drastic ways.  There was a period of time when I would log in and never quite know what design decisions would have been made in my absence.  The end result is a really fun experience, but it was interesting to see these false starts and reworks happening in real time.  Trion as a whole seems to genuinely care about and cherish their player base, and they were one of the first companies that I can remember embracing Discord as a means of keeping in contact with the player base.  There are a number of discord servers that I am on that have devs and community staff publicly available for conversation, which goes a long way into making players feel connected.

I feel like Trion also has set the gold standard for interacting with the community on a regular basis.  Each Friday they do a lengthy Twitch stream where they alternate through a series of back to back shows dedicated to each of their games.  During these shows they of course do the standard give away construct, but also have the folks actively working on the games in the hot seat to answer questions live from the community.  These also serve as a place where players often get a first glance at upcoming tech, features and content.  Savvy players have learned how to read the comments from the community folks, and been able to glean additional information pretty regularly.  While updates have slowed down significantly since the frenetic launch days of Rift, they still put out a steady stream of content.  The negative over the years has been that two of their products they have limited control over.  So I feel like they have maybe taken unnecessary flack over both ArcheAge and Devilian at times, when in truth they only run the servers and manage the localization… but have little to do with the overarching development direction.  Localization is going to be a structure that we see more and more of, since South Korea is still going through a bit of an MMO renaissance, like we did in the 2000s.  I feel like they have done a better job than some other localization efforts, but could still have some room for improvement.

Ultimately… while I can go for long periods of time between playing Trion games, logging into them always feels a bit like coming home.  So if you have never played Rift, Trove, Defiance, ArcheAge, or Devilian I highly suggest you download Glyph their proprietary launcher and check them out.  The upcoming Atlas Reactor seems really interesting, like a sort of competitive X-Com, but also not really my sort of gaming experience.