Mobile Core

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Bedtime Mobile Gaming

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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.

 

IntPiPoMo 2018

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Yesterday did not go according to plan, and as a result I wound up not making a post at all.  Essentially I woke up at 5:15 yesterday morning and by the time I finished showering and checked into the world around 5:30 I noticed that we had a major system down at work.  This caused me to leap into crisis mode and instead of going upstairs to blog, I went upstairs to remote in and try and assess the situation.  As such you got a brief tweet stating that there would be no post and I moved on with what turned out to be an eleven hour day.  I had intentions of making a post last night, but by the time I made it home I was mentally soup.  I had some awesome tamales from the coney place down the street and largely avoided any mentally strenuous activity.

The only problem with this is that I missed out on making a post for an initiative that has been going on for several years in the blogosphere…  but that I have never actually participated in.  Everyone knows about NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, where you are challenged to crank out 50,000 words worth of cohesive prose that can in theory get edited into a novel that makes sense.  I participated in that initiative back in 2013 and wound up live blogging it as I progressed through the goal of writing 50,000 words.  You can see the rough and unedited form here in a series of posts that I started cross linking at some point.  The sad part is I never really made it much further than this…  there is a google doc floating out there with some edits done but I feel like at some point I largely just need to nuke this from orbit and rewrite the entire thing.

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IntPiPoMo plays on the statement that a picture is worth a thousand words, and if NaNoWriMo requires you to crank out 50,000 words….  then IntPiPoMo asks you to post 50 pictures/screenshots/whatever during the month of November.  This initiative started back in 2011 and has changed hands a few times until it landed in the lap of my good friend Chestnut who was insanely helpful during the recent running of Blaugust.  Admittedly I have never really set out to participate since I felt like it would be cheating…  given that my blog is already super screenshot heavy.  During the month of October as an example I posted just shy of 100 pictures associated with my blog posts.  However she indicated that this didn’t matter and that I should sign up anyways…  and as a result I am going to be supporting this process with Aggronaut.  If you also feel like participating then you should totally check out her post outlining all of the specifics.  There is a very short sign up process and an image seen above that you can incorporate into your side bar as I have done with mine (albeit scaled down a bit since my sidebar is narrow).

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One of the things I am sorta known for is my nonsensical storage of screenshots.  I have a network attached storage device full of loosely organized screenshots from the various games I have played, and at some point I wanted a way to just randomly pick a few shots from the pile.  I thought this was an easy way to do a post when I wasn’t necessarily feeling up to writing something more well formed.  The idea being I have the tool pick a few screenshots and then write something about each of them.  This is largely something that I built for my own purposes but if you are interested I threw it up on GitHub at the suggestion of a few folks.  If you are interested I highly suggest you grab the source code and download Visual Studio Community edition to compile it yourself just to make sure it is completely safe.  If you don’t feel comfortable with that I have uploaded a compiled and ready to run version of it out on TinyUpload.com.  If you get stuck on trying to decide what screenshots to use on a given day, a tool like this might come in handy.

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As an example I decided to use it myself this morning and grabbed 3 random screenshots from the stack.  This one is from the PC Beta of Destiny 2 and I largely know this… because the file is named “Desktop Screenshot” because annoying the only way I can get Destiny 2 to capture is by running it Borderless Windowed and capturing it with Nvidia Experience…  which probably has another name for the screenshot functionality but I don’t know what it is.  I am consistently annoyed that I cannot use a more proper capture technique to grab Destiny 2, but regardless that has nothing to do with the screenshot itself.  I have dozens and dozens of screenshots of the “warp” graphic from Destiny 2 because I think it is so damned pretty.  This is probably one of the first ones I captured during that PC Beta, and it is making me want to go equip that ship again in the live game for nostalgia sake.

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This is a screenshot from Everquest Landmark Alpha…  and I am not sure if this was the first reset or the second reset.  I am pretty sure this is from the first alpha because I believe I had a better plot when the first major reset happened.  Regardless I miss the hell out of this game, because quite frankly it was one of my favorite building games.  I loved the tools that it gave us to build really interesting shapes… and then create templates off of them.  I also loved the way that you could harvest with a group… and all get the loot that was harvested by any one member of that team.  I remember running around with Lethbridge and Rae running amok harvesting everything in sight and all reaping the benefits.  I wish someone would functionally reboot this idea in a modern crafting game.  Part of the reason why I have a dislike of Daybreak is admittedly because deep down inside I blame them for the death of Landmark.

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One of the cooler things about Legion were the hidden artifact appearances.  One of them for the Warrior involved finding a shield that looks like Deathwing in a cavern full of Kobolds.  What made it frustrating however was that it was a random chance sort of thing, and you had a single chance each day at getting it to show up.  It became a ritual on my Warrior to log out at the cave every night, and then check it first thing in the morning and again that night just in case it was on the daily reset cycle and not on the server time cycle.  I even had a macro that would tell me whether or not the shield had showed up… just to make sure that I didn’t miss it.  The day that it finally showed up for me was extremely exciting, and as a result I took a screenshot for my blog before actually looting it.

Trion Concerns

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A few days ago it was announced that Trion was acquired by Gamigo, a company that I knew very little about in truth because it catered to an end of the MMO market that I don’t spend much time in.  As a result there were massive layoffs at Trion Worlds.  I am not exactly sure what the starting number was but it is reported that they are down to a shell of 25 people.  Essentially with one action all of the people that I knew that worked for Trion… no longer do…  with the exception of one that I am not entirely certain about the fate of.  I have a feeling that the 25 remaining will only be there during the transition period.  At least with SOE being purchased by Daybreak, it felt that the name changed but the company as a whole was going to continue trying to do the same thing.  This however feels like a completely different beast.

If you follow the course that Gamigo has taken it sort of fits the pattern of a company trying to gobble up intellectual property.  Here is a little timeline that I was able to cobble together rapidly this morning.

  • February 2013 – Acquires Outspark the publishers of Fiesta Online.
  • September 2014 – Acquires Intenium – which is labelled as “a publisher and distributor of casual games designed for females” whatever the hell that means.
  • May 2016 – Acquires Aeria Games – a bunch of Korean localized MMOs – the only one of which I have played is Echo of Soul.
  • July 2016 – Acquires Highdigit – which appears to be a SaaS CRM sort of platform that targets marketing and sale of games.
  • August 2016 – Acquires HoneyTracks – which appears to be a game focused Analytics company.
  • March 2017 – Acquires MMO Games – which you will know for MMOGames.com a site that I wrote for briefly a few years back, and largely dissolved my relationship with because while the other writers were awesome… the company behind it always felt a little sleazy.
  • July 2017 – Acquires Mediakraft Networks – which proclaims to be an “Online Television Network”.  It sorta looks like a German language BuzzFeed?
  • October 2018 – Acquires Trion Worlds – which of course is the reason why we are here reading this post in the first place.

So there is a pattern here…  grab IP content, grab distribution and analytics, and then grab media networks to advertise your products.  It makes sense but it also doesn’t exactly make me have warm fuzzies about the way this is being set up.  The ultimate question is going to be how they manage Trion games like Rift going forward.  Do they crank the loot box and gacha dial up to 11, or do they leave things largely running as is?  I said above that the only Gamigo game that I had played was Echo of Soul…  which I got access to while I was still at MMOGames.com.  This was technically before the site was acquired but regardless… it now feels a little odd.  I was going to write a review of the game, but quite frankly I had nothing positive to say about it.  It felt like a cheaply made generic MMO that didn’t have open world areas… but instead these Guild Wars 1 style on rails “corridors” that you traversed between regions.

I didn’t end up writing the review because I knew it would never see print.  There had been another game that I felt was extremely cheaply made, and wrote what I felt was a fair assessment of its positives and negatives.  I focused on the few things that I did enjoy about it, but the final product wound up being about 50% positives, 50% negatives.  The article never saw the light of day however because the company behind the game was a big advertiser, and as a result wanted positive press to push their product.  I felt like anything I would write about Echo of Soul would be a similar experience so I politely declined the article and moved on with my life.  While I legitimately stopped writing for the site because of personal reasons… it was events like this…  that made me feel not exactly comfortable having my name associated with it.  I’ve been torn for years about this reaction because I had a lot of really good friends who relied and still do technically rely on a paycheck from the site.

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Basically I am at this point where I have deep concerns about the fate of the Trion Worlds games, because I am not entirely certain that Gamigo cares about these games or their communities.  I legitimately think this is a grab for more potential revenue streams, just like they made grabs to cover the marketing, distribution, analytics and advertising.  Gamigo seems to have assembled this machine for pushing MMO games hard to grind out whatever profits that they can get from them.  On the Wiki there is a list of fifteen games that they have discontinued, this doesn’t include the five that were announced but never made it to production, or the three that they lost the licensing rights for.  None of this really makes me feel like my stable of characters in Rift… or the time that I put into Trion or ArcheAge are really going to be safe.

I don’t want to be all doom and gloom… but ultimately I have some deep concerns about this move.  The problem is…  MMORPGs are fighting over what seems to be a static pool of players.  We are likely going to see more of this in the future rather than less of it, as the properties that have been struggling for awhile find a new home in a potentially less than reputable environment.  Ultimately…  play and support the games you love because there is the real possibility that at some point they simply won’t be there…  or else may be so changed that they are barely recognizable from their former selves.

 

Wireless Ethernet

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One of the things I have talked about in the past are the odd constraints that I have on trying to be fully functional gaming in two different locations.  One of the things I learned early on is that for martial bliss I need to be able to game from the living room without actually taking control of the television.  My wife and I are the sort of people who are completely happy doing different things, while in the same room…  occasionally watching something on television together while doing these different things.  So she will be on her end of the sectional cocooned in a blanket fort messing with her laptop, and I will be doing roughly the same on my end of the sofa playing on my laptop.

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The only hitch in this setup is that gaming laptops do not stay relevant for long.  Mine for example is from 2015ish with a 4th Gen Core i7 and GTX 960M dedicated graphics, however it performs considerably lower than that as is the case with pretty much every laptop designated for gaming.  Generally speaking you can effectively drop every component by a generation, so in this case it probably performs similar to a Desktop 3rd Gen i7 with a 750 graphics card.  Effectively there are a lot of things it plays fine… like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV…  but a lot of things it simply cannot handle like Monster Hunter World.  Other things like Destiny 2 it just doesn’t play well enough to make it worth trying to play.

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So essentially I am left with the decision…  do I shell out another $1500-$2000 on a gaming class laptop that is going to be irrelevant in another two years or do I look for other options.  This has lead me down the path of trying to remotely stream games off my desktop upstairs.  So many of the options have issues, like Steam Link for example seems to have a high instance of stranding the game running and locking me out of remoting in to try and fix it.  Splashtop works great if you are wanting to stream to your mobile device, but in dealing with 720p or higher it is just too laggy input wise to play games on.  This lead me to Parsec and I have talked a bit about how great that service is in the past.

The only negative is that still I run into issues where there are “hiccups” in the stream for various reasons.  Like things are going smoothly for a good long while, and then all of the sudden the music hitches and the control input lags for a moment while the stream catches back up.  I don’t necessarily blame this on Parsec itself, but on the fact that I am streaming over a wireless network, and this becomes especially bad if we are watching something off Netflix or streamed back from my Plex server.  So I started thinking about alternatives to try and get a more stable connection between my desktop that is wired into my router with Gigabit Ethernet, and my laptop that is downstairs and has no clear path to run Ethernet to.

Powerline Ethernet was the first option I looked into, but there is a problem that I simply do not have a free power outlet near my router since I have so damned much hooked up in that vicinity in my office.  The thing with powerline is it has to have a direct connection to the power outlet because I have heard horror stories about folks who tried to hook that up and get it running through some sort of a power strip.  While I would love to get conduit run with multiple gigabit Ethernet drops in every room… that just isn’t in the cards and is an extremely expensive proposal to retro fit it into a house built in 1980.  This lead me down the path of trying to determine ways to improve my wireless signal enough to make the process viable.

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I have the nonsense TP Link spider looking Archer C5400 router upstairs that has three separate channels for wireless, one in the 2.4 ghz band and two in the 5 ghz band… one of which I have already dedicated for nothing but my gaming devices.  So I opted to look into TP Link repeater devices, several of which have a built in Gigabit Ethernet port.  I ultimately decided upon the AC1750 device and rather than simply relying on it as a wireless repeater am effectively treating it like a nonsensically powerful wireless modem.  It is bonded to the 2.4 ghz general network and the 5 ghz gaming network, and then I have Ethernet running from that device to my laptop.  Sure this is a silly solution, but it seems to do exactly what I was hoping it would…  provide me completely lag free parsec streaming.

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Almost all of my Monster Hunting of late has been done across this connection from my laptop, without running into issues where I need to twitch move out of the way of an attack and hit a lag spike.  Similarly I can play a game like Destiny 2 over the connection without running into issues now.  Previously it worked well, but even at its best I could still tell I was remotely playing the game.  With this setup it feels like I am legitimately just sitting at my desktop upstairs from my laptop downstairs.  Again I think I am probably the only person who tries to game in the fashion that I do…  but I thought I would write about this today just in case anyone else out there is looking for an option to make things feel more like sitting at the gaming machine.  Tonight I plan on doing some experiments with the native Playstation Remote app to see if that feels better now than it did, since I would like to play some Dad of War at some point.

This isn’t exactly a cheap solution.  The device in question costs around $45 on Amazon for a refurbished model, and about $70 for a minty fresh factory sealed one.  There are likely cheaper options as well, but effectively what you are looking for is something in the AC band with a Gigabit ethernet port built into the device that bonds to the 5 ghz signal.  The end result however works extremely well for me personally, and you can even use something like Photoshop and the brushes all feel responsive.  Sure you are tethered to a wireless repeater, so it isn’t exactly the best option for wireless play.  I do however want to do some testing without the Ethernet connected to see if the signal is stable enough without the physical connection.   The biggest test however is that we can be streaming something from Netflix and the gameplay seems completely unphased by it, as was the case Monday when I was off work hunting monsters on the laptop while streaming shows through the Roku.

Turtles and Tunnels

I don’t have an awful lot to talk about this morning.  I seem to be sliding into another deep turtle mode, and a pretty good indicator of that is that I have been playing a significant amount of Minecraft lately.  I don’t have screenshots to go with this post so it is going to largely just seem like a giant wall of text.  There are lots of different ways to play Minecraft, but I am a base builder.  What I mean by that is I extend my reach out into the world crafting safe enclaves that keep me from having to ever deal with the monsters that inhabit it.  As such I craft vast tunnel networks that allow me to move around without ever leaving the safe zone.  Sure I occasionally venture out purposefully to go collect resources, but I tend to bring with me this umbilical cord like network of safety from area to area.

It is though Minecraft that I realized how much I would love to live underground.  Things feel so safe there, and I think this is why I keep returning to the game when I am going through periods of stress.  I almost always start the same way…  for my first nights shelter I dig into a hillside and hollow out a little chamber, that serves as my first foothold into the dangerous world.  From there I start expanding this warren until I have a firm base of operations.  From there I decide which direction I want to expand and build my first outpost, and then start digging a 3×3 tunnel in that direction until I decide it is time to pop back out of the earth.  I tend to dig a staircase upwards and then build some sort of a tower like structure that will serve as the anchor of that outpost.

Last night for example I spent a good deal of time hollowing out a hillside next to where I popped back out of the ground, crafting three block high levels moving slowly up towards the top of the hill where I started crafting an external structure.  I tend to build all of it out of cobblestone at least as a start, and as I get access to better looking materials I start swapping pieces of it out.  My tunneling nature however pretty much guarantees I have plenty of cobblestone and dirt to do pretty much anything I can dream up.  Similarly the bulk amounts of rock that I end up clearing means I am bound to find a ton of coal and steel which helps to feed this machine.

Another thing that I regularly do is dig a staircase down to bedrock, and which point I start digging mine shafts in search of diamonds.  My first diamonds this time I found as I reached the bottom without much effort, but I spent a chunk of last night clearing things out, trying to avoid the magma and an underground lake that I found.  Magma is always the real challenge when you get down to the bottom level of the world, because if you dig long enough you are going to eventually encounter it and risk it flooding your tunnel network with fiery death.  I crafted this tunnel network underneath my first cave base, and in the second outpost I am slowly crafting my way downwards by building a series of rooms and a ladder network.

It was through this ladder network that I broke into a cave complex that goes potentially all the way down to bedrock on its own.  I managed to clear my way down to a ravine in the middle of the earth, but that is as far as I went because I was running short on torches.  I could however see magma down at the bottom lighting the structure up so in theory that is another network to explore.  I need to spend some time clearing out the cave structure to craft a more deliberate path downwards so that I will not get lost down there.  That is always a problem I have in cave structures and I have tried to adopt a “torch on the right” methodology so that I can sorta see which direction I should be going based on the side of the cave the torch is on.

I think ultimately I find it relaxing reorganizing a chaotic world and crafting safe little areas for me to live in.  You know that feeling you have when you are bundled up in a blanket but it is raining hard outside?  That warmth and safety is how I feel when I am wandering around my tunnel networks.  It is a safe world that I ultimately crafted for myself… a bubble that lets me explore without ever placing myself in danger.  I know I play Minecraft way different than a lot of folks, but my methodology feels calming and relaxing.   Which ultimately is apparently the thing I am seeking out when I go into one of these turtle modes and return to the game.

Farewell Google Plus

A few days ago we got news that Google Plus had a vulnerability that exposed profile information, even when the users had flagged that as private to the circles based visibility system.  They didn’t report this until Wall Street Journal was about to break the story, so for starters that is kinda bad.  Their response to this whole situation however is interesting an unique in the tech world…  but also very google.  Instead of agreeing to fix the bug… they just decided to sunset the service as a whole.  So within the next ten months or so Google Plus as we know it will cease to exist and join the long graveyard of services that google decided to axe…  the most important of these for me personally being Reader their RSS Feed Reader.

One of the problems with Google is at the end of the day you have to remember they are primarily a search engine and advertising company.  Anything that does not align with those two missions is suspect to disappearing at a moments notice.  Part of me would like to believe that Gmail and Google Docs are safe since they are both products being sold…  but even then I think the only thing that is sacred is Search and the Advertising services that fund seemingly everything.  That means all of these products that people rely on…  Google Voice, Google Fiber in their homes or anything they may have purchased on Google Play are honestly likely suspect to the whims of whatever seemingly random business decisions Google Corporate makes.

As far as Google Plus…  I was an early adopter and had an awful lot of fun on the network.  There are a bunch of people that I never would have known were it not for the service.  It seemed to have a very high adoption rate among MMO gamers, and I used it almost rabidly around the launch of Star Wars the Old Republic with a good deal of our guild coming from connections made through Google Plus.  It was almost a simpler version of the internet, when no one seemed to worry about follow counts or were afraid of interactions…  and instead sort of widely followed anyone who seemed to have anything even vaguely close to similar interests.

What made Google Plus special however was the Circles system, or a way of walling off certain groups of users from seeing content not intended for them.  I had tons of circles for various interests, and it felt safe to be open and free with ideas and opinions… when you are targeting a specific community in mind.  Granted what this meant in practice for myself and other bloggery types is we sort of made Plus a massively multiplayer chat engine.  I regularly posted these massive diatribes about various in game things…  instead of posting them on my blog which in itself was a bit of a problem.  The rapid fire nature of getting interaction and commentary made it super appealing, and I think there were some folks who largely switched to “blogging” through G+ at the time.

It was not a network without controversy, and the biggest one for me personally was the enforcement of Real Names sometime in 2011.  I started dinking around with the internet as a whole in 1993-ish which in some minds makes me an early adopter… and in other minds makes me a babe in the woods.  Regardless… back then there was a golden rule of using the internet…  NEVER SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION WITH ANYONE.  You never knew who was on the other end of the connection talking to you, and as such you really shouldn’t give them any information that they might be able to use to harm you.  As such I have a really hard time actually using personal information online, and this is why you either see me posting as “Bel Temple” or “Belghast Sternblade”, because I grew up in a culture that used handles to relate to each other and real names.

It is not that I am trying to hide my identity or troll anyone, because I have been using the name Belghast as a static gaming moniker for decades… and honestly before that I went by Exeter on IRC.  Those are real identities to me, much like the handles that I know people by are similarly real.  I know Ashgar’s real name, and have met face to face with him on several occasions…  but I still end up calling him Ash because that is his name in my brain.  I mean gaming culture sort of does this, in that we relate to each other by tags and handles that seem just as real as any other attribute that you might associate with someones name.  Regardless I played along for awhile and branded my Google Plus by my actual name…  and it made me deeply uncomfortable the entire time.  “Bel Temple” was my eventual half way point, since I do actually respond to “Bel” in real life just as often as I do “Mark”.

Ultimately it wasn’t a controversy that drove me away from Google Plus, but instead a whole sequence of things that are likely unrelated.  In April of 2013 I rededicated myself to blogging and started posting on Tales of the Aggronaut every single day of the week and managed to carry that forward for a little over three years.  During that time… any energy or thoughts that I might have posted on Google Plus… I instead directed towards the blog which was in constant need of fodder.  It took several months before I realized that I just wasn’t interacting on the network anymore.  Even then… I couldn’t seem to find the oomph to get reconnected.  Folks faded away, things started getting more political… and my interest in social media in general waned.

The truth is…  my appetite for interaction is in twitter sized bites and not grand multi paragraph posts anymore.  I miss the golden age of Google Plus much like I miss the golden age of any thing that I have interacted with and then ultimately out grew.  It bums me out a little bit that it is going away, but at the same time… much like other things I have mourned like Toys R Us or City of Heroes…  I wasn’t actually using it myself.  I think the future of Facebook like interaction will ultimately belong to things like Diaspora that allow you to carve up small but interconnected communities, much like we have with Mastodon and Nineties.cafe.  I find myself feeling less comfortable being part of the hive, and instead wanting to be part of smaller guild sized communities.  I don’t really think I am alone in this.

Whatever the case though…  Google Plus is leaving and with it I do mourn the promise of what it was for awhile and what it could have been.  I noticed this morning that when the news broke on October 8th they apparently did something to break the syndication process, and with it all of my posts went back to being shared only with myself.  However I plan on syndicating this one specifically with Google Plus manually.  While I have a ton of different social media accounts, in truth the only three that actually matter are as follows.

I can be pretty slow to respond at times unless I am actively engaged with a given network at that moment, however those are the three that I actually use by choice.  Everything else I am mostly just using as a syndication platform for Tales of the Aggronaut and is ultimately not likely going to get an interactive response from me.  If we only have contact through Google Plus, and you don’t want that connection to die… then I suggest you follow me from one of those.  Then again if you have made it this far…  you can just quietly watch from the wings as I continue to do my daily blog posts and weekly podcasts.

Outdoor Cat

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This morning there is not going to be much of a blog post because reasons.  I am just flat out struggling today to get my act together enough to string coherent words today.  Additionally my middle cat has made it her job this morning to try and walk across my keyboard as many times as humanly possible this morning.  Additionally I spent some time playing with the outdoor cat.  We don’t know the cats name, but it is a super sweet bobtail tabby that started following my wife while walking…  and to keep him from getting super lost she started feeding him as a distraction.  This turned into a morning ritual where he shows up at the door looking for food…  and since he is super sweet and friendly we feed him.  Still a little skittish, but from what we have found out.. he technically belongs at a house about five doors down…  who also regularly feeds him.

Regardless …  adorable cat…  wanted food this morning so I stopped what I was doing and obliged and then proceeded to get headbutted periodically while the vigorous “monching” proceeded.  I mean it is a pretty great start to the day and I am pretty sure the rest of the day will be downhill from here.

As far as gaming goes I attempted to run Looking For Raid last night… and wound up bailing on the last boss of the new wing that opened up.  There is some heinous trash before hand and a combination of the tanks and dps kept trying to pull all of it at the same time summarily wiping us.  I suffered through three of these wipes before I finally said screw it and bailed.  Maybe by the weekend people will have sorted out not to do that…  or it will get hotfixed to remove some of the trash.  Regardless I got a nice trinket…  which is when the begging began.  Shortly after it dropped I started getting random tells from people wanting to get it from me.  I had already equipped because I liked it better than one of my trinkets.  However one person went so far as to berrade me for equipping it since I already had a 350 in that slot, and that I should be sharing.

This is the point at which I blocked the person and moved on with my life, but this sort of behavior has seemingly become more rampant.  Any time I decide to pug something I’ve seen a significant uptick in loot beggers and it is just annoying.  I really wish there was a flag to keep your loot from showing up publicly, and thereby masking you from any of those addons that try and determine if the person who got the loot deserved it.  The truth is I don’t really want to be in a LFR in the first place…  it makes it worse that I now have to deal with a line of randos vying for the single item that I managed to get during the week from ANY content so far.  I think this feels worse right now than it did in other expansions because the loot feels super scarce and unsatisfying.  As a result when someone begs for an item my guttural knee jerk reaction is “fuck you, get your own damned loot”, which again… is not a healthy stance to take towards a video game.

Essentially as I talked about last night, there is a certain set of circumstances that have created this environment that just feels bad.  No one factor is the cause, but instead in some sort of a SimCity-esc RCI meter…  all of the settings have been tweaked to awful at the same time and it is making the entire experience feel suddenly worse than it ever did.  That is not to say that there are also not an awful lot of things going right.  I have legitimately enjoyed the storyline quite a bit, but the story…  is a limited quantity that is over quickly and instead what remains is all of the repeatable content loops that now feel sort like an off balance washing machine careening towards eventually spilling its load.  The artwork as well is completely on point.  The alliance side areas for example are some of the best looking I have seen in any expansion.  I feel bad about complaining all of the time, but ultimately that is the experience I am feeling so as such I share it with you my readers.