Thanks for all the fun, Maxis

Thanks for all the fun, Maxis

Back when I was a kid, my parents would occasionally let me rent a Nintendo from the local video store. (Yes children, we had to go to a store to rent videos.) There were a few games that I would rent over and over again, like Super Mario Bros. 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but one of my all-time favorites was SimCity. I can remember plenty of nights where I would actually fall asleep on the living room floor next to the warm wood stove after my parents went to bed, controller in hand and visions of skyscrapers in my head. Just one more year. One more. Okay, one more.

Somewhere around that time I picked up the cheat code for infinite cash. (I’m not even sure how I learned that — it’s hard to remember how this stuff got passed around in the days before the internet.) I quickly gave myself as much money as I could use and built and built.. and realized that I wasn’t having as much fun as usual. It was SimCity that taught me that games aren’t just about winning, they’re about the journey along the way to the finish line.

oldsimcity 500x333 Thanks for all the fun, Maxis

And that wasn’t even my first SimCity experience: I remember playing it in black and white on the Apple ][ in elementary school. Nor would it be my last! Last year I got SimCity 4 Thanks for all the fun, Maxis (affiliate link) going with a bunch of cool mods and just like when I was 12 I stayed up almost all night building and waiting to see what my loyal citizens would think of the changes. Just one more year. One more.

Today EA shut down Maxis Emeryville, the main Maxis studio and the one responsible for SimCity among other titles. I know that SimCity 2013 and The Sims 4 didn’t do very well, I suspect in large part due to the dumb specifications created by EA like being always-online and DLC-ready but honestly I don’t know the behind the scenes details. It doesn’t really matter.

For all of their recent missteps, this blog would probably not exist if it wasn’t for Maxis. I wouldn’t have fallen in love with games as much as I did as a kid. Those hours I put into the various versions of SimCity all through my life became hours I put into Tropico 4 and Roller Coaster Simulator and .. pretty much all sim games.

So thank you, Maxis. Thanks for creating a series of games that inspired me, entertained me, kept me up all night, and in a small way helped shape me into the person I am today.

But seriously, how do you reticulate splines?

My Keybinds

My Keybinds

Mr. Murf has a post up right now talking about his MMO keybinds, and asking others to contribute their own. I’ve been way too lazy to devise my own things to write about this week*, so I’ll take Murf up on his topic!

* (What if I told you that Blizzard debuted a gold-for-sub token and… everyone thought it was fine? Seriously. I got nothin’.)

Gamepads Forever

Way back in 2009 I got my first gamepad at the suggestion of a fellow raider in my guild. It was a Belkin n52 My Keybinds (affiliate link), and I used it for years until it literally fell apart. My next (and current) gamepad was a Logitech G13 My Keybinds (affiliate link) and while it’s worked fine I would give it a B+ grade overall because it’s a little too big for my hands and the info screen thing is totally useless and just takes up more precious physical desktop space. The classic N52 is now discontinued, but I would absolutely buy one again otherwise.

Anyway, on to buttons!

g13 395x500 My Keybinds

I try as much as possible to use each button for the same kind of spells between games to improve my muscle memory and speed.

I stick to the traditional WASD buttons, although in my case they’re G4, G10, G11, and G12. G3 and G5 are left and right strafe. I know that for truly efficient movement I shouldn’t have buttons for backpedaling or turning left and right, instead just using G4 to move forward and doing all turning with my mouse. However it’s just not enough of a difference for me to care, particularly as a filthy casual. I’m pretty good at maneuvering with my lame turn buttons after all of these years, and I’m sticking to it.

G18 is always my main instant cast spell (usually HoTs or DoTs). It’s very easy for me to reach back and hit this button while I’m moving around.

G17, G16, and G15 are my main spells with longer casting time. In most cases, particularly as a healer, I have to be still while casting these so it doesn’t matter if they require my movement fingers. G8 is always my dispel or purge or whatever. G6 is always for procs — when a spell becomes active as a proc or gains potency or has a reduced mana cost it goes here. The rest of the buttons I assign as needed — maybe one or two, but generally the above takes care of all the battle-critical stuff.

My hand is too small to use the thumbstick for movement, so instead I assigned all directions to TAB. As a note, because I played a healer for years I didn’t have TAB assigned to a button for a long time and that was totally a mistake. Healers, get TAB targeting working for you and throw around some DoTs like a rad shadow priest.

The little button to the left of the thumbstick is always bound to jump. There are two types of MMO players: those who jump constantly and those who do not, and I am very much part of the former group.

Cat Context 70: Final Fantasy 14, Kickstarter Fatigue, Games for New Parents

Cat Context 70: Final Fantasy 14, Kickstarter Fatigue, Games for New Parents

cat context vertical Cat Context 70: Final Fantasy 14, Kickstarter Fatigue, Games for New Parents

Like Cat Context? Check out the The Gaming and Entertainment Network for more great shows!

This week Liore, Ellyndrial, and Arolaide talk about games! MMOs, even! I know, we’re as surprised as you guys.

New father Elly has been in the market for games that he can play with one hand and no time commitments. He talks about some of the successes in this regard, like Broken Age, and some other potential point-and-click titles. In the meantime, Elly’s been playing Dynasty Warriors 8 and he reports on how he’s been enjoying the game.

Liore starts an unplanned side discussion about Kickstarter and Patreon. Are we fully into a Kickstarter fatigue, at least for gamers? As an enthusiastic participant in the past, is Elly a little more cautious about crowd-funding games now? And how does Patreon compare to Kickstarter in how willing we are to part with our money?

But enough of all that, let’s talk about Final Fantasy XIV. Both Aro and Liore are enthusiastic about the game, and we .. gently.. suggest to Elly that he give it a shot.

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* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

Scenes from the Golden Saucer

Scenes from the Golden Saucer

(Looking for the latest episode of Cat Context? It’s been delayed by a day, and that delay sure had nothing to do with the subject of this post! Nope, nothing!)

Last night the Manderville Golden Saucer opened in Eorzea and welcomed in all citizens level 15 and higher for fun and games. I had a great time sampling some of the attractions, like coming in second place on my initial chocobo race and winning a small jackpot at the lottery. (Or as it’s called in Eorzea, a “cactpot”. Yes, really.) Of course I had to try my hand at Triple Triad, and I even started running around the world looking for NPCs to throw down against.

The Golden Saucer content is not only fun, but also as with everything else in FFXIV it looks great. Behold! (Click the images for large versions.)

cactuscasino 500x281 Scenes from the Golden Saucer

After logging on last night I got a quest from a fellow by the main portal in Ul’dah that gave an airship ticket to the Golden Saucer. I love how it looks from the outside.

ff 500x245 Scenes from the Golden Saucer

The inside reminded me a lot of modern day Earth casinos — all gleaming metal and fancy carpets — only GC has more giant stained glass windows.

cardslarge 500x292 Scenes from the Golden Saucer

Of course everyone showed up to check the new place out. The Triple Triad tables were packed with players.

casinoselfie 500x281 Scenes from the Golden Saucer

Crescende takes a selfie from the upper floor of the card room.

ttgameboard 500x220 Scenes from the Golden Saucer

The Triple Triad game board! The basic rules of the game are fairly straightforward, but there are regional variations that can make it quite confusing.

(PS: For more screenshots from yesterday’s Golden Saucer patch, go visit Mr. Murf.)

Crowfall Kickstarter is Smart Marketing

Crowfall Kickstarter is Smart Marketing

Hey, did you guys hear that Crowfall launched a Kickstarter today?

I’m not a big user of Kickstarter myself. A lot of people who I like and respect are into it so no slight to them, but it’s never been my thing. I’m too miserly to spend money on a concept that may or may not ever come to pass, and my internal hipster voice could never hop on a project just because it was popular. In fact the only time I’ve ever used Kickstarter was to throw $20 at Reading Rainbow because I was a kid too once.

I do, however, enjoy reading other people’s Kickstarters. You can learn a lot about marketing and content (my day job, man) by examining what works and what does not. For example, unsuccessful campaigns often treat Kickstarter as the first thing on the to-do list and that’s totally wrong. Nowadays just having a Kickstarter is not notable — you need to have your marketing and awareness campaign in full swing first, and then lay down the rails for the gravy train.

Wilhelm feels that Crowfall hit this sweet spot, and I totally agree. The game has drummed up a great deal of ground support and buzz since it was announced at the end of December, organically sliding into my Twitter stream on enough occasions that even I found myself wondering what this Crowfall game was and whether I should care about it or not. They’ve had numerous marketing pushes with new art work and class descriptions. Wilhelm mentions in his post that the clever observer could spot a Kickstarter campaign in the works, but as someone who wasn’t really playing close attention to the game I found the news this morning to make a lot of sense.

crowfall 500x164 Crowfall Kickstarter is Smart Marketing

The Kickstarter page itself is very well put together. There are a few recognizable industry vets and a lot of previous experience, a ton of details about the game, and many screenshots and pieces of concept art. There’s not a lot to indicate how much of the game has actually been developed so far, which is smart. The reward tiers make sense, and walk the fine line of giving rewards that backers would actually value and not just t-shirts and thank you letters. Personally I would highlight their target completion dates more prominently, and I’m assuming their stretch goals will not be Star Citizen levels of crazy.

As of this post Crowfall has raised $350,000 on their first day, so it seems pretty likely that they’ll make their $800,000 goal. Even if I was Kickstarter-inclined I probably wouldn’t contribute because I’m not sure it’s my kind of game and I’m a little put off by some of their rhetoric, but they’ve definitely put together a great offering and I think it’ll serve as a excellent example to more niche MMOs in the future.

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