Blizzcon 2014: Revelations or lack of them

I didn’t like Diablo 2, I definitely didn’t like Diablo 3, I have never played Starcraft, I’m not in the Heroes of the Storm alpha and I find Hearthstone a bit meh. When I think of blizzard, I think of World of Warcraft, that is the game of theirs that I play.

Now, the next expansion Warlords of Draenor releases in less than a week. Announcing the expansion after it, before this one is even released, would have been an odd choice. However, they have said they want to release expansions faster, they are planning on only two raid tiers which means surely it has to be faster. The next expansion will be wanting to release not long after next years blizzcon, there has to be a beta cycle first, so it can’t wait that long for announcement. I thought it was about 50/50 as to whether they announced it and they opted not to. I’m assuming that the announcement will be made at gamescon or something similar.

However, what I was sure they would do is talk about future patches. What would be coming up in 6.1 or 6.2, more about the future of the patch, something that we haven’t heard before. There was a big Warcraft panel yesterday and all of it just reiterated either what was in the 6.0 patch notes, or what they had said a year ago during last blizzcon. When I read the recap I was so glad I hadn’t bought a virtual ticket this year. Not giving any new information? That’s just wrong and in my opinion quite disrespectful. That this is hot on the heels of the longest content drought since the game was launched and it doesn’t exactly give a good feeling.

I’ve seen a few other people express this opinion in comments on WoWInsider, they have been stomped on for being cynical trolls. Why is it a bad thing to be critical about something you care about? If I didn’t care then I wouldn’t say anything. Now it’s possible that something new will be said during today’s panels. I certainly hope something new is said as otherwise this con offered nothing for Warcraft game fans. There was of course the movie which finished shooting months ago and is set for release in 2016. Seriously? It’s kinda hard to get excited when it’s still that far away.

Anyway, enough about Warcraft for the moment. The big reveal of the con was the new IP Overwatch, an entirely new game, a team based shooter. The suspicious part of me is sure that this was part Titan, as somebody must have been working on this as it can’t just have come out of nowhere. I thought that the footage of the game world was very Pixar, I wondered if it was aimed at kids but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The gameplay footage looked relatively polished and the beta is at some point next year.

My problem with it? It’s a shooter. I can’t play first person as I get really badly motion sick. I have enjoyed in very small doses games like Sanctum but even in small doses I pay for it afterwards. Plus it just seems to be a team based game, so you always have to play with others and it looks like it will be all PvP, so playing against people not an AI. Even if I didn’t have the FPS issue I don’t have enough friends to play, and I don’t really like PvP as I suck at it.

The new game is obviously not for me but I actually feel bizarrely sad about that. I might have thought the animation was aimed at children but I enjoyed it anyway. I got a real superhero vibe from it and I love superheroes. I was hoping all the way through that the announced game would be an MMO RPG, so like Warcraft but this whole new universe as I would have played that in a heartbeat. The graphics looked fantastic, I loved the world and the settings, the powers looked good, it was light and bright and it was superheroes. I love Marvel Heroes but at the end of the day that game is about smashing stuff, it’s a dungeon crawler not an RPG, I want a superhero RPG.

However, it’s not an RPG, they don’t want to give themselves competition I guess. It’s a shooter and that makes me sad. I love shooters in theory, being the hero, taking down the bad guys, it being a lot more real and immediate. There’s no quests or raids in shooters, they aren’t that kind of game so it’s more immersive. I wish I could play, I want to play, I really really want to play. When I was a kid my cousin had a shooter game, and he had a plastic gun that connected to the console, I wanted one so badly but I can’t play shooters. I try and play shooters and I get physically ill, so all the wanting in the world can’t change that.

I think that’s what really makes me disappointed in Overwatch. That I would love to play it but something physically prevents me. I would much rather just hate the game itself and maybe the more we learn about it, the more it’ll suck. Who knows?

There’s still a day of blizzcon left. However, from what I remember of my virtual ticket last year all the news was dealt with on day one, there were just additional details on day two. I don’t expect anything earth shattering but I will read the reports anyway. Warlords of Draenor launches in five days, Mists of Pandaria you really outstayed your welcome.

Minipost – Shadow of Revan Brings A New Hope

What I love most about Swtor is the class quests. Levelling the different classes, questing, all that class story, that is the game to me. I also love the companions, the dark side and light side choices. I just love the whole questing experience in Swtor, it’s absolutely brilliant.

However, when the first expansion was released – Rise of the Hutt Cartel – it didn’t include any new class quests or any updates to the companion storylines either. I just checked and I don’t believe it added a new companion either, though it might have done. Anyway, from my point of view it was disappointing and a little concerning. They have also released a couple of mini-expansions with Galactic Starfighter and then Galactic Strongholds.

There are a lot of posts in various different places where people stated their opinion. They said that class quests would not bring in enough profit, compared to what they would cost, and that they would never be revisited. I didn’t like this but resolved not to worry about it as I’ve only completed the Bounty Hunter story, and forgotten most of it already. I still had a lot of class quests to complete.

This did mean that Swtor had an expiration date. I don’t play it nearly as often as I should, whenever I play Swtor I enjoy it a great deal and wonder why I don’t play more often. The answer is that I need to set aside a few hours per session, as it isn’t something easily played with a small time limit. As the game has been out nearly three years, and I’ve only completed one class, that means it’s going to take me a long time.

However, I liked the Bounty Hunter class. I didn’t like the spec I chose, I went Powertech and I should have gone Mercenary. However, as the specs are mirrored on the Republic side, when I roll a trooper I will pick the opposite spec which I think is Commando rather than Vanguard, that way I get the complete experience. Anyway, that’s off topic. I loved the Bounty Hunter story, the companions, the lore, the approach, everything and it would be so awesome to play that character again. Right now, it’s level 50 and it’s mothballed as the class quest is done.

There weren’t really any unanswered questions with the Bounty Hunter storyline. There were however unanswered questions with the Mako companion storyline, which given that the companions are different for each class make it like a class storyline. This should be followed up, the story had more to go. As a class it did too, it was open ended and as the top Bounty Hunter in the galaxy, someones going to try and tear me down. Plus I think I killed a sith, though there was a choice there, I didn’t have to, I could have aided him instead but I’m a light side Bounty Hunter. There could or should be repercussions from that.

What I’m trying to say is that this quote that there will be some kind of class storyline continuance in Shadow of Revan is amazing news. It’s proof that they aren’t just going to abandon that aspect of the game and that they will be adding to it. They might not add to it very frequently, or add as much, as we would like but that feature of the game lives. As, in my opinion, it’s the best feature of Swtor I think that’s great news. Obviously the proof is in the result, this expansion isn’t released until December, so no-one knows until then what these new class storylines will be like.

Though even if they aren’t a good continuance, it’s still proof that, the class storylines are still on their radar for development. That can only be a good thing. I really want to play Swtor now. I just don’t have the time.

Clear Measurable Progress

Ah finally a gaming post to break up the writing obsession. I had a spare few minutes yesterday, not long enough to really do anything but long enough that I started clicking round all the sites I check for updates everyday. The Grumpy Elf has a sidebar where he links to other blogs, this updates somehow with their latest post. I clicked on a couple and one of them made me think, and not even really about what they had written.

This blogpost said that they had boosted a level 90 Horde for the Double Agent achievement, that they might finally try and see the game from the other perspective. This reminded me that for a long time this was a goal of mine, to complete Horde Loremaster. When I quit Warcraft I didn’t even feel like doing this, I was just burned out of the game completely I guess. My perspective had narrowed and focused so much on endgame, that it tainted every other aspect of the game.

This in turn made me consider again my number one complaint about Warcraft’s direction. It made me think about the games that I do play and what they have in common. The answer is very simple – clear measurable progress.

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The 2015 Advance Pack

Marvel Heroes is a free to play game but nothing in life is free. I wrote a post some time back talking about how I personally felt I got more out of the game, by spending a little. So it’s no secret that I’ve spent money on this ‘free’ game. I think I may also have said in that post, and if I didn’t then I’ll say it here, that I much prefer this free to play, spend what you want business model.

What you pay and when is entirely down to you. The choice is yours, if you choose not to pay anything then all the content is still available. You can play the game from here until it shuts down (which is hopefully a long time from now) without spending a dime, or anything more beyond your initial investment if you choose to pay something. Contrast this with Warcraft where you have to pay for the game, then keep paying to access the game. If you don’t keep paying then you are shut out, unable to access what you have already paid for.

Anyway, recently Marvel Heroes announced their second Deluxe Advance Pack for the upcoming year. I bought the one for this year and I’ve been really pleased with it, so getting this next one was an easy decision. In fact bizarrely for a ‘free to play’ game, my biggest regret with Marvel Heroes is that I didn’t discover the fact that it existed until launch. As I definitely would have been interested in the Ultimate Pack, that was one hell of a deal.

That’s beside the point so back to it. There’s this thread on the Marvel Heroes forums where a poster basically says that they don’t like the 12 heroes chosen for the pack. It could have been a good thread where people posted their ideal pack, but given the aggressive and negative tone he took, it was more of an attack than a fun “what would you have liked?” thread. So I didn’t respond to it but it made me wonder. I like the pack as it is, but if I’d been a Gaz dev having to choose the lineup, what would I have picked?

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Minipost – Guild Wars 2

I looked at Guild Wars 2 before it was released. There was a lot of hype about it and I was curious. A friend of mine was really interested in it and couldn’t wait for release. However, my curiosity wasn’t enough to overcome the barrier to entry. I had no idea if I would like the game, there was no free trial and a hefty box price. So I decided to wait until there was a free trial to see if I liked it before I paid for it.

That was a good call.

I know the game was released two years ago. There have been a number of free trial weeks and offers during that time. However, this week starting today was the first one I learned of in time. I started to download the game yesterday and it took hours. I should check actually how much hard drive space it requires as I had to leave the PC on overnight in order to download it, it was only at 60% when I went to bed. However, it was completed this morning and the trial began so I logged in.

What did I think?

Well for my birthday in May friends of mine had bought me the original Guild Wars. They love that game and wanted to share it with me. However, I didn’t like it. It reminded me far more of Diablo than it did of Warcraft and not in a good way. I found the combat unintuitive and strange. I didn’t like the UI and the graphics, well it is an old game. I thought that Guild Wars 2 being much newer would be better, well it wasn’t.

For anyone that liked the original Guild Wars then I’m sure that Guild Wars 2 felt familiar and comfortable. I didn’t like Guild Wars and after playing Guild Wars 2 for just half an hour I was sure that I didn’t like the new version any better. The graphics are improved but the movement is the same jerky, smooth (I’m aware that’s a contradiction), unconnected, headache inducing. The combat is the same, I can’t get into it or understand it. The UI is the same mess, unfamiliar and unwelcoming.

I know I should probably give it more time but those first 20 minutes are important. There’s a developer feedback thread on Marvel Heroes forums asking about how to improve those first 20 minutes. Where people either become fans or get put off the game altogether and that is absolutely true. My first 20 minutes of the Warcraft free trial saw me buy the base game, and expansions and set up a subscription. Now Warcraft has a lot of problems as a game, don’t get me wrong but it was the first real game I played. I wasn’t a gamer when I was introduced to Warcraft, everything was new and strange but it was also comfortable. I could work it out, it made sense and it flowed well in a way that Guild Wars just doesn’t.

The free trial of Guild Wars 2 continues for another week but I doubt I’ll login again. I’ll delete the game from my computer and put a big mental cross next to the game. There is nothing about it that I like. I’m glad for the opportunity of the free trial as my curiosity has now been satisfied. Guild Wars is not for me and never will be.

Landmark Beta

Haven’t updated in a while. Real life things have been happening, like decorating the entire house to make it more attractive to a buyer, as we’re hoping to move. I’ve been without internet for about six weeks on my PC so been unable to play games. However, I managed to plug it back in this week, just in time for Marvel Heroes Omega Event, which I am actually trying to participate in (I want the Agent Coulson team-up) and of course, the point of this post – Landmark.

Now I’d thought that I’d written a post on Landmark already but I think perhaps I just intended too. I forget now how I discovered Landmark but I thought the ability to build, using real game graphics, was incredibly cool. I followed all the devs on twitter, was amazed by the screenshots they shared, I watched all the YouTube videos and tried to wait till release day. Well I failed, release day is so far away so several months back now I got a pack, dived into the game and promptly stopped. Why? Because it’s beta.

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Rewrite and Rebrand: A Random Lockbox of Words

aka I wasn’t sure what to call it. You know those lockboxes, those bags of potential you get in games? Well, you don’t know what’s inside and it’s a mixed bag, a little like this post.

I started writing this post weeks ago, some posts are like that. I write them, then rewrite them, then add things and rewrite some more etc. I know I write in quite a conversational style, but I don’t just type continuously from beginning to end and hit post, I do go back and read what I have written. With some posts, I realise that what I’ve said is just a variation on a theme, it’s something I’ve posted before. Then I realise that my mood, or current events, are perhaps overly influencing the direction of the post. Then there’s the question, what is the point of the post? I like to, usually, try and at least say something in a post, start with a theory, talk around the subject, and then write a conclusion. After all that I wind up either rewriting or just scrapping the whole thing.

This post started off life with the title ‘Journey vs Destination’ which is something I have written about before. How the way a player approaches a game, and their expectations of it, have an affect on the way that they play and their enjoyment. It’s no secret that I’m less than thrilled with Warcraft right now, either how it is currently or the direction that it seems blizz is taking it in. So that first draft went over old ground, all things that I had said before, about how raiding had changed, about how the way that I raided had changed. There was nothing new and the whole post came across very miserable. It was basically asking the question should I quit? It seemed like the obvious answer was yes. However, I’m not ready to quit, and I’m not going to lose everything I have until I’m sure, no matter how unhappy I am with the game right now.

So what is this post about then? It’s about a lot of things, it’s one of those mixed bag posts where I have a bunch of things I want to say, and I just combine them all into a post. I’m going to talk about Marvel Heroes, Amazon Prime Instant Video with a side order of Hulu, a little bit of general TV, some Stargate SG-1 and of course Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve been itching to tweet about these things but 140 characters is not enough, that was the impetus for starting this blog in the first place.

I know this is supposed to be a Warcraft blog. However, everything I write about that is just so negative right now. I think it would be better to wait for more concrete information, after all beta has to be soon right? I can scarcely believe that it’s not been announced yet, it’s March already. Besides I’m thinking of changing the definition of the blog, it started off as Warcraft, then went to Warcraft and Swtor, before back to just Warcraft. Considering I am writing about more things these days, and more often rather than just occasionally, especially Marvel Heroes, it is probably overdue.

Right, on to the post.

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Free to play games are a misnomer

I play Warcraft which is subscription based, I buy the game and then pay a monthly fee for access to the servers. My friend plays Guild Wars 2 which is a buy to play game, you buy it and then it’s free to play on their servers after that. I also play Marvel Heroes which is completely free and whether you pay anything is your choice. These are are all PC games, there’s known Facebook games like Candy Crush, also games like Marvel Puzzle Quest which can be played on the iphone or through steam. These mobile games are completely free, like Marvel Heroes, and instead rely on microtransactions.

There’s the saying that there’s nothing free in life. On the surface there are some games that claim to be free, is that really the case? After all if no-one ever paid any money then the games companies would go bankrupt, so is there such a thing as a completely free to play game? Let’s look at the free to play games, that I play.

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The Blizzard Blues

I remember when I first started playing Warcraft. I looked at the subscription options and I wanted to take the 6 months one, or whatever the longest option was, as it was the best deal. My friend told me not to, he said that there may come a day when I want to unsubscribe for a while. If you’ve just paid for the next six months, then you can’t do that. I told my friend that I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to quit, but I took his advice anyway as the difference wasn’t huge.

Well now I can’t just imagine wanting to quit, I’m actively considering it. I won’t because I’m not ready to say goodbye. I like my guild, I like the in game friends I’ve made, I even like raiding just not as often as I currently have to. I’m not ready to quit the game but I’m really wishing that I could vote with my wallet. Complaining about blizz’s decisions and continuing to pay them money, after all gives them no incentive to change.

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Another look at Marvel Heroes

I’ve been playing a lot of Marvel Heroes lately so I thought I should do another post about it. A lot has changed in the game since I last posted. I looked back at all my posts with the ‘Marvel Heroes’ tag. It’s interesting to see how things have changed since my first post.

I started writing this post Thursday evening. The Marvel Heroes servers were down for a patch to implement Nightcrawler. I had been supposed to raid but battle.net wouldn’t let me login to Warcraft so I was replaced. I managed to login eventually, and I stayed logged in and afk, as I was too scared to logout in case they needed me and I couldn’t get back in. Having Warcraft open in one window to watch chat, and this post in another, at least kept me busy until the MH servers came back up.

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