Oh, Internet. You're why daddy drinks.
— Scott Hartsman (@hartsman) September 14, 2014
Poor Trion Worlds and ArcheAge, victims of their own success. Any experienced MMO player knows that launch week of a new game is usually fraught with technical problems and population issues, but admittedly the ArcheAge queue times can be pretty extreme. Last night I joined the queue as a free player at 7pm and finally got in the game at 11:30pm. Daaaaaang.
The standard MMO launch philosophy seems to be to set up a ton of servers so there are few or no queues for players, and then merge them later. This merge usually involves a bit of “X Game is dying!” bad press and some management of duplicate character names, but otherwise seems pretty straight-forward.
ArcheAge though is a whole different beastie, thanks to the open world housing. Trying to merge servers would be an organizational nightmare, as far as I can tell. Who gets priority over a spot of land? And even if the land is available, imagine logging off in your guild’s secure village and waking up to find that strangers lived in your midst now.
Trion would be causing themselves a whole world of problems if they launch with too many servers. I’m pretty sure much like Scott Hartsman everyone on the team is gnashing their teeth right now, and heavens knows the internet is angry, so very very angry, about the queues, but I suspect that dealing with queues for a couple of weeks is going to be a lot less painful for Trion and for players than having to deal with empty servers and duplicate land claims.
Extra Life is a month away and we’ve already raised almost 50% of our fundraising goal! That’s amazing! Don’t forget that donators will be entered to win a free copy of Guild Wars 2 Digital Deluxe version. Donations are tax deductible and even $5 will help this great cause.
I am currently dealing with a surprise event in my life that while not the worst thing ever does require in the short term a great deal of time and physical labour and a pinch of emotional fortitude. The result is that for now my limited leisure activity occurs at about 11pm, when I’m tired and just a wee bit wound up.
Until recently this has pushed games off my agenda almost entirely, except for the odd round of Dragon Coins while in line at the store. (Yes mobile games okay don’t judge me.) I don’t want to start anything involved because I don’t have much time before going to sleep. And I don’t want to do anything that will stress me out or get an adrenaline reaction going, because I’m already a little high strung at that time and again, bedtime looms.
I was just watching crappy reality television, but then on Tuesday ArcheAge opened up to the general public and it slots unbelievably well into this niche in my schedule.
The game has huge queues at the moment for launch week, but by the time I can play things have mostly settled down into merely “high” population. My little sorceror, Friday on the Naima server, has a few quests to do to get to an adequate level, but then I can just focus on farming.
Farming in ArcheAge is so peaceful, and I loved it so much when I was in game’s alpha. Nice soothing music plays while I plant cotton and trees. Sometimes I harvest beans, and eventually I will add some chickens and geese who need feeding and plucking. If I have a lot of something in my bag, I can ride over to the auction house, or do a bit of my own crafting, or offer to deliver it to a guildie in need.
(This is also the niche that space trucking in EvE filled for me, interestingly enough.)
I’ve often written in favor of challenge, and that will always be my primary motivation to play games. But I forgot that one of the things MMOs are great at is virtual puttering — there’s no important goal or objective, just a cold drink in one hand, some soothing music, and digging in the dirt.
The Crew recently let PC players have a first crack at the game, and all three of us had the opportunity to try it out! We all agreed it was beautiful to look at, but are a little less certain about the game’s long term plans and it’s “MMO” factor. But hey, you get to play Gordon Freeman in Fast and the Furious, so we can’t really complain.
Meanwhile there was finally time to talk about P.T., the Silent Hills teaser, which is a great excuse for Aro to talk about how much she loves the franchise. We’re also impressed with their take on the horror genre, and stealth marketing tactics that are actually stealthy and not just hype.
Also more phone games, much to our eternal shame! Elly is feeling positive about Destiny! We got listener mail!
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Hey I’m giving away a code for 400 gems for Guild Wars 2 TOMORROW to a random donator to my Extra Life efforts! Even $5 will help kids and could earn you sweet hats and dyes!
I FINISHED TROPICO 4.
Yes, after 67 hours (according to Steam) I finally finished all 20 of the missions in Tropico 4. My plan was to buy Tropico 5, but after reading some reviews the general consensus seems to be that it doesn’t really contribute anything new, so instead I just installed the Modern Times DLC and now I can play even mooooore Tropico 4! Somehow Tropico just hits the sweet spot for me between micromanagement and just muckin’ around, and I’m looking forward to having some new buildings to try in Modern Times.
I also started up another playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins, and this time I am really super going to finish it. A few years ago I played it about halfway and just kind of stopped, even though it’s quite good. At first I was kind of taken aback by how bad the graphics look now, so I looked it up and DA:O came out in 2009. 2009! That’s forever in game years.
I’ve been kind of wibbling (that’s a word now) on the whole MMO thing. I haven’t logged into WildStar in weeks, although I’m still subbed. I kind of want to play ArcheAge because it was soooo good in the Alpha but I think it’s a game that will require a fair bit of time and definitely a group of people to play it with and I’m just not sure I want to commit to either. I’ve been nostalgic for RIFT (have I mentioned lately how much I loved Vanilla RIFT huh have I) and its second expansion is just around the corner but then I remember how all of the good hats are on the store now and then I just kind of stare at my Trion World Glyph launcher and make faces.
(Dear MMO companies, stop making custom launchers please.)
So there’s been this little drama going on in the gaming enthusiast community lately. I’ve already said my bit(s) on that, but here are a bunch of good posts that were directly or indirectly inspired by it all:
Where All the Hate Comes From
Events and Opinions of Gamergate
[Problem Players] Guild culture, game culture, gamer culture (with notes on GamerGate)
The War on Terrible
Your Voice Matters
Be Awesome Human Beings
“I Don’t Read ‘x’ Because of ‘y’” Gets It Wrong
“I Am Gamer.”
Meanwhile, I tested a recipe for local dessert favorite, Nanaimo Bars. They were delicious.
I’m about 4 episodes into The Leftovers, and it’s pretty good so far. It reminds me of the first (and best) season of Lost: vague hints at something supernatural, and very in-depth character studies. The show is currently in the middle of its first season on HBO.
My favorite K-Pop group, Block B, put out another song you guys! It was released in July apparently but I just noticed it.
The channel trailer for Cooking With Dog.
I saw this graffiti in Vancouver:
Meanwhile on Twitter I was happy to see Catching Fire appear on Canadian Netflix:
Katniss let's hang out and braid each other's hair and talk about revolution. <3
— Jessica Cook (@Liores) September 7, 2014
Hi, this is kind of.. like general small-p political stuff so feel free to skip it if you’re not interested!
Well, one more post related to all the recent mess becase it’s been weighing heavily on my mind this week. I’ll be talking about the G-word hashtag movement itself over the weekend on the Contains Moderate Peril podcast (thanks for the invite, Roger!) along with some other folks, and you should listen in if you’re interested.
Anyway. I’ve always considered myself to be kind of a moderate when it came to interpersonal politics, but I’m having a hard time knowing where being moderate fits in to the current climate in gaming.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I’ve called myself a feminist since I was 10 and I vote with vigour to defend the “socialism” parts of Canada’s social democracy, but I’ve also always believed that as long as two people held similar tenants of being excellent to each other, you didn’t have to sweat the small stuff.
I would never intentionally tell another woman how she should or shouldn’t talk about sexism, for example, but being routinely confrontational about it made me uncomfortable and wasn’t something I enjoyed in my environment. (Did any of you post on the wow-ladies Live Journal back in the day? Oh man, the fights.) I really liked Cuppy’s post back in January about finding more positivity in social justice, and it resonated strongly with my own attitude.
And game journalism, jeeze. You’ll have to take my word for it, but I have at least two fully written screeds against game journalism in my drafts that I never posted because they just seemed too mean and too “inside baseball”. One from June is titled “Game Journalism is Not Worth Saving” and talks about how much more I value what my fellow unpaid bloggers say than most publications. I actually published one post about how I don’t think “journalism” is the right word for what we have in gaming now, while back in 2012 I wrote that many journalists were being uncool when they called gamers entitled for not liking the ending of Mass Effect 3. I told vaunted writer Leigh Alexander that she was being an “elitist jerk” in a conversation on Twitter a few years ago, because she was.
And man, do not get me started on the game development industry. I guess I don’t really even have to start because if you’ve been reading this site with any regularity you already know some of my problems with it. I dislike money-grubbing DLC, and free-to-play, and I still don’t understand how people can be devoted to Blizzard after being left for over a year of content drought.
My favorite professional game journalist was Jenn Frank, winner of the 2013 Games Journalism Prize. I enjoyed her articles mostly because I think she’s a brilliant writer. But also I really appreciated her moderate attitude towards things. She was a force to be reckoned with on Twitter during the Dead Island Boob Statue debacle, but also counseled calm discussion during one of those (many) moments when Mike from Penny Arcade said something horrible. Frank wrote that she was a teenage sexist, and although I called myself a feminist I was too in many ways.
(A thing that young Liore said on many occasions: “I just don’t like other women. They’re boring, and men get to do all the fun stuff anyway.”)
I say that Jenn Frank was my favorite games journalist because on Wednesday night she was harassed by g-word hashtag people to the point where after nine years she quit the industry. But it’s not enough that she promised to never write about games again. No, she’s been driven out of every aspect of a hobby she loved.
@mikesacco What's saddest is, I just can't talk about video games anymore. It's toxic. Even mentioning one opens you up. I can't take it.
— Just Jenn! (Frank) (@jennatar) September 5, 2014
There have been multiple journalists who have quit writing about games over the past few weeks, all of them women, and it’s a damn shame about them all but it hurt me to see Frank quit. She was a moderate voice, someone who advocated being kind to everyone, hardcore gamer and casual dabbler, women and people who have problems with women.
Now, I don’t know how I can continue being a moderate voice, even if it’s just to my friends. How can I talk about how I think game journalism is flawed when the idea has been inexorably linked to people who will literally ruin someone’s life over it? How can I opine that some games journalists, some of whom happen to be women, are not terribly interesting when that same idea has been wielded like a weapon against people’s safety and livelihoods?
How can I keep enjoying games when such gross things are done to “protect” them, even if it is a minority?
These are rhetorical questions, of course. But right now I don’t know how to bridge this gap, and instead of coming closer together I just feel pushed into being more and more radical in my beliefs, because I fundamentally cannot in good conscience ally on even the tiniest issues with the horrible people who do these horrible things in their name.
So where do we go from here?