Brief Goldrush

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Screen Grab from WoWToken.info

Yesterday was kind of a shit day.  I got to work around 7 am, ran around like a chicken with my head cut off and didn’t get home until after 6:30 pm.  To make matters worse I wound up skipping breakfast with the idea of just grabbing something from the cafeteria in the basement…  but apparently they changed hands and are no longer open at a reasonable hour for breakfast eating.  When I got home I ate some left overs and planned on largely chilling out on the sofa with my laptop, however within minutes I was falling asleep at the keyboard.  Instead of opting to consume caffeine to forcibly prop my eyelids open like I do so many nights…  I simply went with it and crashed hard.  I know I woke up a few times, one of which I vaguely remember going to the kitchen to get a drink…  but for the most part I was completely dead to the world not really becoming aware of my surroundings until about five minutes before the alarm was set to go off this morning.  Bel is still a very sick Bel, and while I am taking some stuff whatever respiratory hell that I picked up at PAX South seems to be lingering.  Unfortunately work is absolutely madness right now and we are pushing towards a hard deadline…  one that honestly made me think if going to PAX was a good idea at all in the first place.  So I am suffering through it, and largely just collapsing into my desk chair and trying to think clear thoughts…  that is until yesterday when a firestorm erupted not even vaguely related to said deadline.  All of the sudden I am back in the same meetings I attended six months ago… and being told to develop the same solution I suggested six months ago but was largely told wasn’t needed.  Suffice to say… it was a miserable day to be a Bel.

As a result I don’t have much that is exciting to talk about other than the fact that something strange happened.  We had essentially a virtual run on the banks in the form of the WoW Token going from 60,000 gold to 115,000 gold and back down to around 66,000 gold all within a 36 hour period.  So what caused this?  Well quite simply the law of supply and demand, but more importantly the release of the ability to fund “Battle.net Balance” from consuming a WoW token instead of simply trading it in for subscription time.  If you will indulge me in a quick side bar here…  didn’t Blizzard say that as far as branding goes “Battle.net” was going away?  I find it bizarre that they are rolling out a new feature with this same branding instead of simply calling it “Blizzard Balance” or something super generic like that.  Essentially all of those folks with pent up desires for products on the Blizzard store, suddenly had the ability to cash in their bankroll and buy those things pushing the demand for tokens way higher than the demand for actual gold.  In truth this should have been foreseen given that there will always be a constant need for things on the store that previously cost cash, but there is a constantly dwindling number of aspirational gold needs in the game.  Sure you could really drop a silly amount of money and buy outright that 2 million gold spider mount…  but at the end of the day it does nothing but sit there as a supposed status symbol.  Whereas in the past with the Tundra Mammoth and Yak… those greatly improved game-play especially when it came to leveling alts.  However I won’t lie that the thought of being able to sell a token and purchase the Alliance motorcycle did cross my mind as something I might be willing to do.

What I want to talk about more than anything else is the absolute windfall that this means for Blizzard.  When you purchase a token for $20 it can be then traded for goods valuing $15…  be it in the form of a monthly subscription or now in $15 of Battle.net balance that can then be spent on anything from physical merchandise to the digital services they provide.  Every time a token changes hands Blizzard makes $5 off the top, regardless of what it is spent on.  My theory is that a lot of the tokens over the last two days were spent purchasing digital services… like character moves or renames… things that folks had been wanting to do for a long period of time but just been unwilling to cough up hard currency to make it happen.  If that is the case then every single one of these token purchases also essentially amounted to pure profit.  I have been a long time critic of the prices that Blizzard charges for character moves or renames… when essentially they are charging for access to what is now a completely automated and scripted interaction.  Once upon a time there was a labor cost associated with these services, because someone manually kicked off a SQL script to make it happen…  however that has not been the case for over a decade and the price never actually went down.  If folks spent their tokens on digital game purchases, or in game items for Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm or Overwatch… then again that is mostly pure profit.  The only time there are serious physical expenses factoring in is if someone purchase tangible items on the store like a Murloc plush or an Overwatch hoodie.  Even then…  they are still making a decent profit on that item or they would not be selling it.  Basically the Token system allows Blizzard to double dip and make a profit on the front end and the back end of every purchase… and at the same time ensures that the folks that are grinding out the gold are actively playing their properties.

In truth I think we can expect one of these “runs on the bank” each time something new is released from Blizzard.  A new champion in Heroes of the Storm… bam the token price inflates as folks scurry to purchase it.  The Diablo 3 expansion pack that adds Necromancers releases…  same thing… a rush to sell off some gold to purchase the thing that folks want.  I think of this much like the lottery system, in that once the reward gets to a certain point… it brings people out of the woodwork that would never normally buy tickets.  Personally that price point is somewhere around 300 million dollars for a lottery, because that prompts me to start buying the occasional one off ticket here and there on the vague chance that I will actually win.  For WoW players that price point seems to be 100,000 gold for the US economy and 200,000 gold for the EU economy.  The bizarre part of this is that I don’t think the balance feature is even available on the EU realms yet, and it absolutely had no effect on China, Taiwan, or South Korea yet… but in truth those three markets are madness anyways. Regardless… the fact that players can now cash in their gold for tangible goods… that they could then in theory sell on secondary markets like Ebay tells me that we are going to change the dynamic considerably.  You have just essentially let players start turning game time in to real dollars, which is a strange paradigm and one that is not entirely dissimilar to the traditional third party gold markets.  Granted this is going to be a SUPER lossy process, but one that will exist nonetheless.  One that more than likely only the most sage of gold making wizards will ever figure out how to tap.  Things are going to be really strange from this point out.

[Edit] I just heard from my friend Nyn that you cannot apparently use Battle.net balance to fund physical items… so that at least negates some of my commentary.  However that does mean that tokens going to Battle.net balance are essentially going to be largely pure profit for Blizzard.

Learning from Destiny: Loot Scaling

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Last night I was a bad human being.  It was a pretty rough day at work because of reasons that I can’t really go into.  So when I got home I decided to boot up Destiny and check out the newest running of the Iron Banner event.  Quite literally the next thing I know it, it was almost 11 pm and I had spent the entire evening playing the game.  This would have been no big deal were it not for the fact that Tuesday nights are a night set aside generally for Final Fantasy XIV and raiding there.  I will have to send out my apologies later, but this is a testament to just how fun this “looter shooter” still is.  For those who are uninitiated… the Iron Banner is a PVP event, and one that I participate in freely and actually look forward to.  The reason behind this is that there is exclusive loot each time it runs from an awesome set of Iron Wolves themed gear and weapons.  During year two this was an amazing way to get increases in your overall light levels, and with year three the gear that is available is completely new and fresh.  Generally speaking each month the event brings two pieces of armor and two weapons, and this time around we have arms, class items, shotgun and auto rifle.  These items can be gained through rewards at the end of the match, or by ranking up with the Iron Banner faction and purchasing specific rolls of each off the new leader of the Iron Banner…  Lady Efrideet.  This time around the daily quests reward loot instead of just getting packages at rank 3 and rank 5, and I managed to complete two armor packages and two weapons packages.  I also managed to get to almost rank 4 in faction in the first night, which tells me that they are trying really hard to make this event feel like less of a grind.  As far as drops… I got one awful roll on the Auto Rifle, and four pairs of the gauntlets… most of which are going to be used as infusion fuel for my Hunter and Warlock whenever I get around to playing them.

Distant Cousins

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For lack of a better term, Bungie and Blizzard are cousins because they exist as part of the same larger company of Activision Blizzard.  In fact it is rumored that during the planning for Taken King, Bungie had a sit down with the developers from Diablo 3 to talk about the lessons learned in crafting the “Loot 2.0” patch.  Now it took a lot of tweaking but I feel like Bungie finally landed on a version of that formula that works for them.  There are similar references in World of Warcraft Legion that draw ties back to Destiny, the most obvious is the above NPC in Dalaran that is named after the weekly NPC that shows up bringing awesome things and trading them for strange coins.  However it feels like there are still a lot of lessons that the World of Warcraft team could learn from the things that Destiny is doing right.  The games are designed very differently, but Destiny seems to have accomplished the holy grail of modern MMOs…  being able to create static content that players will be willing to repeat over and over.  The majority of the strike and crucible playlists are all pretty well worn at this point, but the way rewards are handed out makes a huge difference in the willingness of players to keep pushing forward and attacking the content.

Predictable Upgrades

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Warcraft Legion is an expansion full of variable loot tables that shift and change through the use of the Warforging and Titanforging systems.  This was a definite good step forward, because it gives a slightly glimmer of hope that something interesting might come from the forty ninth time you are running Eye of Azshara to help a guildie through it.  The problem however is that it still feels like that glimmer of hope is an extremely tiny one.  Lets take the Looking For Raid system for example to throw some numbers at.  The baseline for all loot in that “raid” is 835, and more than likely if you defeat the personal loot boss…  the item you are going to walk away with is that low item level.  The zone as a whole has a maximum possible light level of 870, meaning that there is an extremely slim chance of still getting something useful from there if you run it on your main.  Right now in Belghast I am sitting at 854 item level, and that means that most of the content that I run in the game other than normal or high mode raids, is not going to produce me any upgrades.  However in the back of my head I know that it is theoretically possible, and I am having a hard time reconciling what is likely to happen with what might possibly happen.  I mean I did manage to get a SECOND legendary last night off of an emissary chest… so I have more luck than I should have at times.

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In World of Warcraft we have “Item Levels” but Destiny has essentially the same concept called “Light Levels”.  Getting higher light means you perform better, just like getting higher item levels in theory means you have the potential to perform better.  How Bungie handled this problem of potential for drop versus actual level dropping is that they started creating items based on the players current stats.  So if I get a weapon in the game to drop from a package or decoding from an engram…  its light level is set based on my current converted light level.  Right now I am sitting at 351 light in Destiny, and I have a handful of items that are over that level but that is my average.  When I get a new item it means that item will be 351 light or better, generally within a range of 5 light, so up to 356 in this case.  Legendary engrams and item drops currently seem to have a cap around 385 in game, so I will continue to be able to keep leap frogging my way through light levels by consistently receiving upgrades each time something new drops.  World of Warcraft loot should work like this, meaning that each time I do a quest out in the world…. the item of the level rewarded should be based on what my current item level is.  I’ve had friends who have received up to 870 items from World Quests, so it does not seem unreasonable that any loot I get from doing them… should be at a minimum whatever my current average item level is.

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In order to really make this feel right, I think World of Warcraft would also have to move away from the current tiered system of item levels.  Right now if we go back to the example of LFR, an item when it drops can be 835, 840, 845, 850, 855, 860, 865, or 870.  Each time some combination of stats and “forged” suffix changes and tweaks up the stats and item level.  It just feels like it would simply be cleaner for the purpose of giving players a constant but incremental flow of new gear… for each item to just have a variable level.  So you could then get an item that was 844 or 858 depending upon what your current item level happened to be.  The items we know are simply mathematical equations, with this or that stat scaling based on the item level.  So in theory it should be just as easy to show you an item that was 862 as one that is 860, but the constant progression of slow bites of the apple as you keep improving your stats for me at least would feel better than running a bunch of content and seeing nothing but disenchant fodder as a result.  This hit home especially hard as I have been trying to run mythic and heroics with friends to get them geared up… and so often when the personal loot boss finally submits… the end product is not an upgrade at all.  As a result we have started trying to stack armor types, so that in theory at least SOMEONE in the party could benefit from the item.  There are honestly a lot more lessons that I feel like Blizzard and the WoW team could learn from the way Destiny works, and I might elaborate on them in additional posts… but this loot post was a good starting place.

Instant Relevance

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King of Match Three

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Yesterday morning was the Activision Blizzard earnings call for investors, and much of the focus has been on one particular tidbit of information.  They announced that they are acquiring Candy Crush maker King Digital for the sum of $5.9 Billion dollars.  The reaction to this announcement has been pretty varied, because in truth…  many “core” gamers loath the concept of games like Candy Crush.  First off there is some confusion to clear up.  Activision Blizzard is not the same thing as Blizzard Entertainment, so early reports I saw talked about Blizzard buying King Digital…  which caused some outrage.  Activision Blizzard is the big parent company that pulls all the strings of the various products from Call of Duty to Skylanders to of course the Blizzard franchises.  At first I have to admit I was taken by surprise by the announcement but that pretty much went away immediately when I thought about it.  In doing this deal ActiBlizz is essentially buying instant relevance in the traditional mobile gaming market.

Now you might be saying to yourself… But Bel, Activision and Blizzard already doing mobile gaming.  Sure they do… but they do it in a way that attempts to appeal to “core” gamers that are wanting something on their phone to play when they don’t have access to their normal gaming platforms.  This is a vastly different market than the one that King Digital generally focuses on which are for lack of a better term “casual” and “mobile exclusive” users that would never in a million years… consider themselves gamers.  Essentially King Digital targets people like my wife, that spends plenty of time playing games on her iPad but does not in any fashion think of herself as a gamer.  So in essence with this one… albeit expensive acquisition, they now cover a market that they did not serve in any fashion.  Sure Hearthstone is a great mobile game… but it really only draws in people who already are in the fold of “gamers”.  The big thing is all of these “non-gamers” have prove time and time again that they are in fact willing to spend money on micro-transactions.

What This Means

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In truth I doubt for the short term it really means anything.  Activision will continue releasing big budget shooters like Call of Duty and Destiny… and Blizzard will continue flirting with e-sports while still not quite certain what to do with World of Warcraft.  Another big chunk of this earnings report was a note that the WoW subscription numbers have more or less stabilized from their post Warlords of Draenor free fall.  I feel like there is some fuzzy math at work here, but according to the official figures they have dropped from 5.6 Million to 5.5 Million.  There was a strange little definition that was released to explain what they determined a subscriber.

Subscriber Definition: World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees’ territories are defined along the same rules.

This makes me think that these subscription numbers are in fact counting WoW Token players… seeing as how that would count as “prepaid” access.  So the actual month to month subscription numbers would be a bit lower.  To some extent I wish they would have broken those numbers out separately… since a monthly sub is semi-guaranteed income, and a token is a one time purchase.  The other big news however is that they plan on this being the last month they actually announce subscription numbers.  Instead they have a new sort of engagement number formula that they are working on to determine the health of the game.

At first glance this sounds a bit odd… and maybe like they are trying to hide losses within the cloak of mathematics.  However… we are just days away from Blizzcon and it makes me wonder.  Will this finally be the year that they announce World of Warcraft going to a free to play model?  Cutting the ties of relying on subscriptions to convey the health of the game… would at least be one step in that direction.  If I were Blizzard I would be seriously considering it… because honestly Free to Play seems to work.  With the recent high publicity relaunch of Wildstar… that game is doing significantly better now than it was, and the same was essentially true with Star Wars the Old Republic went to the model.  Free to Play has been the salvation of otherwise dying games… and even though World of Warcraft is far from dying…  I still think they would benefit from the switch.  It would be a massive shift in methodology and would probably change the way content is delivered, but it would also bring back a bunch of players that want to dip their toes in the game every now and then… but not feel like they are chained to a subscription.  Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone are both wildly success as Free to Play experiences… and with Overwatch starting to ramp up and following that same model…  it just seems like Blizzard has wrestled with how to make it work.

What I Hope Happens

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So while I don’t think anything will change for a bit… my hope is that through this deal there is some cross pollination of skillsets.  I would love to see better integration of mobile platforms and traditional games.  As you know I have been playing a lot of Destiny… and quite honestly the way that game works is just not as clean as it should.  There are a lot of things that you can do through the website…  slightly different things that you can do through the mobile app… and even a different set of things through the game itself.  The entire process feels cludgy as hell… but an attempt to move in the direction of giving players access to tools outside of the game.  Now if you take that basic desire and match it with a company that has proven that they can spin the same old match three schlock into infectious gold…  you can maybe create really interesting experiences that span traditional platforms and mobile gaming ones.

What I would love to see is a better mobile app for World of Warcraft.  Why can’t we fish on our mobile phones and have it grant skill-ups and materials for our characters in game?  Why can’t we do the normally tedious action of Archaeology in a mobile mini-game?  Garrisons themselves were essentially the same sort of thing as a tiny tower like mobile game…  why didn’t exist on mobile platforms allowing people to do the upkeep and maintenance activities when they couldn’t otherwise play the game?  Why can’t we have a significantly better auction house integration system?  Essentially…  give players a reason to stay in the game by making them feel more connected to it.. on their own terms.  A big part of my frustration with Garrisons is that I knew I had a one to two hour ritual waiting on me every time I logged into the game, before I could feel like I was free to do interesting things…  like slay internet dragons.  If I could do Garrisons while walking to my car at night, or on my lunch break… it would take some of that burden away so that I knew once I got home… I could do the fun stuff without having to worry about the “paperwork”.  Essentially we live our lives on our phones…  and the games that integrate better with how we live our lives are going to feel more “real” to us.

 

 

Overwatch Frustrations

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Overwatch Hype
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On Tuesday October 27th Blizzard opened the doors of Closed Beta for it’s highly anticipated shooter called Overwatch.  As you might expect, the internet as a whole quickly lost their shit and reverted to a state of chain refreshing the battle.net account page to see if they were among the lucky few to get granted access.  What I did not expect however was all of the infighting this process called as folks essentially called down a pox on the house of those who did manage to get in.  It is one thing to be frustrated that you did not get into whatever the hot new Beta happens to be, but it is an entirely different to wish harm upon those who did.  There were even a few folks who decided to flail about declaring that their not getting into Beta shows how little Blizzard cares.  Others talk about how they should have earned access with this or that deed.  At first I thought to myself…  are we really this entitled?  Because seriously… there have been some serious entitlement issues going on over the last few days.

Then I noticed something else happening that disturbs me even more.  For those mere mortals like myself that do not make a living off gaming…  then absolutely it would be entitlement.  However for the folks that make a living through creating content related to Blizzard games…  I started to read this impotently lashing out…  as cold hard fear.  When you make your money by presenting the freshest content on your Stream or your YouTube channel… you are in essence relying on being able to play whatever everyone else is playing.  Not having access means you are missing out on all of these eyeballs that are now suddenly flocking to the internet to gaze into the window at those chosen few who get to play whatever game they want to play.  Right or wrong…  Blizzard is essentially saying who is really important to the future of their product and who is not.

The Hunt for Eyeballs

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I am a shitty Streamer and an even worse YouTuber…  but the most eyeballs I have ever had on my collective “stuff” is when I happened to get into the first wave of Alpha invites to Trove.  I got to be one of a handful of people playing around with that game, and broadcasting it to the world and it was really noticeable.  It is 6:30 in the morning right now… and one of the Overwatch streamers has over 10,000 viewers at this hour.  During prime time… Overwatch has consistently been the highest watched game on the network.  When you tune into one of these streams, especially the ones going on during the day… you will see a who’s who of internet celebrities fighting each other.  Whether or not they intended it… Blizzard did essentially judge who was important to them and who was not by determining who got into that first wave of invites.  That can be a pretty harsh reality check, especially if you have essentially devoted your career to supporting Blizzard products.

What worries me more however is what this says about the current state of video games in general.  I remember how I felt the first time I got into a Friends and Family Alpha program… or FFA.  I remember the excitement, and the desire to tell the entire world…  but the reality that was I was bound behind a very serious Non Disclosure Agreement.  I remember for one of these FFA programs I had to fax in a signed copy of a thirty page document back to the studio before being granted access.  What made this work is that the company could literally focus on testing the game… rather than having to showcase it to the public 24/7.  Sure it is frustrating to be in a thing that you cannot share… and sure it sucks for streamers especially to need to play something that they cannot show off to their viewers.  However I think the model worked pretty damned well because up until these last few years it has been the model that almost all of the games you can think about nostalgically have been released under.  It lets testing happen beyond the prying eyes of the public and bugs get fixed before it is ready for people to see it.  The problem is… we the gamers have started to feel that there is something dishonest about this process… and that if a company isn’t completely transparent in every single minute action that they take…  that it must be the sign of something horrible going on behind the scenes.

Marketing Cycle

 

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The big problem is…   we bore of games before they are released.  There are games out there that seem to have permanent alpha and beta cycles, and as we go through seeing them displayed on our screens for two years…  then the final release just seems lacking.  There have been numerous times on AggroChat for example when someone brings up a title… and I have to ask “wait that actually released?”.  There is this constant battle to control the hype cycle about a game, and make sure that your product is getting enough spin among the social media influencers.  So when a game like Overwatch goes into one of these lengthy beta cycles…  the company needs these streamers just as much as the streamers need the game to showcase to their viewers.  They need those all important eyeballs peeping their wares… and getting excited enough to plunk down their hard earned money to purchase goods in it.  The frustrating thing about it… is it feels like we are always in a hype cycle for something.  It becomes much like the American Political system… where the candidates… or games in this case are always running for the next election.  The market at this point is simply saturated with new titles that all sound interchangeable.  MOBA with FPS roots…  FPS with MOBA Character Styling…  FPS gameplay MOBA spirit…  the marketing spin that gets applied to games just seems meaningless after awhile.

Where I really start to get frustrated however is when this hype machine starts hurting people.  Sure watching someone have an internet meltdown is entertaining while it goes on… but behind the screen is someone obviously in pain.  I am not coming out to support those tantrums… but I am coming out to say that for all that is good and right in the world…  lets stop hurting each other over a game.  I have been just like you among those people frantically checking my battle.net account each time a new wave of invites comes out.  So I get it… I get the desire to play that new shiny game.  I’ve done this cycle over and over, and will continue doing this cycle until the games industry changes the way it works.  Even if I want something really badly…  I make it a goal in life to be excited for the people who are having good things happen to them…  rather than being that selfish person who is lashing out at others because they got left out.  I get the frustration and fear especially if you make your living from this sort of thing…. but having a meltdown in front of your followers isn’t going to help either.  The truth is… we are eventually all going to get in… and the additional truth is…  most of us will play a handful of games and then move on to the next shiny thing.  This is not as important as we happen to be making it out right now… and within a years time…  this will feel like another silly incident in the gaming community.  What will stick around however… is how people feel about you and the way you have treated them.  So lets just be awesome to each other while we wait for the next hype cycle to spin up.

 

Universal Patronage

Account Social Systems

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One of the things I have been spoiled on by playing quite a few Blizzard games is the existence of Battle.net as a common backbone.  When RealID was originally released, I have to admit it bothered me quite a bit.  I don’t actually use my real name very much online, and it isn’t necessarily because I am trying to obfuscate who I am… but more that I come from an era in the internet when everyone was their “handle”.  Someones handle is more distinct and meaningful for me… than telling me their real name and oddly enough I have a much easier time remembering it.  For example… I know several dozen folks with the last name of Smith…  but I only know one Scopique.  As Blizz took a step back they created the Battle Tag system and since then I have been happily known as Belghast#1752 making it significantly easier to meet up with people regardless of what Blizzard game they happen to be playing.  This has been the case with most modern game releases, that they have some underlying account based system that allows me to quickly meet up with my friends by giving them a single idea that relates to all of my characters.

The problem is… when this system is missing I really notice it.  It has been a recent struggle while playing Star Wars the Old Republic and the various Trion Worlds games.  Sure it is nice to have disconnected alts that you can go hide on… but I have been willing to give up this for the convenience of being easily available.  The thing that I find confusing with both SWTOR and Trion is that in both cases they have an underlying system that they could rely on for communication purposes.  For SWTOR you have Origin chat… which is pretty horrible, but could at least serve as some common connective tissue.  In the same of Trion Worlds though you have a shared account structure that through the use of the Glyph client gives you access to all of the games on your account.  All that really seems to be missing is a single “Glyph ID” and a chat infrastructure built around it.  The best feature of Blizzard games right now is that you can take your friend list with you into any game you go.  So while I am not playing World of Warcraft, I can still keep touch with my WoW playing friends while I am in Diablo or Heroes of the Storm.  It would be so nice if I could do this same thing while playing  Trove, Rift, ArcheAge or eventually Devilian.  Please make this a thing Trion Worlds!

Universal Patronage

ARCHEAGE 2015-06-18 11-13-03-53

While I am asking things of Trion Worlds this morning… I thought I would go ahead and throw in another thing.  One of the features of the old Sony Online Entertainment games that I really enjoyed was the concept of the “All Access Pass”.  Where you could pay one premium account price and get subscription level access to all of their games.  I think back in the day it was something like $25 per month for an All Access account, instead of the individual $15 a month for each game.  I loved this concept because it allowed me to pop back and forth freely between their games when I was in the mood to actively play them.  The problem there is that for SOE and now Daybreak games… they are all titles that I play in spurts.  However since the launch of Rift there has never been a time when I was not at least sometimes playing this game.  While I may not play it seriously most of the time, I still keep poking my head in it.  Similarly I am really enjoying the current state of ArcheAge, and I love poking my head into Trove.  With the addition of Devilian to their lineup… it seems that I am ending up with a situation much like that of SOE where there are lots of different games that I wouldn’t mind playing.

The problem being that I simply cannot justify Patron access to ALL of them.  So I have to pick and choose which game I want to activate at a given time.  However if there was some sort of universal patron account that allowed me to pay one fee and gain patron access to all of their games… I would absolutely do it in a heartbeat.  In the long run I think it would be a net win, since I doubt there are many people out there who are actively maintaining multiple patron subscriptions.  You get a little bit per month out of the folks who were already subbing, to give them access to your entire library of games.  This also allows you to do cross promotions between them, allowing the achievements in one game to maybe grant you something nifty in another game.  This is again one of the strengths of Blizzards stable of games is that they are all interconnected at least to some extent.  I feel the same sort of loyalty towards Trion Worlds as others do towards Blizzard, and I just think it would be awesome for something of this sort to happen.  I realize Trion is a weird case in the fact that ArcheAge and Devilian for example are not developed in house…  but my hope is that there is enough control on the back end systems to be able to implement a sort of universal patronage account.

Gigantic Codes

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I have been sitting on an email that I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do with it.  Gigantic is finally leaving its Alpha process and entering Closed Beta, and with it they are loosening the restrictions a bit and handing out friend codes to a lot of the folks who have been in the closed process for awhile now.  There are some constraints on these however and I think it is important to mention that.  Right now Gigantic is exclusive to Windows 10 and Xbox One, which I find mildly frustrating since it ran perfectly fine on Windows 8 up until this latest push.  This however is a listed requirement, and since I have not been actively testing of late…  I have to assume it is probably a legitimate requirement.  If you are interested in checking the game out you have to hit the link below and redeem one of the codes I am posting.  This is of course a first come first served sort of deal, but I figured the best option was to share them with my readers.

https://www.gogigantic.com/redeem

  • Key 1: 4GB2KE5-I5FBYD-G433KKI-KN723Q
  • Key 2: BSKA5FG-SOFHUL-CCVNKBD-WLBRHQ
  • Key 3: ZIBOYHQ-ZQVHHX-FC3JL5T-6CMMKQ
  • Key 4: 3ML4C2H-RXJD5N-DRCJX3T-I5PAVU

Good luck! Hope to see you in game in the near future!

[Edit] and those went WAY faster than I expected them to.  Hopefully you all enjoy closed beta!

Blizzard Does Not Need WoW

The Elephant in the Room

WoW-64 2014-01-14 06-28-25-45

I figure this morning I would cut with any sidebar discussions and get straight into the topic that was on everyones lips yesterday…  the Blizzard Q2 Earnings call.  If you remember during the Q1 2015 earnings call they announced a drop to 7.1 million subscribers after a peak of 10 million during the Warlords of Draenor launch bump.  I think we all knew that the numbers would be down, at least incidentally based on our own experiences from the game.  I have to say that I thought WoW token would be more of a game changer, and when they announced that World of Warcraft was down to 5.6 million subscribers I figured that the Token numbers would bolster this amount.  However based on further information it appears that this number does include token subscribers as well.  In truth this number likely does not fully account for the actual loss.  Personally I would consider myself no longer playing World of Warcraft, but my account does not actually die until mid September.  There are several folks in similar holding patterns in our guild waiting on their time to tick down as well.

MMOChampGraph As always MMO Champion has a spiffy graph charting the subscription numbers since the release of the game.  To put things into proper perspective, the subscription numbers are exactly what the subscription numbers were in December of 2005 roughly a year after the initial launch of the game.  This has lead some folks to point out that when you iron out the outliers like the Warlords of Draenor bump you end up with a standard curve that you might expect for a game of this longevity.  There was a lot to be gleaned from the earnings call, but one of the major points I got out of it.. is that while they have already announced that the World of Warcraft expansion would be revealed Thursday at Gamescom, they left it off of the list of products planned for the rest of the year.  That tells me that at the very best the expansion will be a Q1 2016 release.  That means that there will be at a minimum of a six month lag between content patches, and at worst…  honestly who knows what the worse case scenario could be.  Hopefully this will not be anywhere near as long as the content drought after 5.4, but I am seriously hoping that they reconsider Hellfire being the final patch of the expansion.

Blizzard Does Not Need WoW

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2015-06-03 23-26-08-94

I feel like the takeaway from the earnings call is not that World of Warcraft has fallen by 1.5 million subscribers in a quarter.  Anyone who was not expecting this was living in a rose colored world.  Quite honestly I half expected it to be a bigger drop just based on my own experiences.  The real take away for me however is that in spite of losing this many players Activision Blizzard had one of its strongest quarters yet.  During the earnings call there were repeated mentions of “diversification of product offerings”, which tells me that Blizzard no longer considers themselves the “World of Warcraft” company.  They see the writing on the way, that their juggernaut is winding down, and they have replaced its revenue by more agile games that are significantly easier to support.  The hard truth is that Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm are making them lots and lots of money.  When Overwatch launches you can damn well bet that it is also going to make them equally large piles of money, further diluting the need for World of Warcraft.

There was a time when Warcraft was the prize bull, but that is simply no longer the case.  If you think of it from a pure numbers perspective it makes sense.  Hearthstone for example is a digital card game, and the bulk of the assets that are created for it are two dimensional images.  Granted they are awesome looking but they do not require the amount of time it takes to create three dimensional textured models and even more so huge three dimensional worlds for players to explore.  The type of content that goes into games like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm is just simply cheaper to produce than the amount of time that goes into building an entire world filled with hundreds of quest givers that have to be debugged and cross checked to make sure they are not breaking something else.  To make matters worse… this expensive content is something we are extremely good at either avoiding or burning through as quickly as possible.  The hunger for new content is never changing, there is never a point where we the players will ever be satiated.  Adding a new playfield to Heroes of the Storm changes that game and its meta for months, and requires only a faction of the work that a single zone would take in a traditional MMO.

The Movie Tie In

warcraft-movie-logo The timing of all of this seems to coincide with the release of the Warcraft movie, but I question what exactly that means for the franchise.  All of the details behind the movie so far seem to point at this being a “Warcraft” movie and not necessarily a “World of Warcraft” movie, meaning that it takes place in a time before the MMO is set.  So does this mean that we will be doing more “timey wimey” stuff with the expansion, and we are somehow trapped in the timeline that we created by following Garrosh to Draenor?  Are we going to play a role in trying to stop a new invasion of Azeroth by Guldan and the Burning Legion?  The bigger question is… if all of this is going to happen are players going to stomach yet another storyline retcon?  These are all questions that I really don’t have an answer for.  I feel like if Blizzard has a shot in hell at rekindling the love of this game, they have to take us someplace new and unexplored, but do it in a way that feels epic like never before.  I still mark Wrath of the Lich King as the best expansion to date, and it built upon the success of Vanilla and the Burning Crusade polishing both to a mirror sheen.

This is simply something that going back in time cannot provide for me.  We’ve done the reboot of the world thing before with Cataclysm, and I found the whole process frustrating and annoying that places I once loved… simply no longer existed.  I feel the only real option is for us to take the fight to the Legion, and have an expansion where we are the ones laying siege for once.  What I want to see is an expansion where the Alliance and Horde finally put aside their difference, and with it the artificial barriers between players fall down.  I want to see an expansion that places us squarely in the path of epic battles as we lay siege to the worlds that the Legion has conquered before, slowly working our way back to their base of operation and banishing their evil from the universe.  That is the adventure that will bring players back, and anything less than that I think will ultimately feel hollow.  We have run out of villains that we care about… and the whole “Dances with Orcs” feel of both Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor has been infuriating for anyone who really doesn’t care a damn about Orcs.  Blizzard needs to prove to us that it can still create an opposition that is worth of the lineage of Arthas and Illidan, and I feel the only way they can do that is by having us take on the Burning Legion on their own territory.

Blame Acti-Blizz

Closing in on Turn Nine

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-28 17-42-52-03 Monday night is traditionally the raid night of our static group in the Greysky Armada Free Company.  I had been wondering if we would actually raid since… well the expansion was released and we are all busy leveling.  We were wondering just how a lot of things would work out, how our gear levels would scale appropriately and how effective we would be down leveled back to 50.  It turns out I was pleasantly surprised on almost all counts and we stepped foot into turn nine once more making some of the most progress we have ever made.  We actually managed to make it through a dive bomb phase unscathed, so at least now we know what that feels and looks like.  The problem is shortly after doing so…  we started our normal “death by simple mistakes” meaning we were all getting too tired to continue on.

I have hope however that maybe this weekend or next week we can step back in there and finally get a damned victory.  Right now turn nine is our white whale…  which is ironic in a game that literally has a giant flying white whale for a boss.  This is one of those things that I just want deep down in my bones now, to move past this barrier and be able to say we have beaten it.  I realize at this point it is outdated content…  but that doesn’t matter to me.  What matters to me is taking down Nael and being able to move into the Final Coil of Bahamut.  I am hoping that we will continue plugging forward and taking down this stuff even when it is no longer relevant.  It makes me happy that the game continues to be challenging even though some of our members have long since reached the new level cap of 60.  I however was on my dragoon last night which is still only level 51.

Blame Acti-Blizz

activision-blizzard I was having a conversation yesterday with a good friend of mine, about the 6.2 patch and what has worked and what has not worked.  During the course of this chat, he threw something out there as though it were just fact… that surprised me a little bit.  This friend of mine is as diehard a World of Warcraft fan as they come, and both he and his son play on a daily basis.  So to hear it from him really took me back to an earlier conversation he and I had back in 2008, to the announced merger of Activision and Blizzard.  His comment was, that the current state of the game and the seeming lack of forward momentum… is entirely to blame on the merger with Activision.  Back when this happened he said that his greatest fear was that it would change the way Blizzard interacts with its games and with its players.  Last night he said that essentially all of his worst fears have been realized, and that the game we today is a direct result of this merger.

While we cannot say this with any certainty for me at least Blizzard has been on a downhill slide since the release of Wrath of the Lich King.  That was the last “great” expansion for me personally, and represented the closing of an era when I was completely enraptured by the game.  Granted lots of things have changed, and so many other games have hit the market… but it feels like Blizzard stopped being the revolutionary market leader… and started trailing behind in the days post Activision merger.  My question is more did they simply shift focus… did they no longer care as much about the World of Warcraft community as they did their other product offerings?  It feels like WoW is a game that has been left to largely fend for itself.  There is a large amount of hype drummed up each time a new expansion releases, but then that quickly dies down and we are thrown right back into the cycle of doing just enough to keep hope alive in their player base that things will eventually get better.  The problem is… this sense of hope is fading as players are staring down the barrel of potentially another Siege of Orgrimmar like lapse in content.

Following the Money

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2015-06-03 23-26-08-94 I think the problem is that quite literally World of Warcraft is no longer Blizzards most important asset.  You can see that pretty clearly as you look at the attention paid to each of their product offerings.  The favored children of Blizzard right now are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and this is evident by how much attention they seem to be getting by the company.  You have to think about the simple economics behind that decision.  If you can create a game where people will gladly plunk down $4 for five virtual cards, and potentially do so multiple times a month…  what is the pure money benefit of spending much effort on a game where the players are ONLY paying you $15 a month.  Similarly with Heroes of the Storm you have a game where you can churn out multiple new heroes a month and sell them for the priced to own rate of $10 a piece roughly, not including the skins which are also often around the $10 price point.  I saw a recent article stating that it would cost around $1000 to purchase everything that is currently available in the in game Heroes of the Storm store.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t begrudge them either of these games because I play both of them.  The problem is… if you can churn out a few champions a month, or a new hearthstone expansion… the potential investment of time to the money it makes the company is far greater than spending the year it takes to make a brand new World of Warcraft expansion.  Even factoring in the box sales it is no wonder that the Warcraft team seems to be starved for resources when the rest of this company is thriving.  So I guess I get back to my friends point…  that the Activision merger shifted the focus of this company from making great games “whenever they were ready” to making games to maximize investor profits.  I cannot be so naive as to believe that the Blizzard of old didn’t care about profits, but I think for a long period of time they were simply shocked and baffled by their own success.  I’ve said for awhile that when you start to believe your own hype… you are setting yourself up for the fall.  I think with the Activision merger…  Blizzard saw their valuation and consumed their own hype completely.  Ultimately as I watch the company change, I fear for the state of World of Warcraft, this game that in spite of all of my better sense…  that I still care about.

Developer Appreciation Week 2015 – Part 3

Over the last several days I have been rattling off a series of studios and game teams that I appreciate.  Today will mark my final day of this process, but I am hoping that it has inspired some of you out there to make your own posts about the developers you appreciate.  The person I really appreciate is Scarybooster for getting this thing started back in I believe 2010?  Scary has a way of coming up with these great ideas, like he is the person who decided the Alliance of Awesome needed to happen as well.  Unfortunately he no longer updates his blogs, and has deleted more of them in the past than I can count.  So if you know Scary tell him he needs to stop doing that shit and keep coming up with interesting and awesome ideas.

Blizzard – Heroes of the Storm Team

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2014-12-02 22-35-45-233 I talked about League of Legends yesterday, and there is no denying it’s market domination in the MOBA arena.  The problem is League is far more complicated of a game than I care to play.  I get frustrated trying to figure out what I should build when, and then Blizzard comes along and creates an MOBA for someone like me.  This game does what Blizzard does best, boil a genre down to its most basic essence and polish it until it shines.  This is precisely how I feel about HoTS and its impact on the MOBA genre.  Through a series of quick this or that choices you can build out your character and get right back into the action without constantly being afraid that you built the wrong thing.  While friends have pointed out that this greatly limits what you can do with any given champion…  I am fine with this and in fact welcome it.  As much as I enjoy a “Tanky Darius” I would rather just have some clear messaging on what the intent of every champion was, and Heroes of the Storm gives this to me.  On top of this the map design is awesome, and each one feels equally enjoyable with its own specific mechanics.  I think the entire world is tired of playing Summoner’s Rift.

SOE/Daybreak – Landmark Team

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-14 06-10-23-64 Every time I talk about the company formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment, I do so with a little bit of heartbreak.  Daybreak is not the same company, but I feel like the people that are still there are trying their damnedest to make this situation work.  There is a lot of negative press that I could be talking about on my blog, about the poor decisions of the company managing Daybreak but for the most part I have tried not to.  I feel like there is plenty of negativity out there already on this subject, and that the people who are still there need our support now more than ever.  With that said this post goes out to everyone who has ever been a part of the Landmark game.  While I am not playing it right now, I still think it is an extremely cool concept and I keep meaning on jumping right back in.  Landmark is essentially the ultimate building game in every possible way, and the amount of stuff that the community has been able to create because of the excellent toolset developed by this team is phenomenal.  This game blew me away, and I am still constantly amazed by the sort of things I am seeing built.  So bravo to the folks who are no longer with the team, and bravo to the folks still there fighting to keep the ship going forward.

Undead Labs – All of the Them

StateOfDecay 2013-09-28 21-17-40-13 For most of these I have singled out an entire team to talk about, but this time I am breaking that trend and instead talking about an entire studio.  I love Undead Labs.  I love their spirit, and I love their dedication…  and quite honestly I love the way they interact with the public.  I remember when State of Decay was about to release on the XBox 360 I was completely pumped for it.  I went home that night played the game for several hours and then wrote a pretty gushy blog post the very next day.  Within moments of posting the blog I had it being retweeted by Annie Strain the wife of Undead Labs Founder Jeff Strain, who then proceeded to engage with me in a back and forth about my blog post and the game in general.  That sort of genuine interaction is just so damned refreshing, and it seems to extend to every single team member.  I was lucky enough to get to hang out and talk to several of them during Pax South, and they all had this infectious joy over the games they had created and were creating.  While I still desperately want a multiplayer version of State of Decay, I have faith that sooner or later the team will give me something akin to that experience.  In the meantime they just seem like a really damned cool studio, and I look forward to watching as their latest game Moonrise progresses to launch.  Additionally I feel like I am probably buying yet another copy of State of Decay as the special Year One edition should be landing shortly.

Motiga – Gigantic Team

GiganticScreenshot-TheMargrave This is another tale of me just really liking a game studio.  I went to Pax South knowing next to nothing about this game other than the fact that it existed, had a cartoony art style and used a teal and orange color scheme it all of its marketing.  I walked away from Pax South being both a fan of the game and of the team behind it.  I was lucky enough to participate in several plays of the game, and got some time to talk to several members of the development and community staff.  They all seem just as amped about this game as the players did, and it was awesome to be coached by the folks who built the game…  or have them marvel when I apparently found a bug that nobody had actually found yet.  The game is just really damned fun, and that seems to be the focus on making sure the various champion interactions are enjoyable.  I have no clue what the timeframe for this games launch is but I look forward to it anxiously.  Playing it with two other members of the AggroChat crew against a minor YouTube celebrity, and defeating him…  was pretty much the highlight of my Pax South experience.  So keep up the awesome work and I look forward to playing this game with my friends when it releases.

Every Single Game Developer

While I have singled out a handful of individuals for specific games that I really love playing…  I feel like for this final day of my #DAW2015 love fest…  I want to change things up a bit.  Basically this goes out to every single game developer out there, regardless of what you are working on or for what company.  You guys are living the dream of so many of us who did not  choose to chase it.  While there are absolutely days I’m thankful I am not in that industry, especially as another studio decimates its staff to realign for this or that reason, there are other days where I pine over the path not taken.  You folks are my rockstars, and even if you are making a game that no one will ever play…  you are being awesome.  Games bring me so much joy, and there is a cast of often nameless and faceless people who struggled through crunch time to get that product into my hands.  As I talk about the games I talk about, I try my best to always be aware of the folks behind the scenes that made it happen.  So to all the game developers out there…  keep making awesome stuff and I will keep playing it.  Thank you all.

Art of Quietly Leaving

My Happy Place

ffxiv 2014-12-22 21-16-02-55 Events over the last few days have made me realize how happy my world generally is.  I’ve managed to curate and carve up social media into being a place where mostly I find friendly faces staring back at me.  That does not mean that we always agree or always get along swimmingly, but as I said yesterday it is a place that causes me much more joy than it does frustration.  What has lead me to this realization is watching a small bit of strife happening…  but as an echo.  That is to say I am not actually seeing it in my own thread, but instead hinted at in the comments and tweets of the friends who do frequent mine.

First off… it sucks when someone or something is making you unhappy.  That said I would like to remind everyone this morning that social media exists for our own personal enjoyment.  Just because someone wants to interact with you, doesn’t mean you have an obligation to interact back especially if that person is trying to bait you into a larger fight.  While I wish the block button was a more powerful tool, with its continued use folks eventually get the message that you are not going to play in their games.  I’ve seen the adverse effect of a lot of “Sea-Lioning” and sooner or later said folks get tired of creating puppet twitter accounts only to be blocked.  I hate when I have to block someone, but ultimately my social bubble is about my happiness and not your enjoyment, and I feel if more people understood that the “twitters” would be a happier place.

Art of Quietly Leaving

WildStar64 2014-05-12 22-29-17-945 A good chunk of the most recent strife that I have seen in echo.. is that a number of high profile individuals are leaving World of Warcraft, and in theory trying to burn down the house on their way out.  The “I don’t enjoy this, so I will make sure no one else does” instinct runs deep in human beings, and god knows I have been guilty of this so many times.  It is something you have to struggle with.  This blog has been devoted to so many posts that have a shared theme that could be summed up as “WoW Failed Me”.  Over the last year and a half since I started the daily blogging challenge thing…  I have worked on trying to make myself into a much more positive human being.  Part of this has involved letting go of the emotion out of my choices, and trying to present a much more amiable view of the world.  Sure games have frustrated me, and I have been disappointed so many times…  but I try my best to post my critique in a far less ranty manner than I might have the desire to.

Burning down the house on the way out, only serves to cause chaos and strife in your community… and makes sure that it is going to be much harder to eat crow later when you return.  I have said I was done with World of Warcraft so many times at this point.  I seriously could not count the number of times but the most recent was mere weeks before I started playing Warlords of Draenor (though at this moment I am struggling to find the reference).  The heart wants what it wants, and you never know when it is going to drag you kicking and screaming in a direction you have no intent of going.  I was doing perfectly fine until I watched the damned Blizzard World of Warcraft anniversary documentary.  I was assaulted with a sneak attack of feels and wound up saying “I would play only to see molten core” and that wound up turning into “I guess I am back now” before I realized it.  Even for the first few weeks of playing Warlords I was adamant that I “was not back” to the point of refusing to take back the crown to the guild I started back in 2004.

Put Joy in Enjoyment

Wow-64 2015-01-06 19-20-15-71 The problem with World of Warcraft is for many of us it is like a relationship in itself.  It is the bad breakup or the ex that betrayed us.  We are bitter and confused as to why things changed and are left asking ourselves “was it me?”.  Please take the advise of someone who has quit and restarted various MMO games more times than I can count.  Yes it very much is you.  Sure the game is in a constant state of flux, but so are we.  The situation that leads us to play changes over time.  Years ago I started guild and raid leadership because I really felt like I had no control over my own life.  I was in a pretty horrible job, with the most petty boss I have ever experienced.  I felt like I had no control over my own fate, and as such built my own realm where I was the one in control.  I had an awesome guild and it was everything that my job was not.  When I left that job and found a happier one, all of the reasons why I needed to be the leader melted away, leaving me only with the stress and burden of being the one everyone looked up to.

My situation had changed, and as a result the way I related to the game had changed.  Chances are if you are leaving Draenor for this or that reason…  your situation has changed as well.  These sort of things happen without us realizing it, and in ways that surprise us.  I’ve changed the way I approach these games, and while I still love the community aspect and I love raiding as part of a team.  I am also willing to walk away when something isn’t as enjoyable as it once was to me.  There is no reason to keep playing a game you are not enjoying.  The best revenge of the “game that wronged you” is going off and finding one that does bring you happiness.  Yes everything I am saying sounds suspiciously like relationship advise…  but in truth it is because for some of us this game has been a ten year long relationship.  Whatever you do…  don’t break everything you can on your way out the door.  Be the adult in this relationship and leave quietly and on good terms, because as evidenced by my revolving door of video games..  you never know when you are going to want to come back.

So Many Feels

AggroChat Episode #30

I still cannot fathom that we have made it thirty episodes into our podcast and are still apparently going strong.  Technically it is 31 weeks since we started this adventure, because we missed one week for various sundry reasons.  What shocks me the most is that we still have listeners and that it seems like we keep picking up new ones along the way.  I feel Sally Field screaming “You Like Me, You Really Like Me!” but in this case its the Us that is liked not necessarily me.  AggroChat is really about pushing record on the type of conversations we have always had over voice chat on a near nightly basis.  We are unscripted and unprepared and yet still seem to never had a drought of things to discuss.

This week we go  through a whirlwind of topics including:  Magic the Gathering Online, Infinity Minatures Game, Dawngate being cancelled, Blizzcon, Overwatch, and the constant frustration over Gnomes being the butt of every joke.  I think we were all caught off guard by the news surrounding Overwatch.  If you remember several weeks back we speculated as to what might be announced, and while we brought up an FPS we just as quickly dismissed that ideal.  The FPS genre is pretty stagnant so I didn’t see much room where Blizzard could improve upon it.  Here is hoping this is not the case because the gameplay footage I have seen has me absolutely intrigued.  Wolfenstein Enemy Territory was my favorite competitive shooter, and here is hoping that they bring this same level of detail and strategy to the maps.  Also hoping that by some token I can manage to score a beta invite.

So Many Feels

If you recall yesterday I talked about the “Blizzcon Spirit” and how that this year I had not really felt it.  Well last night it struck with a vengeance.  My friend Syl mentioned the Looking For Group documentary and how good it was over twitter.  I had already planned on watching it at some point, because I am a sucker for documentaries… especially fan produced ones.  I have to say it is so amazingly good, and I am glad that something like that exists.  The negative is I am absolutely overwhelmed with feels about Blizzard, World of Warcraft and the community surrounding it.  Had it not been super late last night I probably would have logged into the game the moment the documentary had finished if for no reason other than to visit my characters.  The documentary is like some crazy aphrodisiac that makes you love World of Warcraft again.  One viewing and you will be wanting to scream “For The Alliance!” or horde if that is your persuasion.

Then the reality sets in…  that all the same problems I have had with the game, and the players and just years of history…  are all still there.  If I could return to a snapshot in time, when we were still raiding Icecrown Citadel as the Duranub Raiding Compny…  I would do it in a heartbeat.  If I could return to a period in time when we were fighting to clear Ahn’Qiraj as the Late Night Raiders… I would also do that in a heartbeat.  The problem is there are these epic vignettes of time where it would be amazing to return to and experience all the love and wonderment that existed in that little vacuum.  Sad thing is none of those things exist…  time happened, years of guild, server and raid drama happened.  Folks don’t just stand still in one place, they evolve and move on with their lives.

Glory Days Revisited

belghast_updated When I log back into World of Warcraft amped up on Nostalgia… I feel just like that once upon a time Quarterback reliving their big homecoming win.  That world that was meaningful to me and the people that I fought to protect and keep moving towards a goal…  just don’t exist any longer, or at least they don’t exist in the same combination that they once did.  I have tried to return to the game on two different times and rally the troops to rekindle the spirit that once made my guild a great place to be.  Each time I end up frustrated that no one is wanting to work towards those ends with me.  People are happy to exist in the comfortable place they have carved out once the epic nature of the game died away.  The glory days really can’t be relived, at least not in the same way.

So here I stand wondering what exactly I will do.  I know there is no going back, but part of me wishes there was.  I have a paid subscription through December, and a fully paid expansion because they allowed me to order it a year ago when I was actually amped up about World of Warcraft once more.  I have no idea if I will attempt to log in come release day, and start playing through the new content.  One of the things about being open to change, means you can’t fully predict what you will do when a different set of stimulus is applied.  I think my time leading the Warcraft House Stalwart is over, and it is time for them to find new leadership that can make them great again.  That doesn’t preclude me from occasionally playing the role of war hero and popping my head in from time to time.

Feels

Since this post is in large part about feelings, and me struggling with them…  I thought it was fitting to state that while often times frustrating…  I am glad that I have them.  It would suck to go through life with the inability to surrender to your emotions and get caught up in a moment.  While society has attempted to teach me that it is somehow “unmanly” to feel emotion, and moreso be swayed by them…  for whatever reason this indoctrination never actually took.  I feel no shame in choking back tears during certain moments of a lot of movies.  There is  that moment where you just can’t help yourself, and that story of whatever you are watching has peeled back your layers of defense and landed a blow to your inner core.  I embrace that I can empathize with people I have never met, and care even more deeply about them that they will likely ever realize.  While it is often cool to be aloof and uncaring about things…  I like to care, I like to know I am making a difference.  So today I am thankful that I was raised with compassion and the ability to grant that same compassion to others.