Okay, let’s get something out of the way first — I am a zombie hipster. I used to post in alt.zombie back in my text-only internet days. I would bore friends with dissertations on George Romero in high school. I listened to Braineaters by the Misfits. I helped with an email campaign to bring Shaun of the Dead* to North American audiences, and of course I saw it in the theatre.
In fact, this is me on the right in 2010 at the Seattle “Red, White, and Dead” Zombie Walk, one of three times that I have dressed up as various incarnations of Shaun. (On the left is a lovely friend who I originally met in WoW. She is usually quite alive.)
So yeah. And I know that in the last decade zombies became very hip and then quickly very overdone, but where, dear game industry, is my dream zombie apocalypse game?
The industry (and players, to be fair) seem quite enamored at the moment with griefing paradises like DayZ. I think of these games as less of a zombie apocalypse simulator and more of a “mom’s dead so I can do whatever I want” experience. The zombies could be replaced with anything — heck, they could really be removed completely — because the point of the game is not humanity banding together to fight an overwhelming pityless force, the point is to make unarmed strangers dance at gunpoint for a can of beans.
This is not what I want from my zombie apocalypse game.
What I want are co-operative tools. I want a serious, deep gathering and crafting system. I want to be able to find an abandoned truck, call for help on my radio, and roll it back to our base to become part of the baracade. I want to grow crops and go on clean water runs. I want to be faced with the moral dilemma of adding new wandering strangers to our fortress or making sure we have enough supplies for everyone.
As I write that now I think what I’m asking for is basically Telltale’s The Walking Dead, but in MMO form.
At first blush yesterday I thought that SOE’s brand new title H1Z1 (unlike Syp I think the name is kinda clever) might be the game of my dreams, but that looks more and more unlikely.
We’ve been promised an incredibly deep crafting system and an emphasis on “player ownership and building” which sounds great, but Keen pointed out that it looks like SOE may be targetting the DayZ crowd. All the comparisons to Planetside 2, the fact that their website is just a link to Reddit, the announcement being on a bro-gamer Twitch channel… SOE, at least, does not seem to think that we co-op MMO players will be interested in this title and I guess with little else to go on right now I’m inclined to believe them.
(By the way, game companies, when you use Reddit as your official medium of communication it just makes you look unprofessional and weird. Stop doing that.)
So I suppose my wait for my dream game continues! And when the co-op zombie apocalypse finally hits, I’ll be the one with the cricket bat.
* Apparently Shaun of the Dead turned 10 yesterday. Happy Birthday, one of my favorite movies ever! I will eat a cornetto in your honor.
As I mentioned before I haven’t really been following all the Warlords of Draenor alpha stuff but just based off my Twitter feed and a few blogs the information has been flowing fast and furious, to the point where someone even set up a simulated server with the alpha client so they could take in-game screenshots.
WoW has had a tradition of providing almost complete access to data from the moment it launched, and to a degree that was unheard of in previous MMOs. And while I appreciate that folks are excited for new information and guide writers and theorycrafters love these heady few months, I can’t help but feel that all this transparency is a curse more than a blessing.
One of the things that many folks, myself included, enjoy(ed) about MMOs is the feeling of a virtual world. And clearly there are relative levels of immersion — I’m fine with achievements in my virutal world, for example, while Syl thinks they detract from her experience (which is totally valid). But man, it is hard to keep any sense of wonder when you already know everything, from where to find certain critters to how to quickly gain reputation to exactly how much damage you do with each hit.
I think we got to this point with the best of intentions. Blizzard was (and probably still is?) full of nerds, and as a fellow nerd I can appreciate a love of numbers, systems, and transparency. The unprecedented access to information thanks to LUA and add-ons is an extremely cool concept, but one that has also helped to break down the perception of MMOs from virtual worlds to a series of systems even faster than usual.
And really, a lot of the current MMO “elitism” between players can be traced back to this abundance of information. After all, when it’s possible to Google a bit to find the math for an optimum rotation, or just Ask Mister Robot to tell you what gear you should be wearing, why shouldn’t we expect Joe Random in our LFRs to meet a high standard of performance? Look it up, man, and stop being a bad.
I don’t blame people for being starved for content in a pre-expansion drought, and this is probably just my new filthy casual attitude talking, but it’s nice to not know everything in a game. Online resources are inevitable, but I kind of miss the days when things were crowd-sourced from players and not just mined dry out of a binary months before a game even launches.
It you have felt a bit of the magic wear off MMOs lately, I encourage you to just play the game, discover things, and enjoy the newness. Thanks to the leisurely expansion schedule of Blizzard and other developers (seriously, this always happens) we will have pleeeeeenty of time to explore and catalog every last inch of every last feature.
I’m pretty sure I’ve posted a recipe here before. I realize it has nothing to do with games, but one of my other hobbies is cooking and it brings me great joy, possibly even more than video games. When I’m stressed out or sad or bored, there are few things better at lifting my spirits than a day of calm, meditative cooking.
So anyway, it’s strawberry season here in North America, and that means it’s time for my favorite salad ever. I easily eat this 3 days a week while it’s in season, and I never get tired of it. It takes a bit of elbow grease to prepare, but it actually gets better with time and can be made a few hours before serving.
Spring Strawberry Avocado Salad
Serves 1 as a meal, 2 as a side
1 pint of strawberries
1 Haas avocado (on the firm end of ripeness)
1/4 of a red onion
2-4 hot peppers (I use fresno peppers)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons of sugar
a sprinkling of salt
an optional sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes if you like SPICY
Chop everything! I usually do the strawberries in large bite sizes and everything else in equal smaller size.
Juice the lime over the chopped stuff. Add the sugar and salt and stir it all together.
That’s it! Let it sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before serving so the flavors have a chance to mingle. Stir again before serving.
This salad is amazing with seafood like salmon or prawns, or pork cutlets.
** This information is correct as of the Closed Beta in April 2014 **
There are currently no tutorials in the Closed Beta stage of Landmark, and while that makes sense from a development perspective it’s also kind of confusing for new players. So behold: step by step instructions on how to create your first claim flag as a newbie in Landmark.
Stage One: Crafting a Copper Pick
1. Claim flags require “Tier 2″ materials, so first we have to upgrade your pick. Run out into the wilderness and look for rust colored patches on the ground, usually around mountains or foothills. Start digging by hitting “1″ on your keyboard to activate your Stone Pick and then pressing and holding the left mouse button over some copper. Copper patches will not only give you Copper Ore (obvs) but also the random rare drop Elemental Copper. Mine until you get 1000 Copper Ore and 10 Elemental Copper. (Hit “i” on your keyboard and then click on the materials tab to see your inventory.)
2. Tree chopping time! Find some trees. Hit “2″ on your keyboard to activate your Stone Axe and then press and hold the left mouse button over a tree. Chop it down all the way. Keep going until you have 25 pieces of “Heartwood”, a random rare drop from all trees.
3. Next you need a desert biome. If you spawned in one to begin with (do you see a lot of sand?) then skip to the next step. Otherwise, head back to the portal where you started (hit “m” to see the map). Click on the floaty blue stone in the center of the portal, and select Dune. You are now on the Dune island!
4. Run around a look for a patch on the ground that is bright orange — something similar but much brighter than copper’s rust color. That is Agate, and you need 20 of them.
5. Head back to the portal and click on the Forge crafting station.
6. Craft all of your Copper Ore into Copper Ingots.
7. Craft a Copper Pick and equip it. Hooray, Stage One complete!
Stage Two: Crafting a Claim Flag
1. Go click on the blue stone in the middle of the Portal and select any zone that says “(Tier 2)” after the name.
2. Mine iron — it’s in locations similar to copper, but has a dark blue tint. You need 7 Elemental Iron, which is a random rare drop like Elemental Copper.
3. Mine Aquamarine. It looks like a very bright blue version of Iron. You need 10 Aquamarine.
4. Head back to the portal, and click on the mill crafting station. Craft a claim flag. Easy cakes, Stage Two complete!
Stage Three: Using your Claim Flag
1. This is the step that can take a while: find a place you like. Take your time, travel to all of the islands (any Tier) and see what kinds of biomes there are. Look at the map and make sure you have “Display available claims” checked at the top. Any area with a red overlay is not available.
2. Once you are standing in a spot you like, right click on the Claim Flag in your inventory. Landmark will ask you to click on a map where you’d like your claim flag. If the square outline is blue, you’re good to click!
3. Congratulations, land owner! Now pay up! Hit “u” on your keyboard right away. This is where you pay for your claim. The price as of writing this is 300 copper ore per day, and you can bank up to 5 days of copper (1500). If you don’t pay your 300 copper ore you’ll lose your claim. The first day is paid for you.
I’ve been kind of psyching myself out of posting lately by thinking that whatever topic I have in mind is “not serious enough” or “ugh, enough about WoW already Liore”. I mean, that is clearly silly because at the end of the day it’s my blog and I’ll write if I want to, and honestly I don’t think any of you delightful readers care that much, but there you have it.
So anyway, here is a lovely fluffy post for Friday about five of my favorite boss fights in MMOs! Listed in no particular order.
(That’s right, no talk of the Warlords of Draenor alpha notes that came out yesterday evening. I haven’t even read them, to be honest. I just have a hard time being too concerned about changes 6-8 months before a game launches, plus I enjoy being a little ignorant about WoW things now. I will smell the flowers once they bloom, and until then I ain’t gonna worry about it.)
Archimonde – WoW
As will quickly become apparent, two things I love in my boss fights are movement and teamwork, and the Archimonde fight had both in spades. Players had to avoid Doomfires, and be ready to click their tears when they got shot up into the sky by Air Burst (wheee!). It’s also a fight where a single person’s death can wipe the raid (even more than usual), so coordination was critical. And even beyond all that, the setting was cinematic and Archimonde himself was satisfyingly gigantic.
Volan – RIFT
Despite my misgivings about the Storm Legion expansion in general, I have to give props to Trion for this showpiece of an encounter. Volan is technically a world boss, although he’s associated with a regular daily event. He is huge — like, really really huge — and spawns by bursting out of the side of a mountain. Often there would be 80+ players in the fight using jump pads to leap through the air, or manning giant cannons, or occasionally even jumping on Volan’s head. I would love to see more MMOs invest in cinematic world bosses!
Sartharion with 3 dragons – WoW
The cool thing about the Sartharion encounter was that you could adjust the difficulty by killing up to 3 of her henchdragons before engaging. Choosing to engage her without killing any was known as Sarth 3D, and it was in its day one of the most difficult fights ever in WoW. There were multiple tanks, and clouds of whelps, and portals to spirit worlds, and occasionally even gigantic waves of lava that everyone had to dodge. This fight required crazy amounts of coordination, felt amazing to complete, and rewarded a rare dragon mount.
Soa, The Infernal One – SWTOR
My time raiding in SWTOR was brief, but this fight stood out for one big reason: jumping. After phase 1, the floor of the room you were in collapsed and the raid had to simultaneously fight robot minions AND slowly hop down to the underfloor by jumping on debris that was stuck to the walls. Unfortunately the fight was frequently buggy back in the day, but when it worked it was really great.
Mimiron Hard Mode – WoW
This fight, my friends, is my favorite fight ever in an MMO. It is amazing, right from the very moment you push the giant red Do Not Push button to start the fight. There is fire — oh, so much fire — and organized cooldowns and multiple tanks and robots. There is Mimiron himself, taunting the raid in a very sassy fashion. And did I mention the fire? This fight is all movement and controlled chaos and it is never, ever not fun.