Garrisons Are Not Housing, Even If We Wish They Were

Massively has a pretty fierce takedown today of Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor, the next WoW expansion. Author Eliot Lefebvre seems disappointed in almost every aspect of the feature, saying, “[Garrisons are] a half-baked Facebook game integrated into the leveling experience. Except those usually give more housing options.”

Dang, dude. That’s cold.

I’ve played with Garrisons a bit in the WoD beta, and to be honest I don’t find them very interesting. They’re essentially the farm from Pandaria combined with SWTOR’s companion crafting quest system, integrated in a way that makes them mandatory while levelling. I don’t feel any particular attachment to my Garrison, and the focus is more on function over form.

That all being said, I think more than anything Blizzard is dealing with a pretty serious perception issue here: Garrisons are not and have never been housing, and people who are expecting housing features are going to be very disappointed.

If you look back at the original feature announcement at Blizzcon 2013, to their credit Blizzard shied away from using the h-word. Garrisons are a “personal fortress” that provide “a piece of land to call your own”. They allow for customization of “layout, appearance, and gameplay effects” with “a number of configurations”.

The only documented time I can see “housing” come up is in a comment by Tom Chilton during a panel on the first day of Blizzcon where he said, “Garrisons are the World of Warcraft version of housing…integrated directly into the world.” In retrospect he probably shouldn’t have used that word, but the phrasing is enough to provide a little wiggle room in interpretation.

(Side note, but this is the Tom Chilton who said in an interview in 2010 that “housing will be introduced to World of Warcraft some time right after “never”.” That’s the same attitude the company had for years about a costume system and oh gee, transmog turned out to be one of their most popular new systems ever. Dorks.)

The media and player interpretation of the Garrisons announcement sort of skipped over the details and went straight to housing. GameSkinny, for example, lead with the headline, “BlizzCon Announces Player Housing“. Even WoW Insider, arguably the most Blizzard-friendly news site, reported the news as “Player housing in Warlords of Draenor“, although the article itself correctly states that the feature is more like a Real Time Strategy minigame than anything.

Garrisons are not player housing, even if we wish they were. They are a personal quest hub, the farm writ large. Anyone who approaches the feature expecting player housing is going to be very disappointed. And I understand that disappointment! I would have loved housing back in my WoW days.

But as much as many players might want housing in WoW, this is not it, and as Blizzard has repeatedly shown disdain at the idea of implementing anything approaching the housing in RIFT or WildStar or Everquest II or even Ultima Online I think for the foreseeable future this RTS clicky thing is sadly as close as we’re gonna get.

Friday Five: five guilty pleasure movies

Often I take issue with the label “guilty pleasure” because entertainment media is created for you to enjoy, so you shouldn’t feel bad about enjoying it. Not every movie has to be a highbrow experience, nor every book an ancient classic.

While I love cult horror and sci-fi movies in particular, I am not ashamed and I will recommend these movies to anyone I think will enjoy them. There are some movies though… I’ve seen them many times, and I will watch them on a rainy day when I need a pick me up, but I know in my heart that they are objectively terrible. Usually I will deny ever enjoying them.

But being circumspect about my bad habits is no way to run a blog, so here are my deep dark guilty pleasure secrets. Have a great weekend!

1. Charlies Angels (2000)

You could subtitle this film “the 90s movie” because it is so much a product of its time it almost hurts to watch now. Crispin Glover! Music-video-style editing! Electronica on the soundtrack! Weird winky fourth wall breaking! Sexy girl power! I love this movie to bits and will fight anyone who says otherwise in a kung fu battle set to Firestarter.

2. Accepted (2006)

Justin Long and Jonah Hill in — wait for it — a wacky immature comedy! There is just something about this movie that makes me happy. Maybe it’s the underlying hippy message that everyone has something they’re good at, and there’s a place for people who don’t fit in to the system…. maaaaaan. Plus Lewis Black! I’m not made of stone.

3. House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Hollywood puts out a ton of crappy PG-13 “horror” movies, most of which are not worth watching. This one though… okay, it’s still terrible! Don’t watch it! But I really enjoy it. There is just enough weird scary stuff to be interesting, and meanwhile Geoffrey Rush has clearly given up and is ACTING, DEAR BOY to keep himself entertained. And in the end ghost Chris Kattan shows up and then pow it’s too late you just watched the movie.

4. The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

I just realized that 40% of this list is Vin Diesel movies but I’m not sure if that says more about his career choices or my taste in films. Anyway look, this is a terrible movie, particularly because it’s the sequel to a pretty great movie (Pitch Black). But then Vin fights Karl Urban in a ludicrous cosume while ghost Judi Dench watches and I am like, “Oh right, this movie is amazing and please don’t tell anyone I said that.”

5. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Much like main bad boy Dominic, I too live my life a quarter mile at a time. Totes.

Bonus TV Show: Gossip Girl!

Amnesia and identical twins and secret identies and emergency trips to Paris and sudden drug addictions and tiny sassy hats! I love me some Gossip Girl. PS: Chuck + Blair 4 lyfe.

Cat Context 55: Finally, Casual vs. Hardcore! Steam Summer Sale Purchases!

Cat Context 55: Finally, Casual vs. Hardcore! Steam Summer Sale Purchases!

cat context vertical Cat Context 55: Finally, Casual vs. Hardcore! Steam Summer Sale Purchases!

Ellyndrial is back home, and together with Liore and Arolaide we all sat down to talk about the last couple of weeks in gaming news.

Last week a LotRO Community manager declared that raiders are one of the smallest segments of MMO players but also one of the most vocal. We start out discussing if raiders get more than their fair share of developer attention, and eventually get into that eternal debate: casual vs. hardcore!

Liore’s hardcore sympathies are quickly exposed when she argues that “casuals” the true elitists. At least we can all agree (I think?) that the biggest insulters in MMOs are people who take a game too seriously but are still bad at it. Does the casual/hardcore debate really just boil down to the degree of challenge? Also thanks to a question from Telwyn all three hosts talk about how their approach to MMOs has changed over time, mostly becoming more relaxed in our approach and more appreciative of diversity in games.

Also: We bought things in the Steam Summer Sale! Liore is level 42 in WildStar, while Elly wonders if it’s possible to just fall out of the MMO habit. Meanwhile Arolaide moved a bunch of boxes, animals, and children to a new home in the past few weeks and would like to be very clear that she is not chopped liver.

Like to watch? This podcast has a livestreamed video version:

If you enjoyed this podcast, please “Like” or “Favorite” it in your media consumption method of choice! It makes us feel nice.

* Massively on the LotRO statements.
* The Ancient Gaming Noob feels a moment of smugness relative to raiders.
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

Things to do when it’s hot and you’re too busy to play games

Work, what are you doin’? Work. Staaaaahp.

It has been crunch time at the old Liore office for three or four weeks now, combined with a pretty strong heatwave in Vancouver, so when I get home from work I just want to lie on the floor and do the opposite of thinking.

Sitting in front of the computer is way too warm right now. My work project involves dealing with a very unpleasant client, so by evening frankly I’m sort of over interacting with humans in general. So what am I gonna do?

1) Quiz Up. I was fairly into this a few months ago when the app first hit Android phones, but I got kind of overwhelmed with friend challenges (my friends are too smart, dammit) and stopped playing as much. But a game only takes 3 minutes or so, which is just about perfect for waiting for the bus or hiding in the bathroom at work praying for the madness to e– I mean while in line at the grocery store. Also they added a World of Warcraft category at some point. Take that, academic types!

2) Netflix Sitcom Binges. Work is stupid and I hate everyone (grumble grumble) so I’ve had a weird desire to watch sitcoms lately for a happy fix. First up was all of the first season of Brooklyn 99, which was recommended by Arolaide. I thought the first couple of episodes were uneven, but it has a crackerjack cast and really seemed to find its beat in later episodes.

I’ve also consumed 1.5 seasons of The Mindy Project. It’s.. okay? Kind of mediocre. I’m not sure I’d recommend it except for the fact that Mindy Kaling is talented and adorable and did I mention it’s been really hot here you guys.

Neither Brooklyn 99 nor The Mindy Project really stood out honestly, and I’d probably rather rewatch the first season of Better Off Ted or NewsRadio again. If you have a recommendation for a sitcom to watch, I’d like to hear it!

3) Frozen Juice Boxes. I’m a grown up, ostensibly. I can’t eat ice cream EVERY day. So an old lady shoutout to freezing kid-sized tetra packs of apple juice and eating them with a spoon for a cold snack.

Ummmmm, so, yeah. That’s a good summary of my last few weeks. Phone games, network sitcoms, and juice. I should probably just get back to work now…

My Biggest Enemy of Appointment Gaming is… Dinner

Back in my bad old raiding days we would start runs at 6pm Pacific, which meant as guild leader I would really need to be online and ready to rumble by at least 5:45. Raids went for 3 hours, and usually had a hour afterward of decompression, chatting, helping folks with the guild bank, doing daily quests, and so on. The result was that 2 to 3 nights a week I was in front of my computer with very little opportunity for a break from about 6-10pm.

These are also prime dinner hours. At the time I couldn’t cook (and wasn’t interested in learning how) and it’s not like I had a lot of time for cooking anyway. Dinner was usually picked up on the way home in the form of fast food and gulped down while inviting people to the raid, or something I could throw into the microwave over the mid-raid break. (Yes, some nights I was the typical gamer who ate pizza pockets.)

Right after I quit raiding and quit WoW for a while, I suddenly had all this free time in the evening. I started teaching myself how to cook. Cooking quickly became my relaxation activity — throw on a movie, pour a glass of wine, and knead dough, or chop onions, or stir risotto. Along with a love of cooking came a greater awareness of what I was eating, and while there is certainly still cruddy food in my life I put a lot of value on cooking my own delicious, healthy(-ish!) stuff.

Fast forward a few years to today. I am still diggin’ the heck out of WildStar, and the group content is so much fun. We have a bunch of folks who live in an EST zone and have to be in bed at a reasonable time on weeknights, some of whom have become part of my regular dungeon/adventure group. Not only that, but also I’m levelling as part of a duo, so I can’t really get away with my usual odd hours of play.

The result is a conflict between dinner and gaming. Prime WildStar time is between 7 and 9. If I wait until after playing with my friends it’s usually too late to do any proper cooking and I’m already starving anyway. If I eat before playing with my friends I’m basically coming in the door from work and heading right to the stove.

It’s clear that if I’m going to keep this whole appointment gaming thing up on a regular basis I’m going to have to actually start planning my meals with speed and flexibility in mind.

Anyway, here is a recipe for a quick and healthy dinner that you can eat while running a dungeon with about 10 minutes of prep:

Yummy Dungeon Night Peanut Butter Dip

1/4 cup of peanut butter
fresh minced garlic to taste (I use like 3 cloves because I love garlic)
a tablespoon or two of fresh minced ginger
the juice from half a lime
3-ish tablespoons of rice vinegar (white vinegar works okay too)
a pinch of sugar
crushed red pepper flakes if you like spicy

Throw everything together in a little dipping bowl and mix thoroughly. Add vinegar or water until you get a good consistency and flavor. Let it sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, or even covered overnight. Grab bowl of dip, grab a bag of pre-cut mixed broccoli and cauliflower crowns (you could cut your own too, but I’m lazy). Eat everything! You get protein, fat, and fibre. Yum.

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