This past week I have been pushing hard to meet a personal goal. Inside FitBit on your profile page they have this little progress bar with a weekly goal of 70,000 steps. So I have been pushing all week to try and hit 10,000 per day to make sure I could reach this goal. I thought lights and buzzers would go off when I hit it, or at the very least I would earn a badge for it. Problem is that we recorded the AggroChat podcast last night, and immediately afterwards we went for our evening walk. When I got back in my mind was on the podcast that I needed to edit and I spent until well after midnight doing just that. So by the time I actually came back to the website and checked my progress… the bar was back at 0. I never got to see the bar full, because I really wanted to take a screenshot of it. Unfortunately however they have no mechanism to go back and see how you did the previous week… seems like a massive design flaw.
Right now my 7 day average is over 11,000 steps and my total for last week is 79,818. I have to just be at peace knowing that I did in fact accomplish the goal… even though there is nothing showing that I did. The problem with the fitbit is it is also a double edged sword. When things aren’t being tracked I just as quickly stop caring about the overall progress as I started. I try my best to charge my band at work when I am not going to be walking around for a bit. However at one point Friday I got up to go to the bathroom… and started to take the “long route” that involves basically walking the entire floor… but stopped the moment I realized I didn’t have my band on. If it was not getting recorded… it was immediately not worth the effort. I know this is a jacked up way of looking at things, but anyone who has done one of these always on pedometers likely experiences the same thing. I am somewhat disgusted with myself because this is only steps away from “food only being good if you took a picture of it”, but alas the positive effects of the fitbit far outweigh the negatives.
Band Back Together
We talk for a bit about the World of Warcraft Alpha launch and more specifically its timing. Finding it really interesting that for the most part it has no NDA. I am wondering if this is going to be the case for all new Blizzard games considering Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm do not have NDAs associated with them either. Finally we get around to talking about the real big event of the week… all of us dipping our toes into Wildstar. It was a really great show, and it was awesome to finally have the regular cast all in one place again. Kodra introduced a new feature at the tail end of the show, where he, Rae and Ashgar talk about the League of Legends LCS games… and I sit in the background confused with nothing at all to add to the conversation. That said I am going to try and watch a few games to see if I can get into it now that I am regularly playing league again on Thursday nights.
For the next several hours you can download and play the trial of Shards Online. One of my good friends is on the community team for this game, so I have been promising for a bit that I would check it out. At face value the game seems like the spiritual successor for Ultima Online. Functionally playing it, it feels a lot like playing Neverwinter Nights mixed with a MOBA. You essentially have the standard left click to attack auto abilities and then special abilities aligned to QWER. Functionally it is a unity based game, so that means it should run well on multiple platforms. The current client is pretty poorly optimized and on my laptop that has dual Nvidia 660 GTX video cards… I was only seeing around 30 frames per second. However given time that should change as they optimize the settings.
The gameplay is really intuitive and straight forward, and for the most part I felt like I could take a number of mobs in the test shards. The shards that are available are all significantly smaller than the final size, and designed simply to give a player a feeling for the gameplay. The real promise to me is that players will be able to have a certain measure of control over their own game worlds. In the days after I left Everquest, every so often I would dabble in the emulator server community. I had insane amounts of fun redesigning zones and on one of my forays I completely reworked the way that the entire butcher-block to crush bone sequence worked evening out the rough spots in the leveling curve and re-itemizing the entire thing. I worked on bringing the Dark Elf influence to a higher effort with camps of actual Dark Elves scattered around the closer you got to crush bone.
So for me the promise of shards is that you can legally run your own server, and configure a community the way you want it. That said I am not sure if this is a game for me. I really do not like a click to move environment, and the graphics while charming feel like a throwback to an earlier era. I simply do not have the nostalgia about Ultima Online that many players do. I played a very small bit of it before finding Everquest and getting into that game. So my “good old days” are not Ultima but instead a mixture of EQ, DAoC and Vanilla World of Warcraft. As a result I feel like I am missing a piece of the charm that is this game. For someone who pines for a return to the days of Ultima Online… I feel like this is your opportunity to get into a world and help shape it. For me, it is just a really interesting novelty.
Shards is a game where you start out extremely weak and then build up your character over a number of painstaking levels. As a result my desire to zerg rush camps and play action hero style caused me to see this screen a lot. Not sure if there was really a death penalty other than having to wait for the release timer to tick down, but I died often enough to realize this is not my style of game in that aspect either. I think it is going to be interesting and I hope we see a massive surge in funding thanks to the preview weekend. I think the lackluster funding is mostly a side effect of kickstarter fatigue and the lack of kickstarter MMO projects that have actually released. In a way however I also feel like Shards is a game for an earlier era, and is not really the type of game to appeal broadly to currently MMO gamers. If you however want a trip down Ultima Online memory lane… this game is for you, and I hope you give it a try.