Let’s Go Thoughts

dsxs_v3uuaanbdx

dsnk9jeu4aetews

Without really intending to… this weekend became largely about Let’s Go Pokemon, the new Pokemon game that released on the Nintendo Switch Friday.  I went with Eevee, because quite honestly it is one of my favorite Pokemon largely for the sheer versatility that is available in the evolved forms.  The starter Eevee however will be permanently locked in its adorable pupa stage, and I am mostly okay with that…  as it keeps me from having to try and figure out which way I want to evolve my Pokemon.  I decided to give my Eevee the super adult name of Wigglebum.

dsxtfs5ucaa9ebm

Similarly I decided to give my rival the super adult name of Buttface, because in most of the other Pokemon games that I have played… they turn out to be a dick.  Unfortunately this one is rather awesome, and constantly cheering us on and giving us free stuff.  Now I feel sorta bad when I am in a cutscene with the two of us…  and I see the monaker that I unfairly bestowed upon them.  Blue however is around to play the role of the butthead, but even he seems better behaved than I remember him…  or in my case it was Red that was the Butt since I played Pokemon Blue not Red.

dsoftonu4aatfnt

A few days ago my friend Hestiah posted a thread where she commented on a few of the Pokemon Go names that she came up as she caught them.  This made me realize how generally boring I am when it comes to catching Pokemon, in that I never actually give them names.  Maybe it feels better when I send them back to the professor to grind into candy if I didn’t name them in the first place. Ultimately she is the one who inspired all of this serious adulting… and has trickled down to the individual Pokemon as well.  ZappyGirl started her life as ShockyRat, and then I decided to name her based on the whole Zappy Boi  meme…  and thankfully this game lets you rename your charges whenever the hell you want to.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-19-06-22-02-75

The interesting thing about Let’s Go as a game is that it seems way the hell more sticky for me personally than any other Pokemon game to date.  The truth is I don’t really like Pokemon combat, and it always felt weird to be beating up on random woodland creatures.  In this game it has adopted a Pokemon Go sort of approach where the individual Pokemon appear and you walk over to them to engage in a capture session… where you have all of the same tools as you do in the handheld game.  If you are playing in handheld mode you simply center the screen on the pokemon and throw the ball…  if you are playing docked you have to do some motion controlling nonsense with a dettached joycon in order to capture.  I am super disappointed that I could not play with my Pro Controller and just mimic the same behavior I do in handheld mode…  as such I am largely playing this game undocked which sorta makes me a little sad.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-19-06-19-56-84

Traditional combat still exists and is reserved for dueling other trainers, which feels a little better than kicking the ass of every random pidgey that happens across your path while roaming between two areas.  Wigglebum however is a soul less killing machine and gives zero fucks about beating up her kin.  She believes in Highlander rules… and there can be only one Eevee.  The interesting thing about random trainer battles is just how insanely lucrative they are, and the fact that apparently you never really need to buy Pokeballs in this game?  Most battles reward anywhere between 3 and 5 Pokeballs… and have just started paying out in Great Balls helping me keep in stock of those as well.  When I am playing in motion control mode I fail an awful lot so I am guessing they are paying out to help stop the frustration of Nintendo and their determination to make me do stupid shit with my hands while playing their games.

dsxs_v3uuaanbdx

The game feels extremely good and while it is mimicking Red and Blue… that doesn’t somehow ruin my experience because I have not played either of those since 1999/2000ish on a Gameboy Emulator?  This is mostly a fresh experience to me and while it seems really familiar… I can largely chock it up to the fact that ALL Pokemon games feel somewhat familiar.  I spent just shy of 9

hours over the weekend playing Pokemon Let’s Go, and while that might not sound like a ton of time… it is for me when it comes to a Pokemon game.  I tend to bounce off of them pretty fast, and this time I just kept playing…  until my switch battery ran out… and then went upstairs to dock it and try playing some more.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-19-06-22-53-52

I am not terribly far progressed, but at this point I have made it through three Gyms and quite honestly the only one I had any issues with was Misty and the Water type gym.  The only real problem there was Starmie and its inexplicable fire type moves???  I limped through it, but I had to take two runs at getting through her.  Surge and Brock were both easy as hell and largely fell over when I attacked them.  There are a bunch of weird moves that you can teach your starter, and according to Ashgar…  while they have horrible names they are actually really good.  So I might make my way back to that NPC and try a few of them.  So far Doublekick and Tackle have been my money attacks… and everything else seems to largely be expendable.

dsxs66xu4aadew6

Ultimately the game is super charming and if you like the concept of Pokemon, but maybe struggled a bit to get into it…  I highly suggest you check this game out.  If you are a Pokemon purist, some of the changes might frustrate you… but then again it is a Pokemon game so admit it… you are probably going to play it anyways.  I’ve linked my Pokemon Go account but have not made it to the area of the game where it allows you to swap stuff back and forth.  Last night Ash and I were going to try trading some stuff, but I ultimately fell asleep…  so I will try and catch up with him tonight and do that thing.  All in all… super fun game and my wife was shocked to see me playing it instead of something with more death, gore and dismemberment.  There is still a time for childlike wonder in the Tales of the Aggronaut.

If you are so inclined… we also talk quite a bit about the game on the podcast this weekend.

Hellgate Disappointment

hellgate_london-screenshot-2018-11-16-06-05-03-50

hellgate_london-screenshot-2018-11-16-06-05-03-50

If you have read my blog for any length of time you will know that I have a hot burning and undying love of the game Hellgate London.  I played it originally at launch and was of the few suckers who actually ponied up for the subscription plan as well, with its extra events.  There were a whole slew of us that were playing World of Warcraft at the time, that took a break and started playing Hellgate as effectively our primary game.  There was in fact a House Stalwart guild in game that was pretty damned active for awhile…  but sadly a very short while.  The game released on October 31st or 2007, and in 2008…  Flagship Studios filed for bankrupt protection and all assets including the intellectual property of the games they were working on… were seized by Comerica bank.  Namco Bandai kept the servers going through January 31st of 2009 and after that point it was effectively a single player only game.  The assets were eventually sold to T3Fun/HanbitSoft a South Korean game developer who took the unreleased assets and spun up a few new areas of the game centered around Seoul.

In 2014 the game showed up on Steam as Hellgate Global which was being run by a HanbitSoft Connected company called T3Fun/Redbana Corporation.  Hellgate Global was an MMOized version of the game and featured a number of micro-transactions that added some “pay for qualify of life” type features like an item that would identify all of the items in your inventory instead of having to do them one at a time.  Similarly there was an item that would deconstruct every item in your inventory at the same time.  I actually played this game for a bit, and noticed that the difficulty was massively watered down and these mini bosses were added in every so often that served as a loot pinata.  It was entertaining but also nowhere nears a compelling as the original game, and it eventually shut down in January of 2016.  Recently Hellgate once again showed up on Steam as a game that was coming November 15th… and last night I purchased it for myself and a couple of Aggrochat members.  One to grief him because I sincerely doubt he will like the game, but he also once gifted me a copy of Bad Rats.  The other however because I think she will absolutely like the game…  that is if she can get past the frustrations with this version.

My hope was this would be an easy way to get people in and let them experience Hellgate London.  Previously the best way to play Hellgate London was to either Amazon or Ebay a copy of the old game and then install Hellgate Revival to bring it up to more modern standards.  There is even a side project called London 2038 that acts as a server emulator, allowing you to play online with others and restoring much of the functionality of the game.  My hope was the Steam version would bring a lot of these improvements to the game and make it as easy as purchasing and installing to get in and play.  Unfortunately after last night…  the route I just described is still the best way to play the game.

hellgate_london-screenshot-2018-11-15-19-17-15-01

First of all we have to talk about how HanbitSoft has seemingly changed the story of Hellgate London, by introducing a some equally questionable animation tacked onto the front of what is still the most epic intro sequence from any game.  The original game is largely the story of Doom… rifts from hell open up and a bunch of demons flow into our world and decimate it.  They however shifted it to be a battle between the light and the dark in ambiguous terms, that maybe work better for a South Korean audience than the biblical hell on earth story of the original.  The other big problem is that seemingly this is a game that was taken from the original English…  localized into Korean…  and then has now been localized back into English.  We’ve all seen the memes of what happens when you pass something through google translate too many times… in fact my favorite is a twitter account called Rosewatta Stone that does that with Magic the Gathering cards.

hellgate_london-screenshot-2018-11-15-19-43-07-08

There is an awful lot of jank going on with this game, from the completely unskippable tutorial sequence that keeps popping up how to do everything… and then will freeze your character in place until you perform whatever the hell they are asking you to do.  To the fact that the textures are extremely muddy and are way lower resolution in a few of the areas than the base install of the original game.  Hellgate London was a game with a bunch of different tile sets for lack of a better term, and they were constructed out of a series of themed prefabs…  and this one in particular seems to have fared the worst which is the cityscape with rubble strewn through it.  Others like the train station tileset, seem to have gotten a much higher resolution texture treatment and as such look significantly better.  The problem is however that this experience feels extremely uneven…  like they got bored while working on the game and only focused on the areas that they liked the most.

hellgate_london-screenshot-2018-11-15-19-28-39-09

This is effectively the same version that was released as Hellgate Global from what I can tell, and as such it includes a handful of classes that were not available in the original release.  I am however a creature of habit and wound up rolling a Guardian again… which is the class I always tend to play when I play Hellgate.  I am a sword and shield tank, but again you can see the unbalanced nature of the textures.  That shield looks perfectly fine… the armor however is blurry and washed out.  It also has the weird intro sequence where it places you in what used to be the cash shop hub of the game, before sending you to your first destination.  None of the cash shop vendors still exist, but that was effectively a player lobby that allowed groups to gather up, and it seems like there is no real way to get back there once you have started actually playing the game.  It definitely comes off as them quickly singlerplayer-izing what was designed to be a rudimentary MMO cash grab.

hellgate_london-screenshot-2018-11-15-20-19-12-32

The thing that cracks me up the most is the inclusion of the Korean warnings about play time.  After paying an hour you get the following message to pop up in the chat window “You have been playing for 1hour.  Excessive game play may affect your lifestyle.”  This is one of those loot pinata bosses that I talked about, and when you kill them you get a fountain of loot most of it blue or higher quality to come pouring out.  All of this aside the game was largely playable once you got past that forced intro section.  That is until I started encountering some more serious issues with the game.  Shortly after the hour mark I started encountering some massive slowdowns, and at first I thought maybe there was a memory leak in the client.  However upon restarting the game and getting into a fight the same things started happening again.  I think this might be an issue with one specific spell effect from a specific type of monster, which are the the demons that crawl around and then throw fireballs at you.  The moment one of these sends this spell effect in your direction my framerate bottomed out.  This is coming from me playing on an i7-5820k with a Geforce 1080 ti…  so more processing power than this game ever dreamed about having initially.  I finally had to stop playing last night because it was impossible to do anything…  because I kept hitting these framerate walls.

hellgate_london-screenshot-2018-11-15-20-26-11-72

Ultimately I still love Hellgate London and I happily played for about two hours until I encountered the issues.  I was hoping that the Steam release would have actually had some effort put into it, but unfortunately that is not the case.  The positive side is that right now it is selling for a little less than $10, so it isn’t like even with the three copies that I bought I am out a significant amount of money.   I am hoping that the modding community decides to fix these issues, because it is probably something as simple as the fact that the game inexplicably dropped Direct X 10 support and is only allowing Direct X 9 for some reason.  If you really want to play Hellgate London, you are still better off digging up an original copy…  installing Hellgate Revival and then using London 2038 to play on the multiplayer servers.  I have a feeling in the coming days I will be doing this thing again just to see how different the experience is.

I hope that HanbitSoft will patch the game to make the experience less frustrating, because I still would love to see the Seoul levels as well as the Hellgate Tokyo content that supposedly was added in to the game as well.  I am not however holding my breath that any of that is going to happen, and more than likely this was just a quick cash grab that I got suckered into by my love of this franchise, and the nostalgia of all that it could have been.  I’ve spent thirty bucks on dumber things, so in the end I will be just fine.

Mobile Core

walkingdeadourworld-2

walkingdeadourworld

I’ve been on this journey of discovery, that largely started with the negative reaction the Diablo Immortal reaction had in the community as a whole.  Sure there was the pent up disappointment that we had waiting for Diablo 4, but it seemed to go way further than that.  There was a reaction that most of the Diablo fans had, myself included… that mobile gaming was somehow “not for them”.  Right or wrong there has been an impression among PC and Console gamers that mobile gaming was something “casuals” did, and that serious gamers were playing games on other platforms.  I am not even sure if this was ever the case, but it feels like things are changing drastically on this front, largely because mobile devices have improved greatly over when I was trying to play a Diablo clone on my Palm Pilot back in 2003.  Like I have said before when I fail to understand something, I tend to pour myself into trying to figure it out, and as such I have been playing a lot more mobile games lately.

walkingdeadourworld-2

One of them is The Walking Dead Our World, which at face value appears to be a Pokemon Go clone for The Walking Dead.  Sure I knew Pokemon Go fans were hardcore and established raids and such on a regular basis…  but that more or less is in spite of the fact that Nintendo still refuses to accept that the internet is a thing that exists.  Our World seems to be a game that takes the idea of PoGo but extends all of the things we have learned about clan/guild play and internet connectivity.  As a solo player it is largely a game about clearing infestations, picking up supply caches and rescuing survivors.  As a team however it changes drastically, and in truth were I not now part of an active clan I probably would have faded away from this game long before.

walkingdeadourworld-3

The game more or less suggests you join a group, and then suggests the ones that are active in your vicinity.  The biggest problem I had was finding one that was not outwardly racist, trumpian, sexist or anti-LGBT.  It was shocking to me to see just how many groups had something like that in their message, thankfully I found this one that seemed to be reasonable and largely focused on getting objectives done.  Now I don’t know any of these people in real life, but they apparently live in the near vicinity of me…  and a lot of the locations that get called out over chat are places in the surrounding communities.  There is a Weekly Challenge system that involves performing a bunch of objectives and then unlocking rewards as a result.  Last week I believe we made it through four maybe five of these challenge boards, each time earning really good loot and the in game “upgrade” currency.  What I find the most interesting is that everything I see in the social chat that I largely just lurk in…  mirrors the exact same behavior I have seen in MMO Guilds.  They are all working together on a shared objective and focusing on specific things that they can bring to the table.

walkingdeadourworld-4

The game has this interesting system that allows players to drop a flare at a specific location, and then other players in your clan can teleport to that location and be able to farm the objectives there.  I’ve seen this a few times when someone happened across an area with a cluster of epic missions for example.  The game tends to follow the television shows, and if a character has a major role that week… then immediately following there will be a number of seasonal missions that show up awarding the cards related to that player.  I’ve also seen my clan drop flares when they find a cluster of a specific type of walker needed for an objective…  like over the last couple of days we have been working on killing armored walkers with Darryl, which as such lead to my load out in the above screenshot.  It of course has a cash shop, and while it is pretty pushy about advertising what is for sale…  it doesn’t appear like you actually need anything from it pending you are willing to wait things out.  Similarly being in a clan tends to help make sure you are rolling in resources.

Mostly I found it shocking to see the exact same MMORPG behavior on a mobile platform.  I will admit I largely thought that Pokemon Go and the dedication of those players…  was more attributed to the source material and less something that you find on mobile devices in general.  However as I have dug into Dragalia Lost I have run across some seemingly super hardcore players there as well.  I think the tides are shifting, and maybe those of us who proclaim to be PC or Console gamers need to update our mindsets.  Sure mobile gaming might be “not for you” but the low barrier of entry… and how well all of these games run on my $300 unlocked android phone…  makes it accessible to a market that may not be able to purchase a Console or a Gaming PC…  but is damned likely to have a mobile phone that they use as their primary source of internet access.  As a developer I have watched the numbers skew over the last few years on the large site that I maintain professionally…  and previously we used to see 10-15% of our users coming in off mobile devices.  Now that has reached a point where 49% of our users are either on phones or tablets, which has created a massive shift in how we approach content.  It is not shocking that game developers have started to do exactly the same thing.  I may not be super happy with this trend, but I am now at least starting to understand it a bit more.

Leaving Flatwoods

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-06-26-32-78

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-06-26-32-78

Yesterday it turns out that I was not crazy, and that Fallout 76 was in fact active and fully launched for most of the day.  When I popped in to get a screenshot for the blog post, I noticed that it was allowing me to hit play…  and sure enough I got in with a half dozen people roaming around the map.  The funny thing about this is I remember doing something similar during the launch of Elder Scrolls Online and getting into that game several hours early.  I guess it pays to be patched up and ready to go when Bethesda launches a new game.  The funny thing is though, since I knew the game was available it caused me to approach launch day with a lot more chill than I normally have.  This is also helped out by the fact that I had a character with progress that carried over from the beta, and I didn’t exactly feel a rush to get to a point of sustainability quickly.  Now that said I am always seeming to need a source of food and a source of water and weirdly enough a source of wood… to keep boiling said water.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-21-48-09-11

For most of the beta I spent my time around the Flatwoods area, which is one of the first towns you encounter…  if you actually follow the quest directions.  However it is an area rich in resources and quests so in theory it is a pretty good idea to go there first.  We did a jaunt to the far south at one point and captured the Poseidon power plant as a Trio, but I never managed to make it to Morgantown which was where the next major quest objective was directing me towards.  So I set forth on a journey that would take me up Interstate 59 to Route 64 and on into the basic vicinity of Morgantown.  I largely followed the highway system in part because I figured if I were doing this for real… I would wind up doing that as a way of keeping track of where I was going.  Sure I could have set a waypoint off in the distance and made my way across the open terrain, but I was curious what attractions I might be able to find from the highway.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-21-51-55-04

Roughly halfway down Interstate 59 I encountered a Slocum’s Joe which for the uninitiated is the Fallout Universe version of a coffee/donut shop.  On the road beside it however was something magical…  I am guessing this player spent every last minute of the beta hoarding resources to build this really awesome base, giving him one hell of a start for when the game launched proper.  What was creepy however is that the mutated hounds were flopping stuck in the side of his fortifications.  They were one of the random encounters I ran into along the road so I am guessing they attacked the base… and then got gunned down but the two turrets up above.  My previous camp location had the problem of constantly being attacked by feral ghouls, and in one case they managed to damage the turrets and make their way into the base…  and I logged in just as they were taking out my  generator.  So as such I started thinking more defensible fortifications…  and this guy here seems to have a great design…  minus the fact that the steps are wide open.  Maybe the NPCs can’t walk up steps so good?

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-22-43-13-12

When I got to Morgantown I found this bridge with an eyebot moving back and forth across it playing its patriotic theme…  and behind it was leading a trail of rat pups pied piper style.  I watched the bridge for quite a bit and nothing else seemed to be pathing across it due to the fact that this neutral/peaceful event was programmed to take place there.  This gave me a bit of an idea…

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-22-44-55-69

As such I opted to move my camp and reconstruct it underneath the bridge… thinking that this map feature might make for a slightly more defensible outpost.  This was well and good until I realized that the ground was just uneven enough to make erecting a barrier of fences nigh impossible.  I’ve built as much as I realistically can at this moment because I have run out of resources.  However the area surrounding my camp is full of logs, so my hope is they will have re-spawned each time I visit the camp and can keep harvesting a decent amount of lumber that way.  Additionally I am on the outskirts of Morgantown, which should serve as fertile scavenging grounds for parts to make more stuff.  The camp being nearby will let me shuffle loads of things over to it and dump them in the machinery there to free up my inventory.  I need to learn to pair down my weapons and carry only the things that I know I will be immediately using.  The truth is I have largely settled on my serrated machette and my trusty 10 mm pistol…  but in both cases I need to build the level 10 version of each I think.  Unfortunately my building spree has run me out of other resources as well.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-14-06-11-47-30

The biggest takeaway from last night is that this is in fact a Fallout game.  My wife got home super late and as a result I largely played things other than fallout until around 7:30.  By 8 pm however I was deeply engaged in the game and did not really look up or pay attention to the time until a little before 11 pm when I hurriedly scrambled off to bed.  Another friend managed to play until 4 am without realizing it.  When you are focused on this objecting or that while exploring this deceptively large and densely populated map…  all other things in the world sort of fade away.  I still have not really encountered any players in a negative fashion, and while they are out there… once I left the Fallout 76 proper area and Flatwoods especially…  I stopped encountering them.  That is not to say that there are not players out there… the above screenshot I took to show off where my camp is located and you can see a number of dots sprinkled around the map representing other players.  That seems like a large number for the roughly 6 am when I took it.  More than that however I learned a few key pieces of information about why the world is the way it is… and what happened to most of the people that were remaining.  That however is a tale that I am going to save for another time, given that it factors on some serious spoilers.

Shock to the System

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-12-20-10-44-18

img_20181112_085418

Yesterday I had the day off and I am sorta thankful for that.  It means that I missed driving in the first snow of the season.  It isn’t that the roads would have been slick or anything… it is just more a case of folks acting crazy in inclement weather.  As a result I stayed home and dealt with the air conditioning folks doing our winter maintenance checkup on the system.  I also spent a good deal of time playing various video games and also making a batch of Chicken Tikka Masala.  My wife unfortunately did not get the day off and as such I wanted something to warm up her belly when she got home.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-06-17-56-16

While waiting on the folks to get here, and while they were doing their thing… I played a lot of Diablo 3 on the Switch and have moved on into Act 2.  I like this port of the game quite a bit, but as I have talked about…  mobile gaming just doesn’t fit that cleanly into my life.  If I have access to my other machines I would probably rather play them…  and the switch is just heavy enough to be awkward to play while laying in bed.  However I heard last night that apparently the Switch version is what Tamrielo needed to really get into the game as he now has a Necromancer in its 60s… which is significantly higher than I think he has ever gotten a character before?  The controls feel good, but for someone who is super used to how things work on the PC… it is taking a lot of adjustment.  I equate it to someone reciting a poem you know in a foreign language…  you understand what they are saying but there is a lot of translation happening.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-06-15-37-19

As far as most of the day… I spent a good deal of time playing Path of Exile…  and I really need to figure out how to leave public channels.  I also decided to spend a little money with the game and bought one of the supporter packs that they are just about to phase out when the new expansion releases.  I figure at this point I have gotten enough joy out of the game that I really should pay something for it.  This gave me a bit of cash shop currency which I then used to get a better looking weapon and shield…  though I am wishing I had gone with something else for the shield because it does not match the outfit at all.  Basically my gameplay tends to revolve around Molten Strike, Blade Vortex and Leap…  everything else is largely superfluous and as such I am completely cool losing W as a keybind to give me back the move forward functionality I am used to in Diablo 3.  I flirted briefly with binding leap to spacebar, but ran into issues with the game needing a close all windows keybind to replace the spacebar I took.  Once I figure out a decent option for that I might go back to spacebar for leap since I prefer having a movement key bound there.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-12-20-10-44-18

As far as Monster Hunter World goes…  I am in an odd place where I need some Kirin+ items…  but for whatever reason do not have access to High Rank Kirin.  I spent a good chunk of the night trying various quests to try and whittle down whatever it takes to unlock the High Rank version of the fight, but failing miserably.  Essentially I need a couple materials to get the last of my layered armor pieces from the Kulve Taroth event… and I am not sure if I will still be able to do the turn-ins after the event or not.  I know that I can craft Kulve Armor without issue, and have gathered up more than enough mats to make a full set of that once I farm up the Elder Dragon gems.  I’ve been sitting at Hunter Rank 49 for awhile now, which means that I have to take down a Tempered Kirin.  Last night I made several attempts and while one came super close…  there is always the problem of someone fainting.  In this particular run it was me that failed…  but in others I managed to stay alive 100% of the time and someone else got the carts.  Ultimately I will get through this… but in reality I just want the parts from it and could care less about moving my Hunter Rank higher at this very moment.  Time to research what exactly I need to have already completed to unlock the needed High Rank hunt.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-06-20-58-20

There are so many games right now out that I’ve not had a chance to really devote much time to.  On the 16th another one gets added to that stack in the form of Let’s Go Eevee…  because Eevee is way cooler than Pikachu.  I need to figure out a better way to spend time with the switch because I have quite the backlog right now…  because I have not devoted anywhere near enough time to Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate or Starlink Battle for Atlas.  The only problem with Switch games is that they look like crap on my 4K setup upstairs, and they are not quite comfortable to play in bed.  So I need to figure out a happy middle ground where I feel comfortable playing the games and will also be willing to give up playing something on the PC.  Yes I realize these are the first worldiest of problems.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-13-06-30-12-37

Also in the extreme stack of games that need attention…  Fallout 76 launches I believe tonight?  Look when someone says Midnight I never quite know if they mean which specific night/morning.  I believe it launches tonight at Midnight EST, but when I popped in a moment ago to take screenshots the servers were up.  I am wondering if this was by accident, or if they are just going to let people trickle in that happen to try it.  Sadly I have work, but I can in fact verify that everything from my B.E.T.A. character is there and functional…   minus one turret that I placed on my base.  I am not sure if it got blown up, or if something glitched and it fell below the world or something.  Regardless Fallout 76 is either launching tonight… or has already launched and it will be tonight before I get to give it any attention.  I had a lot of fun with Kodra and Tam running amok, and now I am left with the decision of… do I play my already level 10 character from beta or do I roll something fresh.

Captain K

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-09-19-47-45-59

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-09-19-47-45-59

I am all over the map right now when it comes to video games.  I am in this weird holding pattern where I am playing a ton of different games, but none of them for terribly long in a single sitting.  I also managed to garbage out my left pinky this weekend which is making typing surprisingly painful.  Right now my average night involves at least one Kulve Taroth match in Monster Hunter World, and then flipping over Destiny 2 to try and score another powerful/prime engram for the evening.  From there I bounce all over the place… lately that has included some time spent in The Division which actually lead me to hit the level cap of 30 and start unlocking end game activities.  One of the things that I loved about this game was just how detailed its world was, in that it felt like a real place that I was going to visit.  Yes I realize it was patterned off of New York…  but I have supposedly visited New York in a bunch of different games and this was the first time it really felt like an actual place.  The game looks gorgeous at 4k… but then again so far MOST games look gorgeous at 4k.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-11-12-04-10-96

I poked my head into Neverwinter as well this weekend and finally claimed my Purple Owlbear mount from Twitch.  This game has a lot of positive things going on, but it is an inventory management nightmare…  which ultimately prompted my little burst of posts on twitter.  Inventory Management is just not something that is fun… and out of the tons of favorites I only got one person who chimed in stating that they actually like cleaning their inventory.  There are games where having a nonsense inventory is enough to make me log right back out, and many times… I feel this way about Neverwinter.  Side note another game that I often feel this way about is Everquest II because so much of what ends up dropping is not terribly useful, and when you can have bags that are getting close to 100 slots each…  you can carry around a lot of junk.  I think the theory is that people get excited when they see loot… but that excitement quickly passes when you realize that 99.9% of the stuff that drops is useless crap.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-12-06-26-50-06

Which leads me to Path of Exile… a game where the common practice is to install a loot filter so you just don’t see the useless shit you shouldn’t be looting in the first place.  I am using the NeverSink filter, largely because it seemed to be the one that was most widely recommended.  I will say however… it does greatly improve the experience… even though that I still feel like inventory space is a nightmare in this game.  I spent way more time this weekend playing POE than I expected, and I will say that the game has gotten significantly more enjoyable once I crossed the line into Act II.  Unfortunately I didn’t take many screenshots this weekend…  especially now that I apparently unleashed an ancient evil and blotted out the sun.  POE comes in both Grim and Dark flavors…  but apparently I shifted into Grim Dark mode.  The other issue that I have with POE is that my character looks stupid… which I realize is fixable if I drop a bunch of money on the cosmetic shop.  Right now I am wearing a leather diaper, plate booties, a metal old-timey football helmet…  while wielding a camp axe and a cabinet door for a shield.  This is not a good look on anyone…  and no matter how much gear I swap out I seemingly cannot get rid of the diaper.

lineageii

Lastly I am still spending quite a bit of time before falling asleep each night playing various mobile games and one of the ones that I am finding myself enjoying in spite of it not making any sense… is Lineage II Revolution.  During the podcast I talked a bit about this and apparently I completely missed the whole cookie clicker like games thing.  Games that play themselves are apparently a genre… and this one is weirdly enjoyable.  What I found odd though is once I hooked up ADB to play the game mirrored on PC from my phone… it had built in support for WASD so in theory…  this game was designed for a PC interface?  I am legitimately wondering about trying this through an emulator like Memu and mapping it in a fashion to allow for keyboard and mouse play.  At the moment you can do that… but it means you are clicking buttons on the screen instead of having things bound to mouse buttons/keys.  It is weirdly entertaining…  but it isn’t like I can actually suggest it as a “good” game.  It is pretty and some stuff is happening on screen but I am largely just letting it play itself since mobile controls are garbage.  Maybe that is the way these games are getting around that fact…  letting the game navigate for you and then just hit attacks periodically in a sort of on rails shooter type experience.

Bedtime Mobile Gaming

walkingdeadourworld-2

So one of the things you need to understand about my brain, that may or may not have been evident from this blog…  is that I go through a bit of a cycle when I hear something that conflicts with what I currently perceive as my core interests.  First I rebel against the idea, and then as that calms down…  I go on a sort of quest to understand it.  For example… I have talked about this before but I was an Alpha tester on Guild Wars 2…  and it is the only games test that I resigned from.  It was a super restrictive test that I had to get forms notarized and turn back in, so resigning seemed like the thing to do rather than simply never playing again.  However once the game released I kept throwing myself at it like a puzzle that I simply could not crack.  It took me years to fully comprehend why it was that people seemed to like it so much, and reach a place of peace with the game that allowed me to finally accept that it was just not for me.  Similarly this whole Diablo Immortal thing has caused me to push deeper into mobile gaming, because I feel like it has been this entire segment of the market that I never really understood the appeal of.

pokemongo-2

Pokemon Go really was the first mobile game that I actually cared about.  It was this specific combination of “everyone was doing it”, mixed with a familiar IP in the form of Pokemon, and also doing some really interesting things with location aware services and augmented reality (even though I largely left that shit turned off all the time).  While I still technically pop it open when I am bored… I am nowhere near as active as I once was.  There are a few PokeStops on the way into the building at work, but I am not going out and actively seeking things to capture like I did when the game first was released.  Admittedly the instability back at launch probably kept this from moving from a thing I casually use…  to a thing I am actively playing…  given that at one point I was going out pretty much every night to catch stuff.

The core problem with Pokemon Go is that it is not an equitable experience for all players.  When I am at work in the core of downtown Tulsa, there is a constant stream of activity…  however once I retreat back to my sleepy suburb there is nothing at all.  I can walk a lap of my neighborhood and maybe encounter two Pokemon, both of which from what I term the trash variety that you commonly find everywhere.  Additionally the focus on face to face interaction made trading just not something that I would ever care about… because most of my friends who play Pokemon are not near me.  So it feels like  game I dabble in but is very much not for me.

walkingdeadourworld-2

Another game that I have recently started playing is The Walking Dead Our World, which takes the general concept of Pokemon Go but applies it to zombie survival.  I’m a fan of the show even though it has figuratively jumped the shark a handful of times at this point.  They have been advertising this game for a few seasons and it finally got me curious enough to download and install it.  The biggest positive I have to talk about it is that it does not shred your battery in the way that Pokemon Go does, nor does it seem to only care about urban hubs.  Out in the burbs there is a constant flow of zombie infestations for me to clear out.  The only negative however is it doesn’t really reward moving around anywhere near as much as it probably should.  I can sit in bed and clear out a half dozen objectives without actually getting out into the community and finding other objectives.  I’ve recently joined a clan or whatever the hell they call them, and it adds another dimension to the game because it feels like I am contributing to larger objectives in the form of a weekly challenge card of sorts that rewards a ton of resources each time you finish one out.  Definitely an interesting game, but also one that I only play because fiddling around on my phone has become my before I go to sleep activity.

dragalialost-2I have talked at length about Dragalia Lost being the game that largely convinced me that an ARPG would work on a mobile phone.  While I still enjoy it, I have very much ended up in maintenance mode with it.  I log in each night and work through the daily objectives, then make sure a bunch of stuff is building in my castle before logging out and on to the next thing.  I am not really spending much time actually doing content in the game apart from if there is an event going on.  Once again this game has not really elevated to the realm of “I would rather play it over more traditional games”.  For my friend Grace however, it has and she is spending a good deal more time playing it than playing other titles at the moment.  The truth is the only real reason why I have been playing so many mobile games is…  my phone hurts way less than the switch when I inevitably drop it on my face.

screenshot_2018-11-09-06-15-48

With the Diablo Immortal announcement, there were a lot of folks talking about how it looked like a “reskin” of another game they released called Crusaders of Light.  I decided to check this out for myself, and I guess if you are just looking at the user interface they do look really similar.  Then again most mobile MMOs that I have seen have a very similar interface, and if you think about it most first person shooters these days use exactly the same control scheme.  Games tend to land on a thing that works and then keep doing that thing over and over.  As far as play however it feels more like a mobile World of Warcraft, if I am being completely honest about it.  There really isn’t much about it that feels Action RPG.  As far as play… the controls are not great and the game highly suggests that you auto navigate to your objectives…  which I completely agree with.  However while doing this it feels sorta like the game is playing you more than you playing the game.

screenshot_2018-11-09-06-36-40

For reference I also started piddling around in Lineage II Revolution, which quite honestly does a lot of the same things.  In fact it is probably more so with an auto questing mode that not only navigates you to the target but also starts attacking it.  Weirdly however I find myself liking this title way more than Crusaders of Light, even though it actually asks way less of me to play it.  You can of course go offroad at any point, and I have found myself killing three or four times the number of mobs that a given quest has asked me to.  Again I am largely doing the auto nav thing to make up for the fact that mobile navigation feels so horrible in the first place.  Were I playing any of these games with a controller, then life would be completely different.  Mostly this is all part of my brain trying to grok what trends there are and what is popular apart from the obvious Gacha mechanics that seem to exist in all of them.

The biggest problem I have with mobile games is that I find I burn out of them way faster than traditional PC games.  I tend to cycle through them like a bored toddler, so I do my maintenance gaming in one…  then move on to the next one.  At some point my brain realizes that I am only ever doing maintenance tasks and start checking out of it completely.  I don’t even have Fire Emblem Heroes installed on my phone anymore, nor did I actually make it all of the way through that quest.  Similarly I no longer have Final Fantasy Record Keeper installed, in spite of previously devoting a bunch of time of this “boredom time” to it.  While I am on this mission, I am definitely open to suggestions.  Is there anything you are playing on a mobile device that is more along the lines of a traditional game?  I am not looking for puzzle games like Alphabear, because I already play a handful of those as well.

More ARPGs

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-08-06-17-22-83

Yesterday I talked about a few ARPGs I had been playing as an attempt to get the Diablo Immortal thing out of my system.  Since then a handful of you have suggested other games to me, and I thought I would take a moment this morning to talk about a few competitors for the “next great ARPG” crown that I have spent some time playing.  This has always been a genre that appealed to me, so as something new comes down the pipe I tend to check it out at least for a bit.  These projects seem especially popular on Kickstarter because everyone seems to have loved Diablo 2 and wants to build a better version of it.  That can be a positive or a negative, especially considering post Diablo 3 I found it almost impossible to go back and play Diablo 2 again.

Victor Vran

VictorVranSteam 2016-01-10 22-16-41-27

We will start off with the weirdest entry in the list first, largely because it does a lot of things…  not like other games.  First off this is primarily a WASD game with your primary attack being on Left Mouse click and Q and E being secondary attacks and Right Mouse serving to spin the camera around.  It takes some getting used to, and a lot of people prefer to play this with a controller as a result.  However I found it to be an interesting blend of movement that really landed well for me personally.  I wrote a more proper review of this back in 2016, but honestly it is still worth checking out.  I do not currently have this installed but that might be changing soon as it is a good option to dig back into.

Steam Link but also available on several consoles

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-08-06-28-25-61

One of the core problems with Games Workshop licensed games is they vary greatly in quality.  As a result when I see a new one pop up I am immediately suspicious and throwing more than a little side-eye.  However occasionally my curiosity gets the best of me and I try one of them.  This one however was really fun… up until a point which unfortunately for me happens to be the fifth mission.  I have always hated “protect the idiots” missions and in general I hate the tower defense mechanic.  This mission unfortunately incorporates both elements, where not only do you have to survive a wave of assaulting chaos forces and defend a point…  but you also have to keep your idiot guardsmen alive in the process.  If I can get over this frustrating hurdle the game will probably go right back to being a really fun amalgam of Diablo and the Warhammer 40,000 universe that I love.

Steam Link

Grim Dawn

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-08-06-11-01-06

This is probably the best ARPG that is not Diablo 3 if I am going to be completely honest with myself.  The setting is interesting because effectively you are roaming a world after what is effectively a demonic invasion.  It feels as though you are running around a post apocalyptic version of our world, and they get big points with me for including shotguns as a viable and balanced weapon choice option.  This was I believe initially built upon the Titan Quest engine… which is another really awesome but aging APRG.  However the game feels like it has long moved past that and is now sort of its own thing.  I’ve never made it terribly far into the game because it feels very slow paced, which is a lot of the problem I have with most of the “we remember Diablo 2 and wanted to create a better version” games.

Steam Link

Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-08-06-17-22-83

Now we enter the realm of the “still in alpha” competitors, with Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem.  This is probably my favorite of the modern ARPGs but it is still very much rooted into the “lots of things are broken” range of games.  It is fun enough to play around with but the last I really played this seriously… there were moments where the difficulty seemed to be stacked against melee characters.  Other than playing a Demon Hunter to rapidly unlock seasonal content occasionally…  if an ARPG doesn’t feel good in melee then it probably isn’t something I am going to stick around for long.  That however was back in February and I am sure they have tweaked a lot of things in the meantime.  I should give it another proper look and see how it feels now.

Steam Link

Last Epoch

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-08-06-05-12-01

Another game from the “super alpha” territory is Last Epoch.  This is one of the ones that Ashgar specifically has suggested a few times, because it does look really interesting.  As a result I took the $50 hit so you don’t have to, because right now that is the cheapest supporter package that grants you instant alpha access.  I played around for a very short time last night, largely because it has two key flaws in my mind… that admittedly may change over time.  Firstly the classes appear to be gender locked, and while that is a super common thing in asian arpgs… it pisses me the fuck off.  Yes I realize both Diablo and Diablo 2 had gendered characters, but we should have moved past that.  Granted again this might just be something they have done before there is not a proper character creator in place yet so I am letting this one slide for the moment.  The other major issue is the fact that movement and basic attack are not the same key…  so as it is set up right now you move with left click and attack with right click…  leading for a really goofy feeling experience.  This is going to be one of those games like Wolcen that I pop my head into periodically to see how it has improved.

Supporter Page Link

Hellgate: London

hellgate-2015-08-14-21-07-06-79

Now we are going to take a jaunt into the territory of my favorite Diablo game that is not Diablo…  and that is Hellgate: London.  I am one of a handful of people who still carry around a bright glowing torch for this game, largely because I love both what it was… and am wistful about what it might have been.  There are ways to still play the original game, and there is even a modding community to make it look better…  but the above screenshot is from the Hanbitsoft version of the game released in South Korea and occasionally has been available for english speaking players.  This is relevant because on November 15th this game is returning and will be available on Steam.  I really don’t know much about what that is going to entail, other than the fact that we are supposedly getting the base game and all of the expansions that were released in South Korea.  I’ve talked about this so many times, but here is a specific post from 2015 about trying to get back into the game.  Even though this coincides with the launch of Fallout 76… you can damned well bet I will be checking this out on the 15th of this month.

Steam Link

Diablo III 2015-09-05 19-13-38-74

So the only problem is… that I have rattled off a list of alternatives to Diablo 3… but none of them really fully cover the things I like about it.  I love the fast paced and frenetic gameplay that comes when you get together with a bunch of your friends and run things like Rifts or in the case of this screenshot… consume a ring and go fight Greed.  It does a very specific thing that no other game really is doing, that is largely because I love Diablo 3…  not in a begrudging way like so many fans of the franchise have over the years… but I legitimately love all of the changes that were made.  While I loved Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 at the time…  I wholeheartedly love what Diablo 3 became.  Granted that is love of a post seasonal Diablo 3, long after the RMT auction house bullshit was removed and the legendary drop rates greatly fixed.  However it just does a thing that none of the games above are really doing for me, and as a result…  I will still be depressed and disappointed that we didn’t get that Diablo 4 announcement.

diablo-immortal-gameplay-1

That said I am absolutely not one of those people who is going to refuse to play Diablo Immortal.  I am going to try it out but I have huge fingers and mobile screens are tiny…  so I might need to try and figure out a reasonable android tablet option to make it feel not horrible.   I am already running into this issue with Dragalia Lost and some of the other mobile games that I have been dipping my toes into in order to sort of prepare my Psyche for the existence of this thing.  I am still disappointed and still think it was a poor time to make this announcement, but I am not going to rage against it existing… because there is plenty of room for games that aren’t for me to exist in the world.  However it also doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

 

Kulve Farming

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-06-19-36-40-66

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-06-19-36-40-66

This morning we return you to your regularly scheduled posts, instead of whatever yesterday’s post happened to be.  I started typing in Google Docs… and it just sort of kept going on and on.  Yesterday was of course election day, and a lot of my staging a post ahead of time was due to the fact that I was trying to get in and out of the polls in the morning quickly.  As far as gaming goes I am still very much all over the place.  Right now as it stands Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World tend to be the staples that I play at least some of every single night.  Over in Monster Hunter this largely involves getting into a Kulve Taroth group and trying to farm weapons and tickets for the layered armor set.  At this point I still have a ton of pieces left to collect but this is way more of a goal for me than collecting gear, given that I already have enough glimstones for a full set of crafted gear.  I am simply missing the various elder dragon gems needed to craft most of the pieces.  That however can be done after the event.

kulveweapons

As far as weapons go… I have been nowhere near as lucky as I was on the Playstation 4 version.  I have literal pages of blue weapons which are fine… and can provide a specific element if I need one.  However the above image shows off some of the weapons I thought were generally worth keeping around for the long haul.  Probably the weapon that interests me the most right now is the Taroth Blaze “Numb” because it has nonsense Affinity, plus a Defense bonus…  plus 450 Paralysis… and from the look of it it might have some white sharpness if I equip handicraft items.  The other item that I am probably going to wind up using is the Taroth Sword “Mire” just because there are occasionally fights where decent water elemental damage are useful.  I think the Sleep daggers might be useful to play with given how fast you can build up elements with that weapon type.  The Water damage Lance is decent, especially with the level three gem on it.  One positive is it does give me a Charge blade to play with… which is not a weapon type I have crafted any or messed with on the PC.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-06-22-17-34-19

Another game that I have been poking my head into is The Division, largely because I wanted to see what it looked like on the new graphics card.  However I noticed that I am really damned close to level 30 which I believe is the level cap.  I really want to see what the game becomes when I finally reach that plateau and somewhere along the line I picked up a handful of set pieces ready to be equipped at that level.  For now I am casually roaming around and killing stuff out in the world, and I find that relaxing and enjoyable.  Previously I was focused on TRYING to level… and getting frustrated that it was going so slowly.  Now I am just sort of running amok in the town and not paying attention to anything past that.  It seems to be working and I have been spending a few hours here and there on it.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-05-19-23-58-33

With the Diablo kerfuffle, I have also been exploring some other ARPGs just in case Diablo 4 really isn’t in the cards… or at least to have options to tide me over until it releases in a few years.  The most obvious game directly competing with the Diablo franchise is Path of Exile, but I have never really been able to get into it.  Coming back however it does feel considerably better, apart from the fact that you are given showers of loot…  most of it not useful… and nowhere near enough inventory space to ferry it back to town.  As such the loot itself feels a little frustrating, as does combat at time since it seems to vacillate back and forth between “nothing is attacking me” and “an entire screen of things is overwhelming me”.  Right now however the biggest problem with the game… happens to be its community.  In trying to settle in I started looking up the answers to a handful of questions and for the most part the community answer seems to be some derivation of “go back to diablo noob”.  That is not helpful, nor is it making people want to stick around for very long.  It has really interesting mechanics but a much slower pace, which can be both positive and negative.  The lack of a forward walk button without giving up an ability slot…   is also a little frustrating.

desktop-screenshot-2018-11-07-06-30-55-69

The game that appears to be more my speed when it comes to methadone for Diablo 4…  is Torchlight II which admittedly is an aging game at this point.  However it is also serving to prepare me for Torchlight Frontiers which looks extremely interesting and fun.  Hey Perfect World folks… if any of you happen to be reading my blog…  hook me up with a key?  I love the setting of Torchlight, for example last night I was going through this awesome clockwork dungeon and since I play an engineer it felt really cool to be busting up mechs with a giant hammer.  This also has the shower you with loot, most of it useless problem… but at the very least you can keep sending your pet back to town to sell it.  This is another high point for this game is it allows me to run around with a Ferret friend.  Super glad I installed it and definitely enjoying poking around in it again… even though I am largely confused as to where I left off in the story the last time I was playing.

Mythical Blizzard Gamer

This is going to probably be a bit of an odd post, and additionally I am typing it up the night before I intend to post it.  It also went significantly longer than I had intended… but once it started rolling I just kinda went with it. May god have mercy on your souls.  However there has been a topic that I have been kicking around in my head for some time now and I am not sure quite how to pull it out. To say this post is inspired by the Diablo Immortal reveal by Blizzard is true, but I feel like I am going to go off in a different direction, more specifically about the culture surrounding Blizzcon in general.

I can’t claim to have been a Blizzard fan forever.  I am pretty certain that I played Lost Vikings, Blackthorne and Rock and Roll Racing… but in truth none of them really imprinted hard on my psyche.  I was aware of the existence of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans but did not really buy into Blizzard games as a whole until I picked up a copy of the Warcraft Battle Chest.  In fact I remember exactly when and where I purchased it… it was at the now defunct Sam’s Club in Springdale Arkansas.

Playing through the campaign of Warcraft II was really fun, but honestly that game probably would not have imprinted so hard on my psyche were it not for the fact that the college computer lab effectively had a copy installed on every computer with a CD Crack applied so we could have massive LAN battles.  At home I even crafted my very first network to play the game, connecting two PCs together with Coax and running the native windows NetBEUI protocol to get them talking to each other.

Blizzard really got a seemingly lifelong fan in me when Starcraft was released, and with it I finally had the way to play a simulacrum of my beloved Warhammer 40,000 on my PC.  Essentially each time Blizzard released a game I got into it, and I remember being in the beta test for Diablo and playing it connected to the campus network on one of the desktops in the very small and very fast Fine Arts building computer lab that I managed.  

I was completely hooked…  much like Starcraft is Warhammer 40k…  Diablo was essentially the D&D game I always wanted to play, since I tend to be a “roll player” not a “role player”.  I remember when Diablo 2 released I had to make the choice… do I get it… or did I get Icewind Dale since they released on exactly the same day in 2000.  I followed my real passion to Diablo 2 and was once again amazed at just how cool the game was in its second outing. Years later we were still playing it in a lan environment and keeping a computer running at friends house just to serve as a way of keeping the game open…  and preserving our makeshift guild stash.

When Blizzard dipped its toes into the fledgling MMORPG genre I was also on board.  At that point I was already an Everquest junkie, and had moved on to Dark Age of Camelot, Horizon and then was playing City of Heroes when I got into one of the stress tests.  It was that first weekend somewhere during the summer of 2004 that I was completely smitten, and found myself unable to return to playing City of Heroes after experiencing what the MMO genre could be.

BlizzCon was the convention that World of Warcraft built, and it became the premiere event for WoW fans to attend each year.  For those of us sitting on the sidelines it became the primary feed of information about what was coming down the pipe. Over the years I watched with bated breath as each new expansion was announced, and similarly watched as new products were released.  

Not all of which were necessarily targeted towards me, but that was okay… because the primary focus of the convention seemed to focus on the things I was interested in…  namely World of Warcraft and eventually Diablo 3 was added to that mix. Then somewhere along the way things started to shift focus, and events like the live raid were replaced with more competitive esports coverage.  I was still completely on board for the release of StarCraft II, because it would pick up and continue the story of the first game. Then after beating the story mode… realized that I just didn’t quite like RTS games the way I used to.  

I was largely on board with Hearthstone initially…  but then I realized that I didn’t like it quite as much as I did Magic the Gathering.  Overwatch seemed really cool, but apart from the cinematics… I realized that it was largely Blizzard does Team Fortress 2… and I never really played much of that game either.  Heroes of the Storm seemed like a really cool take on League of Legends… but again I remembered that MOBAs never really hooked me.

However through all of it I had World of Warcraft and Diablo to care about, because those franchises always spoke to my beating heart.  The problem there is that World of Warcraft is in a constant state of flux and chaos and there are expansion that I love… like Wrath and Legion…  and expansions that I would rather forget like Cataclysm, Warlords and the current Battle for Azeroth. Once the spell was initially broken in 2011…  my interest in the game purely depended on whether or not the content spoke to me.

Diablo on the other hand had become a ritual with some of my friends as we log in every new season and grind up a set of characters to collect the cosmetic rewards…  only to disappear for another three months until the next seasonal launch. The Necromancer pack gave me a lot of hope that maybe just maybe they would start releasing class packs and give us the Assassin, Druid or Amazon along with lots of other potentially cool characters that I am certain they could dream up along the way.

However Diablo 3 has largely been in maintenance mode for a very long time, and the fan base has been running on fumes.  During the 2017 Opening Ceremonies of Blizzcon they didn’t even acknowledge the existence of the game. It had been a long six years since the release of the game, and with so many people leaving that team… it felt more or less like the game that Blizzard forgot.  For the past three years my Diablo friends and I have spent the weeks ahead of the convention daydreaming about what a possible announcement might look like… only to get our hopes dashed and eventually adopt a resigned attitude of “maybe next year”.

As far as the Diablo Immortal announcement… and the fan reaction…  it comes from a place of desperation and heartache as we have watched the franchise we love, get ignored…  in spite of having a super dedicated and passionate community. The core problem is that Blizzard never figured out how to itemize it… after the massive failure that was the real money auction house.  Its like with that defeat they just stopped trying, and instead moved on to other games that they could easily shim in a regular stream of micro transactions to fill the coffers.

There is a similar thread running through the last three games that Blizzard released…  Hearthstone in 2014, Heroes of the Storm in 2015, and Overwatch in 2016. Each of them has a heavy esports focus with lots of bite sized ways to spend money with Blizzard to acquire nifty ways to set yourself apart from the other players.  Diablo doesn’t have this, and while I would love to literally throw money at my screen to help fund this game that I love… Blizzard has given us no way of doing this. Starcraft at least has a thriving esports scene which at a minimum keeps that game alive and kicking, or at least guarantees that fan base some air time when it comes to Blizzcon.

I think Diablo Immortal is an attempt to take a model that is well researched…  microtransaction driven mobile games… and apply a design pattern that has already been copied in literally hundreds of diablo clones.  I am sure it will be enjoyable enough, and I am sure I will likely play it… given that I have seemingly recently discovered that I don’t hate playing games on my phone.  However it will never feel anywhere as good because the concept of controlling a game with a touch screen interface just feels awful.

What will end up happening is that if I play it… I will play it through one of the many Android emulators like BlueStacks and try my best to map the touch screen controls to something that doesn’t feel awful to play with.  I wish I could do this with Dragalia Lost to be honest, but unfortunately Nintendo is actively blocking access to the game when connecting through an emulator… and the only way you can make it work is to do a bunch of shenanigans that probably risk an account ban to make it happen.

The other thing that I have realized is that I am not a Blizzard Gamer anymore, and quite honestly I am not sure if anyone really is.  There was a time when I legitimately felt like I was equally interested in everything coming out of Blizzard as a games studio. There is no denying the pedigree of quality, and I thought if they were doing it… I wanted in on the action.  The problem being that I am just not that interested in a bunch of the games that they have in their active stable.

I love the setting of Overwatch…  but would have loved the game as an MMO or story driven ARPG.  The competitive nature of it just doesn’t appeal to me, nor does grinding bots… so it sits there as a game I am willing to play with a full group of friends but have zero interest at any other time.  Heroes of the Storm is much the same way, where I like the concept and feel like they nailed the execution of the MOBA genre… but I would far rather have a dungeon crawler with MOBA character design.  Similarly I am willing to play it with a full group of friends.

Hearthstone seemed like a game that I would really love, but I never really reached a point where I found my groove with it.  I have Hunter and Warrior decks, and they are both tolerable, but nothing that game is doing ever feels anywhere near as good as Magic the Gathering did to me.  Magic the Gathering Arena on the other hand is the game I always wanted to exist and with its release, any desire to play or follow Hearthstone eclipsed.

The diversity of product offering essentially precludes someone from deeply caring about literally everything in their stable of games.  As a result it also makes BlizzCon feel really weird to watch. To listen to Blizzard they are addressing a group of people supposedly equally interested in every single thing they are making…  and that facade has been crumbling over the last few years. I remember the first BlizzCon in which World of Warcraft was not center stage, and the generally negative reaction I saw among the community.

If you go to a PAX you know you are going to be seeing a lot of games that fit different demographics, and as such you have no reasonable expectation that they should ALL interest you.  However for some reason BlizzCon feels a little different, and if you aren’t equally devoted to all things Blizzard it feels like you are somehow faking your fandom. Now if you are at the convention on the show floor it probably does not feel this way at all… but as a perineal viewer of the virtual ticket… the hardcore perky sales pitch being delivered by the announcers makes it seem like they expect everyone to care about everything.

I feel like Blizzard has maybe outgrown BlizzCon.  It was originally the convention that World of Warcraft built, but that game is no longer the cash king that it once was and has been eclipsed by several other titles with significantly cheaper to produce content.  I feel like maybe we would be better off with a sequence of smaller events with a more specific purpose. I feel like FFXIV and Fanfest maybe has it right… whereas they hold a sequence of events in the same year they are announcing a big expansion to the game.  In this idea I would absolutely try my damnedest to travel to a DiabloCon if it existed.

Ultimately I think at this point Blizzard is no longer one cohesive group of gamers, aligned with similar goals and motivations. There are instead a group devoted to each one of their games with fairly limited crossover between them.  The problem with this is that it sets up the feel of a zero sum game, where if one group of fans is getting content… then the other groups of fans aren’t. It is hard to see the children from the new marriage getting all of the attention, while the aging kids are largely left to fend for themselves.  

So while I felt all of the outrage and frustration that the rest of the community did…  I chose to take it in a different direction. Instead of writing a hateful post about how Blizzard has wronged me… I wound up writing this nonsensically long ballad of how I am just now realizing that I just am not the gamer Blizzard is really courting anymore.  My blog is often my way of dealing with things… and this is me working through those frustrations in a written form. I sincerely doubt anyone will actually make it to end of this one… but if you did I thank you for indulging me.