Why Multi-Gaming Works

Monday on a Tuesday

I’ve sat here and started this paragraph five times now, and keep backspacing away the results.  The day coming back from a three day weekend is always rough, but this one for whatever reason seems particularly painful.  All in all we had a pretty busy break, and last night we managed to get in a long walk between the thunderstorms.  The rain is needed, since Oklahoma is deep in drought conditions, but it managed to ruin a perfectly good Memorial Day.  For the last several years the weekend has been marked by doing little projects around the house, but this year those projects mostly consisted of cleaning and organization.  As a result our closet is more organized than it has been in years and our dresser drawers are not overflowing with clothing we no longer wear.

While I feel like we had a productive break, I am really wishing I had managed to get more sleep because I feel like that is coming back to haunt me.  For whatever reason I slept roughly this weekend, almost every night.  Each morning I would reach a stalemate where I simply got tired of tossing and turning and was hungry enough to get dressed and go find breakfast.  Here is hoping that tonight my sleep patterns can get back to normal and I will sleep through the entire night.  Last night I was doing mostly well until at some point one of our cats started banging against the closet door.  After that I felt like I never really got to sleep soundly.  God forbid we have a door in the house that is shut when a cat wants to go through it.

All of Your Eggs in One Basket

Lately there has been an undercurrent of folks on twitter talking about planning to leave World of Warcraft when Wildstar launches.  I assumed we would be seeing quite a lot of this, because we saw quite a lot of this when Rift launched and when SWTOR launched.  Both of which are games that directly appeal to the wow playing audience.  I am watching people go through the same agonizing process I did when I got tired of Warcraft shortly after the launch of Cataclysm and devoted myself entirely to Rift.  When you have been playing a game for years, shifting to another game is somewhat like making a religious decision.  One of the things I didn’t expect was just how many social friends I would lose in the process.  There are a lot of people out there that only care about the one game they are playing, and are all too happy to put in blinders to try and blot out any evidence that there are other games.

The problem is, in doing this you are placing your fates in the hands of this one title.  When times are good they are awesome, but when times are bad or decisions are made that you don’t agree with… they can seem so oppressive.  Almost all of the angry rants that I spun up on this blog during the early years were because I felt that Warcraft had somehow betrayed me, by not living up to being the game I wanted it to be.  I am here to tell you that this is just a bad way to think about anything created by someone else and entirely out of your control.  Admittedly when I left WoW I took this same sort of devotion and poured it into Rift, and got the same kind of frustrated when it didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped it would.  Ultimately games are what they are, and while we the players can provide feedback… there are always decisions behind the scenes that dictate the way the game ends up.

Why Multi-Gaming Works

For me at least the cure for this constant sense of dread and angst over upcoming patches…  is that at some point in the past I just started accepting games for what they are.  Enjoyable but often transitory experiences that will have a beginning a middle and an end as far as your personal enjoyment goes.  I present that World of Warcraft and Everquest before it were anomalies and not the boilerplate that all gaming experiences should follow.  As a result I am no longer looking for the next five year game, I am just looking for a game to enjoy while I enjoy it.  Additionally I am looking to enjoy multiple games at the same time.  While I don’t update it as often as I should…  my games played list is fairly accurate.  I play a lot of MMOs at the same time, because they each scratch some itch that I have inside of me.

When one of them starts to get stale I simply hop into another one and play it for awhile.  While this is greatly booned by the fact that free to play games exist, I still maintain subscriptions to many of the titles that I play.  I realize that is not something that most players can do freely, but I feel like even if you can’t… it is healthy to mix in several single player or free to play games into your mix.  In doing this I am basically protecting myself from the doldrums…. those moments when nothing seems to be moving in the game you wish you were into, and are somehow remaining artificially cheery about.  World of Warcraft for example is notorious for having a massive long slog between the last patch and the next expansion.  If I were ONLY playing WoW right now I would be a ball of anger, pensively hanging on ever word about the potential of getting into Alpha and eventually Beta.

Instead I am happily playing everything that crosses my desk in the meantime knowing that when Warlords of Draenor does launch I will give it the devotion it deserves before booting up something else and enjoying that too.  Elder Scrolls Online has been the proof that this method works for me.  I still very much want to play the game, and I feel like I have only scratched the surface, but I am not forcing myself to play it every night.  In fact this weekend I don’t think I played it any at all other than while we recorded our podcast on Saturday night.  Instead I played a mixture of single player games, namely Transistor and Wolfenstein: New Order and had an absolute blast doing this.  To some extent I think when we pay a subscription we feel like we HAVE to play the game or we are somehow missing out on some value.  I propose that the value is what you make of it, and if you don’t feel like logging in, you are not necessarily losing anything in the process.

Why This Makes your Blog a Mess

I realize I am somewhat rambly this morning, but I am going to blame the lack of solid sleep… and am just hoping that at least some of my message gets through.  For the last year I have purposefully and unapologetically played whatever game happened to catch my fancy even if for a single weekend.  As a result my overall happiness has been improved by not feeling like my fates are hanging on the whims of a group of developers.  As a blogger however this is not necessarily a great thing.  People love to be able to classify you as this thing or that thing.  If you are super into World of Warcraft, they like to be able to classify you as not only a “WoW Blog” but also as a “Warrior” blog or a “Tank” blog or even a “Raid Leadership” blog.  When you play so many things at the same time you become classified as “other” and this makes it hard for people to grasp quickly what your blog is about.

I am sure my constant wanderlust has cost me more than a few readers, because I did not live up to their expectations for what a blog they want to read should be.  My hope is that I can show just enough of myself in whatever I happen to write that folks will stick around for the long haul because I am trying my best to be genuine.  There was a time when I tried to pigeon hole people into neatly organized categories in my blogroll, and I simply stopped trying to connect a specific person to a specific game.  Now I simply having one big “Gaming” section and another big “Geekdom” section for things I am interested in that are not necessarily game blogs.  After a point I find I care far more about the person on the other side of the screen than what they happen to be saying on a given basis.  I just hope folks get to the point of caring about me, and not necessarily caring that I am cycling through a long list of games at the same time.

Big Dumb Broforce

Happy Friday

At the very least, Happy Friday to me!  This is the last day of my week as we have Good Friday off tomorrow.  I plan on spending the day in a near vegetative state playing Elder Scrolls Online and likely streaming quite a bit of it.  It seemed like today was going to be a day I could wrap up the loose ends.  I have a bunch of projects that each need a few hours of undivided attention to finish up the last bits of coding.  The problem is I am constantly getting interrupted at work by “fly bys” when some random person comes by to ask a question.  Looking at my calendar it was completely clear, so I thought I would be leisurely listening to the ESO soundtrack and working through the last bits of these projects.

WRONG! I generally check my work email a few times a night, and right before bedtime I noticed I had been invited to a meeting to discuss hopefully the technical details of a new project.  Then I panned down and noticed the time.  There is a special place in hell for people who schedule 12 am to 1 pm meetings.  Sure enough this damned vendor had done just that, so now I have to give up my lunch hour to listen to some vendor do a sloppy job of trying to explain the technical requirements of their product.  I hate vendors…  mostly because where I work the relationship of vendor and customer seems to be completely backwards.  We always end up having to jump through hoops to meet vendor needs… when it should be the other way around.

Big Dumb Broforce

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-13-57-71 One of the things that I lament about modern video game design… is the attempt to make them feel like interactive movies.  While I can appreciate the craftsmanship of the Mass Effect series, it is not the type of game I want to play every single day.  I like blowing things up, gibbing bad guys and generally saving the day.  I have massive amounts of notalgia over the big dumb games of my childhood.  Nobody really gave a shit about the storyline in Double Dragon, because mostly it was completely incoherent.  However we did know the bad guys by name and enjoyed punching them repeatedly.  The name Abobo still sends an irrational amount of fear through me.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-16-34-23 Broforce is basically one of these games with a storyline that is basically an excuse to blow a bunch of stuff up.  The game is very reminiscent of Metal Slug, another title that I absolutely love, with a few significant tweaks.  The gameplay is very similar, go through the map rescuing prisoners of war.  The twist is each time you rescue another prisoner, you gain an extra life and then transform into that prisoner.  This gives the game a huge cast of characters, all of which have extremely unique abilities.  In the above shot I ended up playing as J from Men in Black… known in this game as “Bro in Black”.  All of the various characters have been given bro names like “Brobocop” or “B.A. Broracus”.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-18-41-32 At the end of each sequence of levels there is a boss fight, this one is a helicopter that alternates between dropping bombs and firing a chain gun at you.  What makes it difficult is that both NPC weapons and your weapons can destroy terrain.  Meaning pretty quickly you are running out of places to stand.  One nifty tip that I have noticed is that the platforms the flags spawn on are indestructible, meaning you can use them as a shield when the bomb phase starts.  All of this said the gameplay is just infectious.  I’ve played roughly an hour so far, and am really enjoying myself.  The only thing that I find frustrating is that not all of the “bros” are created equal.  Some of them like the MacGyver clone are extremely situational.  It reminds me of playing Castlevania and getting stuck with the wrong alternate attack right before a boss fight.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-14-48-16  The one thing that would greatly improve the experience for me is the ability to swap back and forth between the bros you have rescued.  That would make the gameplay feel more strategic and less random.  Even in the modern Castlevania games you got a second chance to swap back to the weapon you had before.  It is bad enough that if I get MacGyver I tend to just suicide out to swap to a new character.  Playing mad bomber is just not as fun as it seems… even though his bombed turkey attack is hilarious to watch.  The game is available through steam early release, but it feels pretty damned complete to me.  If you like mindless shoot-em-up game play, I highly suggest you give it a look.

Wandering Rivenspire

Screenshot_20140416_220811 The rest of the night I ended up working on the various quests in Rivenspire.  This zone might be my nemesis, not because I don’t like it… but maybe that I like it too much.  I find it nearly impossible to focus while wandering around a landscape full of vampires.  I end up falling into vampire hunter mode and spending large amounts of time slaughtering the undead without really knowing I have done it again.  I desperately tried to stay focused last night and follow the quest chains.  I managed to ding 32 and at this point I am no longer getting drops from most of the encounters around me.  It seems like if you are not within five levels of the encounter it becomes trivial and stops dropping anything meaningful.

I am however using the opportunity to loot everything I see, and feed the cooking mats to Kodra and Sylladora depending on the level of the material.  I hit a lucky streak last night and managed to get both the Breton and Argonian racial motif books.  The Argonian one is still looking for a home by the way if any of my guildies need or want it.  A few days ago I managed to get an Imperial motif book, so they do apparently exist for everyone concerned the only way to get imperial gear was through the collectors edition.  I managed to find a buyer for it and got 10,000g… which I figured was pretty damned good considering that the other motif books started out around 2,000 and have quickly dropped to 500 as the market has become flooded.

For awhile I was trying to broker a trade for either the Barbarian or Primal racial motif, however I have heard they are pretty common drops in the veteran levels.  That ancient elves and daedra are far more difficult to find.  I figure getting the gold while I can for the imperial book was the best course of order.  Like always I am in a relative state of poor in this game, but I need to begin saving up for my fast pony.  I might have to give up on deconstructing everything I see and just start selling it to make a profit.  My biggest concern right now is that I am several levels ahead of the zone I am in… and this just seems to keep getting worse as I move upwards.  I just find it impossible to move on past a zone until I think I have gotten everything out of it.

Interesting Footnote

It seems as though I am going to be on two podcasts this weekend.  I will of course be recording the second episode of AggroChat… which I am looking forward to.  We have several topics that we may or may not get around to discussing.  It should be a fun time for me at least either way.  The second however is that I will be guesting on the Multplaying.net podcast.  So keep watching their site for the file because I am sure it will be a fun time.

#ElderScrollsOnline #ESO #BroForce #AggroChat #Multiplaying