Warlords of Draenor Launch Date Speculation – Blizzcon 2014 Edition
Apr22

Warlords of Draenor Launch Date Speculation – Blizzcon 2014 Edition

Reminder: We want your questions for Cat Context’s Second Birthday on Sunday! Leave ‘em in the comments or on Twitter!

I was legitimately surprised to see the announcement today that there will be a Blizzcon this year. The convention for all things Blizzard will be on November 7-8 in the usual Anaheim location.

blizzcon 500x375 Warlords of Draenor Launch Date Speculation   Blizzcon 2014 Edition

Blizzcon is a lot of fun for fans, and a great place to meet your guildies. And while I don’t know for sure, it seems to me that the Blizzard folks also see Blizzcon as a great time, if a lot of work. I think that the event doesn’t make a lot of money, but is profitable with all the Virtual Tickets and things.

But what does this mean for Warlords of Draenor? Nothing good, I suspect.

It doesn’t make sense to launch the latest expansion of your huge franchise and then have a convention a week later. In fact, it doesn’t really make sense to hold Blizzcon AFTER Warlords of Draenor at all. While I’m sure people would still buy tickets even if Blizzard had nothing to announce at all, I’m also sure they’ll sell even more if they have something to promote.

Panels about a game that’s already been out for a month or so are not very compelling stuff. It’s far more interesting to have panels on a game that no one has seen yet, right?

I had previously guessed mid-October for WoD, but today’s Blizzcon announcement makes me think even I was being optimistic. In light of that I think US Thanksgiving is the most likely date. Hope you like Siege of Orgrimmar, y’all.

PS: Blizzcon tickets went up in price this year and look, I clearly like spending silly money because I usually get the $40 Virtual Ticket, but $200 for two days of a convention about one studio is totally bonkers.

Gliding Along in ArcheAge, Pacing Draenor Content, and a Special Podcast Request

Cat Context is turning TWO on this coming Sunday! I think that’s middle-aged in podcast years?

We want to do a special live show on Twitch on Sunday, April 27, at 6:30pm PST, but more importantly we want your questions! Ask us about the podcast, or about a game we did or did not enjoy. Ask me about editing the show, ask Arolaide why she gets angry about Final Fantasy 7, or ask Elly why he seems to keep playing games he hates.

You can tweet me, or email podcast@lioreblog.com, or leave a comment here, or leave a voicemail by clicking on that tab over there on the right. Include your blog/podcast/YouTube channel and we will totally mention it, too.

Thanks in advance for your questions, and for listening to us have a great time every two weeks. :)

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We briefly discuss this on the impending next episode of the podcast (coming on Wednesday), but has acceptance of the content drought changed your plans at all for the launch of Warlords of Draenor?

I pre-ordered the game, in large part to get my hands on an insta-paladin instantly, but more and more I feel like I’m not going to be playing WoW when the expansion launches. The current content drought has been really terrible for the folks who have been playing Pandaria since it arrived, whereas I still have a considerable amount of options as someone who just started playing at the end.

Assuming Blizzard’s development schedule doesn’t change, and honestly it never does, do I really want to set myself up for boredom? Right now I’m considering skipping the first year-ish of WoD and coming back when there are at least 3 or so patches of content to keep me occupied. (Alternatively I could just frequently unsub for short periods of time in-between, but that doesn’t really suit my nature and I’d probably forget to cancel my account anyway.)

Of course it doesn’t help WoD’s case that there are so many other amazing MMOs launching later this year…

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… amazing MMOs like ArcheAge, which, yes, I am still fangirling. (Fanladying?)

There are no flying mounts in the game (or flying taxis on the scale of WoW, for what it’s worth), but what ArcheAge does have is personal hang gliders. You can cross great distances with your glider, but it takes much more effort.

As with real world physics your glider will work better the higher your launching point is — you can’t just jump vertically off the ground and expect to sail through the air! Also like the real world, landing your glider is a little imprecise and requires (in my experience so far) banking around in a circle like how an plane lands.

Advanced gliders, which the players must craft, can look like giant butterfly wings, or have stealth, or even BOMBS. It’s a really great compromise for flying mounts, a gorgeous way to see some of the landscape, and fun to boot.

I made a short video last night of my first big gliding experience. Enjoy!

Friday Five: Best Video Game Movies

Movies based on video games are infamous for generally being terrible. Often there’s just not a whole lot in the source material to pin 2 hours of cinema on — Mortal Kombat, for example, is a game where people fight in small rooms a lot. Good story writing isn’t something that’s been emphasized in games in the past, but it’s essential in a movie.

Let’s see if we can find any good ones, hmm?

1) Resident Evil

The best of the bunch, in my opinion. The first Resident Evil movie acknowledged the original source material and expanded upon it in an enjoyable way. The rest of the series is hit-and-miss (no one should ever watch RE2) but this one is a legitimately good movie.

2. Silent Hill

Another one that worked with the original story but didn’t feel limited by it. I know this is two horror movies in a row, but for whatever reason Hollywood seems to have a better record of turning horror games into movies than action games.

3. Indie Game: the movie

Okay okay, not so much a movie based on a video game, but I’m still counting it! This documentary is even better now, years after it first came out, because we know even more of how everyone’s life went after their game launched. Jonathan Blow has yet to release another game after Braid, Edmund Mcmillen and company had the huge hit Binding of Isaac (PS: I want Mewgenics now!) and poor Phil Fish flipped out and quit.

4. Final Fantasy: Advent Children

Is this a great movie if you’re not already a Final Fantasy nerd? Probably not. But who cares?

5. Ummmmmmmmmm.

A fifth awesome movie based on a video game huh. Hmm. Well, there’s.. look, does Tron count?

Early Impressions on the ArcheAge Alpha
Apr16

Early Impressions on the ArcheAge Alpha

TLDR: Really fun! Really time consuming! Similar to WoW at the start but opens up a lot later!

ArcheAge is the quintessential “niche MMO”.

The game plays a lot like World of Warcraft. Occasionally I even had a sense of deja vu while playing like some of the UI was taken directly from WoW, or perhaps directly from RIFT. (The latter makes more sense as like RIFT the English version of ArcheAge is a Trion joint.)

I was disappointed that combat was so heavily in the well-trod school of “tab target, click hotbar”, particularly when my previous Korean MMO experience was TERA, a game whose action combat I still kind of miss when playing other games. The auction house interface is bog standard, as is the crafting system at the lower levels.

(I still quite enjoyed it though and lost track of time only to come up for air four hours later with a level 10.)

Character creation is thorough, and I was easily able to put together a catlady archer wearing sensible armor — something very unlike TERA.

2014 04 14 22 47 02 ArcheAge DX11 Mar 28 2014 18 07 55 Alpha 500x345 Early Impressions on the ArcheAge Alpha

I planted azaleas!

But this is all stuff that concerns the early game. ArcheAge really gets interesting later.

Where WoW-likes are all about dungeons and raids, ArcheAge is about housing, farming, gathering, crafting, and trading. Players can join large guilds or form small “families”, and claim land for farms or livestock or housing. It’s all non-instanced, which means players are literally dotting the landscape.

And what to do in this sandbox “end game”? Well, you could be a crafter. You could spend all day tending your farm, slaughtering animals for meat or milking the cows. Those grown and crafted materials can get turned into Trade Packs, and those packs have to be taken to market by traders. (There are no world-wide portal systems or taxis in ArcheAge.)

However, the night is dark and full of terrors, or cutpurses and pirates. ArcheAge has a significant PvP landmass, and traders are going to need to traverse it to get the best deals for their family/guild’s products. Want to be a bodyguard, or a navigator? Okay. Want to hold up trade groups for ransom or sail the seas as a pirate looking for precious cargo to pluck? Okay!

And it is that, my friends, that has me all excited for ArcheAge. To be fair I am not sure I will have the time to properly dedicate to it, and a lot will depend on the makeup of the playerbase, but right now the game strikes me as a fascinating blend of WoW and EVE Online with less emphasis on “being the villain” than the latter.

Consider me cautiously interested.

Whatcha Playing Lately, Liore?
Apr14

Whatcha Playing Lately, Liore?

What have I been playing recently? Why, thank you for asking!

Parasite Eve

Parasite Eve made my list of Most Influential Games for the last episode of Cat Context, which got me thinking about it again. Thanks to the magic of the Vita it only took $6 and about an hour of downloading to own a copy.

(The Vita is so the perfect platform for nostalgia gaming. I don’t have a single game on there that’s less than a decade old, and I regret nothing.)

Of course almost 20 years have passed since I played Parasite Eve last and I was a little nervous about how the game would stand the test of time, but so far it’s been an entirely satisfactory experience. The gameplay itself is extremely similar to Final Fantasy VII or really any JRPG from that era with lots of menu fussing, adding mods to your inventory, and waiting for your action timer bar to fill up to attack, although with more aimed attacks that require movement.

Thumbs up, will play again in another 20 years.

archeage 500x244 Whatcha Playing Lately, Liore?

ArcheAge (English Alpha)

I am honestly not entirely sure how I got on the list for an ArcheAge alpha invite, but I literally did a hoppy victory dance when the email arrived.

I want to dedicate a whole post to my first impressions of the game, but my short review is: fun, but going to be time consuming. ArcheAge is a (ugh) “sandpark”, which means that the mechanics are not that different from WoW, but the end game is about settling, crafting, farming, and trading, as opposed to running dungeons and raids.

The result is that it’s really hard to tell much about the game in the first 12 levels. So far it’s been a highly fun WoW-like with a small garden, but there’s the promise of so much more just around the corner…

Mass Effect 1

I have been working on a 100% run of Mass Effect 1 for a very long time. After finally clearing out every Mako quest I could find, a not insignificant challenge, last week I finally got back to the central plot and almost immediately got to make a decision to kill someone off. Hooray! Take that, person-I-will-not-name-but-is-a-dude!

Although the UI is old and clunky as hell — I don’t need any more damn omnigel! — and any Mako mission is like trying to commute in a bouncy castle, the immersion of ME1 is outstanding and the dialogue is even better without the shiny polish of parts 2 and 3. Now if only I could romance Garrus….

World of Warcraft – Challenge Modes

No suprise to anyone here — I’ve also still been playing WoW. Recently we’ve been working on hitting some of the Challenge Mode dungeons before they go away with an eye to getting Silver and the fancy reward mount.

I’ve been really enjoying the CMs so far. They’re tough, and they require buttons that I don’t usually get to hit in my standard WoW play. We die a lot, and suddenly have to worry about things like making sure someone brings buff Feasts and gathering mats for invisibility pots.

So far we’ve gotten 2 Silvers, which leaves us 7 more to go, an entirely reasonable goal for us casual critters. The whole experience has made me reflect on how I play WoW differently now though — I used to be a Gold-or-Die kinda player, not only in attitude and drive, but also in talent.

It makes me wonder where I’m lacking now. Is it just experience and the quantity of hours put into playing a character each week? It is experienced teamwork, rather than the sorta-once-a-week we play now? Gold seems like a huge amount of work, frankly, and that’s work I don’t want to do. What happened to me, man? I used to be cool.

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